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25 Things to do on Oahu


If Oahu is included in your plans of touring Hawaii, you certainly won’t be disappointed. As the third largest island in Hawaii, Oahu is also home to two-thirds of the whole population of the state. That means there’s lots to do, from beaching it at Waikiki to surfing on the North Shore. Once you’re in paradise, try to hit some of these 25 activities while here.

1. Diamond Head:

The hiking trail here comprises 175 steps, underground tunnels and old military bunkers, with the end result being a panoramic view of the entire island at 762 feet above sea level.

2. Pearl Harbor:

Pay your respects for the fallen at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii’s top attraction. Be sure to see it all: USS Arizona Memorial, the USS Bowfin submarine, the USS Missouri and the Pacific Aviation Museum.

3. Dole Plantation:

Indulge in a refreshing Dole Whip and try your luck at the world’s biggest maze. Go on the Plantation Garden Tour and take a ride on the Pineapple Express. Admission to the grounds is free, but you have to pay separately for attractions such as the train.

4. Aloha Stadium Swap Meet:

At Hawaii’s largest open air flea market, pick up all your souvenirs at a bargain price. It’s open three days a week featuring more than 400 merchants.

5. Duke’s Waikiki:

Knock back a mai tai at Duke’s overlooking Waikiki Beach, which also happens to make a mean Hula Pie. You can’t beat the views here, plus you’re in the center of all the hustle and bustle.

6. Polynesian Cultural Center:

You can easily spend a day at this impressive 42-acre open park full of Polynesian culture, customs and music.

7. Surfing lessons on North Shore:

The North Shore is where it’s at when it comes to surfing. Watch the pros do it, or take a lesson yourself.

8. Fireworks:

Put on by the Hilton Hawaiian Village, check out the amazing fireworks every Friday night at 7:45 p.m. Be sure to bring a blanket!

9. Lanikai Beach:

Conde Nast ranked this as the number one beach on the planet in 1996. Yep, it’s that good! Slip your toes into the white sand and enjoy a swim in the calm waters.

10. Hanauma Bay:

Snorkel amidst this ancient volcanic crater best known for its distinctive crescent shape bursting with brilliant marine life.

11. Honolulu Zoo:

Spanning 42 acres, you’ll find more than 900 animals hailing from tropical locales.

12. Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck:

Treat yourself to some succulent garlic shrimp from this famous roadside truck on the North Shore.

13. ABC Store:

Need toiletries? Hit one of the 39 stores on Oahu selling everything you could possibly need to enjoy your vacation, from souvenirs to sunscreen to bathing suits.

14. Koko Head:

Comprising more than 1,000 steps to the summit, Koko Head is an intense hike if you’re up for it, increasing 1,200 feet in elevation.

15. Circle Island Tours:

Take a professionally guided tour of the island through Hoku Hawaii Tours to get an insightful look at all the top attractions on the island.

16. North Shore Beaches:

You can’t miss the North Shore’s top beaches for surfing and swimming, from Pipeline to Sunset to Waimea Bay.

17. Byodo-In Temple:

Nestled within the Ko’olau Moutains, visit this impressive Buddhist temple created in 1968 to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaii. The main attraction is Amida, a large golden Buddha statue that stands nine feet tall, made by a Japanese sculptor named Masuzo Inui. Check out the Bell House, home to a three-ton brass bell (bon-sho) that rings when you enter as part of Buddhist tradition.

18. Royal Hawaiian Center and Ala Moana Center:

Waikiki is known for its surfing, to be sure, but it also has some killer shopping centers to visit. Hit Luxury Row if you’re into high-end boutiques.

19. Waikiki Aquarium:

As the second oldest public aquarium in the country, you will love this vibrant showcase of Hawaiian marine life. Great place to take the kids, especially on a rainy day. It’s open from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and is situated on Kalakaua Avenue, on the shoreline in Kapi‘olani Park in Honolulu. It’s just $5 for kids under 13 and $12 for adults. Kids under three get in free of charge.

20. Pali Lookout:

Just a quarter hour from the hustle and bustle of Waikiki, the Pali Lookout gives you a glimpse of the beautiful Hawaiian cultural history present here. Learn some legends and folklore while you’re at it. Just be careful, as the wind gusts can get pretty powerful here.

21. Waimea Falls:

Hike to Waimea Falls and swim underneath the 45-feet drop onto a serene pool of water. This is a must-see on the North Shore. Don’t forget your swimsuit!

22. Matsumoto’s:

On the North Shore, you’ll find the best place on the island for shave ice. M. Matsumoto Grocery Store, established in 1951, serves up what’s known as the best shave ice around, thanks to its fine, light texture and sweet homemade syrup.

23. Kualoa Ranch:

This 4,000-acre working cattle ranch is the perfect backdrop for riding an ATV or even on horseback across the majestic countryside. Meander through hidden valleys and over vast fields for another side to Oahu that you may have missed.

24. Chinatown:

Not the seedy district it once was, Chinatown has come a long way over the years. Spend an afternoon strolling among the markets, restaurants, galleries and clubs of Chinatown right in downtown Honolulu. Learn all about Southeast Asian cultures while you’re at it.

25. Luau:

No visit to Hawaii would be complete without attending an authentic Polynesian luau. This is one of the oldest Hawaiian traditions, so enjoy your tropical buffet complete with everything from poi to kalua pig to lomi salmon. The only thing better than the food is the high-energy hula dancers and Polynesian fireknife dancers.

For more ideas on what to do in Oahu (the list is endless!), get in touch with Hoku Hawaii Tours today. Our friendly tour guides will bring you on the tour of your life!

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