The third largest of the Hawaiian Island chains, Oahu is a one-of-a-kind place that might leave you wanting to stay as a permanent resident.
Also known as “The Gathering Place”, once you reach this magical island, you will know that it is time to either put on those trainers or hiking boots and head out to explore the countless stunning natural inland sites, slip on that swimsuit and dip into the blue, get lost in the islands’ capital of Honolulu, experience and appreciate the rich Hawaiian culture, mesmerize your palette with the delicious local cuisine or visit timeless small towns. There will be no boring day in Oahu, that is for sure, and this is your guide to things to do in this lush paradise.
Hike or Camp
A trip to Oahu without stepping out of the city does not really count. Take this as the perfect time for meeting the adventurer that beats within you and get ready to be hypnotized by unforgettable natural sceneries and landscapes that will end up with the best good nights’ sleep you’ve ever had at the end of the day.
Here are 10 of the most recommended hikes to walk, and camping sites visit during your trip:
- Chinaman’s hat hike: Access this island located close to Kualoa Ranch by kayak or a short distance swim. Once at the top, you’ll have the luck of being at the presence of the most gorgeous view of the Kualoa Mountains
- Pu’u Manamana, or Crouching Lion, hike: Enjoy the amazing green surroundings of a beautiful rain forest and great views of Kahana Bay
- Stairway to Heaven hike: Although forbidden, many people venture to reach the small bunker and satellite that remain at the summit
- Koko Head stairs hike: A rewarding steep short hike
- Diamond Head Crater hike: One of the most popular hikes, short and worth the while given the beautiful views of Waikiki
- Ka’au Crater: Venture on this trail and three grandiose waterfalls will be awaiting you
Manoa Falls: Another popular hike, leading you to a waterfall and a few other sceneries where Jurassic Park and Lost were filmed
- Mariners Ridge: An equally stunning and rather difficult hike along wonderful mountains and views
- Makua Beach camping
- North shore camping
- Visit the island’s natural heritage sites
If there is a place with close to an infinite number natural wonders this might probably be it. Prepare to be blown away by the Halona Blowhole, Diamond Head, Kualoa Regional Park, the Ko’olau Range, Manoa Falls, Koko Heads, Hanauma Bay or Spitting Cave; just to name a few.
Enjoy the Local Culture
Go to Kuhio Beach for the unique Torch-lighting and Hula Show; take a day trip to the Royal Hawaiian Center, take a stroll around the Poipu Shopping Village and catch the free Hula Show on Monday or Wednesday evenings, or check for dances, shows or cultural classes at the shops of Mauna Lani. Also check for the year-round cultural special events and festivals.
Taste the Local Cuisine
Poke bowls, loco moco, haupia pie, shave ice or the well-known garlic prawns or Japanese mocha ice cream. The combinations are daring, the flavors endless, and your appetite will certainly be pleased.
Take your basket full of tasty, fresh snacks and dishes, plus a picnic blanket on that cloudless sunny day and head out to Moanalua Gardens, Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden, Spalding House Lawn or to the secret Talantus Tree House to relax your day out.
Visit five standing Pearl Harbor historical sites where you will be able to find living museums and memorials of one of the scars left behind by World War II.
Find the Lolani Palace, King Kamehameha I Statue, Kawaiahao Church at Downtown Honolulu, or set some time apart to wonder around the Nuuanu Pali Lookout where the Battle of Nuuanu took place in 1795.
Fly like a Pterodactyl over what (for short) was Jurassic Park’s dinosaur habitat at Kualua Ranch.
Workout those arms while enjoying the green and blue views by kayaking to the isolated Mokes or Mokulua islands, or go to the bird sanctuary of Popoia.
Surf, Windsurf or Kite Surf
Whether you get to watch one of these water sports competitions, decide to take a few lessons yourself or head out to the waves like a pro, Oahu is there to offer you one of the best wavy experiences at Waikiki Beach, Waimea Bay, Sunset Beach or the famous Banzai Pipeline.
Elevate yourself and soar along the coastline of Waikiki as you try touching the clouds.
Relax amongst the quietness of Hanauma Bay or Sharks Cove while you enjoy marine life at its best.
For the ocean lovers and enthusiasts, enjoy sharing the habitat with incredible fish, turtles, rays, and if you are lucky, larger marine creatures at the Sharks Cove or Sea Tiger Wreck.
Discover the Capital
Walk the streets of Kaka’ako to discover hidden works of art in the streets or its weekly Farmers’ Market, or its monthly Honolulu Night Market at Auahi Street, which features local food, art and fashion.
Visit the Honolulu Museum of Art, Spalding House, which often features contemporary local art, or the hidden museum of Shangri La, previously the house of wealthy heiress Doris Duke.
Bars and Nightlife
To make the most out of your nights in Oahu head out to find authentic Hawaiian atmosphere with good music and, if you are lucky, a view of the pristine beaches all night long. Waikiki stands out as the island’s most vibrant and active nightlife, but Honolulu is also a place to hold big party scenes in the area.