Things to Do – Oahu

Oahu is an island that has so many things to experience and do that you may want to consider planning most of your trip before you arrive so you can be sure to see as much of Hawaii that you can. As Oahu offers both the large city lifestyle and quiet rural areas, it is nice to take in a variety of the island by doing one or more activities in each region.

The main thing you want to focus on is having fun on your visit to Oahu with things that interest you as well as maybe going out of your norm and doing things that you may have never thought you would do. The island of Oahu easily provides many options to suit your taste whether you are looking to party the night away or spend a quiet day at the beach swimming and sunbathing.

There are many tours, visitor attractions, dining establishments, shopping opportunities, beaches, places to relax and unwind, as well as an exciting nightlife in the large city of Honolulu. There is definitely something for everyone to do on this island; it’s just a matter of deciding on how you want to spend your time.

Tours and Attractions

Some of the most popular tours include different experiences, such as historical tours, cultural tours, eco-adventures, ocean adventures, and theme parks. The most popular tour includes the Pearl Harbor tour, which still operates as a military base. This naval base is where the United States was attacked and led to its entry into World War II. Pearl Harbor includes museums, memorials for those who lost their lives in the attack, and exhibits. The USS Arizona memorial and USS Missouri Battleship are also part of the Pearl Harbor tour. Another popular attraction is the Polynesian Cultural Center, which is a great way to experience ancient Hawaii and other Polynesian cultures. At this attraction, there are many exhibits and shows from every Polynesian culture to give visitors direct interaction with history and the Native people. Oahu is also home to two theme parks – Sea Life Park and Wet n’ Wild. At Sea Life Park in Makapuu, there are shows, interactions, and viewing of dolphins, turtles, sea lions, seabirds, and penguins. Wet n’ Wild is great for a full day of water fun for all ages. There are rides similar to an amusement park and other water activities. For outdoor fun, the Kualoa Ranch is where you can learn about the land and go on tours to view Oahu’s coastline from the lush mountains. Tours are done by ATV or horseback.


No matter what you are craving, or if you want to experience the local food of Hawaii, Oahu has a variety of dining establishments to satisfy your stomach and curiosity. Dining is available in both casual experiences around the island or at fine dining establishments that are numerous in Honolulu, especially in the Waikiki area. If you are craving authentic Chinese food, take a drive to downtown Honolulu’s China Town. This quaint Chinese community in the heart of Honolulu offers visitors and locals the opportunity to eat a variety of Chinese cuisine at affordable prices, and even offers a nice area to stroll and browse stores after a meal. If you are looking for fine dining from some great local chefs, you may want to visit Roy’s Waikiki, Sam Choy’s, Alan Wong’s Restaurant, or Chef Mavro Restaurant. You can’t leave Oahu without experiencing the local food. At mostly every corner in Honolulu and in other regions, you will be able to find an establishment that serves local style food. The most common dish is the “mixed plate” lunch with teriyaki beef, rice, and potato salad. Or you can go for the authentic Hawaiian food, such as kalua pig, laulau, lomi salmon, and rice. If you are traveling with little ones that just want a hamburger, Oahu has fast food establishments such as McDonald’s and Burger King to satisfy their hunger.


The island of Oahu is known for its shopping. If you love to shop, this is the island for you. Oahu has many shopping centers. The main streets in Waikiki, Kuhio and Kalakaua, is where you will find rows of retail stores for fashion, local styles, and high end luxury items. The street vendors also offer local items such as jewelry, clothing, and handcrafted items for bringing a little bit of Hawaii home with you. The Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center in Waikiki has a variety of stores, including fashion stores and high end luxury items. Oahu’s largest outdoor mall is right outside of Waikiki at the Ala Moana Shopping Center. This shopping center has many fashion stores, local shops, cart vendors, toy stores, shoe stores, and high end luxury stores. Nearby you can also find the Aloha Tower Marketplace that has a variety of shops as well as the Kahala Mall. In the Central Oahu region, you can find affordable shopping of luxury items at the Waikele Premium Outlets and a fashion and local style mall at the Pearlridge Center for affordable shopping.


The most famous beach on Oahu is Waikiki Beach, which is a beautiful white sand beach fronting the busy Waikiki area. Its flat surf and clear blue waters are perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and even taking a surfing lesson. The popular surfing region of the North Shore has a perfect beach for casual swimming, sunbathing, and snorkeling called Turtle Bay. The nearby terrain shelters this beach from the high surf associated with the North Shore. If you are an experienced surfer, you can enjoy the larger waves at Sunset Beach or Waimea Bay. In the Windward region, Kailua Beach is a great place to explore the white sand beaches and calm waters offering many water activities, such as kayaking and windsurfing.


Besides enjoying the relaxing views of Oahu’s beaches and tropical plants and flowers, this island offers many local and resort day spas. Before hitting the day spas, to experience complete peacefulness take a visit to the popular Buddhist temple in the Valley of the Temples in the Windward Coast region. The temple is surrounded by natural beauty with gardens that grow many tropical flowers. This place is sure to bring tranquility to your stay on Oahu. To pamper yourself, there are many spas in Honolulu that offer massages and facials. The most popular local massage is the lomilomi massage that is a style of even stroke massaging. Or you can experience the use of hot Hawaiian rocks on your back to ease your muscles after long days of adventure. Many day spas offer facials made with ingredients local to the island to revitalize your skin and soothe your senses.


Downtown Honolulu and the specific area of Waikiki offer the full experience of nightlife on Oahu. There are nightclubs for hours of dancing fun while enjoying a few alcoholic beverages, if you choose. There is also live local music played at a variety of bars and restaurants for you to unwind after a full day of exploring Oahu. The resorts are the more common places in Waikiki to listen to local music. Waikiki offers many bars that are near the beach so you can enjoy the clear, warm tropical night, eat some appetizers, and enjoy a fancy cocktail. The popular Mai Tai Bar at the Ala Moana Center on the top level offers music, drinks, and light meals. If after a late night at one of these establishments, you can always find a 24 hour restaurant to satisfy your hunger. Many resorts and hotels also offer evening luau shows where you can enjoy the hula (Hawaiian dance), eat Hawaiian food, and enjoy tropical drinks.