The 16 Best Things to do on O‘ahu Island
O’ahu is a lush playground with activities for the adventurous, beachcombers, foodies, resort dwellers, and families alike. Deciding what to tick off first can be the toughest challenge, so have a look below at our ‘16 Best Things to do on O’ahu Island’ and let your vacation planning begin!
Hike the Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail
If you’re an experienced hiker and looking to explore the true power of O’ahu’s nature, Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail is one for your list. This 4.5-mile round-trip trail starts off gently as you stroll along a paved and wide path, but don’t be fooled. After an hour you will reach a clearing and begin the trudge up 10 sets of stairs. While you may be wishing you were back at the beach enjoying a cold beer, when you reach the top and are rewarded with endless views of East Honolulu, Waimanalo, Kualoa, and Waikiki, you’ll know every step was worth it.
Stop by Halona Blowhole Lookout
O’ahu is filled with geographical wonders, but one of our favorites is Halona Blowhole. Formed thousands of years ago, Halona Blowhole is still very active today and sends sea spray soaring nearly 30 feet into the air. If you’re up for an adventure, a short (but steep!) hike will take you down to Halona Cove where a secret and secluded beach will be waiting – you may even recognize Halona Cove Beach from Pirates of the Caribbean 4! If you’re visiting during the winter months, keep an eye out for whales playing amongst the tide.
Get into the air with Isle Sights Unseen Helicopter Tour
There’s no better way to see the breath-taking beauty of O’ahu than getting a bird’s eye view as you soar across the island. On Isle Sights Unseen helicopter tour you’ll be amazed by the expanse of untouched wilderness claiming the island. The highlight of this 45-minute ride must be the slow ascend near Sacred Falls as you ponder the sheer power of the water crashing 1100 feet down the steep mountainside. As the Sacred Falls hiking track is now closed to the public, the only way to see these majestic falls is from the air.
Grab a Teddy’s Bigger Burger and head to the beach
You’ll find a few Teddy’s Bigger Burger joints on O’ahu and each serves up a mean feast, but for the ultimate experience, head to Teddy’s Bigger Burgers in Waikiki and order to-go. Just a short stroll to Kuhio Beach, you can pack some cold beverages, a picnic blanket, and enjoy the perfect evening dining next to the ocean. Located at 134 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu, you’ll soon find out they’re not lying when they claim ‘Where Bigger really is Better’.
Scuba Dive Kahuna Canyon
If you are lucky enough to be scuba certified, heading below the surface and checking out the unique marine life surrounding O’ahu is a must-do. There’s plenty of unique dive spots to choose from, but one of the best is Kahuna Canyon. An old volcanic crater that expands 200 yards long, you’ll feel like you’ve dived right into the Grand Canyon that’s now teeming with fish, coral formations, and caves. We recommend visiting from May to September for the best conditions.
Enjoy local food at Helena’s Hawaiian Food
For a relaxing lunch or dinner, head to Helena’s Hawaiian Food. Located on the outskirts of Honolulu, you may not even notice this hidden gem tucked away from the buzz of the city, but you will soon come to find, Helena’s is not one to miss. Famous for its traditional Hawaiian food, bring friends and enjoy sharing plates of kalua pig, lomi salmon, pipikaula short ribs, and luau squid. It’s best to arrive earlier to avoid the hungry dinner crowd!
Go Whale watching with Ocean Joy Cruises
If you’re visiting O’ahu between December and April, you cannot miss the chance to watch the incredible humpback whales feeding off the coast. On Ocean Joy Cruises, you can choose either a morning or afternoon cruise, and with small groups, state of the art equipment, and a spacious cabin, every trip out to sea is sure to be a wonderful adventure. This cruise isn’t only about the majestic gentle giants, bring your swimsuit for a chance to swim and snorkel with dolphins, turtles, and other sea life!
Visit Waimea Falls and go for a swim
A picture-perfect 45 feet waterfall complete with a natural plunge pool to refresh in – this is Waimea Falls! Located in Waimea Valley, you’ll need to pay a small entrance fee to visit the park and enjoy the splendors on offer, but your money goes straight back to the preservation of the landscapes showcased within the park. Once inside ‘The Valley’, you’ll enjoy a short and easy walk through the botanical gardens to reach Waimea Falls and the swimming area. With lifeguards on duty and life jackets available for free, you’ll have no reason not to hop in for a swim!
Head aboard the Waikiki Sunset Cocktail Cruise
While you’ll spend much of your time on O’ahu looking out towards the sea, getting out on the water and looking back is a stunning perspective many people overlook. Aboard a luxury catamaran on the Waikiki Sunset Cocktail Cruise, you’ll drink in the incredible views as you watch the sun dip into the Pacific Ocean. With no distractions besides the vibrant orange and purple hues of the sunset, you’ll feel like you’ve left all your stresses behind and can simply enjoy the fresh appetizers and company of your fellow passengers.
Grab dinner at the North Shore food trucks
For a taste of the local fare and to sample for yourself the striking flavors of the famous Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck, head down to Kahuku, home to arguably the best food truck gathering on O’ahu. Make sure you arrive hungry as the options are endless and the need to try a bit of everything may simply overwhelm you. Think BBQ Teri chicken, smoked brisket, bacon-infused black beans, garlic shrimp, and of course, plenty of desserts for those with a sweet tooth. This is certainly an experience you’ll be heading back to!
Paddle Board Mokulua (Moke) Islands
The perfect afternoon adventure for a sunny day! Pack your swimsuit and a picnic lunch and spend the day exploring around the Mokulua Islands. It’ll take around 30 minutes to SUP directly from the coast of Kailua to Moku Nui Island. However, on a calm day, it’s worth taking your time and watching the sea life and birds playing alongside either coast. Moku Nui Island itself also has plenty to explore. After a refreshing drink, head to the backside of the island for some cliff jumping and swimming!
Spend an afternoon at Waikiki Aquarium
Find yourself beached out? The Waikiki Aquarium is the perfect activity for adults and children alike to get an up-close look at the many brilliant species that call the South Pacific Ocean home. Learn about the complex marine communities, ponder the strange creatures who’ve found home here, and enjoy watching the endangered Monk Seals basking in the sun. If you’re coming with children, be sure to check out the many classes and activities going on around the aquarium for even more interactive fun!
Visit the Pearl Harbor Historic Sites
This one is a no brainer as no trip to O’ahu is complete without a visit to Pearl Harbor. As Pearl Harbor National Memorial is one of Hawaii’s biggest tourist attractions, it’s best to arrive early and with a game plan. If you have time the night before, head to the official website here and decide on your must-see attractions. From the USS Arizona Memorial, USS Bowfin Submarine, Pacific Aviation Museum, and Battleship Missouri – it’s easy to spend an entire day getting lost in the history and stories of Pearl Harbor.
Enjoy a cold beer at Barefoot Bar
Nothing is better than enjoying a cold drink at a beach bar, period. Located at Queen’s Surf Beach in Waikiki, you’ll immediately feel relaxed as you enjoy the live local music while sipping on a refreshing mai tai. Time will melt away as you dig your feet into the lush grass and watch the waves gently roll into shore. You may even find yourself ordering another round, a plate of food to share, and settling in to watch the sunset colors transform the sky. This is what O’ahu is all about!
Bike around Crater Head and hike to the top
If you’re one who prefers to earn an extra pina colada at dinner, this is the ideal activity. There are plenty of bike rental companies in Kapi’olani, so take your pick, grab a map, pack your water bottle, and head on your way. As you ride around Crater Head you’ll enjoy watching the lively streets near Honolulu Zoo, Waikiki Aquarium, and Diamond Head Lighthouse. Once you reach the Diamond Head State Monument, park your bike and enjoy a short (but challenging) hike up to the top of Crater Head for panoramic views of Honolulu and Waikiki.
Treat yourself at Kahala Spa
With so much to see and do on O’ahu, you will likely find yourself in need of a relaxing afternoon refreshing and rejuvenating, and Kahala Spa is the perfect place to do so. Kahala Spa has perfected the blend of traditional Hawaiian therapy, luxurious rooms, and modern treatments to leave guests feeling recharged inside and out. With a focus on your spiritual energy, or ‘mana’, each treatment is catered to the individual.
As you can see, there’s no shortage of experiences to be had and memories to be made on O’ahu. Enjoy the sun, surf, and inland adventures, and if you can’t tick off all of your favorites this time around, don’t worry. O’ahu isn’t going anywhere, simply start planning your next visit!
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