Things to do in Oahu

Visit Pearl Harbor, catch a wave on Waikiki Beach, or shop til you drop on this iconic Hawaiian island.

Our most recommended things to do in Oahu

Honolulu: Pearl Harbor, USS Arizona, and City Tour

1. Honolulu: Pearl Harbor, USS Arizona, and City Tour

Spend the day visiting the most important historical sites and landmarks of Honolulu, Hawaii. Visit Pearl Harbor, USS Arizona Memorial, Iolani Palace, Kawaiahao Church, the Hawaii State Capitol, Honolulu City Hall, and more. Begin your tour with a visit to Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. Enjoy the exhibits, galleries, and displays before boarding a Navy boat shuttle for a tour of the harbor along “Battleship Row.” Step off the boat to explore the USS Arizona Memorial, then continue to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl Crater. See the historical landmark against a backdrop of rolling hills and lush foliage. Wrap up your experience with a narrated tour of downtown Honolulu. Spot the impressive state buildings and learn about the Iolani Palace, the official residence of Hawaii’s last reigning monarch and the only royal palace in the United States. Make your way to the Hawaii State Capitol grounds. See the Eternal Flame, Korean and Vietnam War Memorials, Liberty Bell, the majestic statue of King Kamehameha, and Kawaiahao Church.

Waikiki: Turtle Canyons Cruise and Snorkel Excursion

2. Waikiki: Turtle Canyons Cruise and Snorkel Excursion

Experience the magical underwater world of sea turtles. Dive under the waves with a snorkel and see the rainbow of tropical fish. Connect with the wide array of stunning marine life on this immersive tour. Start off with a cruise along the coast, where you can potentially spot spinner dolphins and humpback whales during the wither months. Once at the Turtle Canyons, you’ll get a brief lesson on snorkeling and your snorkeling equipment.  Snorkel alongside the sea turtles and tropical sea life under the supervision of a certified lifeguard, returning to the boat whenever you please to relax with complimentary refreshments.

Honolulu: USS Arizona Memorial & Battleship Missouri Visit

3. Honolulu: USS Arizona Memorial & Battleship Missouri Visit

Visit Pearl Harbor and discover what really happened on that fateful day in 1941. Benefit from guaranteed access to the USS Arizona Memorial and board the Battleship Missouri on Ford Island. Start with a convenient pickup from Waikiki and travel in the comfort of an air-conditioned vehicle to reach Pearl Harbor. Once there, your guide will escort you into the Pearl Harbor Visitor's Center and give you specific instructions on how to make the best of your visit. Explore the visitor center and the accompanying “Road to War” and “Attack” exhibit galleries that display pictures and recovered items from the events which transpired at Pearl Harbor and WWII. Then, watch a short film explaining the fateful day and its significance. Followed by a boat ride to the USS Arizona Memorial, the final resting place of the ship's 1,177 crewmen. Take a short break for lunch and grab some refreshments from the snack shop or food truck, then set out to discover the USS Battleship Missouri. Visit the battleship lovingly known as "Mighty Mo". After fighting in the last year of the war with Japan, Mighty Mo served as the location where Japan would sign the official surrender documents. It also offers a glimpse into what life at sea was like aboard a battleship. On the way back to Waikiki, enjoy a quick drive through the city to check out the National Cemetery of the Pacific and Historic Honolulu City.

Oahu: Afternoon Glass Bottom Boat Tour in Waikiki

4. Oahu: Afternoon Glass Bottom Boat Tour in Waikiki

If adventure is what you seek, join this daily boat tour. Enjoy the beauty of Hawaii’s South Shore as you head out from the slip in the Kewalo Basin Harbor and head toward Lē’ahi. Discover the underwater world while staying dry with the glass-bottom boat. Aboard the Haleiwa Queen, enjoy the clear view of the Pacific Ocean floor as you cruise over live tropical reefs and one of Hawaii’s shipwrecks. Keep an eye out for honu sea turtles, eels, reef sharks, dolphins, and schools of tropical fish, all from the deck of the vessel through the glass bottom boat viewports. Experience a unique perspective of Honolulu, above and below the surface.

Honolulu: Queens Waikiki Luau

5. Honolulu: Queens Waikiki Luau

Get entry tickets to the Queens Waikiki Luau feast in Honolulu, with traditional foods and entertainment. Enjoy cultural activities, Polynesian performances, and a buffet dinner, and drinks right in the heart of Honolulu. Sit back and relax as you go on a journey through Polynesia. This spectacular event includes unique cultural activities where you can learn the hula, delicious Hawaiian food, and an authentic Polynesian show. Begin with some cultural activities before you taste traditional flavors and finish by watching a Polynesian performance including the fireknife dance. Menu Rice Macaroni salad Tossed green salad with lilikoi dressing Kalua pig cabbage BBQ shoyu chicken Long rice noodles with garlic Steamed vegetables Cake with haupia drizzle

Oahu: Shark Cage Dive on the North Shore

6. Oahu: Shark Cage Dive on the North Shore

Swim with the sharks during this tour that offers you the unique adventure of a shark dive, while ensuring your safety at all times. Discover the wonders of the sea on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii alongside a certified guide. Bring your own masks and snorkels or use the ones provided on board. Your guide will give you a safety briefing at the start of the tour and will answer all your questions concerning this special adventure. See up to 200 feet (60 meters) in the crystal-clear, cobalt blue water. Depending on the season, you will encounter such magnificent animals as the Hawaiian Green Sea turtles, playful dolphins, and Humpback whales. Admire the sharks from the ship's deck, or experience the rush of entering the shark cage which allows you to be only inches away from sharks that can grow up to 15 feet (5 meters) in length. Capture pictures with your underwater camera of their grace and majesty in the water. Have 20 minutes to marvel at the sharks and cherish this unforgettable moment. Up to 8 people can be in the cage at the same time, so you can experience the sharks with someone you love.

Oahu: Waikiki Trolley Holiday Lights Tour

7. Oahu: Waikiki Trolley Holiday Lights Tour

The Holiday Lights Tour will take you through historic downtown and drive-by viewing of the magnificent Honolulu City Lights at Honolulu Hale. We will explore the festive decorations, marvel at the city’s 50-foot Christmas tree, Shaka Santa and Tutu Mele, Frosty the Snowman and his family, oversized displays, holiday message board displays along King Street. With plenty of joyous sing a longs for the whole family and jolly Christmas stories told by your guide, this tour will get you in the perfect holiday spirit.

Honolulu: Pearl Harbor Tour with Arizona Memorial

8. Honolulu: Pearl Harbor Tour with Arizona Memorial

Hear fascinating stories on this tour of Pearl Harbor and downtown Honolulu. Witness the key sites and memorials to the 1941 attack, and experience the island's wartime history. Begin this tour with pickup in Waikiki. Travel first to Pearl Harbor and ride the navy launch to the USS Arizona Memorial. Visit the sombre monument above a sunken battleship from the day of the attack. Explore the memorials to the many groups who lost their lives, and pause to reflect at the wall of remembrance. Return to your waiting van for a historic tour of downtown Honolulu. Your expert guide will explain what it was like to live on the island during wartime. See sights including Iolani Palace, the State Capitol, King Kamehameha Statue and Aloha Tower as you learn about the fascinating history of this historic place.

Kailua: 2-Hour Guided Kayak Excursion with Lunch

9. Kailua: 2-Hour Guided Kayak Excursion with Lunch

Perfect for beginners or travelers wanting to perfect their skills, this kayak tour has been designed to show off the very best that Hawaii has to offer. Follow a qualified guide to their favorite locations around the bay, visit secluded coves, discover Hawaii’s marine life, and find the best spots to snorkel. During the tour you’ll also protect the island by helping to collect marine plastics as well as learn how to positively interact with wildlife. The tour focuses on sustainable tourism and incorporates eco-friendly practices, such as the elimination of single-use-plastics at lunch. Get kitted out with all the necessary safety gear before hopping onboard your kayak and heading into the water. The first stop of the day is the beautiful Popoi’a Island, where you can admire and learn about the nesting sea-birds which are protected here. Next, follow your guide on an easy eco-hike around the island, and explore the tide pools that line the shore. Once you’ve worked up a bit of an appetite, replenish your energy with a snack break. While you eat, marvel at the magnificent landscapes of dormant volcanoes and the Ko’olau Mountain Range, which provide the perfect back drop to learn about Hawaii’s geologic history. Back on the kayak, soak up the tranquil atmosphere as you go in search of the green sea turtles that call these waters their home. Next, enjoy some free time to snorkel in search of colorful marine life, have a go at boogie boarding, or simply relax on the beach.

Waikiki Parasailing Paradise Water Sports

10. Waikiki Parasailing Paradise Water Sports

Soar above the vibrant city of Oahu on a peaceful but exciting parasailing trip. Take off from the scenic Waikiki Beach and take in views of the island's golden sand beaches, turquoise waters, and cityscape. You'll even catch a unique glimpse of Diamond Head from a privileged perspective. Enjoy a truly introspective experience by flying away from the hustle and bustle of the area. All the noise from the boat and the city will cut away as you ascend, leaving you and your flight buddy in your own bubble of paradise. Make the most of your Hawaii holiday and experience Oahu in a unique way. Seize this incredible opportunity to go parasailing in the company of a professional team, providing all the necessary instructions and high-quality equipment to keep you safe at all times.

Frequently asked questions about Oahu

What top attractions are a must-see in Oahu?

Insider tips: Planning a trip to Oahu

As one of Hawaii's most popular islands, Oahu is fittingly called "The Gathering Place." To help you make the most of your time to the Hawaiian paradise, we've enlisted the help of travel expert Jackson from Journey Era. Read below for tips on how to best experience the island.

What should I do on my first trip to Oahu? 

If it's your first time to Oahu there are a few top things you cannot miss. If you are a keen hiker there are lots of epic trails on the island but there's also a short trail everyone should do. Hiking to the top of Diamond Head Crater is just a few kilometers and gives you an incredible view of the entire Waikiki area and the beaches in the south. 

If you are into history, visiting the Pearl Harbor Museum and memorial site is a very important piece of American war history and makes for a good half-day trip. Renting a car or jumping on a guided tour to the North Shore of Oahu to check out the iconic surf town of Haleiwa is a great way to relax while on vacation

What are some hidden gems to see in Oahu?

The Atlantis Submarine tour is an epic adventure where you will climb aboard a 48-passenger submarine and adventure through the underwater passages of the famous Waikiki beach. Through its portal windows, see Hawaiian fish, coral, turtles, sunken ships and airplanes, and more! 

It’s truly an amazing experience to see sunken warships and planes and all of the marine life that is now calling it home. Another unique activity on Oahu is to hike to the top of Koko Crater, which is a demanding and steep hike. The unforgiving incline will have you gasping for breath by the time you reach the top.

How much time should I spend in Oahu?

Most people feel that 7-10 days is a good amount of time to spend on Oahu. This gives you time to book a few tours, rent a car and explore for a few days and unwind with no activities with a few relaxing beach days. 

The time will fly by so any less than a week will feel rushed. Basing in Waikiki or the south is fine and how most people structure their stay. You can drive to all parts of the island within an hour from Waikiki so there's no need to base in multiple locations.

What neighborhood should I stay in when I visit Oahu?

Waikiki is the hub of Oahu. Let’s start with Waikiki because it is the most popular place to stay in Oahu. The majority of the hotels are on this famous strip of beach. There are hundreds of restaurants, cafes, tour centers, transport options, and convenience stores. It has a great little surf break perfect for beginners. The water is warm, the cocktails are flowing and it is an all-around beach vibe.

For families: Waikiki is the number one choice for families. They are centrally located for all of the tours to different spots around the island. Kids have protected beaches to swim in without worrying about waves. There are several man-made reef breaks, which act as saltwater swimming pools. For mom and dad, there are plenty of nightspots and relaxed bars throughout Waikiki. It is a safe neighborhood and it is also a shopping heaven with lots of high-end retailers.

For couples: Honeymooners and couples have found the perfect getaway spot in Waikiki. Think of dining out and nice restaurants each night after a day of adventures each day. It is the perfect base to hit the beaches, adventure the island but still have the luxury of great accommodation, dining, and convenience on your doorstep.

For older travelers: The older adventurers among us love Waikiki for a few reasons. It’s simple. Everything is on your doorstep. The tours pick you up and drop you off at your hotel lobby. There are quality restaurants in all directions and the famous Waikiki Beach is within walking distance. You are never far from a refreshing dip in your hotel pool, the ocean, or an air-conditioner.

What is the best way to get around Oahu? 

If you are booking several tours you may not want to rent a car. However, if you like to explore yourself, it is best to hire a car, which costs about $60-100 per day. This way you can visit the east, north and west coast at your leisure. Within Waikiki, you can use the local bus service or Uber to get around as it is quite a small area. Within Waikiki, you can walk from most hotels to the beach so there is no real need for transport services if you are just enjoying beach days.

What are the best months to visit Oahu?

Oahu is a great place to visit all year round due to its tropical, temperate climate. However, in the winter the big surf in the north of the island can be a huge attraction and there are a number of big-wave surfing events. The summer months of May, June, and July are very popular due to the warm, consistent weather making it perfect for tanning on the beach and sipping cocktails

What are the best neighborhoods for shopping?

Waikiki is the luxury shopping center of the island. You can find lots of upmarket stores in the strip, which is fun to walk up and down at night. Rolex, Gucci, and other high-end stores can be found in this area but there are also lots of regular stores like H&M and souvenir stores to find some Hawaiian-style gifts for your family and friends.

Other Sightseeing Options in Oahu

Want to discover all there is to do in Oahu? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Oahu

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 7,968 reviews

This was a really wonderful way to spend a morning. Ryan was well-prepared, thoughtful, and a pleasant, personable guide to hike with. Would definitely recommend!

Our tour guide was very knowledgeable about the entire event. Very moving tour, I do wish more people respected the being silent rule on USS Arizona

Driver was at the airport when we arrived, very professional, car was clean. Great experience

It gave you a good understanding of what happened that day.

The food was amazing and crew on board was outstanding!