Image by Peter Thomas | Unsplash

Image by Peter Thomas | Unsplash

39 Things To Do On Oahu

Amy Fujimoto

There are so many fun things to do on Oahu! As a matter of fact, you’ll probably run out of time before you get to try them all!

Here’s a helpful list of activities including tours, attractions, beaches, hikes, museums, and even free things to do on Oahu.

1. Do A Shaka Guide Tour

No “Things To Do On Oahu” list would be complete without a Shaka Guide tour! Not only are all 6 Oahu tours budget-friendly and priced at only $19.99 for each tour, but the price covers everyone in your car as you drive. Therefore, you only need one phone to download the app.

Plus, if you opt for the Oahu bundle tour you’ll save even more since it’s priced at $29.99 right now for all 6 tours (that’s a $120 value)!

There are 6 tours to choose from: 

Download the Shaka Guide Oahu Tours and start exploring the island of Oahu.

oahu bundle

2. Hike Diamond Head

hikers in diamond headHawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson

As one of the most iconic landmarks in Hawaii, hiking Diamond Head is one of the most popular things to do on Oahu.

The view from the top of the volcanic crater’s rim is breathtaking. Look straight ahead and the view of Waikiki meeting the Pacific Ocean extends out as far as the eye can see.

The hike is relatively easy with switchbacks at an incline, and the stairs and tunnel add an extra sense of fun to the hike.

Reservations are required to park and hike at Diamond Head. Lastly, it’s recommended you book your slot as early as possible since space is limited.

RELATED: Diamond Head Travel Guide 

3. Hike To A Waterfall

waterfallsManoa Falls | Edmund Garman from Salem, Oregon, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There are all kinds of hikes on Oahu. Surprisingly, some unique ones lead to waterfalls and even pools of water where you can take a dip.

Keep in mind that waterfall hikes can be dangerous as the rocks are slippery, trails are muddy, and diving can cause severe and fatal injuries.

Read up on our Oahu Waterfall Hikes Guide to find out which one you would like to do.

Two of our favorites - that are also family-friendly - are Manoa Falls and Waimea Valley. 

4. Manoa Falls

If you aren’t sure which waterfall hike to do, you can’t go wrong with Manoa Falls.

It’s a relatively easy to moderate climb to the most popular waterfall on Oahu and the hike to get there goes through a gorgeous rainforest.

Watch Shaka Guide team member Karyna’s visit to Manoa Falls for everything you need to know about this hike.

RELATED: Manoa Falls Travel Guide

Explore more of Honolulu and its tantalizing views on the Honolulu Backyard Rainforest Tour!

5. Pearl Harbor

family onboard a warshipHawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson

Another popular thing to do on Oahu is a visit to Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial.

The park is managed by the National Park Service and entrance to the park is free.

You can also visit the USS Bowfin, USS Missouri, and the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum while you’re there, but these require an entrance fee.

Please remember that this is a museum where you can learn what happened on December 7, 1941.

Additionally, it is also a cemetery in remembrance of the people who lost their lives on that day.

To find out what you need to know before you visit Pearl Harbor, please read our Pearl Harbor Travel Guide.

RELATED: Day Of Infamy: December 7, 1941 Attack On Pearl Harbor 

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6. Haleiwa Town

haleiwa signFloyd Manzano from Mililani, United States, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Oahu’s surf town is famous as the portal for the North Shore beaches, boutique shopping, lunch trucks, and getting your feet wet with surfing and standup paddleboarding.

It’s a really fun place to stop especially if you’re getting hungry!

RELATED: Haleiwa Travel Guide

7. Eat Shave Ice

yellow and orange colored shaved iceMatsumoto’s Shave Ice / Anthony Quintano from Honolulu, HI, United States, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

No visit to Hawaii is complete without a taste of refreshing shaved ice.

Thinly shaved ice topped with local flavors such as passion fruit, mango, and lychee is a childhood treat for many locals in Hawaii.

In fact, one of the best places to try to shave ice is right in Haleiwa Town at Matsumotos Shave Ice.

But don’t worry if you can’t make it - there are tons of other great shave ice places on Oahu!

RELATED: Best Places To Get Shave Ice On Oahu

8. Dole Plantation

facade of dole plantation

On the way to Haleiwa Town from Waikiki, you’ll pass Dole Plantation where you can learn all about the pineapple plantation era of Hawaii.

Ride through the plantation on a train, learn about the various pineapple varieties, and try some fresh pineapple from their menu.

We highly recommend getting the Dole Whip - it’s a treat!

RELATED: Dole Plantation Travel Guide

9. North Shore

surfer riding a big waveFosterand sons, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The North Shore is world-famous and surf-central during the winter months when large swells bring big waves and experienced surfers to shore.

During the summer months, the beaches are spectacular for swimming, sunsets, and snorkeling.

There are all kinds of beaches, eateries, and cultural sites to stop at along the way, so we highly recommend our Legendary North Shore Loop driving tour to guide you.

RELATED: North Shore Waves and Winter on Oahu’s North Shore

Download the Legendary North Shore Loop driving tour so you don’t miss a thing on Hawaii’s most famous shoreline!

10. Waimea Valley

pond gardenPaulT (Gunther Tschuch) / Wikimedia Commons; CC BY-SA 4.0

If you love waterfalls, botanical gardens, and history, Waimea Valley is one of the best things to do on Oahu.

It’s a lovely walk up a paved pathway to a waterfall and pool that you can swim in.

As you walk through the forest, there are historical buildings that you can stop and learn about as this was once a huge and thriving village, due to the river here that runs out to the ocean.

There is an entrance fee to enter Waimea Valley, so check out our Waimea Valley Travel Guide to find out what you need to know before you go.

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11. Waimea Bay

white beachWaimea Bay and Rock | Travisthurston, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Right across from Waimea Valley is Waimea Bay - one of the most popular beaches on the North Shore. During the warm summer months, Waimea Bay is a fantastic beach to spend a day at.

There’s a neat rock that juts out where you can cliff jump from and dolphins have been known to rest here during the day (they are nocturnal so please don’t bother them).

When the surf gets big enough, Waimea Bay is where the Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational is held.

RELATED: Waimea Bay Travel Guide

12. Snorkel At Shark’s Cove

Drive a little past Waimea Bay and you’ll come across Shark’s Cove in Pupukea. This is a great place for snorkeling for experienced snorkelers.

Beginner snorkelers can swim here, too, but make sure you buddy up and check the weather forecast because it can get rough in the winter.

There is plenty of fish to see, including turtles!

RELATED: Shark’s Cove Travel Guide

13. Snorkel At Hanauma Bay

If you’re a beginner snorkeler, make a reservation to snorkel at Hanauma Bay State Park.

The snorkeling here is extremely beginner-friendly and the view is amazing.

We recommend making reservations as early as you can because they run out quickly!

RELATED: Hanauma Bay Travel Guide

14. Dive With Sharks

diver swimming with sharksPhoto by Haleiwa Shark Tours

If snorkeling seems a little too tame for you, how about diving with some sharks?

There are some neat shark diving opportunities on the island that you’ll want to check out.

Most shark diving opportunities are done from a cage, but there are shark dives in the open sea if you know where to look!

RELATED: Best Shark Dives On Oahu

15. Surfing Lesson

family practicing surfing in the sandNo board, no problems. Surfboard rentals are plentiful here in Oahu, Ben Ono via Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA)

Although the big waves come to the North Shore during the winter, Oahu can be surfed all year round ever for first-time surfers.

Beginner surfers can book a lesson with an instructor who will show you how to stand up on your board.

They will also introduce you to surfing etiquette, and beginner-friendly beaches, and answer any questions you might have.

RELATED:  Best Oahu Beaches For Beginner Surfers

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16. Kahuku Food Trucks

shrimp foodHawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Dana Edmunds

Near the midpoint of the North Shore is the small town of Kahuku, known locally for its high school football and local corn.

But what everyone really drives to Kahuku for is its food trucks. In particular, the famous shrimp trucks draw the most attention.

This is a perfect place to stop for lunch as you drive about the North Shore. And if you’re not in the mood for shrimp, don’t worry!

There are other food trucks in the area selling more mainstream options.

RELATED: Kahuku Shrimp Trucks

17. Eat A Malasada From Leonard’s Bakery

leonard's bakery sign

Foodies will want to try out a malasada from Leonard’s at some point during their visit. The malasadas are baked hot and fresh and they’re a real treat.

There are other local shops selling malasadas too, however, Leonard’s is the most popular and you’ll probably notice their food wagons as you drive about.

RELATED: Leonard’s Malasadas

18. Explore Waikiki

monument in waikiki beach

One of the great things about Waikiki is that you can walk outside and find something fun to do anytime.

Many of the resorts have in-house activities, but you also have unlimited choices to eat and shop ‘til you drop!

Go shop at shopping centers such as Ala Moana Center or the International Market Place.

You can also spend the day relaxing in the sun on one of the many Waikiki beaches, or even take a Waikiki walking tour to learn about the history of Waikiki!

RELATED: Things to Do in Waikiki

Download the Shaka Guide Heart Of Waikiki Walking Tour to learn about this incredibly historic location.

19. Cheap Eats In Waikiki

grilled food with sauce

Generally, you might think Waikiki is all expensive hotels and restaurants but think again.

There are some really cheap eats in the area that you’re going to love.

Check out our guide to eating cheap in Waikiki to start planning your foodie journey in the islands.

RELATED: The Best Cheap Eats In Waikiki

20. Visit Historic Sites On Oahu

koi swimming in the pond of a temple

Oahu is an island of history from ancient Hawaiian culture to modern politics. You can still see many Hawaiian buildings from ancient times, statues depicting famous figures of history, and even stop at important cultural sites that have a place in Hawaiian legends and mythology.

Some of these include:

  • Byodo In
  • Pearl Harbor
  • Waimea Valley, and
  • Punchbowl Memorial

RELATED: Must-Visit Historic Sites On Oahu

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21. Historic Sites In Honolulu

historical building in iolaniFarragutful, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Honolulu is the capital of Hawaii and it’s where you’ll find many important historical sites that connect to Hawaii’s evolution as it changed from nation to state.

The city is very walkable and you can explore several important landmarks in just a couple of hours.

The best way to explore Honolulu is with Shaka Guide’s Honolulu tour!

You’ll visit sites like the Honolulu Hale and the only royal residence in the United States - Iolani Palace.

Download Shaka Guide’s Historic Downtown Honolulu Walking Tour for a look into Oahu and Hawaii’s history.

22. Watch The Sunset

sunset at the beach

Here’s a free thing to do on Oahu that you’ll love: Watch the sun go down! The sunsets on Oahu are beautiful and while you can watch the sky turn colors anywhere, we recommend the west side of the island for the best view.

Also, don’t assume clouds in the sky mean a horrible sunset. Sometimes, the best sunsets come with rain and clouds because you’ll get some fantastic colors!

RELATED: Best Places To Catch A Sunset On Oahu

23. Go Camping

people in bonfireImage by Drew Farwell | Unsplash

If you’re on a budget, you might want to consider camping. Enthusiasts will grab their tent, but there are a few campsites that come with cabins or rooms that you can rent.

Usually, they’re cheaper than staying at a resort, which is a huge bonus if you’re on a budget.

Campsites are extremely limited and require a reservation so make sure you do your research in advance or you’ll be stuck without lodging when you get to Oahu.

RELATED: Camping On Oahu

24. Slide Down A Zipline

people in ziplininggenielutz / Pixabay

If you’re feeling adventurous, there are several ziplines you can zoom down on in Oahu.

They’re located all over the island and each is a little different in its own way.

But all of them come with an amazing view!

RELATED: Zipline Adventures In Oahu

25. Polynesian Cultural Center

people dancing hawaii dance on the boatDaniel Ramirez from Honolulu, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

One of the most popular things to do on Oahu is to spend the day at the Polynesian Cultural Center.

This is a full-day excursion where you’ll be educated on the different cultures of New Zealand, Tonga, Samoa, Tahiti, Fiji, and of course Hawaii!

You’ll spend the day “visiting” each of the islands and watching their performances such as dance, coconut tree climbing, and making fire.

There are plenty of hands-on activities at each of the islands where you can try swinging poi balls, leaf weaving, and even tattooing (temporary)!

The highlight of the day is the luau and evening performance where all the islands come together and perform a fantastic show with authentic island dances including the ever-popular fire-knife dancing of Samoa.

RELATED: Polynesian Cultural Center Travel Guide

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26. Kualoa Ranch

For an all-around adventure experience, head to Kualoa Ranch where they have a little bit of everything.

From ziplines to kayak rides, Kualoa Ranch sits all by itself in Windward Oahu with an amazing view of Mokoli'i Island  (Chinaman’s Hat) with the mountains riding up right behind it. Explore valleys on e-bikes, UTV, or even on horseback.

people riding on the horseHorseback Riding at Kualoa Ranch | Photo by Audreywilson, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

RELATED: Kualoa Ranch Guide

27. Visit A Film Location

mountain with grassland belowPhoto by Jennifer Boyer / Flickr CC BY 2.0

Kualoa Ranch is home to many film locations used in several famous Hollywood movies such as Jurassic Park, Jumanji, and 50 First Dates.

But did you know there are many Hollywood film locations that you can check out for free?

Film buffs can check out the list below with our Oahu film location guide below. 

RELATED: Famous Oahu Film Locations You Can Actually Visit

28. Party At A Lu'au

hawaii dancer with colorful costumeSmith's Kauai

Luaus are a lot of fun and are a great way to sit back and enjoy some good food, drink, and cultural performances.

Most luaus on Oahu will arrange for you to be picked up and dropped off at the luau location where you get checked in and escorted to your table.

From here, it’s a night of live music and dance as the performers introduce you to the Hawaiian and Polynesian cultures.

You’ll most likely get a chance to try some Hawaiian fare such as kalua pork, haupia (coconut dessert), lomi salmon, and poi (mashed taro).

RELATED: Oahu Luau Guide

29. Explore A Farmers’ Market

colorful fruits being soldHawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Dana Edmunds

A great way to explore Hawaii’s modern culture is by visiting some farmers’ markets.

In addition to fresh fruits and vegetables, local restaurants and lunch wagons will set up shop and you can get a taste of some local fare.

The most popular one for tourists to visit is the farmers’ market held at the parking lot of Kapiolani Community College (right next to Diamond Head State Monument).

RELATED: Best Farmers’ Markets On Oahu

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30. Mokoli'i Island (Chinaman’s Hat)

Right across from Kualoa Ranch is Kualoa Regional Park where you can get a really close view of Mokoli'i Island or Chinaman’s Hat.

You can see this small island from many locations on the Windward coast, but you’ll get amazingly close to this park and it feels like you can almost walk to it sometimes!

While walking is not recommended, you can take a kayak out to Mokoli'i Island.

Just make sure you plan out the timing because the tide rises fast and you don’t want to get stuck.

RELATED: History Of Mokoli'i Island

31. Makapu'u Point Lighthouse Trail

lighthouse along the coastlineMakapu’u Lighthouse from the hiking trail | Photo by Kaleismith, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you’re into popular hikes on Oahu, the Makapu'u Point Lighthouse Trail is a fantastic one that almost anybody can do.

It’s a short hike up to a viewpoint near a lighthouse (you used to be able to walk to it, but not recently) and the way up is completely paved!

The view is gorgeous every step of the way up and you can even spot whales in the water during the winter.

RELATED: Makapu'u Point Lighthouse Trail Travel Guide

The Makapu'u Point Lighthouse Trail is one of many stops on the East Oahu Shoreline Driving Tour!

32. Kailua Town

This spunky little town is packed with that fun beach vibe and it’s a good spot for:

  • local restaurants
  • boutique shopping
  • hunting for unique gifts, and
  • interesting foods serving vegetarian or vegan options

Kailua is famous for its beaches and the view of the Mokulua Islands is divine.

RELATED: Kailua Travel Guide

33. Lanikai Beach

beach at sunsetMokes at Lanikai Beach | Photo by Philip Davis on Unsplash

Within Kailua Town is the famous Lanikai Beach. The shoreline seems to go on forever this is the closest you can get to the Mokulua Islands from land. You can rent a kayak and paddle to them though!

Parking is rough here as the Lanikai neighborhood doesn’t have much to offer in street parking so coming early is a must.

Please remember to adhere to the parking signs - this is a local neighborhood, not a tourist’s playground.

There’s also a short, but fantastic little hike here that offers an even better view of this side of the island - it’s called the Lanikai Pillbox Hike.

RELATED: Lanikai Beach Travel Guide

34. Byodo-In Temple

Located in the Valley of the Temples, the Byodo-In Temple is a smaller replica of the Byodo-In Temple in Japan.

Visiting the temple is a really calming experience and you’ll love the view as the temple sits nestled up against the mountain.

The large koi pond is beautiful and you can walk through the temple and even ring the giant bell, too.

download shaka guide

RELATED: Byodo-In Temple

35. Punchbowl National Memorial Cemetery Of The Pacific

monumentPunchbowl memorial / MPSharwood, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

While it may sound depressing to visit a cemetery during your vacation to Hawaii, the grounds at Punchbowl are impressive.

There’s even a long walkway on one side of the grounds where there’s an incredible view of Downtown Honolulu, Waikiki, Diamond Head, and the ocean.

No tour buses or shuttles are allowed in here, too, so it’s a great place to get some peace and quiet away from the tourists and busy city life.

We’ll guide you there on our Honolulu Backyard Rainforest Tour. 

RELATED: Punchbowl National Memorial Cemetery Of The Pacific

36. See The Halona Blowhole

blowholeHalona Blowhole

If you want to witness the power of the ocean, a visit to the Halona Blowhole is a must.

The waves push water out like a geyser shooting ocean water several feet up into the air.

This is a popular viewpoint that many people stop at on their way to or from Makapu'u Point Lighthouse Trail or Hanauma Bay.

It even has its own dedicated parking lot, too!

RELATED: Halona Blowhole Travel Guide

37. Ho'omaluhia Botanical Garden

gardenHoomaluhia Botanical Garden Reservoir | Photo by Daniel Ramirez, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Hawaii’s largest botanical garden is Ho'omaluhia Botanical Garden and it’s a great free thing to do on Oahu.

Stop at the visitor center to learn about the garden or just drive through and stop at the many parking lots when you want to walk and explore. You can even hold events or camp here, too.

RELATED: Ho'omaluhia Botanical Garden

38. Take in Views at Tantalus Lookout 

Make your way up Mt Tantalus for stunning views of Honolulu! Check out our video with Karyna who will tell you all about a visit there and the history of how this spot got its name!

39. Whale Watching 

whalePhoto by Abigail Lynn on Unsplash

Each winter humpback whales travel from Alaska to Hawaii to give birth in the islands’ warm waters.

If you’re traveling to Hawaii between October through March, you might catch a glimpse of these gentle giants.

One of our favorite places to look for Whales - Makapuu Point Lighthouse Trail. 

RELATED: Where to Go Whale Watching in Hawaii

More Oahu Activity Guides

Looking for more things to do on Oahu or need to plan your trip?

Check out our Ultimate Oahu Travel Guide for ideas and suggestions on planning and suggestions.

You also might be wondering which Oahu driving tour is right for you.

We have 4 driving tours and 2 walking tours on Oahu and if you’re unsure which ones are best for you, check out our guide to get some of your questions answered.

Like this article? Share it on Pinterest!

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RELATED: Which Oahu Driving Tour Is Right For You

Ready to explore? Download the Shaka Guide Oahu Tours as you drive and walk the island of Oahu.

We hope that we’ve given you all the information you need to make the most of your day. Your vacation is extremely important to us so if you have any questions feel free to reach out at aloha@shakaguide.com.

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