As you plan your Oahu travels, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the amazing things to do. Hiking excursions, shopping adventures, and everything in between undoubtedly call your name. To help you figure out how to best spend your time, we’ve created this guide on the top 20 things to do in Oahu. So, if you’re ready to get started, take a deep dive into this list. Then, add activities to your itinerary with confidence you’re on track to having a wonderful trip.
Pearl Harbor National Memorial
The Pearl Harbor National Memorial gives you a chance to pay your respects to the fallen soldiers while learning about the history of the world. During your visit, you’ll get to ride a boat over to the USS Arizona memorial, watch a documentary in the theater, and explore all the museum exhibits.
Battleship Missouri Memorial
The Battleship Missouri Memorial sits across Pearl Harbor from the national memorial. During your visit, you’ll get to board the ship and go on a guided tour. Your guide will share how World War II ended while taking you along the path walked by General Douglas MacArthur.
Once home to King Kalakaua, the Iolani Palace now serves as a museum honoring the island’s royal families. There are several specialty tours available, including their popular White Glove Tour. On that tour, you’ll get to see all the palace collection items normally kept away from the public eye.
The Bishop Museum focuses on celebrating Hawaii’s history and culture with a regular rotation of interesting exhibits. As you explore each one, you’ll get to learn about taxonomy, local art, and so much more. A visit to the onsite planetarium is a must as well if you want to explore the stars.
Do you want to see where they filmed many iconic scenes in the Jurassic Park movies? Join the Jurassic Adventure tour offered at Kualoa Ranch. They have many other incredible adventures available as well, including UTV Raptor tours, ziplines, and horseback rides.
The Byodo-In Temple
The Byodo-In Temple gives you a serene spot to meditate, get in touch with your spiritual side, and appreciate the island’s beauty. This non-practicing Buddhist temple is an exact replica of the 1,000-year-old temple in Japan, built in 1968 out of respect for the Japanese immigrants who came to Hawaii.
Ala Moana Center
When you want to enjoy the sunny weather while shopping the day away, you cannot go wrong with a trip to the Ala Moana Center. At this open-air shopping center, you’ll find nearly 300 stores offering all the goods you could want on your trip.
Diamond Head and State Monument
For a memorable hiking adventure, you can always count on the Diamond Head State Monument. The historic trail takes you up to the summit of the volcanic tuff cone, giving you unmatched views of the military fort and the ocean beyond.
A trip to the Dole Plantation is a must when visiting Oahu if you love everything pineapple. Once a humble farm stand, this huge plantation offers endless opportunities to explore all their crops, meander through a pineapple maze, get a taste of Dole Whip, and so much more.
If you want to enjoy the quintessential island beach experience, set your sights on Waikiki, for sure. White, sandy beaches await, allowing you to go swimming, take sunset strolls, and even take surfing lessons. Shopping, dining and entertainment venues offer plenty of things to do once the sun goes down, too.
Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden
The Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden lets you admire the bounty of the island landscape at your leisure. This garden features over 400 acres of Hawaiian flowers, shrubs, and trees. Plus, there are fun workshops you can join to learn how to make the most of all the island resources.
Snorkeling is always good at Hanauma Bay, making it a fantastic spot to explore the island’s diverse marine life. Now a protected marine life conservation area, the bay sits within a volcanic cone and serves as home to sea turtles, monk seals, spinner dolphins, and so much more.
A true sight to behold, the Honolulu Zoo features over 42 acres of animal exhibits. Amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals of all kinds live in well-designed habitats and enjoy regular enrichment activities. You’re welcome to explore the exhibits on your own, but the guided tour offers an in-depth look at every animal.
Kailua Beach Park
Kailua Beach Park never fails to serve as a chill place to spend the day on the waterfront. During your visit, you can go swimming, boogie boarding, paddle boarding, and even kitesurfing. Prefer to keep your feet on the ground? There’s room for picnics, beach volleyball, and sunbathing.
Every trip to the Waimea Valley gives you the opportunity to explore the island’s landscape, history, and culture. At the amazing site, botanical gardens, cultural sites, and resident artisans come together to help you learn about Oahu and all it has to offer.
Koko Crater Railway Trail
The Koko Crater Railway Trailhead serves as a challenging hike with a big reward at the end: Unmatched views of the cityscape, oceanside, and even Molokai. On this trail, you’ll hike up the abandoned railroad tracks until you reach the top of the Koko Crater, earning yourself scenic views of Oahu as far as the eye can see.
Manoa Falls Trail
If you want to hike your way to a stunningly gorgeous waterfall, head down the Manoa Falls Trail. This moderately challenging trail takes you to the 150-foot Manoa Falls and then back again. Since it’s a popular spot to hike, you’ll get the enjoy the views alongside plenty of your fellow travelers.
Lanikai Beach is the place to go for breathtaking views of the Mokulua Islands and all your favorite beachside activities. How you spend your day in Oahu is up to you. Have a picnic. Stroll along the sandy shores. Or jump the waves and enjoy a swim in the brilliant blue waters.
Nuuanu Pali Lookout
For even more magnificent views, take a trip to the Nuuanu Pali Lookout. From this vantage point, you’ll get to see the Koolau cliffs and all the way out to Coconut Island. Many other island destinations are in view as well, including the Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens.
When you simply cannot decide where to spend your days in Oahu, get on over to North Shore for plenty of fun in the sun. Along the sandy shores, you can build sandcastles, look for seashells, and enjoy all your favorite watersport activities, including surfing. In between your adventures, don’t hesitate to visit the many excellent food trucks and soak in the laidback vibes while you dine.
There’s no one right way to spend your time on Oahu. There are plenty of things to do. So, don’t hesitate to simply add the activities that speak to you the most as you go through this list. Also, remember to leave space in your itinerary for impromptu stops. That way, you can make a pit stop whenever something interesting catches your eye.