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Things to do in Oahu

Visit Pearl Harbor, catch a wave on Waikiki Beach, or shop til you drop on this iconic Hawaiian island.

Our most recommended things to do in Oahu

Oahu: Ka Moana Luau Dinner and Show at Aloha Tower

1. Oahu: Ka Moana Luau Dinner and Show at Aloha Tower

Get tickets to the oceanfront dinner theatre of Ka Moana Luau and enjoy an evening of Polynesian entertainment and a tropical-themed buffet dinner. Sip on a welcome Mai Tai with the celebrity option. Upgrade your experience by choosing hotel transfers from Waikiki. After check-in, head inside the venue where you can take part in a number of cultural activities like lei making, temporary tattoos, hula, and drum lessons, coconut-headband weaving and a coconut tree-climbing demonstration. The buffet selections include: Pre-show appetizers: • Hawaiian-style ahi poke • Tahitian poisson cru • Lomi lomi salmon • Traditional poi • Taro chips • Kiawe wood-roasted organic pork Farm-to-table buffet: • Mixed greens salad • Hapa rice (brown and white rice) • Bread rolls w/ small-batch honey guava butter • Stir-fry veggies • Mahi mahi • Guava chicken • Local kalua pork Dessert: • Haupia • Ube cheesecake Complimentary beverage options: • Fresh lemonade • Water Bar menu: Enhance your Luau experience by indulging in some refreshing Ka Moana pineapple, served in a freshly cut pineapple and filled with a signature cocktail. • Island Mai Tai’s • Tropical Cocktails • Mixed premium and well drinks • Beers: Bud Light, Stella Artois, Kona Big Wave • Soft drinks: Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite, Passion Fruit Orange Juice, bottled water Following dinner, enjoy an award-winning production highlighting the vibrant traditions of Hawaii and Polynesia. The show navigates through Polynesia on a way-finding adventure. Your experience culminates with the Polynesian Sword of Fire dance and don’t be surprised if you find yourself as part of the experience. 

Honolulu: Pearl Harbor, USS Arizona, and City Tour

2. Honolulu: Pearl Harbor, USS Arizona, and City Tour

Spend the day visiting the most important historical sites and landmarks of Honolulu, Hawaii. Visit Pearl Harbor, USS Arizona Memorial, Iolani Palace, Kawaiahao Church, the Hawaii State Capitol, Honolulu City Hall, and more. Begin your tour with a visit to Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. Enjoy the exhibits, galleries, and displays before boarding a Navy boat shuttle for a tour of the harbor along “Battleship Row.” Step off the boat to explore the USS Arizona Memorial, then continue to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl Crater. See the historical landmark against a backdrop of rolling hills and lush foliage. Wrap up your experience with a narrated tour of downtown Honolulu. Spot the impressive state buildings and learn about the Iolani Palace, the official residence of Hawaii’s last reigning monarch and the only royal palace in the United States. Make your way to the Hawaii State Capitol grounds. See the Eternal Flame, Korean and Vietnam War Memorials, Liberty Bell, the majestic statue of King Kamehameha, and Kawaiahao Church.

Waikiki: Turtle Canyons Cruise and Snorkel Excursion

3. Waikiki: Turtle Canyons Cruise and Snorkel Excursion

Experience the magical underwater world of sea turtles. Dive under the waves with a snorkel and see the rainbow of tropical fish. Connect with the wide array of stunning marine life on this immersive tour. Start off with a cruise along the coast, where you can potentially spot spinner dolphins and humpback whales during the wither months. Once at the Turtle Canyons, you’ll get a brief lesson on snorkeling and your snorkeling equipment.  Snorkel alongside the sea turtles and tropical sea life under the supervision of a certified lifeguard, returning to the boat whenever you please to relax with complimentary refreshments.

Honolulu: Queens Waikiki Luau

4. Honolulu: Queens Waikiki Luau

Get entry tickets to the Queens Waikiki Luau feast in Honolulu, with traditional foods and entertainment. Enjoy cultural activities, Polynesian performances, and a buffet dinner, and drinks right in the heart of Honolulu. Sit back and relax as you go on a journey through Polynesia. This spectacular event includes unique cultural activities where you can learn the hula, delicious Hawaiian food, and an authentic Polynesian show. Begin with some cultural activities before you taste traditional flavors and finish by watching a Polynesian performance including the fireknife dance. Menu Rice Macaroni salad Tossed green salad with lilikoi dressing Kalua pig cabbage BBQ shoyu chicken Long rice noodles with garlic Steamed vegetables Cake with haupia drizzle

Oahu: Shark Cage Dive on the North Shore

5. Oahu: Shark Cage Dive on the North Shore

Swim with the sharks during this tour that offers you the unique adventure of a shark dive, while ensuring your safety at all times. Discover the wonders of the sea on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii alongside a certified guide. Bring your own masks and snorkels or use the ones provided on board. Your guide will give you a safety briefing at the start of the tour and will answer all your questions concerning this special adventure. See up to 200 feet (60 meters) in the crystal-clear, cobalt blue water. Depending on the season, you will encounter such magnificent animals as the Hawaiian Green Sea turtles, playful dolphins, and Humpback whales. Admire the sharks from the ship's deck, or experience the rush of entering the shark cage which allows you to be only inches away from sharks that can grow up to 15 feet (5 meters) in length. Capture pictures with your underwater camera of their grace and majesty in the water. Have 20 minutes to marvel at the sharks and cherish this unforgettable moment. Up to 8 people can be in the cage at the same time, so you can experience the sharks with someone you love.

Oahu: Afternoon Glass Bottom Boat Tour in Waikiki

6. Oahu: Afternoon Glass Bottom Boat Tour in Waikiki

If adventure is what you seek, join this daily boat tour. Enjoy the beauty of Hawaii’s South Shore as you head out from the slip in the Kewalo Basin Harbor and head toward Lē’ahi. Discover the underwater world while staying dry with the glass-bottom boat. Aboard the Haleiwa Queen, enjoy the clear view of the Pacific Ocean floor as you cruise over live tropical reefs and one of Hawaii’s shipwrecks. Keep an eye out for honu sea turtles, eels, reef sharks, dolphins, and schools of tropical fish, all from the deck of the vessel through the glass bottom boat viewports. Experience a unique perspective of Honolulu, above and below the surface.

Honolulu: Pearl Harbor Tour with Arizona Memorial

7. Honolulu: Pearl Harbor Tour with Arizona Memorial

Hear fascinating stories on this tour of Pearl Harbor and downtown Honolulu. Witness the key sites and memorials to the 1941 attack, and experience the island's wartime history. Begin this tour with pickup in Waikiki. Travel first to Pearl Harbor and ride the navy launch to the USS Arizona Memorial. Visit the sombre monument above a sunken battleship from the day of the attack. Explore the memorials to the many groups who lost their lives, and pause to reflect at the wall of remembrance. Return to your waiting van for a historic tour of downtown Honolulu. Your expert guide will explain what it was like to live on the island during wartime. See sights including Iolani Palace, the State Capitol, King Kamehameha Statue and Aloha Tower as you learn about the fascinating history of this historic place.

Oahu: Honolulu Airport (HNL) Traditional Lei Greeting

8. Oahu: Honolulu Airport (HNL) Traditional Lei Greeting

Experience genuine Hawaiian hospitality the minute you step off the plane as you are greeted at the baggage claim area with a fresh flower lei and a warm welcome. The only agenda is you. Enjoy personal service as your local expert escorts you through the airport. Your local greeter will also suggest some Oahu illustrating points of interest, and answer any questions about the islands.

Honolulu: Waikiki Sunset and Whale Watching Cruise

9. Honolulu: Waikiki Sunset and Whale Watching Cruise

It is finally that time of year where the beautiful humpback whales make their return to the Hawaiian islands after migrating from Alaska! Step aboard the Island Princess and catch the beautiful sunset on the Waikiki horizon while searching for our seasonal humpback whales! Explore the bay of Waikiki and see Diamond Head Crater (Lē‘ahi Crater), check out the gorgeous turquoise waters, and learn about the majestic creatures and the local area with our experienced and knowledgeable crew! Bring your own beverages, sit back, and enjoy the view!

Oahu: Coral Crater Zipline Tour

10. Oahu: Coral Crater Zipline Tour

Feel your adrenaline pump while flying through the air on a zipline experience at Coral Crater Adventure Park. Have a memorable time as you glide through the air and select to ride 3 or 6 times. Follow your guides as they lead you through 3 or 6 ziplines ranging from 300 to 900 feet. This tour is for those looking to experience a safe, thrilling, high-flying experience. The ziplines feature a modern braking system, which means that zipliners do not need to control their speed or stop themselves, allowing all ages and abilities to participate in this activity. Your expert guides will be with you throughout the adventure.

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Frequently asked questions about Oahu

What top attractions are a must-see in Oahu?

Insider tips: Planning a trip to Oahu

As one of Hawaii's most popular islands, Oahu is fittingly called "The Gathering Place." To help you make the most of your time to the Hawaiian paradise, we've enlisted the help of travel expert Jackson from Journey Era. Read below for tips on how to best experience the island.

What should I do on my first trip to Oahu? 

If it's your first time to Oahu there are a few top things you cannot miss. If you are a keen hiker there are lots of epic trails on the island but there's also a short trail everyone should do. Hiking to the top of Diamond Head Crater is just a few kilometers and gives you an incredible view of the entire Waikiki area and the beaches in the south. 

If you are into history, visiting the Pearl Harbor Museum and memorial site is a very important piece of American war history and makes for a good half-day trip. Renting a car or jumping on a guided tour to the North Shore of Oahu to check out the iconic surf town of Haleiwa is a great way to relax while on vacation

What are some hidden gems to see in Oahu?

The Atlantis Submarine tour is an epic adventure where you will climb aboard a 48-passenger submarine and adventure through the underwater passages of the famous Waikiki beach. Through its portal windows, see Hawaiian fish, coral, turtles, sunken ships and airplanes, and more! 

It’s truly an amazing experience to see sunken warships and planes and all of the marine life that is now calling it home. Another unique activity on Oahu is to hike to the top of Koko Crater, which is a demanding and steep hike. The unforgiving incline will have you gasping for breath by the time you reach the top.

How much time should I spend in Oahu?

Most people feel that 7-10 days is a good amount of time to spend on Oahu. This gives you time to book a few tours, rent a car and explore for a few days and unwind with no activities with a few relaxing beach days. 

The time will fly by so any less than a week will feel rushed. Basing in Waikiki or the south is fine and how most people structure their stay. You can drive to all parts of the island within an hour from Waikiki so there's no need to base in multiple locations.

What neighborhood should I stay in when I visit Oahu?

Waikiki is the hub of Oahu. Let’s start with Waikiki because it is the most popular place to stay in Oahu. The majority of the hotels are on this famous strip of beach. There are hundreds of restaurants, cafes, tour centers, transport options, and convenience stores. It has a great little surf break perfect for beginners. The water is warm, the cocktails are flowing and it is an all-around beach vibe.

For families: Waikiki is the number one choice for families. They are centrally located for all of the tours to different spots around the island. Kids have protected beaches to swim in without worrying about waves. There are several man-made reef breaks, which act as saltwater swimming pools. For mom and dad, there are plenty of nightspots and relaxed bars throughout Waikiki. It is a safe neighborhood and it is also a shopping heaven with lots of high-end retailers.

For couples: Honeymooners and couples have found the perfect getaway spot in Waikiki. Think of dining out and nice restaurants each night after a day of adventures each day. It is the perfect base to hit the beaches, adventure the island but still have the luxury of great accommodation, dining, and convenience on your doorstep.

For older travelers: The older adventurers among us love Waikiki for a few reasons. It’s simple. Everything is on your doorstep. The tours pick you up and drop you off at your hotel lobby. There are quality restaurants in all directions and the famous Waikiki Beach is within walking distance. You are never far from a refreshing dip in your hotel pool, the ocean, or an air-conditioner.

What is the best way to get around Oahu? 

If you are booking several tours you may not want to rent a car. However, if you like to explore yourself, it is best to hire a car, which costs about $60-100 per day. This way you can visit the east, north and west coast at your leisure. Within Waikiki, you can use the local bus service or Uber to get around as it is quite a small area. Within Waikiki, you can walk from most hotels to the beach so there is no real need for transport services if you are just enjoying beach days.

What are the best months to visit Oahu?

Oahu is a great place to visit all year round due to its tropical, temperate climate. However, in the winter the big surf in the north of the island can be a huge attraction and there are a number of big-wave surfing events. The summer months of May, June, and July are very popular due to the warm, consistent weather making it perfect for tanning on the beach and sipping cocktails

What are the best neighborhoods for shopping?

Waikiki is the luxury shopping center of the island. You can find lots of upmarket stores in the strip, which is fun to walk up and down at night. Rolex, Gucci, and other high-end stores can be found in this area but there are also lots of regular stores like H&M and souvenir stores to find some Hawaiian-style gifts for your family and friends.

Other Sightseeing Options in Oahu

Want to discover all there is to do in Oahu? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Oahu

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 8,038 reviews

The check-in and up until we left the cruise was amazing. We got a good view of the sunset! The live music really carried the entire trip with the views. It was very relaxing and I’m happy I decided to do this activity! It was my partners first time in Hawaii and I really wanted to elevate the experience of viewing the sunset! He was amazed, I’m glad I chose Atlantis!

This was the BEST bang for my buck out of everything I did In Honolulu. It's not a formal event by any means, this is very much a party boat! I can't recommend it enough! The crew was funny and engaging. Everyone on the boat gets DRUNK and it feels like a big party! This was such a great way to spend the evening with my friends and meeting new people! 10/10

We had an awesome time and seen a bunch of whales.The captain slowed right down so we could get pictures and watch the show

Jay was a fantastic guide. Every stop was great. The pineapple field tour was a highlight of the day.

amazing experience with support of best staffs ever.