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80 AWESOME THINGS TO DO ON OAHU, HAWAII

80 AWESOME THINGS TO DO ON OAHU, HAWAII

What to do on Oahu? Any idea where to start? I have created the Ultimate Oahu bucket list for inspiration about the best things to do on Oahu, Hawaii. This incredible island has great beaches, hikes, waterfalls, snorkeling spots, and restaurants to try. I’ve got you covered with them all so see how many items on this Oahu bucket list you can tick off!

I’ve added the link to some of the top-rated tours in each section so you can book your activities in advance for your vacation to Oahu, Hawaii. 

THE FOUR MOST POPULAR OAHU TOURS

THE 80 BEST THINGS TO DO ON OAHU, HAWAII

Turtle Canyon Snorkel Cruise by Catamaran

The best snorkeling tour on Oahu is the Turtle Canyon Snorkel Cruise by Catamaran. Not only do you get the chance to swim with these friendly giants and tons of tropical fish, but you’ll also get a catamaran cruise from Waikiki. You are picked up from your Waikiki hotel and taken to the harbor for a short boat ride to a few secret snorkeling spots. Lunch is included and the food is really good too, you’ll love the kalua pork! Something that people love about this tour is the staff! They really make sure you are entertained and you will have the best trip to Oahu.

Book your tour: Turtle Canyon Snorkel Cruise by Catamaran

Oahu scenic helicopter flight 

I think a scenic helicopter flight is my favorite activity to do on Oahu by far! A helicopter tour over this amazing island will be the number one memory you take home with you from your vacation. The circle island Helicopter tour will have you fly above all of the famous locations on Oahu, it’s simply a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Book your tour: Oahu Full-Circle Island 60 minute Helicopter Tour

Book your tour: 25-minute Waikiki Helicopter Tour

North Shore Shark Cage Dive Adventure

The North Shore Shark Cage Dive Tour is the most easily the most epic and most unique activity on Oahu. The tour takes you just a few miles offshore where you will put on a snorkel and get inside a cage. For 20 minutes under the water, you’ll be surrounded by around a dozen sharks or even more. Pickup and drop-off service and equipment are included. You don’t need to be a good swimmer as you just hold on inside the cage. This was one of my all-time favorite things to do on Oahu.

Book your tour: North Shore Shark Cage Dive Tour

Afternoon Glass Bottom Boat Tour in Waikiki (Top Seller)

All aboard the Haleiwa Queen, enjoy the clear view of the Pacific Ocean floor as you cruise over live tropical reefs and one of Hawaii’s shipwrecks. This is by far the cheapest boat tour on Oahu but also one of the most interesting. The glass-bottom floor of the boat allows you to see sea life as it swims by and also gets a great view of one of the many shipwrecks on the coast of Oahu. A great afternoon adventure for the whole family and a very unique experience.

Book your tour: Afternoon Glass Bottom Boat Tour in Waikiki

Pearl Harbor & USS Arizona Memorial & City Tour

This is easily one of THE MOST POPULAR tours on Oahu. This 5-hour historic tour is a combination tour in which you will be guided through Pearl Harbor’s comprehensive history –see the sunken USS Arizona, get a chance to visit the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl, and stop by the landmarks of Honolulu metropolitan area. Everyone hates waiting in a long queue but on this tour, you’ll be able to skip lines for a hassle-free excursion. If there is something you are curious about, there’s a live tour guide so feel free to ask all you want!

Book your tour: Pearl Harbor, Arizona Memorial, & Punchbowl National Cemetery

Eco-Friendly Dolphin and Snorkel Half-Day Cruise

Set sail along the turquoise waters of Hawaii’s coast heading towards Ko Olina coast. Keep your eyes peeled for the playful Spinner Dolphins who live in these waters. During the snorkeling session, jump in for a snorkel adventure of a lifetime! I did this tour with my family when they came for vacation and it was an incredible experience you’ll never forget.

Book your tour: Eco-Friendly Dolphin and Snorkel Half-Day Cruise

Majestic Full Day Circle Island Tour


Join a full-day tour and discover all of Oahu’s best locations. The morning sun slowly warms the sandy beaches of Waikiki as your guide takes you on a journey through the history of the island. History comes alive before your eyes as you weave your way up the Koʻolau Mountains to the Nuʻuanu Pali Lookout where King Kamehameha I battled to unite the Hawaiian Islands.

Cruise along 7 miles of world-famous surfing beaches on Oahu’s north shore and sample the local flavors along the way. Waimea Valley and its waterfalls await you, discover this beautiful place steeped with history, spirituality and island traditions. Your guide will take you through the botanical gardens of this vast and tranquil setting.

Around the corner is the historic Dole Plantation surrounded by rows of pineapples and fields of sugarcane. Learn from your guide the rich plantation history and describe how this famously sweet plant became a symbol of Hawaii.

Book your tour:  Majestic Full Day Circle Island Tour (Best-selling tour)

Dole Plantation

Watch the sunrise from Lanikai Pillbox hike

Lanikai is by far one of the prettiest areas on Oahu, laden with spectacular bechside homes, crystal clear water and the famous Mokoluas also known as “mokes” (two small islands) out in the ocean. Only a few blocks back from Lanikai Beach is the beginning of the Lanikai Pillbox Trail (Kaiwa Ridge), known for being one of the easier trails on the island of Oahu. There is no better way to start your day than with a short sunrise hike overlooking the ocean and amazing scenery.

@jackson.groves

lanikai pillboxes hike

Oahu Atlantis Submarine Adventure

One of the most unique boat tours on Oahu is the Atlantis Submarine, a tour that takes you below the surface to see the beauty of the underwater world. I did this tour with my family and they loved it. The tour departs from the Hilton Hawaiian Village in Waikiki and takes you to a submarine dive spot. Atlantis Submarines offers a one-of-a-kind underwater experience giving guests a close-up view of an array of sea creatures, exotic coral reefs, and numerous sunken vessels without getting wet.

We saw sharks, turtles, plane wrecks, and shipwrecks. It’s like swimming in a giant aquarium, but staying dry the whole time!  Descending to 100 feet underwater is an adventure in itself.

Book your tour: Atlantis Submarine Adventure

Waikiki Sunset Cocktail Cruise 

Dying to take your loved one to a romantic cruise whilst in Oahu? Or do you just want to experience a fun and relaxing evening with absolutely no itinerary? Onboard a sailing Catamaran drinking tropical Hawaiian cocktails and relaxing while enjoying the legendary sunset and the magnificent Hawaiian coast.

This is perfect for travelers who just want to chill with sunsets and cocktails! 

Book your tour: Waikiki Sunset Cocktail Catamaran Cruise

Hike up the Diamond Head Crater for epic views of Waikiki

This is the most popular hike on Oahu and probably the most popular thing to do on Oahu aside from visit Waikiki Beach. It takes about 30-minutes to reach the top of the trail to find old war bunkers. From here, you will have amazing views over Waikiki and the ocean. The entire Diamond Head Crater hike is quite scenic but it isn’t until you reach the top that you have stunning views in all directions.

This is truly one of the most epic viewpoints anywhere in the world and a must-do activity on Oahu. The entrance fee is just $5 but if you prefer to join a guided tour to show you the way and share stories and history with you, I can recommend this top-rated tour, which combines Diamond Head hike and the easy Manoa Falls hike in one day!

Book your tour: Diamond Head Crater Hike & Manoa Falls Combo

things to do in honolulu, hawaii

Oahu Whale Watching Excursion

See whales, guaranteed, or come again for free! Every December through April, thousands of Humpback whales migrate to the warm waters of Hawaii. Come along see these beautiful mammals at their best on our exciting eco-friendly whale watching excursion.

The 2-hour experience of seeing whales will for sure take your breath away. Definitely a must-do excursion on Oahu!

Book your tour: Oahu Whale Watching Excursion

Swimming with sharks (without a cage)

Have you ever thought about swimming with sharks? This tour company takes people out and lets them swim with sharks without a cage! It might seem extreme but it is very controlled and quite safe. For exmaple, they haven’t had any injuries or incidents in 20 years of operation. Sandbar sharks circle around you as you snorkel out in the open ocean. This is something your friends back home won’t believe and it is one of the unique activities in Oahu.

Book your tour: Two-hour shark dive on Oahu 

Find the Crouching Lion

Looking out over Kahana Bay, the Crouching Lion Hike offers amazing views, steep drop-offs, and beautiful lush surroundings. It’s located on the Northeast side of Oahu and is usually much less populated than many of the other hikes on Oahu despite how beautiful it is.

 

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Try for a personal record up Koko Crater Railway Trail

One of the most popular hikes on Oahu, Koko Head Stairs is a relatively short hike but don’t be fooled. The unforgiving incline will have you gasping for breath by the time you reach the top. My personal best was 12:15 but I have seen people fly up much quicker. If you take a leisurely walk up you can expect to finish between 30 minutes and 1 hour.

The hike itself is free but it isn’t near Waikiki. There is a tour that includes transport, assistance, food, and someone to carry your water and guide you along the way. If you prefer to do the tour with a guide and includes hotel pick/up and drop-off from Waikiki it could be a good option.

Book your tour: Koko Head Trail Guided Adventure

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Kayak to the Mokes

From Lanikai or Kailua Beach a kayak to the mokes will take about thirty minutes. A beautiful canoe or kayak paddle to the Mokulua is a great escape for the day to an isolated island.  Around the back of the islands, you’ll find quite a few good cliff jumping spots and also the Queen’s bath, which is one of my favorite spots on Oahu. There is an option for a fully guided kayak tour, including a professional guide, safety gear, and lunch! I have linked the top-rated tour below.

Book your tour: Kayak Kailua Tour including Lunch

Hawaiian Luau Performance and Buffet Dinner

A traditional Hawaiian luau is a must-do cultural activity on Oahu. The beauty of this luau tour package is that you get to experience traditional performances and story-telling before enjoying a buffet luau. It’s one of the top-rated tours on Oahu and makes for a great date night or family night out and will give you an understanding of the history and traditions of the Hawaiian people. Enjoy the buffet meal, including fresh seafood, kalua pork, and tropical fruit Watch the sunset and enjoy entertainment from Hawaiian musicians, hula dancers, and fire twirlers. 

Book your ticket: Ka Moana Luau with Dinner & Show

Snorkel at Hanauma Bay

Hanauma Bay is the most popular spot for tourists to spot a turtle or explore the underwater world of the Pacific Ocean. The coral here is amazing and it is a protected bay so it is perfect for a half-day snorkel adventure. If you are lucky you will even spot a turtle but you can be guaranteed to find hundreds of amazing fish and marine species. It is about a 30-minute drive from Waikiki.

swim with hawaiian sea turtle

Sunset Cocktail Cruise from Waikiki

A sunset cruise on a 53-foot catamaran takes you south toward Hawaii’s iconic Diamond Head. There isn’t a much better way to enjoy than sunset than aboard a yacht with a cocktail! Enjoy a slice of paradise, complete with cocktails. Aloha!

Book your cruise: Sunset Cocktail Cruise from Waikiki

Kaena Farm Zip Line on the North Shore (Longest on Oahu)

Feel the adrenaline rush while soaring from the top of Oahu’s longest ziplines on this guided tour. Your tour begins with a short ATV ride to the top of a mountain. Then enjoy spectacular panoramic ocean and mountain views of Oahu’s famous North Shore from long, high, and extra-quiet zip lines ranging from 500 to 2,400 feet. Along the way, encounter rappels, sky bridges, scenic boardwalks, and a couple of surprises for some fun activities that challenge in a safe and controlled way.

  • Soar through the North Shore’s jungles on a thrilling zipline tour.
  • Enjoy a series of ziplines, rappels, sky bridges, boardwalks, and more.
  • Ride an ATV to the top of the mountain and enjoy panoramic views of Oahu.

Click Here to book your tour of the North Shore Zipline Tour in advance (Often sells out weeks in advance)

Visit Manoa Falls

After Diamond Head Hike, Manoa Falls is the second most popular hike on Oahu. Only minutes from the busy streets of Waikiki, this jungle trail leads you to a large waterfall. Jurassic Park and Lost filmed scenes in this lush green area. The best way to experience Manoa Falls is with an experienced tour guide who can explain all of the local flora and fauna, most of which is unique to Oahu. You can book yourself onto a guided tour that includes pick/up and drop-off from your Waikiki hotel.

Book your tour: Manoa Falls Guided Tour (with hotel pick/up)

Scuba-dive to Sea Tiger Wreck

100 feet below the surface lies The Sea Tiger, which is a former Chinese trading vessel originally named Yun Fong Seong No. 303. The ship was confiscated in the 1990s for carrying more than 90 illegal immigrants to Hawaii. It was purchased by Voyager Submarines, cleaned up, and sunk in 1999.

Interested in learning how to scuba dive while on Oahu: Waikiki Discovery Scuba Diving for Beginners

Already certified to scuba dive and want to book a scuba tour to a wreck or a reef: Scuba diving full-day tour on Oahu

Hike Stairway to Heaven for sunrise

The Stairway to Heaven was one of my favorite things to do on Oahu. While it is illegal, the stairway is still frequented by a small number of people on most mornings. At the summit, there is an old satellite atop a small bunker. As the sun rises 20 or more people sit atop the bunker with views all the way to the beach and down into the valleys on either side. Another hike on Oahu worth waking doing for sunrise is the Lanikai Pillbox Hike. It is important to know that this hike is ‘illegal’ and off-limits. Many people still do the hike every day. There is a back-way up that is technically legal and all of the information is in the blog post I wrote in the link below.

Try Garlic Shrimp on North Shore

The North Shore of Oahu is famous for surf, beaches, and the chill vibes. But you can’t visit the North shore without trying some famous Garlic Shrimp. There are plenty of food trucks lining the coast all claiming to be the best and the original. I tried quite a few of them during my time on Oahu and of the more well-known trucks, I enjoyed Romy’s. While you are up there check out one of the best beaches on the North Shore.

Friggin Good Shrimp!

Hike the Pali Notches

The Pali Notches are one of the most dangerous hikes on Oahu due to the strong winds that often frequent the trail, which has an unforgiving drop on both sides. You also need to complete a few basic rock climbs to complete the trail. At the end of the trail is the ‘chimney’ a vertical rock face you can climb with the assistance of a rope. This is an iconic photo spot on Oahu.

Jump off Waimea Bay rock

Waimea Bay is my favorite beach on Oahu. It has rock climbing, turtles, underwater tunnels and huge waves in the winter. However, it’s most popular feature is a giant rock resting half in the water half on the shore. It is easy to climb onto the rock and from there you can join the crowd of nervous jumpers who wait their turn to leap off the rock. It isn’t incredibly deep but usually, it is just deep enough. Jumping off the rock is one of the most iconic things to do on Oahu.

Enjoy a delicious poke bowl

Poke Bowls became my favorite food on Oahu. Essentially a poke bowl is raw fish, most commonly Ahi and rice. However, you can get a bowl with octopus, squid or other types of seafood. A spicy sauce or seasoning covers the fish. Bowls range from $6 to $15 depending on where you buy them from.

poke

Reach the top at the Pink Pillbox hike

In the mountains on the west side of Oahu is the Pink Pillbox Hike. Painted pink as a testimony to breast cancer victims and survivors, the abandoned military pillbox isn’t hard to spot. Five pillboxes in total line the ridge, which takes less than an hour to hike. This is one of the less popular things to do on Oahu but it was by far one of my favorite hikes on the island.

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Sunset Dinner Cruise with Live Hawaiian Entertainment

If world-class entertainment and food weren’t enough on the beautiful beaches of Oahu, then why not take to the waters with the Oahu Sunset Dinner Cruise. This cruise will let you see the beauty of the colorful sunset in Oahu with a view of the island at night as the artificial lights glow and cover the place. 

While onboard, you will enjoy the delicious buffet and some chitchats with other passengers. What the passengers will love is the round trip transportation they arrange for each and every one.

Book your tour: Sunset Dinner Cruise with Live Hawaiian Entertainment

Hike the Kuliouou ridge trail

The Kuliouou Ridge Trail isn’t what you would expect on Oahu. A forest setting you would expect in the Pacific Northwest of the Mainland is a great spot to have an afternoon hike. The trail takes you through a steady incline surrounded by trees until eventually, you emerge to a beautiful view that stretches out. to the ocean on the east coast of Oahu.

Adventure on the Ka’au Crater Hike

My favorite waterfall hike on Oahu, Ka’au Crater Hike leads you up three waterfalls before you navigate a fine ridge on the edge of the crater to reach expansive views in all directions. The hike takes a few hours if you are quick and 5-6 hours if you are a slower hiker. It is relatively safe but I wouldn’t recommend this hike for people in good shape as there are moments where you need to use ropes to pull yourself up steep segments.

Ka'au Crater Trail Oahu, Hawaii-1050249

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Find Dead man’s catwalk (or where it used to be)

Despite what its name might suggest, the Dead Man’s Catwalk provided more amazing views than perils. The catwalk referred to the cement slab that some claim was a possible war-era installation or was previously used as a launching strip for hang gliders. The words “The Dead Man’s Catwalk” were constantly being spray painted on the 6-yard strip that led out to a steep drop-off down the face of cliffs. The cement platform might be gone but the epic view is still as amazing as ever. Heads up this trail is ‘illegal’ also although still heavily frequented daily.

Dead Man's Catwalk view

 Reach the summit of Wiliwilinui ridge trail

From Wiliwilinui Ridge you can make out Waikiki, a city of white buildings seemingly a world away from the ridges we are roaming. When you turn the other way at the top . of the trail you can see the turquoise water of the east coast and the panoramic views. You will feel like you are in the middle of the island and you just about are! This is a hike none of the other tourists in the hotel will even know exists. It’s one of the most unique things to do on Oahu and definitely off the beaten path.

WiliWili Nui Ridge Hike Oahu-13

Walk the trail to Hanauma Bay rock bridge

Hanauma Bay is the most popular snorkeling beach on Oahu with hundreds of tourists visiting each day. However, a beautiful hike winds around the cliffs above the bay leading towards the ocean’s edge. If you follow the path all the way to towards the ocean and venture down the cliffs you will find a small rock bridge. Be incredibly careful in this area as it has claimed the lives of strong swimmers in the past after they were swept off the rocks. One of the lesser known things to do on Oahu but definitely one to enjoy from a safe distance.

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Do the Peace hike on the North Shore

In the mountains overlooking the famous Pipeline beach and the North Shore of Oahu, the Peace Hike provides a great vantage point. After twenty minutes of hiking, you will find a small platform/pillbox that has a peace sign painted on it. Be sure to do the hike on a day with big swell so you can watch the huge waves roll in one after another from up in the mountains.

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Visit Lulumahu falls

A cascading waterfall in the middle of the forest is a peaceful spot to enjoy the afternoon. The hike is right next to the Pali Highway and only takes about 30 minutes. You can swim in the pool below this beuautiful Oahu waterfall. Visiting a waterfall is a must-do activity on Oahu and Lulumahu is one of the most unique things to do outside of Waikiki.

Lulumahu Falls

Chill at Cockroach cove

Cockroach Cove is right next to Halona Blowhole. Although tourists will come and go en masse in the carpark above the cove it is actually a great spot to chill out. Turtles often feed in the area and the rock formations and little caves make a great backdrop for an afternoon chill session. Sandy’s is right around the corner if you get bored and want to go get smashed by some waves. You might also be interested in reading about the best turtle beach in Hawaii!

Cockroach Cove

Get sprayed by Halona Blowhole

The Halona Blowhole is on the east side of Oahu and is one of the most popular things to do on Oahu. As the waves crash into the cliffs under the rocks the water surges out of a blowhole shooting into the air. The rougher the day the bigger the spray from the blowhole usually.

Halona Blowhole

Enjoy Dole Whip at the Dole Plantation

The Dole Plantation is a great spot to stop at on the way to the north shore for a tasty pineapple treat. The Plantation offers tours and has a huge hedge maze. The soft serve pineapple whip is like no other ice-cream you’ve had before. Be prepared for masses of tourists.  There is an epic tour that takes you all around the island to all of the iconic spots including to the dole plantation. It’s called the Circle-Island tour and most tourists to Oahu love this one.

Book your tour: Circle Island Tour of Oahu

dole whip

Survive the Three Peaks ‘Olomana Trail’

Three Peaks or Olomana Trail is a treacherous looking hike with three steep peaks that can be seen all the way from Lanikai. This is not a hike for the faint-hearted with a number of narrow parts of the trail with steep drop-offs. The views of the Koolau’s are worth it all.

Lay in the Makapu’u Tide pools

The Makapu’u Lighthouse hike is one of the most popular things to do on Oahu. However, what most people don’t do is venture down the cliffs to the tide-pools on the water’s edge. Once down on the rocky coastline, a number of tide pools are deep enough to jump into and a few blowholes might give you a surprise too.

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Jump off the plank at Alan davis

When parking in the Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail carpark, there is another attraction close by. If you walk back towards Waikiki along the coast away from the lighthouse there are a collection of wooden planks hanging out over the crystal clear water at Alan Davis Beach. Only a few yards high they make the area a perfect spot to hang out for the day. This is one of the lesser known Oahu attractions.

My move to Hawaii

Watch a Surf competition

You have many to choose from as the winter season comes. Notable competitions are the Billabong Pipe Masters and the “Eddie” a big wave surf competition at Waimea Bay. The atmosphere at surf events is like no other sporting events. A friendly low-key environment on the beach while surfers ride some mental waves out in the water. Pictured below is a shot I took at Waimea Bay a week before the “Eddie”. Watching a surf comp is one of the best things to do on Oahu no matter what island you are on.

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Hike and Kayak to Chinaman’s Hat

The Chinaman’s Hat is a small island near Kualoa Ranch. It is accessible by kayak or a short swim. Once you arrive at the island a mini hike to the top will give you amazing views of the shore and the Kualoa Mountains. There is a great kayak rental at Kaneohe that sets up the kayaks on the beach for you so you can paddle out Chinamans Hat. This rental company is a not-for-profit, with proceeds helping to fund Kama’aina Kids and He’eia State Park!

Book your kayaking tour: Kaneohe Guided Kayak and Snorkel Tour

chinamans hat

Find the Cromwell’s rock pool

Only a short drive or a 30-minute walk up the hill from Waikiki is the much more relaxed Cromwell’s beach. Explore around the corner and try and spot the semi-enclosed salt water rock pool created by someone with much, much more money than myself.

cromwells

Stand up paddle board yoga

Combine all the best parts of Oahu in one awesome yoga session on the Ocean while watching a sunset come down one side of Ala Moana, while palm trees line the other side of the bay. You could also try Night SUP yoga with Led lights in what is an epic experience near Waikiki. There’s actually this great tour that does kayaking, stand-up paddleboard, and a short waterfall hike all. inone day.

Book your tour: SUP, Kayak & Waterfall Hike Oahu Tour

everyday fitness group class

Surf at world famous Waikiki beach

For a few dollars, you can rent yourself a surfboard and join the masses trying their hand at surfing at the famous Waikiki Beach. Or if you are like me you will need a lesson. There’s a great deal that offers you a one-hour and riding a wave lesson for two people at once. They guarantee to have you standing up and riding a wave! There are tons of things to do in Waikiki but surfing has to be at the top of your list. Oh also if you want to see how terrible I am at surfing watch the video below.

Book your lesson: One hour Waikiki surf lesson for two people

Watch the FREE Friday fireworks show at the Hilton

Each Friday the Hilton puts on a FREE blockbuster fireworks display. The fireworks usually begin at 7:45 and hundreds of people fill the beach to watch the fireworks launch from along the shore.

Friday Night Hilton Fireworks

Walk the Makapu’u lighthouse trail

On Oahu’s, most eastern point sits the Makapu’u Lighthouse. The paved trail that takes you there is one of the most popular hikes on Oahu because of how accessible it is and the amazing views it presents. Because the trail is so clearly marked (unlike many of the hikes on Oahu) it is completely foolproof and great for beginners. It is family and dog friendly and a great way to see some fantastic views of the east side. This trail is one of the top five most popular things to do on Oahu.

Visit and/or jump at Spitting Cave

One of my favorite things to do on Oahu was to head to spitting cave on the east coast cliffs and watch the divers jumping off. I had done some Oahu cliff jumping in the past but this spot was always a little bit sketchy for me at the time. Water rushes in with waves, filling the cave before being spat out with great force. It’s one of the top things to do in Oahu for adrenaline junkies. This is also a great place to watch the sunset in the summer or spot whales in the winter.

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Swim with Hawaiian Sea Turtles

This whole-day tour is a combination of land and water excursion and will show you Oahu’s famous spots and hidden gems with sea turtle snorkeling on Oahu. The tour picks you up at 7:15 in the morning at selected Waikiki hotels and the itinerary includes Diamond Head Lookout, Tropical Hawaiian Coffee, and Macadamia Nut Farms, ChinaMan’s Hat, North Shore Shrimp Trucks, North Shore Fruit Stand, the legendary Sunset Beach, Turtle Snorkeling, and Dole Pineapple Plantation.

The highlight of the trip is the snorkeling in Hanauma Bay where it’s quite famous for swimming with lots of tropical fish and sea turtles. Don’t worry about the gear as the tour guide will provide you snorkel gear like goggles and masks. This tour is perfect for visitors who stay in Oahu for a short time but still want to see what Oahu has to offer.

Book your tour: Hidden Gems of Oahu with North Shore Turtle Snorkeling 

swim with hawaiian sea turtle

makua beach on oahu turtle

Find the bridge at the Maunawili hike

The Maunawili hike is another trail into the jungle! You will find a large pool of water and even a rope swing. But can you get off the beaten path and find the bridge?

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Try an acai bowl on the North Shore

Acai berries are a superfood native to Central and South America. They contain more antioxidants than most berries including cranberries and even blueberries. Most Acai bowls often come topped other fruits and berries and even granola, so they are actually quite filling.

acai bowls oahu lanikai

Bodyboard in the Shore break at Sandys

Nicknamed ‘Neck Break Beach’ the waves at Sandy Beach are unforgiving. Huge waves crash directly onto sand or only a few feet of water. It sounds like there would be few venturing into the water however, this is the most crowded beach on a weekend. Locals flock to get barrels before getting dumped and the beach is always full of action.

Sandy Beach

Parasailing at Waikiki

What better way to see Oahu than from hundreds of feet up in the air. Parasailing is the perfect activity on Oahu as the sun sets so you can enjoy the beautiful colors from up high, looking down on the city.  This tour includes hotel pick-up and drop-off.

Book your tour: Parasailing on Oahu

See a Hawaiian Monk Seal

The Hawaiian monk seal is the only seal native to Hawaii and is one of only two mammals native to the islands. I was lucky enough to see a few monk seals both in the ocean and on shore. They are protected so once they swim onto the shore you must keep a safe distance from them and definitely don’t touch them.

monk seal

Take an Oahu Photography Tour

There are plenty of awesome spots on Oahu to get a good look at the stars each night. Away from the city at Kaena Point or at Makapu’u seem to be the most popular. There are several photography tours on Oahu and I will link them below. Some are for sunrise, sunset or landscape focused with locals who know the spots and can teach you how to shoot amazing photos.

Photography Tour: Full-Circle Island Photo Tour

Photography Tour: Sunset Photography Tour

Milky Way Above Makapuu

Visit Makua Beach

On the far west side of Oahu, Makua Beach lies at the foot of majestic mountains, hiding behind a wall of trees. Crystal clear waters wash upon a long stretch of beach with a backdrop of Makua Valley and cliffs that seem to encapsulate the secluded beach. Visiting this beach is one of the most special things to do on Oahu.

makua beach on oahu

makua beach on oahu camping

Try Haupia Pie

A traditional coconut pudding many locals crave. One of the best spots to get a Haupia Pie after a day of beaching it on the north shore is Ted’s Bakery.

Chocolate haupia pie

Find the Kaniakapupu Ruins

Also known as King Kamehameha III summer home, this is a slice of Hawaiian history hidden on the Nu’uanu Oahu hike. The hike is short and on the same trails as the Luakaha Waterfall.

Kaniakapupu

Watch a sunrise at Chinamans Hat

Get up early and head to the east coast of Oahu before the sun rises. The Koolau’s will loom behind you in the darkness as you wait for the sun to creep over the horizon. This area is really beautiful during sunrise and just after as the mountains will be lit perfectly and Chinamans Hat is a nice silhouette out in the water.

Daybreak at the Hat

I hope you enjoyed this guide to the best things to do on Oahu and found a few activities for you and your family to do while on vacation.

WHERE TO STAY ON OAHU

  • Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort (Overall Favorite): In the heart of Waikiki, this high-end resort is right on the beach with a private lagoon.
  • Sheraton Waikiki (Luxury): A luxury resort with the most amazing infinity pool on the island, which overlooks the beach.
  • Ewa Hotel Waikiki: (Value): Ewa Hotel is just one block back from the beach and is just over $150 USD.
  • Waikiki Beachside Hostel (Budget Choice): A budget alternative, which is still in an amazing location.
  • Disney Aulani Resort (Family Choice): This is a resort your kids will never forget. It honestly feels like you are living in a theme park.

MORE OAHU BLOG POSTS

I lived on Oahu for two years and loved adventuring from the beaches to the mountains to the waterfalls! These are my most popular blog post and guides from the beautiful island of Oahu to help you plan your trip!

Adam

Saturday 2nd of July 2022

These are the coolest oahu travel tips I've ever read. Thank you for this excellent list. In fact, in order to try to do everything, you need to go probably for several months

Friday 22nd of April 2022

1

Hussain

Sunday 30th of January 2022

Wow what amazing place to go backpacking, fabulous post!

karine

Sunday 9th of January 2022

Hi! do you need a permit to fly the drone in Hawaii? :)

Travel DMC Group

Tuesday 23rd of November 2021

These images are incredible and well informed knowlege of oahu