Things to do in
Oahu

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

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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. The tour begins with a visit to Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, the largest visitor attraction on Oahu. Enjoy the many exhibits, galleries, and displays the center has to offer. Then, board a Navy boat shuttle for a tour of the harbor along “Battleship Row.” Upon arrival at the USS Arizona Memorial, step off the boat to explore the memorial. The journey continues to the historic National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl Crater, a historical landmark offering a backdrop of scenic rolling green hills and lush foliage where the many men and women who served in the Armed Forces are honored. 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 which includes the Eternal Flame, Korean and Vietnam War Memorials, Liberty Bell, and more. Then, visit the majestic statue of King Kamehameha, the Hawaiian warrior-king who united the islands, and see Kawaiahao Church, known as “the Westminster Abbey of the Pacific.”

Waikiki: Turtle Canyons Snorkel Excursion

2. Waikiki: Turtle Canyons 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 two-hour 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.

Oahu: Afternoon Glass Bottom Boat Tour in Waikiki

3. 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. 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: Pearl Habor Tour with Arizona Memorial

4. Honolulu: Pearl Habor 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.

Oahu: Official USS Arizona Memorial Narrated Audio Tour

5. Oahu: Official USS Arizona Memorial Narrated Audio Tour

Experience the powerful sensations of the largest visitor destination in Hawaii on a fully-narrated audio tour to the USS Arizona Memorial and Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. Follow in the footsteps of the millions of people who come to see for themselves where World War II began for the United States on December 7, 1941. Approved by the National Park Service, the USS Arizona Memorial Narrated Tour is an award-winning, 2.5-hour audio tour that will take you through 2 world-class museums at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, including the amazing "Attack" and "Road to War" chronicling events leading up to the attack on Oahu and its aftermath. Imagine you have your own Park Ranger to guide you as you look at dramatic photographs, personal memorabilia and much more.   Listen to an informative commentary (available in English, French, German, Spanish, Japanese, Korean and Mandarin) as you journey through the facility. It will even automatically translate the National Park Services' 23-minute movie documentary into your chosen language. 

Oahu: Ka Moana Luau at Sea Life Park with Dinner & Show

6. Oahu: Ka Moana Luau at Sea Life Park with Dinner & Show

After check-in, head inside the venue where you can take part in a number of cultural activities. Enjoy some lei making, temporary tattoos, a hula lesson, coconut-headband weaving, and a ukulele lesson. The dinner selections are from Sea Life Park's executive chef. The buffet selections include: Greens and Salads: • Island greens with mandarin oranges, radish sprouts crisp rice noodles and Asian dressing • Fruit salad • Lomi lomi salmon Starch options • Fresh taro rolls • Poi samples • Crisp vegetable stir-fry • Sweet potatoes • Steamed white rice Main Dishes: • Fresh grilled mahi mahi with macadamia nut crème sauce • Chicken yakitori with teriyaki sauce • Kalua pork Dessert: • Pineapple cake Beverage Options: • Coffee • Hot tea • Fruit punch Bar menu: • Island Mai Tai’s • Salmon Creek Chardonnay, Merlot and White Zinfandel • Domestic Beers: Budweiser and Bud Light • Soft drinks: Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite You can also purchase additional drinks at the discretion of Sea Life Park. Following dinner, you will enjoy an award-winning production highlighting the vibrant traditions of Hawaii and Polynesia. The show navigates through Polynesia on a way-finding adventure. Your experience culminates with the Polynesian Sword of Fire dance and don’t be surprised if you find yourself as part of the experience. 

Oahu: North Shore Snorkeling Tour from Haleiwa

7. Oahu: North Shore Snorkeling Tour from Haleiwa

Head out to Waimea Bay on Ocean Outfitters Hawaiian rollercoaster ride. This ocean adventure off the North Shore of Oahu lets you snorkel up close and personal with our marine friends. This tour operates from May 1st to Oct 31 and is closed during the high surf winter months. Dolphins, rays, turtles, and native Hawaiian reef fish are known to frequent the area. Some of the reef fish are found nowhere else in the world. Humpback whales make their annual journey to Hawaii between the months of November to April, so you can really see them strut their stuff in the pristine blue waters.

Oahu: Shark Cage Dive on the North Shore

8. 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 ships 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 Sunset Cocktail Cruise

9. Oahu: Waikiki Sunset Cocktail Cruise

What better way to take in Hawaii's legendary sunsets than from the deck of a catamaran, gently rocking in the waves of the Pacific? Treat yourself to an evening on the Honi Olani, our 53- by 30-foot sailing catamaran, and enjoy delicious "pupus", appetizers such as avocado poke, pipikaula (Hawaiian beef) and Maui Onion salad, penne pasta, tortilla chips with pineapple salsa, crudités platter (assorted vegetables), and taro rolls with lilikoi butter. Also enjoy a cheese, grape and cracker plate, a selection of white wines and two free bar drink tickets per adult as you take in the breathtaking landscape of the Hawaiian coast. Sailing south toward Diamond Head, you may even be so lucky as to glimpse the green flash as the sun slips below the horizon. Enjoy this peaceful evening with the ocean breeze in your hair for an authentic Waikiki experience.

From Honolulu: Waikiki Glass Bottom Boat Sunset Cruise

10. From Honolulu: Waikiki Glass Bottom Boat Sunset Cruise

Experience the beauty of Oahu's south shore as you sail towards the volcanic tuff cone of Lēʻahi (Diamond Head) at the end of the day. Climb aboard the spacious Haleiwa Queen, a 50-foot catamaran with 49 seats, an onboard restroom, and shaded deck for your comfort.  Enjoy a comfortable ride as the crew shares their knowledge about Waikīkī, the thriving farm productions, and royalty that have frequented the area throughout history. Learn about its transition into an urban society. Leave with a newfound appreciation for the people and marine life of Hawaii, and then gaze in awe as the sun reflects off the city skyline, overlooked by the towering peak of Diamond Head, at magical sunset hour.

Frequently asked questions about Oahu

What top attractions are a must-see in Oahu?

The must-see attractions in Oahu are:

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 4,569 reviews

Our family of six enjoyed the Pearl Harbor and Honolulu City tour. The prices was economical very reasonable, and convenient to purchase online! The shuttle was on time to pick us up at the front entrance of our hotel! Our tour guide Johnny was amazing My family was very pleased and happy! We will definitely tell our friends about our experience!

Rikki was a great guide. The experience was well worth it. Plus, the options for lunch were great as well. Would highly recommend.

Vary long hike my feet feel like rubber after hike but the guide was great

Such a memorable experience! Book your tickets. You won’t regret.

Great service. Beautiful sunset. Awesome trip. Must do!