Things to do in
Oahu

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Our most recommended things to do in Oahu

Waikiki: Turtle Canyons Snorkel Excursion

1. Waikiki: Turtle Canyons 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 two-hour 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.

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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. The tour begins with a visit to Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, the largest visitor attraction on Oahu. Enjoy the many exhibits, galleries, and displays the center has to offer. Then, board a Navy boat shuttle for a tour of the harbor along “Battleship Row.” Upon arrival at the USS Arizona Memorial, step off the boat to explore the memorial. The journey continues to the historic National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl Crater, a historical landmark offering a backdrop of scenic rolling green hills and lush foliage where the many men and women who served in the Armed Forces are honored. 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 which includes the Eternal Flame, Korean and Vietnam War Memorials, Liberty Bell, and more. Then, visit the majestic statue of King Kamehameha, the Hawaiian warrior-king who united the islands, and see Kawaiahao Church, known as “the Westminster Abbey of the Pacific.”

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Oahu: Afternoon Glass Bottom Boat Tour in Waikiki

3. 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 [ Diamond Head ]. 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 view ports. Experience a unique perspective of Honolulu, above and below the surface.

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From Honolulu: Waikiki Glass Bottom Boat Sunset Cruise

4. From Honolulu: Waikiki Glass Bottom Boat Sunset Cruise

Experience the beauty of Oahu's south shore as you sail towards the volcanic tuff cone of Lēʻahi (Diamond Head) at the end of the day. Climb aboard the spacious Haleiwa Queen, a 50-foot catamaran with 49 seats, an onboard restroom, and shaded deck for your comfort.  Enjoy a comfortable ride as the crew shares their knowledge about Waikīkī, the thriving farm productions, and royalty that have frequented the area throughout history. Learn about its transition into an urban society. Leave with a newfound appreciation for the people and marine life of Hawaii, and then gaze in awe as the sun reflects off the city skyline, overlooked by the towering peak of Diamond Head, at magical sunset hour.

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Oahu: Incredible 2-Hour Shark Dive on the North Shore

5. Oahu: Incredible 2-Hour Shark Dive on the North Shore

Swim with the sharks during this 2-hour 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. The crystal clear cobalt blue water lets you see up to 200ft (60 m) into the deep. Depending on the season, you will encounter such magnificent animals as the Hawaiian Green Sea turtles, playful dolphins and Humpback whales. If you prefer to stay on board, you still have the opportunity to witness the wonders of the sea and watch the sharks. For those who are a bit more adventurous, the shark cage allows for you to be only inches away from the majestic sharks. They can grow to be more than 15ft (5m) long, and you'll be right up close to witness their graceful demeanor. Make sure to bring your underwater camera, as you can take impressive pictures of the fish. You'll 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 and enjoy the shark adventure.

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Honolulu: Pearl Habor Tour with Arizona Memorial

6. Honolulu: Pearl Habor 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.

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Oahu: Ka Moana Luau at Sea Life Park with Dinner & Show

7. Oahu: Ka Moana Luau at Sea Life Park with Dinner & Show

Check in starts at 5:15 PM and doors open at 5:30 PM. Once inside, you can take part in a number of cultural activities including lei making, temporary tattoos, hula lesson, coconut-headband weaving and a ukulele lesson. The dinner selections are from Sea Life Park's executive chef. The buffet selections include: Greens and Salads: • Island greens with mandarin oranges, radish sprouts crisp rice noodles and Asian dressing • Fruit salad • Lomi lomi salmon Starch options • Fresh taro rolls • Poi samples • Crisp vegetable stir-fry • Sweet potatoes • Steamed white rice Main Dishes: • Fresh grilled mahi mahi with macadamia nut crème sauce • Chicken yakitori with teriyaki sauce • Kalua pork Dessert: • Pineapple cake Beverage Options: • Coffee • Hot tea • Fruit punch Bar menu: • Island Mai Tai’s • Salmon Creek Chardonnay, Merlot and White Zinfandel • Domestic Beers: Budweiser and Bud Light • Soft drinks: Coke, Diet Coke, Sprite You can also purchase additional drinks at the discretion of Sea Life Park. Following dinner, you will 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. 

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Oahu: Eco-Friendly West Oahu Snorkel Sail with Dolphins

8. Oahu: Eco-Friendly West Oahu Snorkel Sail with Dolphins

Hawaii's snorkeling is unparalleled, with its crystal clear waters and warm ocean currents. On this beautiful cruise, go in search of the famed Hawaiian Spinner Dolphins. As you board the boat headed for the turquoise waters of the Ko Olina coast, you'll keep your eyes open for these playful creatures, who like to jump and play in the waves of the boat – just like you! As you set sail, be treated to a tasty continental breakfast, and later on to a picnic lunch as well. There's a great bar on board, and your first 2 alcoholic drinks are free! There are unlimited non-alcoholic drinks all day long, and cheap beer and wine for those inclined to a bit more indulgence. When you jump into the water you'll understand why Hawaii is such a magical place. You'll get a perfect view of the colorful fishes, corals, and underwater creatures. You'll be riding on an eco-friendly sailboat, geared towards dolphin preservation and equipped with the finest of amenities, including 2 large restrooms and a fresh-water shower. There's plenty of shade on the deck, as well as tables and seating at the bar. Come out and see the wonders of Hawaii's underwater life on this wonderful snorkeling adventure, complete with breakfast and lunch.

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Oahu: Waikiki Undersea Adventure Submarine Tour

9. Oahu: Waikiki Undersea Adventure Submarine Tour

Climb aboard Atlantis XIV, the world's largest hi-tech passenger submarine which holds a whopping 64 passengers—that's 16 more people compared to the smaller 48-passenger submarines. Dive 100 feet below the surface and experience Waikiki’s marine mysteries. Being in a submarine and descending to 100 feet underwater is an adventure in itself. Also get to see real marine life up close. The Atlantis Waikiki dive site is home to many Hawaiian fishes, coral, and turtles. Known for its quality and safety, Atlantis is an eye-opening experience that takes you beyond the classroom as you learn about coral, reef life, and submersibles while visiting sunken shipwrecks, airplanes, and other artificial reefs. Atlantis has a spacious air-conditioned interior, large viewports, and comfortable seating. The hi-tech 64-passenger large submarine offers an enhanced amount of personal space and viewports. 

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Oahu: Official USS Arizona Memorial Narrated Audio Tour

10. Oahu: Official USS Arizona Memorial Narrated Audio Tour

Experience the powerful sensations of the largest visitor destination in Hawaii on a fully-narrated audio tour to the USS Arizona Memorial and Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. Follow in the footsteps of the millions of people who come to see for themselves where World War II began for the United States on December 7, 1941. Approved by the National Park Service, the USS Arizona Memorial Narrated Tour is an award-winning, 2.5-hour audio tour that will take you through 2 world-class museums at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, including the amazing "Attack" and "Road to War" chronicling events leading up to the attack on Oahu and its aftermath. Imagine you have your own Park Ranger to guide you as you look at dramatic photographs, personal memorabilia and much more.   Listen to an informative commentary (available in English, French, German, Spanish, Japanese, Korean and Mandarin) as you journey through the facility. It will even automatically translate the National Park Services' 23-minute movie documentary into your chosen language. 

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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.

Frequently asked questions about Oahu

What top attractions are a must-see in Oahu?

Other Sightseeing Options in Oahu

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What people are saying about Oahu

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 3,744 reviews

Great trip! The crew were all amazing and did a great job. The boat was comfortable and provided room for all aboard.

Great crew and the boat was very well maintained. Even without a sunset because of the weather it was a fun trip.

Got to see all the Island and what it has to offer Matt the pilot was very informative and knowledgeable

Def worth the money Crews were really kind and boat ride was so fun stress relieving

Pearl Harbor is a must visit site for all visiting Hawaii.