If you’re looking for an amazing vacation destination, look no further than Oahu. Hawaii’s most populated island is home to some of the most beautiful scenery in the world, while also offering all the luxury and splendor you can expect from a major city like Honolulu. Whether you’re interested in nature, history, or nightlife, Oahu has something to offer. Let’s take a look at seven things that you don’t want to miss when visiting Oahu.
1. Swimming and Snorkeling with Sea Turtles
The Hawaiian green sea turtle, also known as the “honu,” is a cherished part of Hawaiian culture and an important part of the state’s ecology. Whether you’re swimming with them or simply observing them from the shore, encountering sea turtles in Oahu is sure to be a memorable experience.
Green sea turtles can be found throughout the island, but some of the best beaches in Oahu for snorkeling and swimming with sea turtles are Laniakea Beach, Shark’s Cove, and Hanauma Bay.
The best time of the day to spot sea turtles from the beach is around noon time. Since green sea turtles like eating seaweeds, you will most likely find them “having lunch” by the beach where there are wet rocks covered with algae.
2. Enjoying a Luau at Polynesian Cultural Center
In Hawaiian culture, luau is an important tradition that has its roots in 19th century royalty. In the past, Hawaiian men and women had eaten separately, but that all changed when King Kamehameha II threw a massive coed feast called “luau.” Today, luau remains an important part of Hawaiian culture and becomes a must-do activity for any visitors to the islands.
Set in a family-friendly theme park and museum located on the north shore of Oahu, the Polynesian Cultural Center luau includes interactive tours and demonstrations at six different cultural villages, a large buffet feast with live entertainment of royal celebration, and a night show with hula and fire knife dancing. Thanks to its comprehensive offer, Polynesian Cultural Center has constantly been rated as one of the best luaus in Oahu.
3. Hiking Diamond Head Crater
Diamond Head is an iconic volcanic crater with a nearly circular shape at the eastern end of Waikiki. When British sailors first arrived in Hawaii in the 1800s, they mistook the calcite crystals in its lava rocks for diamonds and named the landmark accordingly.
Today, Diamond Head is a popular tourist destination, and its 360-degree views are truly breathtaking. The summit of Diamond Head offers stunning panoramic views of the oceans and Honolulu.
The hike to the top of Diamond Head is relatively short and easy, but it can be quite strenuous in the heat, so be sure to bring plenty of water and sunscreen.
4. Visiting Movie Sites at Kualoa Ranch
Kualoa Ranch is a private nature preserve on the windward side of Oahu. The ranch is best known for its beautiful scenery, which has been featured in a number of films and television shows over the years. Some of the most well-known movies that were filmed at Kualoa Ranch include Pearl Harbor, Jurassic Park, Jurassic World, and Kong: Skull Island.
Since the ranch is not open to the public, visitors will have to book an authorized tour to visit the site. There are a variety of activities such as hiking, horseback riding, ziplining, but the most popular Kualoa Ranch tours are the ATV tour, the Hollywood Movie Sites Tour, and the Jungle Expedition tour. With these tours, you will have the chance to visit the filming site of Jurassic World where the control room, the lab, and the wall with the giant footprint are located.
5. Watching Sunset at Waikiki Beach
Located on the south shore of the island of Oahu, Waikiki Beach is known for its sandy beaches, clear waters, and year-round warm weather. Visitors come to Waikiki to enjoy the sun and surf, as well as the many shops, restaurants, and hotels that line the beachfront. Whether you’re looking for a place to relax or a place to party, Waikiki Beach has something for everyone.
One of the best things to do at Waikiki Beach is to watch the sunset. Every evening, locals and visitors alike gather on the beach to watch the sun dip below the horizon. As the sky turns from blue to orange to red, the views are truly breathtaking.
6. Engaging in History at Pearl Harbor
A visit to Pearl Harbor is a must-do for anyone interested in history, World War II, or the American military. The site memorializes the victims of the surprise attack by Japanese forces on the US Pacific Fleet in 1941, which prompted the US entry into World War II. Today, visitors can pay their respects at memorials dedicated to the over 2,400 Americans who died in the attack and learn more about this pivotal moment in history.
Although admission to the Pearl Harbor Historic Sites is free, a visit to some of the museums on site (Battleship Missouri Memorial, Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum, Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum) require admission fees. In order to skip the line and save money, visitors can get the Go Oahu Card, which includes admission tickets to the museums at Pearl Harbor and several other attractions in Oahu.
7. Trying the Maze at Dole Plantation
The Dole Plantation receives more than one million visitors every year to learn about the history of the pineapple industry in Hawaii. The plantation offers amazing pineapple ice cream and a variety of activities, including a pineapple garden tour, a train ride, and a maze.
The Pineapple Garden Maze at Dole Plantation is one of the world’s largest mazes, stretching over three acres and includes nearly two and one-half miles of paths crafted from 14,000 colorful Hawaiian plants. To avoid the lines, it’s best to arrive at the Plantation when it’s first open in the morning.
Whether you want an adventure or just the perfect place to relax on the beach with your loved ones, we hope this list of seven great things to do in Oahu will inspire your next Hawaiian getaway!
Hoang Anh Le is a world traveler, writer, and owner of Luxury under Budget travel blog—featuring travel deals, promo codes, and tips on how to achieve affordable luxury by maximizing the value of time and money.