The island of Oahu is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Hawaii.
There are a total of eight main Hawaiian islands in the Hawaiian archipelago in the North Pacific Ocean and each island is unique in its ambiance and attractions.
Oahu is home to Honolulu, the state capital and largest city.
The island is also home to Waikiki Beach, a world-famous stretch of sand and surf that draws visitors from all over the globe.
Whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach vacation or an action-packed adventure, Oahu has something for everyone.
Things To Do In Oahu
1. Diamond Head State Monument
Diamond Head State Monument is a volcanic crater that was formed about 100,000 years ago.
The crater is about 3,000 feet wide and 750 feet deep.
Diamond Head offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and Honolulu that you can hike to via a trail that takes you to the edge of the crater.
Diamond Head State Monument is also home to a number of WWII-era bunkers and tunnels that are open to the public.
There is a rest stop at a lookout point, and then you’ll make your way through tunnels and up stairs.
Climb 99 steps to get to the second lookout point where you’ll find a WW II bunker. A further 54 steps from there will bring you to the crater’s summit.
The crater rim houses a picnic area, restrooms, drinking fountains and information and historical displays.
One of the most beautiful hikes in the world, Diamond Head offers breathtaking views of Honolulu and the Pacific Ocean. A must see while in Hawaii.
2. North Shore
The laid-back North Shore is a stretch of coast known for big waves and professional surfing contests at Waimea Bay and Sunset Beach.
It encompasses the 17-mile north-facing coastal area between Ka’ena Point in the west and eastward to Kahuku Point.
The shoreline is dotted with pristine beaches and beautiful waves that attract surfers from all over the globe.
In addition to surfing, the North Shore is also a popular spot for swimming, sunbathing, and picnicking.
Many North Shore beaches don’t have lifeguards, although some do.
However, there are posted signs on the beaches so you can be aware of the warnings.
3. Byodo-In Temple
Byodo-In Temple is a Buddhist temple considered to be one of the most beautiful and serene temples in all of Hawaii.
It is also one of the most popular tourist destinations in Hawaii.
The Byodo-In Temple was built in 1968 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaii.
The temple is designed to look like a traditional Japanese temple, and it features a beautiful garden with a koi pond.
The temple is open to the public, and visitors can take part in traditional Buddhist ceremonies such as meditation and chanting.
Visitors to the Byodo-In Temple can also purchase souvenirs at the gift shop, or enjoy a cup of tea at the tea house.
The Byodo-In Temple is a beautiful and peaceful place, and it is well worth a visit when you are in Hawaii.
Address: 47-200 Kahekili Highway, Kaneohe, HI 96744
4. Kailua Beach Park
Kailua Beach is a beautiful beach located on the Windward Coast of Oahu, just north of Lanikai Beach.
This large park stretches for about 2 miles and offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean.
Kailua beach is popular with locals and tourists alike, and it is a great place to relax, swim, sunbathe, and picnic.
Kailua Beach Park is also a popular spot for windsurfing, kayaking, paddle boarding and kitesurfing.
The beach is situated near the town of Kailua, which is a great place to grab a bite to eat or do some shopping.
Address: Kailua Beach Park, 526 Kawailoa Rd, Kailua, HI 96734
5. Jurassic park at Kualoa Ranch
One of the most exciting things to do in Oahu, Hawaii is a visit to Jurassic park at Kualoa Ranch.
Located on the windward side of Oahu, Kualoa Ranch is a private nature reserve and working cattle ranch.
On the ranch’s northern half is Ka’a’awa Valley, a popular TV and movie location where Jurassic Park, Lost and Hawaii Five-0 were filmed.
Scenes from Jurassic Park and Jurassic World were filmed here and a visit is an incredible opportunity for fans to see the amazing film locations up close and in person.
The ranch is open to visitors almost every day of the year, but a guided tour is required to visit the valleys and mountain ranges beyond the gift shop.
Tours come in a variety, from air-conditioned buses to all-terrain vehicles to a boat tour to ziplining.
Address: Kualoa Ranch, 49-560 Kamehameha Hwy, Kaneohe, HI 96744
6. Lanikai Beach
Lanikai Beach is found on the windwardside of Oahu in Kailua, just south of Kailua Beach Park.
The beach truly is a paradise, with gentle waves, soft white sand, and stunning views of the nearby Mokulua Islands.
Visitors come from all over the globe to experience Lanikai’s unique beauty.
Because it faces eastward, it’s one of the best spots on the island for watching the sunrise.
It’s also popular for swimming, sunbathing, stand-up paddle boarding, kayaking, and picnicking.
Lanikai Beach is well-known for its scenic views. The Mokulua Islands, a pair of small uninhabited islands just offshore, are especially popular with photographers.
On a clear day, you can even see the island of Molokai in the distance.
Address: Lanikai Beach, 988 Mokulua Dr, Lanikai, HI 96734
7. Hawaii Plantation Village
Hawaii Plantation Village is a living history museum that tells the story of Hawaii’s sugar plantation era.
The village is located on the island of Oahu, and it consists of a number of restored buildings that were once part of a working sugar plantation.
The village also has a number of interactive exhibits, and it offers guided tours that take visitors through the different buildings.
The village is a great way to learn about Hawaii’s history, and it is also a beautiful and peaceful place to spend the day.
Address: Hawaii Plantation Village, 94-695 Waipahu St Ext, Waipahu, HI 96797
8. Pearl Harbor National Memorial
The Pearl Harbor National Memorial is a United States National Monument located in Hawaii.
The monument commemorates the December 7, 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, as well as the ensuing American entry into World War II.
The Pearl Harbor National Memorial consists of two distinct units: the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center and the USS Arizona Memorial.
The Visitor Center tells the story of the attack on Pearl Harbor through exhibits, audio-visual presentations, and displays of artefacts.
The USS Arizona Memorial is a floating memorial that marks the final resting place of 1,177 crewmen who lost their lives when the USS Arizona was sunk during the attack on Pearl Harbor.
More than two million people visit the Pearl Harbor National Memorial each year.
Admission to the Visitor Center is free, and tickets to the USS Arizona Memorial are available on a first-come, first-served basis.
Address: Pearl Harbor National Memorial, 1 Arizona Memorial Pl, Honolulu, HI 96818
9. Waimea Bay
Waimea Bay is located in Haleiwa on the North Shore of Oahu at the mouth of the Waimea River.
The bay is famous for its huge waves roll, which make it a popular spot for surfing.
However, the waves can also be dangerous, and swimming is not recommended.
Even so, Waimea Bay is a popular spot for sunbathing, picnicking, and just enjoying the stunning views.
The bay is also home to a number of rock formations that are popular with climbers.
10. Downtown Honolulu
Downtown Honolulu is home to some of Oahu’s most historic places.
Downtown Honolulu comprises of four districts – the Capitol District, Chinatown, the Central Business District, and the Waterfront.
Each neighborhood boasts its own unique cultural, historical and social features.
Next to the skyscrapers of the island’s main business district you’ll find important landmarks like the Iolani Palace, the King Kamehameha I statue, the Kawaiahao Church and the Aloha Tower.
In between these buildings, you’ll find other noteworthy landmarks, museums, quaint souvenirs shops, and excellent local restaurants.
A great way to see all that Downtown Honolulu has to offer is with a city tour.
11. Waimanalo Beach
A must visit on your Hawaiian vacation, Waimanalo Beach on the east side of Oahu is one of Hawaii’s most beautiful and secluded beaches.
Located on the windward coast side of Oahu, this beach is known for its clear turquoise waters, white sand beaches, and lush green mountains.
Waimanalo beach is an uninterrupted 3-mile long stretch and is a great place to relax, swim, sunbathe, or just enjoy the incredible views.
There are also many activities available such as kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, and fishing.
There are two main access points to the beach, one near the southern end of the beach and one near the northern end.
The southern one is called Waimanalo Beach Park, located across from Nakini Street.
This beach park has showers, restrooms, a pavilion, picnic tables and a lifeguard tower.
If you are looking to relax, there are plenty of beach umbrellas and lounge chairs available for rent. There are also several restaurants and cafes nearby if you get hungry.
Located about a 45-minute drive from famous Waikiki Beach, Waimanalo is the kind of place that makes you blink to make sure you’re not dreaming.
Address: Waimanalo Beach, 41-010 Wailea St. Waimanalo, HI 96795
12. Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens
Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens is a 1,000-acre botanical garden. The gardens feature a wide variety of native Hawaiian plants, as well as plants from around the world.
The gardens are open to the public for free, and offer a variety of educational programs for all ages.
There is also a campground located within the gardens, which offers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.
If you’re looking for a place to enjoy nature and learn about plants, Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens is the perfect spot.
Address: Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens, 45-680 Luluku Rd, Kaneohe, HI 96744
13. Polynesian Cultural Center
The Polynesian Cultural Center is a family-centered cultural tourist attraction and living museum located in Laie, on the northern shore of Oahu.
The center features seven unique Polynesian villages representing different cultures from across the Pacific Ocean.
The featured Polynesian islands include: Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Aotearoa (Maori New Zealand), Tahiti and Hawaii. There is also a special Rapa Nui (Easter Island) exhibit.
Visitors can learn about the history and traditions of each culture through song, dance, and other traditional arts.
Families can take part in fun activities for all ages and watch authentic cultural performances.
The Center is also known for its award-winning Ali’i Luau, a traditional Hawaiian feast, which starts at 5 pm.
Set on 42 acres, the Polynesian Cultural Center also has a private lagoon that hosts daily canoe tours.
Another main highlight is the Hā: Breath of Life, a 90-minute award-winning night show, which takes place in the Center’s 2,800-seat Pacific Theater.
The Polynesian Cultural Center also offers a variety of educational programs and cultural events throughout the year.
A visit to the Polynesian Cultural Center is one of the most popular things to do in Oahu for families.
Address: Polynesian Cultural Center, 55-370 Kamehameha Hwy, Laie, HI 96762
14. Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve
Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve is a protected sea life conservation area and underwater park located on the southeast coast of Oahu in Hawaii.
The bay is home to a wide variety of fish, coral, and other marine life.
It is a popular spot for snorkelling, swimming, and just enjoying the stunning views.
The bay is also home to a number of rock formations that are popular with climbers.
Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve was established in 1967 to protect the marine life in the bay from over-exploitation.
The preserve is open to the public for free, but visitors are required to watch a short video about the importance of preserving the marine life in the bay.
There are also a number of rules that visitors must follow in order to help protect the sea life.
Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve is a great place to learn about the importance of protecting our oceans and the creatures that live in them.
Address: Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, 7455 Kalanianaole Hwy, Honolulu, Hawaii
15. Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail
Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail is a 2-mile round trip hike that leads to the Makapu’u Point Lighthouse.
The trail is located on the southeast coast of Oahu in Hawaii and offers stunning views of the ocean and surrounding cliffs.
The hike is considered to be moderate in difficulty, with a few steep sections.
There is a small parking lot at the trailhead, but it can fill up quickly during peak times.
The Makapuu Lighthouse was built in 1909 and is currently not open to the public.
However, the views from the lighthouse are some of the best on the island.
The Makapuu Lighthouse Trail is a great way to experience the beauty of the Oahu coastline.
Address: Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail, Waimanalo, HI 96795
16. National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific
The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific is a national cemetery, home to the remains of over 20,000 soldiers who died during World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.
The cemetery also features a memorial to the victims of the Pearl Harbor attack.
The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific was established in 1949 after World War II and is open to the public.
Guided tours of the cemetery are available, but advance reservations are required.
The Memorial Cemetery is a moving reminder of the sacrifices made by military service members.
Address: 2177 Puowaina Dr, Honolulu, HI 96813
What is Oahu Hawaii known for?
Oahu Hawaii is the site of Pearl Harbor (where Japanese forces staged their first attack against the United States in World War II), Waikiki beach, and the North Shore (known for surfing).
What is the best time of year to go to Oahu Hawaii?
The best time to visit Oahu, taking into consideration the weather, demand for accommodations, are the months of early April, May, September, and early October.
Is Oahu Hawaii worth visiting?
Oahu is definitely one of the best Hawaiian islands for a visit.
Oahu Hawaii offers an outstanding urban vacation experience with its world-class beaches, numerous fun activities, scenic hiking trails, and beautiful landscapes.
From stunning beaches to vibrant nightlife and lush green mountains, Oahu attractions are for everyone.
What is the best time of year to see sea turtles in Hawaii?
The best time to see turtles in Hawaii is summer (May-October).
During this time, the waves are calm and the water and sand are much warmer than in the winter months.
The best time to spot sea turtles is between 11:00 AM and 3:00 PM. Most of them will come out when the sun is the hottest.
Is Laniakea Beach, called Turtle Beach?
Laniakea Beach on Oahu’s north shore is better known as Turtle Beach for the many Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles that call this place home and bask in the sun.
Are there tide pools in Oahu?
The Makapu’u tide pools are one of the most beautiful spots on Oahu, Hawaii.
These are amazing tide pools and blowholes formed in black lava rock on the East side of Oahu.
Is the Hilton Hawaiian Village lagoon man made?
The Duke Paoa Kahanamoku Lagoon, also known as Hilton Hawaiian Village Lagoon, is a 5-acre, man made public pool located in the Waikiki beach neighborhood of Honolulu.
It was built in the 1950s as part of Henry J. Kaiser’s Hawaiian Village development project.
The Lagoon has some great water sports, where you can scuba dive and admire the sea life, snorkel and swim.
Where is the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park Oahu?
Valley of the Temples Memorial Park is a memorial park located on the windward side of the Hawaiian island of Oahu at the foot of the Koʻolau mountains, near the town of Kāneʻohe.
Thousands of Buddhist, Shinto, Protestant and Catholic residents of Hawaii are buried in this memorial park.