ALOHA!

 

Arriving to Oahu by flight means that you will fly into Honolulu.

You probably won’t be able to do ALL of these things on the list below during your short time on Oahu.

But when it’s your first trip to Hawaii, the things to do on Oahu that are on this list can be perfect for a first-time visitor to Hawaii.

 

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What is Oahu best known for?

Oahu is best known for Diamond Head, Pearl Harbor, and of course the beaches!

The best known Oahu beaches are Waikiki Beach and Lanikai Beach.

If you’ve been planning a trip to Oahu, there’s a good chance you’ve seen both Waikiki Beach and Lanikai Beach in pictures!

Waikiki Beach is THE tourist beach in Hawaii.

Lanikai Beach is the famous Hawaii beach photo you’ve probably seen with the “twin islands.”

Oahu is more than just the beach!

Some more amazing things to do on Oahu that’s not the beach include hiking, waterfallssnorkeling, experiencing Hawaiian culture, and seeing TONS of amazing views – ocean and mountain!

These great Oahu activities are listed below to give you ideas for things to do in Oahu!

 

 

 

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More photos/info below, but first...
Side note!
Here's some info on Oahu trip prep!

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You can read reviews for the best Oahu tours at getyourguide.


If you can't see the video directly above, save the Oahu video playlist to watch on youtube later!

IMPORTANT!!! If you have plans to do the Diamond Head hike, be sure to check the Hawaii State Parks website before you go. As of May 2022, you must make reservations for Diamond Head.

OAHU TOP 3


UNFORGETTABLE OAHU



 

 

Now…

30+ things to do on Oahu for first trip to Hawaii

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If you are simply overwhelmed by the amount of activities to choose from, also have a look at this Oahu itinerary that breaks things down by region with just a few of the top picks – closer to top 10 things to do on Oahu!

Otherwise…

See below for the Oahu bucket list!

The order of these things more or less goes around the island in a loop:

 

 

What to do on your trip to Honolulu!

 

1. Waikiki Beach

Cost: FREE

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As the most popular area to stay on Oahu, you probably won’t have to try hard to make it to Waikiki Beach!

Do expect crowds, but it also does come with convenience by staying in a tourist area!

 

 

You can a number of food spots along Waikiki Beach so you can eat on Oahu with views!

 

 

 

Iconic hotels in Waikiki

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Views of Waikiki Beach flying into Honolulu.

 

Here are Waikiki resorts you can see or visit, even if you’re not staying there.

 

Royal Hawaiian pink hotel: The pink hotel you can spot from a plane as you’re flying into Honolulu airport! There’s the Royal Hawaiian bakery here if you want to stop in. You can also go to the Royal Hawaiian Mai Tai bar that is a beachfront bar along Waikiki Beach! 👇

 

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Hilton Hawaiian Village: There’s a beachfront lagoon in front of the resort with beach rentals. They also do Friday night fireworks which anyone can watch every Friday (although you can watch the fireworks away from the hotel too!) If you watch Hawaii Five-0, you’ve probably seen this hotel a lot on TV! 👇

 

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Things to do in Waikiki. Things to do in Honolulu Hawaii, Oahu with kids, for families. Best places to stay in Honolulu in Waikiki beach hotels and resorts: hilton hawaiian village resort for families and kids. hawaii travel blog

Things to do in Waikiki. Things to do in Honolulu Hawaii, Oahu with kids, for families. Best places to stay in Honolulu in Waikiki beach hotels and resorts: hilton hawaiian village resort for families and kids. hawaii travel blog

 

 

Moana Surfrider: Called the “First Lady of Waikiki,” it’s on the list of the National Register of Historic Places. You can admire the architecture of this heritage hotel as you’re walking on Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki! You can also go to the Moana Surfrider beach bar that is a beachfront bar along Waikiki Beach! 👇

 

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👆 The Moana Surfrider is a famous historic hotel in Oahu. You can join Hawaiian cultural activities like hula lessons and ribbon lei making. Check to see if there will be a historic tour of the hotel while you are in Oahu.

 

 

 

2. Duke Kahanamoku Statue

Cost: FREE

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Stop for a photo opp in the heart of Waikiki! It’s the famous Hawaiian surfer statue of Oahu!

 

 

For more iconic spots related to surfing, you can also go to the Waikiki surfboard alley!

 

 

3. Kuhio Beach hula show

Cost: FREE

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There is a FREE hula show in Waikiki right by the beach, usually in the evenings on Wednesday, and Saturday.

See updated timings for the Kuhio Beach hula show when your Oahu travel date gates closer.

 

 

You can also see a banyan tree on Oahu when you go to the hula show.

There is a big banyan tree in Waikiki at Kuhio Beach. (This also means you can see it any time!)

 

 

See more about this Oahu activity:

 

 

4. Waikiki marine life conservation district

Cost: FREE

Things to do in Honolulu. Things to do in Waikiki. Best things to do in Oahu. waikiki beach snorkeling spot, queen's beach. Hawaii travel blog.

 

Head to Queen’s Beach near Sans Souci beach park for the Waikiki marine life conservation district and one of the best snorkeling spots on Oahu when the waters are calm.

 

 
 

 

5. Diamond Head Hike

Cost: $5

Things to do in Honolulu. Best things to do in Oahu. diamond head hike, near waikiki and honolulu. Hawaii travel blog.

 

The Diamond Head hike is a 1-2 hour hike with views of Waikiki.

This is the most popular hike near Waikiki, and there are many ways to get to Diamond Head.

You need to make a $5 per person reservation before you go to Diamond Head.

Here is the official Diamond Head reservation website.

It’s easier to get tickets if you don’t have a car, since parking requires an extra reservation (+ $10 parking fee) and is more limited.

 

 

See more about this Oahu activity:

 

 

6. Kuliouou Ridge Trail

Cost: FREE

Best things to do in Oahu. kuliouou ridge trail hike, windaward oahu. Hawaii travel blog.

 

A half day hike with ocean views.

 

 

7. Koko Head Hike

Cost: FREE

Best things to do in Oahu. koko head hike, near hanauma bay. Hawaii travel blog.

 

Basically you’re climbing straight up an old railway – this hike has also been called nature’s stairmaster! A strenuous hike that leads to amazing views!

 

 

8. Hanauma Bay

Cost: $25

Best things to do in Oahu. Hanauma Bay snorkeling beach, southeast oahu. Hawaii travel blog.

 

Hanauma Bay is one of the most popular snorkeling spots on Oahu.

There used to be a direct bus to Hanauma Bay.

You can still get from Waikiki to Hanauma Bay by bus if you don’t mind a lot of walking with your beach gear. It’s a 20 minute walk from the bus stop to Hanauma Bay.

But there’s local food near the bus stop to make up for your effort!

The bus stop you’ll get off for Hanauma Bay is near Koko Marina Center, which is where you can find local food like malasadas at the Leonard’s Bakery food truck or a Hawaiian plate lunch at Fatboy’s. (map)

You will want to make a $25 per person reservation before you go to Hanauma Bay.

Here is the official Hanauma Bay reservation website.

You can only buy tickets 2 days before, and they go quick. (If you look at recent tickets that have been sold, it tells you when they sold out.)

Hanuama Bay is closed Monday and Tuesday.

More official Hanauma Bay information.

 

 

9. Makapuu Point Lighthouse Trail

Cost: FREE

Best things to do in Oahu. makapuu lighthouse trail hike, windward east oahu. Hawaii travel blog.

 

Paved coastal trail with chances of seeing whales from far away during whale season, which generally speaking is winter months.

There are binoculars on the trail, or bring your own!

See more about whale season in Hawaii.

Makapuu Lighthouse Trail is near Sea Life Park.
 

 

10. Makapuu Beach

Cost: FREE

Best things to do in Oahu. makapuu beach, windward east oahu. Hawaii travel blog.

 

Try this beach for boogie boarding. You can buy boogie boards at the ABC store (convenience store) in Waikiki. There is one of these stores on practically every block.

 

 

11. Waimanalo Beach

Cost: FREE

Best things to do in Oahu. waimanalo beach, windaward east oahu. Hawaii travel blog.

 

Waimanalo Beach is a beautiful beach that is less crowded.

 

 

See more about this Oahu activity:

 

 

12. Lanikai Pillbox Hike

Cost: FREE

Best things to do in Oahu. lanikai pillbox hike, windward east oahu. Hawaii travel blog.

 

1 hour hike when you start on beach side that will give you ocean views and views of the famous twin islands.

 

 

13. Lanikai Beach

Cost: FREE

Best things to do in Oahu. lanikai beach, windward east oahu. Hawaii travel blog.

 

Picture perfect white sand beach, along with views of the famous twin islands.

 

 

14. Kailua Beach

Cost: FREE

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One of the best beaches on the east side of Oahu with beach facilities.

You can also go kayaking from Kailua Bay to the Mokulua Islands (aka the Mokes) as a guided kayak tour or by renting a kayak from a local shop.

 

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Kailua Beach is also the most recent Hawaii beach that was named #1 beach in America.

This means that it was also the best beach in Hawaii!

 

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👆 Oahu beaches are some of the best beaches in America!

 

 

15. Puu Maelieli Trail

Cost: FREE

Best things to do in Oahu. puu maeliaeli trail hike in kaneohe, windward east oahu. Hawaii travel blog.

 

A 1-2 hour hike with views of Kaneohe Bay.

 

 

16. Byodo-in Temple

Cost: $5

Best things to do in Oahu. byodo-in temple, windward east oahu. Hawaii travel blog.

 

A replica of a temple by the same name in Japan, the Byodo-In Temple in the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park is a symbol of Japanese culture in Hawaii.

 

 

17. Polynesian Cultural Center

Cost: $90-130

Best things to do in Oahu. polynesian cultural center luau. Hawaii travel blog.

 

The Hawaii of today has a lot of Polynesian influence.

So a trip to the Polynesian Cultural Center can also be considered an educational trip to learn a bit about Hawaiian culture.

Do this as an all-day activity to learn about Polynesian culture through hands-on activities as you “experience” different Polynesian islands.

The evening can involve a luau with Hawaiian food and entertainment, and then you can end it with a fire show at the theater after dinner.

I went into the evening fire show without any expectations and I thought it was really awesome!

You can buy an all-day ticket that includes admission for both the daytime activities and evening activities. See more about Polynesian Cultural Center tickets.

 

 

18. Kuilima Cove

Cost: FREE

Best things to do in Oahu. kuilima cove snorkeling beach near turtle bay resort, north shore. Hawaii travel blog.

 

A snorkeling spot on the North Shore located at Turtle Bay Resort.

 

See more about this Oahu activity:

 

 

19. Sunset Beach

Cost: FREE

Best things to do in Oahu. sunset beach, north shore. Hawaii travel blog.

 

Wide stretch of sand on the North Shore.

In winter, Sunset Beach is one of the best beaches for surfing on Oahu.

 

 

20. Ehukai Pillbox Hike

Cost: FREE

Best things to do in Oahu. Ehukai pillbox hike, north shore. Hawaii travel blog.

 

A 1-2 hour hike that will give you views of the North Shore coast.

 

See more about this Oahu activity:

 

 

21. Shark’s Cove

Cost: FREE

Best things to do in Oahu. shark's cove pupukea beach, north shore snorkeling spot. Hawaii travel blog.

 

One of the best spots for snorkeling on the North Shore outside of winter surfing season.

 

 

22. North Shore food trucks

Cost: $10-15

Best things to do in Oahu. north shore food truck, shrimp tacos. Hawaii travel blog.

 

Go for some fish tacos at a food truck on Oahu.

 

 

23. Puu O Mahuka heiau

Cost: FREE

Best things to do in Oahu. puu o mahuka heiau state park, north shore. Hawaii travel blog.

 

See a bit of Hawaiian history with a trip to this ancient sacred Hawaiian temple. Also go for the sweeping views of the North Shore.

 

 

24. Waimea Falls Trail

Cost: $20

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This is a visit to the Waimea Valley nature park. You’ll walk through botanical gardens and a Hawaiian cultural site.

 

See more about this Oahu activity:

 

 

25. Waimea Bay

Cost: FREE

Best things to do in Oahu. waimea bay beach park, north shore. Hawaii travel blog.

 

One of the best beaches on the North Shore with beach facilities. In winter, this is one of the top beaches for surfing.

 

 

26. Laniakea Beach

Cost: FREE

Best things to do in Oahu. laniakea beach to see turtles, north shore turtle beach. Hawaii travel blog.

 

You might have a good chance of seeing turtles at this beach also known as Turtle Beach.

 

 

27. Dole Plantation

Cost: $8-25

Best things to do in Oahu. dole plantation pineapples. Hawaii travel blog.

 

It’s free to roam around the grounds, but you’ll at least want to eat a famous Dole whip at THE Dole pineapple plantation!

There are also a few paid activities on-site as well.

See about making it a half day at the Dole Plantation.

 

 

28. Kukaniloko birthstones

Cost: FREE

Best things to do in Oahu. kukaniloko birthing stones. Hawaii travel blog.

 

Make a quick stop here on the way to Dole Plantation to see a bit of Hawaiian history.

 

 

29. Keaiwa Heiau

Cost: FREE

Best things to do in Oahu. keaiwa heiau at state park. Hawaii travel blog.

 

A visit to a state park to see an ancient sacred Hawaiian temple.

 

 

29. Aiea Loop Trail

Cost: FREE

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2-3 hour hike on a forest trail in central Oahu at the Keaiwa Heiau State Park. After your hike you can end it with a picnic in the park!

 

 

30. Pearl Harbor National Memorial

Cost: $0-15+

Best things to do in Oahu. pearl harbor memorial. Hawaii travel blog.

 

A reflection on a big part of U.S. involvement in World War II. Entering the grounds is free (which can still be worth it), and there are also paid museums to visit too.

This is a national park site in Hawaii that you can find on Oahu, as a designated national memorial.

While it’s popular to go here as a part of a tour, you can visit Pearl Harbor on your own too.

To go to the famous icon of Pearl Harbor, you will need to make a $1 reservation for the iconic USS Arizona.

 

 

31. Iolani Palace

Cost: $20

Best things to do in Oahu. iolani palace, downtown honolulu. Hawaii travel blog.

 

You can tour the inside of what’s called the only “official” royal palace on U.S. soil. See more about a visit to the Iolani Palace.

 

Best things to do in Oahu. iolani palace, downtown honolulu. Hawaii travel blog.

 

 

32. King Kamehameha Statue

Cost: FREE

Best things to do in Oahu. king kamehameha, downtown honolulu. Hawaii travel blog.

 

If you watch the Hawaii Five-0 TV show, this is kind of a mandatory photo stop!

 

 

33. Manoa Falls Trail

Cost: FREE

Best things to do in Oahu. manoa falls trail hike, waterfalls. Hawaii travel blog.

 

A popular 1-2 hour waterfall hike on a forest trail, one of the most popular waterfalls on Oahu.

 

 

And there are some of the top things to do on Oahu!

 

 

How to make some of these top Oahu activities a part of your Hawaii vacation?!

If you have 2 weeks on Oahu, then you might be able to do all of these things.

But otherwise…

If your time on Oahu is (much) less, then see ideas for how to put some of the highlights into a 3 day Oahu itinerary!

 

 

Oahu travel planning map

For the visual of where these places are located around the island, have a look at this interactive Oahu map to help plan out your days!

 

 

Oahu, or another Hawaiian island for your first trip?!

Still undecided on which Hawaiian island to visit?! Also see:

 

HAPPY DOING LOTS OF THINGS ON OAHU!

 

 

Are you headed to another island in Hawaii from Oahu? More of the best things to do in Hawaii:

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Top things to pack for your Hawaii vacation!

The ultimate beach towel for travel?!
Turkish towels are considered to be more absorbent and lightweight than your average beach towel. Be sure to check out turkish towels like these!
The cheapo way to waterproof your phone
You can take underwater pictures with a simple waterproof phone case like this. Touch screen may not work well underwater - try the volume button to snap the pic instead!
Get your suitcase more organized!
Packing cubes can make it so you're spending less time on your vacation looking for things! They are basically a form of drawers in your suitcase. Take a look at these packing cubes.
Wear less sunscreen by wearing a UPF swim shirt!
Wearing a swim shirt means less skin that's exposed to the sun which means less sunscreen you need to apply! See about wearing swim shirts with UV protection like these when you're snorkeling.

More for your Oahu packing list



ALOHA!