12 fun activities to do on the Hawaiian island of Oahu
Aloha! Welcome to a quick guide to 12 fun things to do in Oahu Hawaii.
Oahu is a Hawaiin island home to the famous state capital, Honolulu. The Hawaiian Islands are a wonderful place to relax and enjoy the beautiful weather and scenery. They are also a great place to take advantage of some of the unique activities that make them special.
If you are taking a trip to the Hawaiin islands and wondering what to do in Oahu, you are in the right place, check out these 12 fun things to do in Oahu Hawaii for some inspiration.
1 – Swim with the Turtles
Swimming with turtles in Hawaii is probably up there on a lot of travelers bucket lists. Holokai adventures is a company that offer one of the best snorkel trips in Hawaii. They provide a snorkel tour in Turtle Canyon which is one of their favorite snorkeling sites situated in Kaneohe Bay. This site is home to the Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles and the trip includes plenty of time to discover some fantastic marine life just off the shore of Waikiki. You are likely to encounter turtles, schools of fish and if you are lucky enough, you might even see an octopus hanging out in one of the rock caves. The best way to visit this site is by taking the Holokai Hobie Catamaran Sailing Adventure or a single day kayak rental.
Once you’ve had some snorkel time, get settled on the catamaran to enjoy a sail around the lighthouse and Diamondhead Coast Guard facility which is located on Diamond Head in Honolulu. Snacks and beverages (even some adult style) finish off this relaxing tour. Not a fan of snorkeling, they also have a sunset sail which includes the fireworks plus the tradewind sail. There is something for everyone and truly a must do if you are on the island of Oahu.
2 – Hike up Diamond Head
Ready for some exercise that will test your endurance? A hike to the top of Diamond Head in Hawaii will give you a little bit of everything. If you are in great shape and want to push your limits, you could get there in 30 minutes. You may want to stop along the way and enjoy some of the most magnificent scenery on the island. There are some steep inclines, lots of stairs and an opportunity to do some crawling to get to the very top!
On a clear day you have a 360◦ view of the island of Oahu from the top of this volcanic tuff cone. If you survive the hike, you can pick up a t-shirt at the bottom to commemorate your success. It is not for the faint of heart because the hike can truly take your breath away in more ways than one.
3 – Drive the Oahu North Shore
When on Oahu, you must take the drive up to the North Shore. This quaint area sports beautiful landscapes and the opportunity to see some incredible surfing. On this part of the island you will experience true Hawaiian heritage. One of the top things to do in Oahu Hawaii, is to stop along the North Shore to see waterfalls, do some surfing or see the quaint shops and fantastic restaurants.
This drive is best enjoyed in a convertible. The wind in your hair and the sun on your face is pure enjoyment. If you watch closely, you may see a small fruit stand, order a coconut and they will climb up the tree to get it for you. Beware of the machete, it strikes a might blow but there is nothing like fresh coconut.
4 – Bayer Estate
Are you a fan of Hawaii 5-0? The Bayer Estate is Steve McGarrett’s home on the TV series. Whether you are a fan or not, this is one of the things to do in Oahu Hawaii that should not be missed during your island adventure.
This estate is beautiful and is a favorite for special events. This home is steeped in rich Hawaiian history and filled with beautiful antiques. If the walls could talk, imagine the stories that would be told! The landscape is warm and inviting with an amazing private beach and gorgeous views of the ocean. The owners are lovely people who love telling the stories of the home as well as the Hawaii 5-0 significance as part of its history. It can be hard to find so make sure to use your GPS plus call ahead to make an appointment just in case they are hosting an event.
5 – Snorkel Hanauma Bay
If you love snorkeling, then Hanauma Bay should certainly be up there as one of the top things to do in Oahu Hawaii. You can snorkel Hanauma Bay for a $10 fee which is a great price for what you will experience. The reefs are filled with colorful varieties of fish that will happily surround you. Head out to the reef to see the underwater life, but be careful not to touch the reef because it is a living organism.
There is so much to see and do in this area, so it is good to give yourself a whole day to enjoy what Hanauma Bay has to offer. The beautiful sandy beach is perfect to sit back and enjoy a gorgeous day, catch some rays or dry off from your swim. All snorkel equipment, lockers to store your valuables and changing rooms are available to rent. Make sure you check out their eatery for a great bite to eat or check out the gift shop and grab a souvenir to help you remember your day!
6 – Heiau
A heiau is an ancient Hawaiian temple or sacred ground. There are several on the island of Oahu as you head to the North Shore. Each Heiau allows you to feel a sense of true Hawaiian culture and some are still in use today to honor their loved ones, heritage or faith. It is an experience that will move you in unexpected ways.
Plan to spend some time at the Heiau and absorb the energy you will feel as you walk these sacred grounds. There is an incredible sense of history, honor and reverence as you experience the Hawaiian heritage.
7 – Farmer’s Market
Located next to Pu’u O Mahuka Heiau State Historic Site is the Waimea Valley Farmer’s Market. Local vendors display their fresh fruits, vegetables and artisan items. Grab a coconut, watch as they open the top just big enough to pop in a straw. Be sure to take a quick hike up to the waterfall if you have the energy.
Finish your visit with lunch under the monkeypod trees and don’t forget to look up to check out the unique crocheted look of the branches and leaves What a great way to experience local fare and meet some of the locals who love to share their stories.
8 – Polynesian Cultural Center
For those looking for things to do in Oahu Hawaii with that true Hawaiin feel, enjoy the Polynesian culture as you tour the Polynesian Cultural Center, which is located about midway around the island of Oahu. A wide variety of diverse cultural experiences await as you move through the village. The colorful display of each region is fully displayed during the canoe pageant along with what each region represents.
As you move through each “village” you will enjoy spear throwing, cooking, canoeing and so much more. Finish the evening with a world renowned luau. This is the traditional Hawaiin celebration which will leave you with memories that will last a lifetime. You will feel like an islander by the time you leave!
9 – Dole Pineapple Plantation
Jump on the Pineapple Express Train and take a tour of the Dole Pineapple plantation to learn all about the process of growing pineapples. Not only is it free admission to the Dole Plantation grounds, but there are lots of activities to do including a pineapple cutting demonstration. There is even an area where you can see them in different stages of growth.
The plantation is also home to the cacao pods used to make the “single estate” chocolate. So many different species of plants are represented at the plantation so be sure to set aside a decent amount of time so you don’t miss a thing. One of the top things to do at the Dole Pineapple plantation is to walk through the pineapple garden maze which was declared as the world’s largest maze in 2008. Grab lunch in the grille, walk through the store where you will find many island treasures to take home or if you are lucky, you may get to watch a local do amazing wood carvings. You just never know what you will see on the plantation!
10 – Walk on Waikiki beach with a stop at Duke’s
A visit to Hawaii isn’t complete without a walk on Waikiki beach to enjoy all the rich history depicted in the statues that line the beach. Beautiful at sunrise and sunset, the view from the beach is breathtaking anytime of the day. There is also a great choice of shops, warm sands and even water sports to enjoy. Along the way, stop in at Duke’s to enjoy their signature Mai Thai and experience some of their culinary delights.
Great food, beautiful scenery and rich, vibrant history of Duke Kahanamoku make this one of the best things to do in Oahu Hawaii.
11 – Royal Hawaiian Hotel
The Pink Lady is still the picture of beauty and luxury. Walk the grounds of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel and then tour the inside of this iconic landmark resort that was the home to the original Hawaii 5-0. If you travel during the holiday season, you will enjoy the sights and sounds of Christmas and maybe even a replica of the hotel in gingerbread!
Rocking chairs line the patio overlooking the garden and seating throughout the corridors on the main level with warm lighting creates an unbelievable ambiance.
Everything about this hotel is perfect for a romantic getaway, wedding, honeymoon and a family event!
12 – Join in the celebrations of Honolulu Pride
Hononlulu pride is a festival that brings together the LGBTQ+ community from Hawaii and around the world. The pride event takes place in October and the main parade usually takes places on the third Saturday of the month. The celebrations take place over a 2 week period, with various events, parties and programmes taking place across Honolulu.
The Honolulu pride parade route is along Kalakaua Avenue through Waikiki, where you will be guaranteed to see lots of colorful costumes, balloons and face paints. Watch the parade, join in the parties and just have fun, no matter which walk of life you are from.
These are just a few of the top things to do in Oahu Hawaii. Every day can be an adventure on Oahu, you just need to know what you want to do each day! Pick your activity and then get out and enjoy the beautiful weather, sights and sounds that are only found on a Hawaiian Island. Even just a simple drive around the island can find something new if only you look for it! Mahalo and I hope you enjoyed the tour.
Round The World Magazine collaborated with Kim, an adventure grammy who travels the world to discover beauty in the ordinary. Adventure happens no matter where you are so get off your butt and make some memories. You can travel outside your city, state or country but sometimes the best adventures are right in your backyard. Kim has been to all 50 states except for Maine, all Provinces of Canada, England, Scotland, Mexico, France and Australia. She shares tools, tips, tricks and techniques to make travel affordable and sometimes for free. Her blogs provide insight in great places to see and things to do while you get your adventure on. Her moto is that ‘you are never too old, too young, or too broke to travel, let me show you how!’
Check out her website for more, Our Travel Moments.