Let’s face it, when you travel to Oahu, it may seem like there are almost too many activities to choose from and places to put on your wish-list. To save you some time and research, we’ve compiled a quick glance of some of the top 5 things to prioritize on your vacation in Oahu. Use the categories below to get an idea about what kind of events and adventures you are looking for on your Hawaiian holiday. Whatever you decide to do on Oahu is certain to be time well spent.
Beaches: Waikiki Beach is perhaps one of the most well-known beaches in the world. While it is seldom secluded, as it is in the heart of Waikiki, the beautiful beach area is perfect for families who want to enjoy sun bathing, swimming and a wide variety of ocean sports all generally within comfortable walking-distance from your hotel. However, there are plenty of other fantastic places to enjoy splashing in the waves. Hanauma Bay is considered one of the best places to admire reef fish and marine life and is a great snorkeling location. On the North Shore of Oahu, Waimea Bay, when the waves are not big, is a great place to bask in the sun and a large white sand beach. On the windward side of the island, Kailua Beach is an internationally recognized place to soak in the sun and surf.
Historic Landmarks: History lovers will have their hands full trying to decide what to visit, but we suggest making time for some of the most notable ones in the Aloha State. Iolani Palace was the home of Hawaii’s past kings and queens and is the only royal palace in the United States. World War II buffs would enjoy the historic ships, memorabilia and exhibits that can found near Pearl Harbor such as the USS Arizona Memorial, the historic USS Missouri battleship, the Pacific Aviation Museum and the USS Bowfin submarine. Plant lovers can wander through the blooming footpaths of Foster Botanical Garden next to downtown Honolulu which is the oldest garden in Hawaii and features some of the world’s most ancient plants.
Cultural Experiences: No trip to Oahu would be even remotely complete without a day spent at the Polynesian Cultural Center. Here Hawaiian, Fijian, Tahitian, Samoan and Tongan cultures are all represented in an unforgettable way. Visitors can feast their eyes on genuine Polynesian villages, learn how to make authentic crafts, watch hula performances and enjoy one of the best luaus in Hawaii. Visit the Bishop Museum in Kalihi, the Aloha State’s largest museum, which displays artifacts and cultural exhibits of Hawaii’s past. For great food, music and culture, wander through Honolulu’s Chinatown or go to the Kapiolani Community College Farmers’ Market for a modern day convergence of Hawaii’s most vibrant homemade foods, produce and crafts.
Nature Tours: Choose to go on a nature tour on the ground, or pierce the sky on a helicopter ride from companies such as Blue Hawaiian Helicopters or Makani Kai Helicopters for some of the most glorious and expansive views of the island. For those more interested in land-tours, there are the Hawaii Jeep Tours, which offers on and off road experiences on the island and the all-encompassing Circle Island Tour that will give you a glimpse of all corners of Oahu. If you and your family enjoy ocean life, there is also the Hawaii Reef Aquarium at Sea Life Park in Waimanalo which has over 2,000 sea creatures to witness. The Waikiki Aquarium is a popular choice, close to most hotels on the island and hosts about 350,000 visitors annually.
Hiking: Since Oahu is celebrated as “The Gathering Place”land the most heavily populated island of Hawaii, many people associate it with busy shops, bustling nightlight and crowed beaches. Because of this, some travel to the other islands in hopes of finding a more relaxed type of vacation experience but fail to realize that Oahu truly has it all. Surfing, snorkeling, swimming and other water sports are the go-to activity for visitors on Oahu, but the island actually offers some prime hiking trails as well. Next to Waikiki is the world famous volcanic cinder cone, Diamond Head, which offers beautiful ocean-view trails. Hikers can also enjoy taking in some mountainous sights and waterfalls by exploring the paths near Manoa Falls in Manoa Valley and at Waimea Falls Park on the North Shore. Another famous place to go hiking is the scenic Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail with views of the surrounding rugged coastlines and outlying islets.