With it’s beautiful views, unique tropical landscape, and amazing cultural experiences, Oahu is a great vacation destination for couples looking for romance or families who love the beach. There’s a new adventure around every corner, in Oahu.
If you’ve never been to Hawaii before, Oahu is a great place to start, especially with all the fun thing to do in Oahu. It’s the third largest of the islands, but is home to 3/4 of Hawaii‘s residents and it receives the most visitors per year.
>> You might also be interested in these 6 Gorgeous Waterfall Hikes in Oahu to Discover.
Honolulu, the most popular destinations in Hawaii, is where most visitors to Oahu stay, and its where you’ll find a majority of the dining, nightlife and shopping on Oahu. At the end of the beautiful Waikiki beach is the dramatic Diamond Head volcano.
One of the things we love the most about Oahu is the abundance of food options. There are farmer’s markets, food trucks, innovative restaurants with famed chefs, and lots of fusion menus to get excited about.
Read on to find out what there is to do on Oahu, so you can start planning your own savored journey.
» Also looking at Maui? Here are all the fun things to do in Maui.
Fun Things to do in Oahu
1. Enjoy the Beach in Waikiki
Waikiki is known for its narrow sandy beach area, which has become one of the world’s most notable beaches, lined with many excellent shops, restaurants and accommodation.
Located on the south shore of Honolulu, this picturesque beach is a great place to relax by the waters. This coast is packed with history as well. Hawaiian royals surfed the waters in the 1800s on early versions of the longboard. Duke Kahanamoku, a famous surfer from the 1900s, learned to surf on this beach and often taught people surfing lessons in the waters of Waikiki.
Loaded with cocktail bars, fine dining, and good weather, the beach has become a popular tourist destination for mainlanders looking for vacation areas. There are plenty of hotels lining the beach, ensuring that customers of the hotels will never be too far from the ocean.
Sunsets on Waikiki beach are also popular due to the vivid nature of the colors along the horizons. Bright oranges, yellows, and pinks flood the sky at dusk on the coast of this beach.
2. Whale Watching Excursion
During the months of December through May, groups of humpback whales migrate through the warm, tropical waters of Hawaii. The best way to see this beautiful natural phenomenon is through a whale watching tour.
These tours often include snacks and drinks, and will take passengers to the best areas to view the whales. Travelers will watch as whales breach, feed, and play around the boat. » Book a whale watching tour.
3. Shark Dive
Taking shark dives while in Hawaii is a thrilling and unique experience that’s not to be missed. These tours will take passengers from the south shore of Oahu into the Pacific Ocean with prime views to see all types of sea life. Green sea turtles, dolphins, and even humpback whales- during the winter and spring- are common sights.
Once deeper out into the ocean, passengers will have a chance to strap on a mask and wade into a shark cage to be up close and personal with the graceful predators. Viewing is also available from a deck on the boat, if you aren’t the adventurous type. » Book a swim with the sharks experience in Oahu.
4. Tour the Dole Plantation
Pineapples have become the taste Hawaii is known for around the world, and all thanks to Dole. The Dole Plantation is a large stretch of land that was the original Dole Plantation owned by founder James Drummond Dole.
Experience Hawaiian agriculture, history, plants, and culture through this fun plantation tour. Learn the backstory behind the pineapple empire in Hawaii and enjoy sweet treats along the way. » Take a tour of the Dole Plantation.
5. Turtle Canyon Snorkeling Cruise
Swimming with these green sea turtles is one of the most unique experiences available in Oahu. Where else are you going to get up close and personal with these beautiful animals?
There are many turtle cruises that depart from Waikiki, all of which will give you a close look at the marine life of Hawaii. Passengers will travel past the dormant Diamond Head volcanic cone, which is over 300,000 years old.
Once the cruise arrives at it’s destination, visitors will strap on their gear and get into the water. They’ll have plenty of time to observe the turtles, and other sea life. » Book a sea turtle cruise.
» Check out Where to Find the Best Snorkeling Spots in Oahu.
6. Paradise Cove Luau
The Paradise Cove Luau is a perfect place to experience Polynesian culture in a relaxed and fun manor. The luau has views of Waikiki, Pearl Harbor, and the Diamond Head Crater, so guests will have beautiful scenery all around them.
An evening at the luau includes an opportunity for guests to learn the old fishing techniques that have been used in Hawaii for centuries. Then everyone participates in several traditional ceremonies, such as the imu (earth oven) ceremony. Following these, there’s a Hawaiian feast with fresh seafood, kalua pork, and tropical fruits.
After dinner there’s hours of entertainment from Hawaiian musicians, hula dancers, and fire twirlers. All of this set to the background of a breathtaking sunset over the ocean. » Book a Paradise Cove Luau.
7. Parasailing in Waikiki
Parasailing is the perfect way to see the island of Oahu from a whole new perspective. Soar above the sparkling waters of the Pacific Ocean, and explore a birds eye view with this thrilling experience.
These parasailing cruises give guests an opportunity to see marine life on their trip out into the ocean. Then visitors will fly in the sky for up to 10 minutes, seeing the island from a new view. » Book an Oahu parasailing experience.
8. Jurassic Valley Zipline
The Jurassic Valley in Oahu is a 4,000 acre private nature reserve, as well as a functioning cattle ranch. It’s a popular tourist destination and filming location due to it’s beautiful views and lush rainforest habitat.
It’s true name is the Kualoa Ranch, but it’s moniker- Jurassic Valley- comes from it’s use in the Jurassic Park franchise as a filming area. The landscape has also been featured in movies such as Pearl Island, and Godzilla.
Zipline through the jungles of this gorgeous untouched land. Also, learn about native Hawaiian plants and the history behind this sacred place. » Book a Jurassic Valley zipline tour.
9. Tour the North Shore and Hanauma Bay
The North Shore of Oahu is a great place to experience a large variety of what the island has to offer in a short amount of time. See white sand beaches, sweeping views, Polynesian culture, and many more things along the beach.
Tours of the North Shore take guests to many stops along the shore, and share details about the island that most people would miss when travelling alone. Experience kayaking, paddle boarding, or swimming in the sparkling waters of the Pacific.
Take a hike to one of the island’s many water falls. Hang out along the beach for a sun-filled day of good food and beautiful views. Regardless of what you choose to do, the North Shore is a place for everyone. » Book a tour of the North Shore.
10. Circle Island Tour
Travelers looking to experience the many sights that Oahu offers would find a perfect opportunity in a Circle Island Tour, where you’ll see many of the popular sightseeing destinations all in one tour.
Tours take passengers by Diamond Head Crater and Hanauma Bay, Dole Plantation, Kualoa Ranch, Byodo-In Temple, and a variety of lookout points, like Halona Blowhole Lookout and Nu`uanu Pali Lookout. » Hit all the stops in one with a Circle Island Tour.
11. Eat at the Hawaii Shrimp Trucks
The best way to enjoy shrimp in Oahu? Shrimp trucks! These food trucks serve up freshly caught shrimp prepared in delectable ways, alongside a few sides like rice and corn. The trucks, like Giovanni’s and Fumi’s Kahuku Shrimp, can be found throughout the North Shore, and are well worth a stop.
If you aren’t a seafood lover, check the menus on the trucks. Many serve different dishes such as pork ribs and other tasty eats.
Though it’s not a “fun” activity, visiting Pearl Harbor is on everyone’s list of things to do in Oahu and should be included in your itinerary. It’s important to remember what happened there.
12. Pearl Harbor
While in Oahu, consider touring the historic Pearl Harbor Museum. There are many tours available, ranging in their depth into historical events and information.
Tours will take visitors through the Pearl Harbor Museum, included with details recollections of the Japanese attack on the base, and gives tourists a chance to ask questions about the event.
Then a short boat ride will take guests to the USS Arizona Memorial and the Battleship Missouri Memorial, both boats that were involved in the attack. Visitors will learn of the harrowing sacrifices made by American soldiers on board.
The drive back will go past the Punchbowl Crater, home to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. The Crater also has a beautiful view of Honolulu for guests to see. » Book a Pearl Harbor tour from Waikiki.
Oahu is a great destination for a summer vacation, as you’ll get to do all the things you can’t do back at home, and there’s so much great weather to take advantage of the beaches. We know you’ll love it! Share your experiences with us in the comments.
Quick. Check these necessities off your prep list!
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» Looking for more travel inspiration in the United States? See our U.S. Summer Vacation Ideas and 12 U.S. National Parks to Visit. Here are a few more fabulous U.S. Cities to visit.
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