12 Things to do on Oahu

We have compiled a list of the 12 most popular things to do on Oahu to assist you on your visit! Aloha. If you want to see over 200 activities & tours you can do on all the Hawaiian Islands, check out H Tours Hawaii.

1. Hiking Diamond Head

The iconic silhouette of Diamond Head is synonymous with images of the O`ahu and the site draws visitors year-round to hike its crater. The hike takes visitors through the center of the dormant volcano reaching panoramic views of Waikīkī and O`ahu’s Southern Shore. Along the way, hikers cross stairs, paved roads, tunnels, and even climb onto old bunkers now serving as scenic lookouts.

2. Snorkel in Hanauma Bay

Over 3,000 visitors a day visit Hanauma Bay to swim with it’s over 400 species of fish, numerous varieties of live coral, and other marine life. This nature preserve and marine life conservation site is located 30 minutes East of Waikīkī and is a must-visit spot for tourists. The soft sand beach is a great spot for families to picnic while taking a break from snorkeling with the fish in the crystal blue waters.

3. Visit Nu`uanu Pali

Only a 5 mile car ride from Downtown Honolulu, you will find one of the most important historical sites on O`ahu and a place sacred to the Hawaiian people. Nu`uanu Pali is where the Battle of Nu`uanu took place in 1795 when King Kamehameha I fought to gain control of the island of O`ahu and many warriors lost their lives by being pushed of its steep cliffs.

Today, tourists visit this spot to pay respect to the rich history of the site as well as take in the panoramic views of the Ko`olau Cliffs and Windward coast.

4. `Iolani Palace

Visitors flock to `Iolani Palace, the only palace in the United States, for many reasons. This was the residence of the last two monarchs of the Hawaiian Kingdom—King David Kalakaua and Queen Lydia Liliuokalani—where they entertained foreign guests, hosted lavish banquets, ran their court, and in the final days of the monarchy, were imprisoned.

The palace features Hawai`i’s first electric lights, flush toilets, and intra-house phone system. Guests are led on a guided tour through the throne room, dining room, and various bedrooms and can peruse the archives and collections in the basement.

5. Polynesian Cultural Center

The Polynesian Cultural Center, or PCC for short, is a Polynesian themed theme park located in Laie on O`ahu’s North Shore. This 42 acre park is home to simulated villages for guests to explore and workers throughout the villages explain traditions and crafts from the specific island. The Hā—Breath of Life show currently runs at the PCC and guests can also enjoy canoe rides and parades throughout the center.

6. Kawaihao Church and the Mission Houses

Located in Downtown Honolulu, Kawaihao Church and the nearby Mission Houses were built between 1838 and 1842 and are examples of Hawai`i’s past. The church was the National Church of the Hawaiian Kingdom and the official chapel of the royal family.

It became a U.S. National Landmark in 1962 and still holds regular services. The nearby Mission Houses are three structures built by missionaries and still standing is a home that guests can tour through, a printing room, and the Chamberlain’s house.

Numerous exhibits and collections are on display and the Mission Houses also have a wonderful café serving modern takes on Hawaiian comfort food.

7. Waikīkī Aquarium

Located on the shores of Waikīkī beach sits the Waikīkī Aquarium which was built in 1904 and is the 3rdoldest aquarium in the United States. The aquarium currently is home to over 500 marine species and also has over 3,000 specimens. Guests can walk through the aquarium checking out various fish and sea creatures and learn about the exciting marine life in Hawai`i.

8. Paradise Cove Luau

Luau’s are Hawaiian feasts and the one held at Paradise Cove will be one you remember for a lifetime! Located on 12 oceanfront acres, guests are greeted with a Mai Tai reception before entering the traditional Hawaiian luau held here.

There are games, a hukilau (an ancient way of fishing for Hawaiians), and imu (traditional oven in the ground) ceremony leading up to the feast of Hawaiian, local, and continental foods. The night ends in song and dance during the Paradise Cove Extravaganza.

9. Dole Plantation

Originally a fruit stand in the 1950s, Dole Plantation slowly grew to the popular tourist destination is it from the 1989 Pineapple Experience. Over 1 million visitors a year come to Dole Plantation to ride the Pineapple Express, take the Garden Tour, and run through the pineapple maze. Exhibitions and historical artifacts are on display and the Dole Plantation is also home to a café and gift shop.

10. Bishop Museum

Originally a place to house the extensive Hawaiian artifacts and royal family heirlooms of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, today Bishop Museum is a famous museum whose efforts are to study and preserve the history of Hawai`i and the Pacific.

Guests can walk through the large museum of Hawaiian artifacts and history as well as study documents, photos, and visit the planetarium which explains Hawaiian navigation by stars.

11. Makapu`u Lighthouse Trail

Located on O`ahu’s East Shore, this easy to moderate hike is along a 2 mile paved path which leads to a scenic lookout with beautiful views of the ocean and windward coast. Hikers, children, and even leashed dogs can be seen on this hike throughout the day.

12. Ala Moana Shopping Center

Opened in 1959 with just 87 stores, today Ala Moana Shopping Center has grown tremendously and is now the largest open air mail in the world. The variety of shops range from children to teen stores, high end fashion boutiques and everything in between. There is a food court and nearby center stage where performances are held throughout the week.


Article by: Krystal Kakimoto.

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