Top 5 Things to Do in Oahu, Hawaii

The third largest island in Hawaii, Oahu is the one that’s home to the state’s capital, Honolulu. This makes it a major center of entertainment, culture, commerce and media, but besides all these urban delights, there’s also plenty of nature to enjoy on this glorious island. Below, you’ll find the top 5 things to do in Oahu, a list that should serve as the framework of your visit.

Top 5 Things to Do in Oahu, Hawaii

The following five things to do in Oahu are nothing less than “must-dos”. A vacation in Oahu isn’t complete without checking off all items on this list. Luckily, in true Hawaiian spirit, completing this list is one of the most relaxed things you’ll ever do. From snorkeling and sunbathing to eating superb food and visiting one of the world’s most famous historic sites, an Oahu holiday is the epitome of destressing and recharging your batteries.

View from the Lanikai Pillbox Trail, top 5 Things to Do in Oahu, Hawaii
View from the Lanikai Pillbox Trail

5. Go for a Scenic Hike

On an island of spectacular beaches, lush interior forests, towering inland mountains and stunning coasts, going for a scenic hike is a strongly recommended thing to do. There are several to choose from, but the following two are absolutely beautiful.

The first one is the Diamond Head Crater Hike in Honolulu. Dominating the Honolulu cityscape, this huge extinct volcano offers sensational views of the city below. It’s a 1.6-mile round trip, a hike that takes about two hours.

Another excellent hike in Oahu is the 2- to 3-mile Lanikai Pillbox Hike. Located on the southeast coast, this is a phenomenal hike to do at sunrise, also known as the Kaiwa Ridge Trail. It provides great coastal views.

Garlic shrimp street food in Haleiwa, top 5 Things to Do in Oahu, Hawaii
Garlic shrimp street food in Haleiwa

4. Sample Polynesia-Inspired Street Food

The distinct Hawaiian culture features world-renowned hula dancing and typical island music, but it doesn’t stop there. An integral part of this vibrant and lively culture is food. You’ll find great traditional Hawaiian food in many restaurants in Honolulu, but the best street food is along Oahu’s beaches.

Especially on the North Shore, the food trucks make up an important part of the local vibe. After surfing, rock jumping and/or sunbathing on one of the North Shore’s beaches, grab a shrimp taco and some shaved ice from a food truck.

Snorkeling gear in Hanauma Bay, Oahu, Hawaii
Snorkeling gear in Hanauma Bay

3. Snorkel in Hanauma Bay

One of the world’s top snorkeling destinations, Hanauma Bay belongs on any Oahu itinerary. Situated a short drive east of Honolulu, this is a popular destination, so you’re advised to arrive early in the morning.

Home to literally hundreds of species of fish, snorkeling in Hanauma Bay is like swimming in an enormous—it’s actually a volcanic crater—aquarium.

Pearl Harbor, Top 5 Things to Do in Oahu, Hawaii
Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii

2. Visit Pearl Harbor

When vacationing in Oahu, a visit to Pearl Harbor is pretty much mandatory. The site of one of the most significant events in U.S. history, this harbor now houses the USS Arizona Memorial and a superb museum. This is the only National Park Service site in Oahu, a place that deserves at least a half day.

If you decide to visit Pearl Harbor, one of the top things to do in Oahu, make sure to get there early. Tickets often sell out around noon.

Sunset at Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Top 5 Things to Do in Oahu, Hawaii
Sunset at Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii

1. Sunbathe on Waikiki Beach

Of all things to do in Oahu, spending an afternoon on Waikiki Beach in Honolulu has to be the number one. Arguably the world’s most famous beach, Waikiki is absolutely gorgeous—but also extremely busy. Palm trees line this stunning stretch of coast, while surf boards and sunbathers are scattered about the golden sand. This is also a great place to catch a sunset and grab a cocktail at a beach bar afterward.

Have You Ever Done Any of These Top 5 Things to Do in Oahu? Do You Have Other Suggestions? Share Them in the Comments Below!

About Bram


Bram is a Belgian guy who's currently living in the USA. For over four years now, he has been wandering the globe, with jobs here and there in between. So far, his travels have taken him to four continents and twenty-two countries. Bram likes to try different styles of travelling: from backpacker and adventurer to tourist and local, he has been all those stereotypes and probably will be many more in the future. You can follow his adventures on his travel blog, on Twitter and on Facebook.

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2 Responses

  1. Top 8 Scenic Tandem Skydiving Destinations | Go 4 Travel Blog

    […] closer to the mainland, the Aloha State offers tandem skydives from 10,000 and 14,000 feet at the Honolulu site. You’ll be able to see the entire island from North Shore to Pearl Harbor as you drop at 125 […]

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    azeka shopping pretty

    What a perfect restaurant for a family vacation. The foods are delicious I wanna try to eat those kinds of foods. I hope that foods are affordable so that I can try to eat all those foods with my family. I heard that this place is a beautiful place. I hope to see you all when I visit here.


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