Things to do in Oahu

Oahu is such a huge island with so much to offer. It has everything that you could imagine when thinking about the island life: beautiful beaches, gorgeous hikes, abundant wildlife, a lot of shops, fabulous restaurants, nightlife and so much more. The list of best things to do in Oahu can get truly endless. So, if you’re wondering what to do in Oahu just keep reading.

We spent 7 days on Oahu trying to do as much as we can, and of course, it still wasn’t enough. Planning our activities on Oahu was probably the hardest part because of its abundance. So, here is my list of the best things to do in Oahu. It will show you the places to visit and where to eat on Oahu.

Top view of Oahu Hawaii

Disclosure: This post contains some affiliate links. This means that I get a small percentage if you purchase a product or a service mentioned. It doesn’t change the price for you. I take it seriously and would never recommend or promote a product or service that I wouldn’t use myself.

Where to stay in Oahu

When it comes to Hawaii, Airbnb is going to be hands down your best choice of accommodation. The list of amazing places on Oahu is endless and for sure you’ll be able to find something that suits your taste and your budget the most. Here is the list of my personal favorites to make it easier for you.

Apartment near Waikiki beach

I made a blog post dedicated to the Best accommodations on Oahu. I would highly suggest you read ithere.

Beach in Oahu Hawaii

Best Places to Visit in Oahu

Dole Plantation

This place is your ultimate Hawaii’s “Pineapple Experience”. Opened in 1989, they know a lot about pineapples here. It provides fun activities like taking a Pineapple Express Train Tour around plantations ($11) or Pineapple Garden Maze. They offer a lot of educational displays all around the Dole Plantation. You can even see how they grow. If you’re traveling with kids this is a must-visit place on Oahu.

You can see how they grow and of course even try one. They have a huge store offering a variety of Dole Plantation gifts, drinks, and most importantly sweets. Everything that we ate there was delicious. Don’t forget to try their famous Dole Whip.

Pineapple farm in Oahu Hawaii

Diamond Head hike

Of course, when visiting the island, you have to spend as much time in nature as you can. Diamond Head became the most iconic site of Oahu, Its skyscrapers standing against the stunning mountain backdrop. Created by the volcanic explosion. Diamond Head Hike will be your best choice. You don’t even have to go that far from Waikiki.

It’s an easy and pretty popular hike that offers gorgeous views of Oahu. The most popular time to do the Diamond Head hike is during sunrise or sunset. So be prepared that you won’t be alone surrounded by nature. It’s a must-do on Oahu.

top view of Diamond Hike in Oahu Hawaii
Mountain view of Oahu Hawaii

Hanauma Bay snorkeling

Hanauma Bay State Park is one of the best places to snorkel on Oahu. Keep in mind though that it’s probably the most touristy one as well. This cove was once a volcanic crater. It’s very picturesque, full of fish and other marine life. If you’re lucky you can even find turtles here.

Try to go as early in the morning as you can because usually, it gets very busy. If you don’t have your own snorkel gear, you can rent it there for $20. You’ll also need to pay for parking if you’re traveling by car.

Hanauma Bay view in Oahu Hawaii
Snorkeling in Oahu Hawaii

Pillbox hike (Kaiwa Ridge Trail)

It’s hard to choose the best hike on Oahu because there are many great ones. However, if I had to choose only one, it would be the Pillbox hike.

It’s not the easiest hike of your life but it probably will be the most rewarding one with the least amount of effort. When you get to the top and see that panoramic ocean view from the top it will all be worth it. You can see the whole Ko’olaupoko area including beautiful Lanikai Beach, where we went after the trek to relax.

In my opinion Pillbox Hike should definitely be on top of your list of things to do on Oahu.

Pillbox hike - Kaiwa Ridge Trail in Oahu Hawaii
Pillbox hike in Oahu Hawaii

Manoa Waterfall Hike

Another great hike to take if you would like to be closer to Hawaii’s unique nature and jungle. Manoa Waterfall Hike is another very accessible hike that gets you through stunning jungle/forest land and leads you to a beautiful waterfall at the end.

However, I wouldn’t hike this trail only to see the waterfall. Considering the fact that it’s a very popular and easy hike, it was very busy and crowded when we got there. Instead, just enjoy the hike itself and don’t rush to get to the waterfall.

Manoa Waterfall Hike in Oahu Hawaii

Kualoa Ranch (Private Nature Reserve) guided tour

Kualoa Ranch Private Nature Reserve preserves Kualoa’s sacred lands and celebrates its history. This place offers every kind of adventure that you could imagine. It truly deserves at least half a day from your Oahu itinerary. It’s also a location where over 70 Hollywood movies were filmed. Such as Jurassic Park, Lost, and 50 First Dates.

They offer different guided tours through the valley such as Mountain Bikes, ATVs, Zipline, Horseback, Trolley, Bus, Boat, Kayak, Jeep, Catamaran. I’m sure you can easily find something that suits you the most.

movie bus at Kualoa Ranch in Oahu Hawaii
Kualoa Ranch in Oahu Hawaii

Polynesian Cultural Center

Thanks to places like this one you can educate yourself while having fun. Here you can learn and experience a rich history of six different island nations: Tonga, Tahiti, Hawaii, Samoa, Fiji, Aotearoa.

Learn about the ways of how natives used to live, and even take part in authentic Polynesian Luau dinner. Enjoy different dance and song celebrations from across the Pacific.

Travel Tip: Don’t leave without seeing the breathtaking evening show “Ha: breath of life.”

Polynesian Cultural Center in Oahu Hawaii

Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail

If you’ve ever looked more into Hawaii and especially Oahu, I’m sure you’ve seen a hike called Stairway to Heaven. It offers the most breathtaking experience and unreal views over Oahu.

However, not everybody will be willing to walk 3,922 steps. Oh, also it’s very dangerous and illegal to climb.

So, hiking the Wiliwilinui Ridge trail is a much safer and better option. Offering equally amazing panoramic views from the middle of the island. Takes about 3 hours both ways.

Wiliwilinui ridge trail oahu

Educate yourself at Pearl Harbor

It was here when on the 7th of December in 1941, the US was attacked and plunged into World War II by the Japanese.

Here you can visit the WWII Valor in the Pacific, Aviation Museum, USS Bowfin Submarine Museum, Battleship Missouri Memorial, and USS Oklahoma Memorial.

Official website: https://www.pearlharboroahu.com/

Surround yourself by peaceful magic in Byodo-In Temple

Beautiful non-practicing Buddhist Temple located in Valley of the Temples Memorial Park. It’s a smaller-scale replica of the 950-year-old Buddhist Temple in Uji, Japan.

The Temple grounds are full of different flowers, lush green landscapes and even peacocks. You can also find a reflecting pond, small waterfalls, and places for meditation here.

Fun Activities to do on Oahu

Surfing on Oahu

It’s no secret that on Oahu, like on most islands of Hawaii, you can find a lot of amazing places for surfing. It started like “Sport of Kings” in Hawaii, so no surprise that it’s one of the best places in the world to catch some waves. No matter if you’ve never done it before or you’re skilled in surfing, you’ll find the best beach for you.

If you want to learn how to surf, Waikiki Beach will be the right place for you to do that, as the waves here are nice and the water is calm.

North Shore’s Waimea Bay, on the other hand, is the place where big wave surfing was born, so be more careful if you choose to do it there. You can even go there to simply watch the experts riding the big waves, especially in wintertime.

surfing on oahu

Cage-less Shark diving

If you’re feeling adventurous and would like to try something more special, the best things to do in Oahu that I’d offer you, is swimming with sharks in nature.

The best company to do it with is One Ocean Diving.

This is probably the most exciting thing that I did in Oahu and I highly recommend it.

One Ocean Diving offers a once-in-a-lifetime experience to swim with sharks without the cage.

They also take time to educate, protect, and bring more awareness to those beautiful creatures. You will learn about biology, physiology, the behavior of sharks, and how to safely interact with them before going into the water.

The team that we were with on that day was more than helpful, friendly, and welcoming. They were simply outstanding.

It’s a little bit pricey, $165 per person, but it was definitely worth it.

Official website to book and learn more: https://oneoceandiving.com/

cage-less shark diving

My most important travel tip!

If you’re planning on doing a lot of activities during your stay on Oahu I highly suggest you to buy a GoOahu Card.

We bought a 3-Day pass, the price of which was $198 per person. Even though we could have done a lot more in those 3 days, we still managed to save $109!

Official website to get one: https://gocity.com/oahu/en-us

More places to visit in Oahu

  • Kapiolani Regional Park
  • Crouching Lion hike
  • Lyon Arboretum
  • Iolani Palace
  • Bishop Museum
  • West beaches (especially for swimming with turtles)
  • Olomana trail
  • Lulumahu Falls
  • Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden
  • Nu’uanu Pali
peaceful magic oahu

Where to eat in Oahu

Needless to say, not only activities are fun in Oahu but the food here is to die for. We tried so many delicious desserts and savory meals here that now I think that you simply can’t go wrong when choosing your meal in Oahu. Most of the produce is local and very fresh. Especially their fish and fruits. So, these are only some of the places that I highly recommend for you to try!

Ubae – purple cheesecake

Ubae cupcakes in Oahu Hawaii

•Modo – mochi donuts. We tried matcha green tea, cookies and cream and lilikoi

Mochi donuts at Modo in Oahu Hawaii

Kamehameha bakery – best poi glazed doughnuts

poi glazed doughnuts at Kamehameha bakery in Oahu Hawaii

Acai bowls – at Crispy Grindz

acai bowls in Oahu Hawaii

Samoan half-moon pie – Polynesian Cultural Center

Half moon pies in Oahu Hawaii

Dole Whip and Macadamia Nut Cheesecake – at Dole Plantation

Dole Plantation in Oahu Hawaii

•Giovanni’s’ Shrimp Truck – the most popular truck on Oahu. There was a line before it even opened. Famous for its garlic shrimp (but in my opinion, the one that we tried in Kauai was better)

Coconut Shrimp at Shrimp Shack in Oahu Hawaii

Shrimp Shack – another very delicious shrimp truck, where we tried both garlic and coconut shrimp.

Coconut Shrimp at Giovanni's Shrimp Truck in Oahu Hawaii
Garlic Shrimp Giovanni's Shrimp Truck in Oahu Hawaii

•Leonard’s bakery – you have to try the delicious malasadas there. They taste like donuts, but even better and they offer several varieties. We tried: chocolate, original, coconut, macadamia, caramel, guava, and coconut turnover. My favorite was the guava one, and it’s a bright pink color.

Leonard's bakery in Paris

•Ramen – at Shirokiya Japan Village Walk. It’s a Japanese food court located in Ala Moana Center. They offer a vast variety of Japanese dishes and fruits. The ramen that we tried there was amazing.

Japan Village in Oahu Hawaii
Ramen in Oahu

•Cheeseburger in paradise – a great restaurant near Waikiki Beach. The coconut Shrimp is a must try.

Also, don’t forget to try some macadamia nuts. They are delicious and taste way better in Hawaii

How to get around Oahu?

Probably renting a car is the easiest way of transportation because it gives you a lot of flexibility. You can easily rent your vehicle when you get there. So, I guess the most popular choice is renting a Jeep. However, the public transportation system on Oahu is very well developed. So, if you don’t want to rent your own car I highly recommend using public buses, as they are a much cheaper and more convenient option.

View of Oahu Hawaii
Beautiful sunset over Oahu skyscrapers

I hope I was able to help you to create a list of things of best things to do on Oahu.
Thank you so much for reading this travel guide, comment below if you liked it or would want to add something else.

Don’t forget to contact me through email, Instagram, or Facebook, where I share more adventures and travel tips, so we could stay connected and get to know each other better. Can’t wait to hear from you! Happy travels!

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Amanda Kerr
3 months ago

This is such a great post! Well written. I definitely miss travelling. This destination is definitely going on my list. 🙂

Travelling With Diana
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Travelling With Diana
3 months ago
Reply to  Amanda Kerr

Thank you so much, Amanda! I miss traveling so much as well! Hawaii is so breathtaking. I hope you’ll be able to go there safely soon. You just have to discover it’s magical beauty!

Bucketlist Bri
3 months ago

Ah I love reading Oahu guides – gives me such wanderlust! I know I’d absolutely love every one of those places and activities. It’s so crazy the Stairway to Heaven hike is actually illegal because it’s so dangerous! P.S. Love your leg tattoo(s)!

Travelling With Diana
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Travelling With Diana
2 months ago
Reply to  Bucketlist Bri

Thank you so much, Bri! It makes me so happy that it inspired you to visit Oahu even more! I think there is a legal way to visit the Stairway to Heaven now.

Lana
3 months ago

What an interesting post! I’d love to visit Hawaii so much and this post makes me want to even more !!! Not sure I have the guts to do the cage-less shark diving though! Have you done that?!

Travelling With Diana
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Travelling With Diana
2 months ago
Reply to  Lana

Thank you, Lana! Yes, I did it myself and it was the most memorable experience from our trip to Oahu! I highly highly recommend it. Especially with One Ocean Diving as they also provide a lot of educational information about the sharks.

Val
Val
3 months ago

The Wiliwilinui ridge trail looks absolutely stunning and goes straight into my wishlist 😀 Thanks for sharing this interesting guide!

Travelling With Diana
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Travelling With Diana
2 months ago
Reply to  Val

Thank you, Val! I’m so happy that I was able to inspire you and add another place from Oahu to your list!

Lisa
3 months ago

Ahh I miss Oahu! Adding some of these items to my list for my next trip to the island

Travelling With Diana
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Travelling With Diana
2 months ago
Reply to  Lisa

Thank you, Lisa! I hope you had a great time there and have more ideas of what to do in Oahu now 🙂

Karen
Karen
3 months ago

I enjoyed hearing about all the outdoor things to do on Oahu. I would love the snorkeling and hiking. The food looks yummy too.

Travelling With Diana
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Travelling With Diana
2 months ago
Reply to  Karen

Yes, Karen! All the food that we tried there was truly so delicious!

Sydney
3 months ago

Great post! I have always wanted to visit Oahu, I will keep this guide handy for when I do get to visit 🙂

Travelling With Diana
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Travelling With Diana
2 months ago
Reply to  Sydney

Thank you so much, dear! I’m so happy to hear that it was helpful to you!

Maya
Maya
3 months ago

I have been dreaming about Hawaii for such a long time. Everything you’ve mentioned looks divine from the beautiful views from Diamond Head to snorkeling and the food, of course! Thanks for this great guide!

Travelling With Diana
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Travelling With Diana
2 months ago
Reply to  Maya

Thank you Maya for reading it! I hope you can visit Hawaii soon and enjoy all the amazing things that it has to offer!

Patti
3 months ago

We just came back from a trip to the Big Island in late February right before lockdown. We had planned on more Hawaii trips. Oahu is definitely on our list. Thanks for a great in depth guide. And damn girl, you leg tattoo is beautiful!

Travelling With Diana
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Travelling With Diana
2 months ago
Reply to  Patti

Aw, thank you so much, Patti! I truly appreciate it! I wanted to visit the Big Island too but we ran out of time and were able to visit only Oahu, Maui and Kauai. I hope to be able to go there as well when it’s safe.

Krista
3 months ago

I’ve heard some great things about Oahu, and your photos look amazing. Adding this to the bucket list!

Travelling With Diana
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Travelling With Diana
2 months ago
Reply to  Krista

Thank you so much, Krista! I truly highly recommend it.

Kelsey
3 months ago

This is a great post! I have only been here once, and never really left the city (other than the beach). Such beautiful photos! Can’t wait to get back here one day

Travelling With Diana
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Travelling With Diana
2 months ago
Reply to  Kelsey

Thank you, Kelsey! I hope you can go there again to explore more of its further parts, as natural science there is breathtaking.

Sophia Bawany
3 months ago

We are HERE for Oahu!! We went to Maui in December and fell in love with Hawaii in general. The water and overall vibe of the islands is amazing. The shark diving is something Im sure the husband would be thrilled to try and the waterfalls and hikes would be right up my alley. I think though, the Dole Whip would be the deciding factor as we didnt get great DW in Maui. Thank you for sharing such a comprehensive itinerary.

Travelling With Diana
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Travelling With Diana
2 months ago
Reply to  Sophia Bawany

So happy to hear that it was useful to you, Sophia! Hawaii is such a wonderful place and its beauty is undeniable. One of the most amazing places that I’ve visited. And I highly recommend doing shark diving while you’re there as it’s truly something memorable.

Andrea
3 months ago

Oahu is so incredible! We went right before everything shut down but definitely need to head back.

Travelling With Diana
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Travelling With Diana
2 months ago
Reply to  Andrea

I agree with you, dear! We spent around one week in Oahu but I think even one month wouldn’t be enough. I definitely would love to go back there.

Cassie Bailey
Cassie Bailey
3 months ago

Great post, would so love to snorkel and explore the nature around Oahu!

Travelling With Diana
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Travelling With Diana
2 months ago
Reply to  Cassie Bailey

Thank you so much, Cassie! I hope you can go there soon, as it’s truly an amazing place!

May Durkee
3 months ago

Hawaii is such a bucket list, I’d love to visit sometime soon. Thanks for sharing, I’ll definitely include Oahu when visiting Hawaii.

Travelling With Diana
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Travelling With Diana
2 months ago
Reply to  May Durkee

Thank you so much for reading it, Maya! If you ever have any questions let me know, I’ll be happy to help!:)

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