Hawaii is made up of 8 islands. The Island of Oahu is the 3rd largest island, and the most visited with approximately 4.7 million visitors each year. Get ready to read about 7 amazing things to do in Oahu, Hawaii!
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When Should you go to Oahu, Hawaii?
Most Popular: Summer time from June – August is the most popular time to visit Hawaii.
Most Expensive: December and January are the most expensive.
Cheapest: February and March are the cheapest times to fly to Hawaii.
BEST Time: In mid-April to early June OR between September and mid-December the weather is great, and it is less crowded.
Worst Time: Late June through November is hurricane season in Hawaii.
*I went to Hawaii in August and I thought it was a great time to go.
Tell me more about Oahu, Hawaii....
When you first arrive in Hawaii, you will fly into the Honolulu National Airport. Honolulu is the capital of Hawaii and it is located on the Southern part of the island.
Did you know: Most people think that you have to fly into Honolulu first, and then transfer to one of the other islands if you want to see more, but that’s not true. Megan from Next is Hawaii explains how she flies directly into Kona when she wants to visit the Big Island.
Oahu is approximately 44 miles long and 30 miles across. Let’s put that into perspective… it takes about 4 hours to drive around the entire island. I want you to maximize your experience, so I’m going to tell you about 7 amazing things to do in Oahu, Hawaii… ALL around the island.
1) Waikiki Beach, Hawaii
Waikiki Beach in Hawaii is about 9 miles (14 kilometers) from the airport. Aside from the fact that it’s one of Oahu’s beautiful beaches, the short drive from the airport might be a good reason why it’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in Oahu. TripAdvisor ranks Waikiki Beach #5 out of 353 things to do in Honolulu, Hawaii. It received the 2022 Traveler’s Choice Award! It is best known for its white sand beach. Here’s a fun fact: the sand has been imported due to erosion.
Waikiki means spouting fresh water in Hawaiian. The ocean water is approximately 74 – 80 degrees year round, so it’s ALWAYS a good time to go to the beach in Hawaii!
If you are looking for more of an action packed city atmosphere then you want to stay in Waikiki, Hawaii! It’s the place to be if you’re looking for nightlife! Waikiki is not just about the beach.
Kalakaua Avenue is the strip in Waikiki that has all of the dining, shopping, resorts, and entertainment. Waikiki is where you will find celebrities visiting and movies being filmed.
Even if a busy, touristy area, isn’t your scene, you should still spend at least ONE day seeing some things to do in Waikiki, because they do have a lot to offer.
2) Pearl Harbor
TripAdvisor ranks the Pearl Harbor National Museum #3 out of 335 things to do in Honolulu, Hawaii. It is the largest natural harbor in Oahu, Hawaii and this famous landmark is the most popular tourist attraction. There are a few different options for exploring the World War 2 memorials.
The Pearl Harbor National Memorial is comprised of 4 landmarks.
#1) USS Arizona Memorial- This memorial is FREE to visit. It’s open daily from 7:00 am – 5:00 pm. You will have to take a boat to get to the memorial and you MUST buy your tickets in advance. They cost $1.00 and they sell out since the museum is free so plan ahead!
#2) Battleship Missouri Memorial- You can tour this at your own pace. It’s open from 8:00 am – 4:00 pm daily. You should plan for approximately 1.5 hours to see everything. Tickets are $34.99 for Adults and $17.49 for Children (age 4-12).
#3) Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum- This museum has a mix of exhibits and interactive displays. It’s open from 7:00 am – 5:00 pm daily. Tickets are $21.99 for Adults and $12.99 for Children (age 4-12) and it includes an audio tour.
#4) Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum- The museum provides access to the aircraft and is open from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm daily. Tickets are $25.99 for Adults and $14.99 for Children (age 4-12) and this includes an audio tour.
3) Dole Pineapple Plantation
In the post How to see 4 Hawaiian Islands in 7 Days I briefly mentioned my visit to the Dole Pineapple Plantation. It’s one of the top things to do because it’s fun for the whole family. I’ve mentioned before that I think 1 thing you MUST do EVERY time you travel is to take a tour. I took the Pineapple Express Train Tour through the plantation and it was fun! You can also experience the WORLD’S LARGEST MAZE in the Pineapple garden maze or take a garden tour.
Ranked on TripAdvisor as #4 out of 12 things to do in Wahiawa, Hawaii, the Dole Pineapple Plantation is a BUSY tourist attraction so you should avoid going in the afternoon or on the weekends if possible. Many people come for the famous Dole Whip ice cream! Make sure you try it and see what all the hype is about.
The Dole Pineapple Plantation is located on the North Shore, which is approximately 40 minutes from Honolulu. If you don’t feel comfortable exploring Oahu on your own then you should consider taking a guided tour.
Dole Pineapple Plantation Tour:
This awesome Dole Pineapple Plantation tour is 7.5 hours long. It picks up/drops off at your hotel. In addition to seeing the Dole Pineapple Plantation, you will also stop at a coffee farm, sugar mill and a food truck for lunch, so it’s a full day of food and fun! Make sure you get your tickets in advance for the Dole Pineapple Plantation because they are likely to sell out.
4) Polynesian Cultural Center
It’s easy to see why the Polynesian Cultural Center is ranked #2 out of 4 Sites and Landmarks in Laie, Hawaii on TripAdvisor. This 42 acre highly interactive theme park is made up of 6 Pacific Countries: Tahiti, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Aotearoa, and of course… Hawaii.
The Polynesian Cultural Center is voted the #1 attraction in Hawaii by USA Today. You can expect to see dancing, interactive exhibits, a luau, food, shows, and more. You should plan to spend around 3 hours exploring the park.
My favorite part was watching the canoe pageant take place in the water. Each one of the 6 islands come out to share a representation of their music and dance.
The Polynesian Cultural Center has this really fun video from when Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson was visiting.
5) Eat at a Shrimp Truck
Okay, I know this seems a little odd, but I’m asking you to trust me on this one. I had a client who knew I was going to Hawaii, and he told me that I HAD to make sure I ate at one of the shrimp food trucks. I thought it was an odd recommendation coming from a man who could afford to eat ANYWHERE, but when I saw the Famous Kahuku Shrimp Truck I stopped. It’s a great place for a quick bite to eat.
It turned out that my client, Scott, was RIGHT! You get a LARGE portion of food, it’s CHEAP and most importantly… it is DELICIOUS! Just try it, and then hear my voice saying, “See, I told you!” 😊
6) Explore the Island
So many people arrive in Oahu, Hawaii and only stay in the Southern part without seeing all that the island has to offer. When I was there one of my favorite things was taking a helicopter ride around the entire island to see it in a new and exciting way and I HIGHLY recommend you do it too!
Viator has 25 different options for helicopter rides over Oahu. The one that I took was the 1.5 hour Doors Off Magnum Experience from Turtle Bay and it was AMAZING! (Yes, I said doors off, but you can opt to have them on if you want to.) Take a peek of my ride in my TikTok below.
Okay, so maybe I can’t convince you to take a helicopter ride to see Oahu. In that case, I’d suggest that you rent a Jeep to tour the island.
It’s FUN, you can go off roading on the various gravel roads with 4×4, it’s big enough for all your luggage, AND you can take the top off to enjoy the beautiful scenery with perfect Hawaiian weather! Do you NEED a Jeep… nope, but do you WANT a Jeep… OH, HECK YEAH! It’s a great way to get to all your favorite places on the island.
7) Turtle Bay Resort, North Shore Hawaii
True Story Time: One day I was watching the movie Forgetting Sarah Marshal and when I was watching it I said, WHERE IS THIS FILMED?! I want to go THERE! After a short Google search it was determined that I needed to go to Turtle Bay Resort in the North Shore of Oahu. It doesn’t hurt that my favorite animal is a turtle. This was FATE!
Turtle Bay Resort in North Shore Oahu is ranked the #1 Resort on TripAdvisor. It also won the 2021 Travelers Choice Award and I promise you that it’s not hard to see why once you go there!
This 1,300 acre resort has EVERYTHING you need, all in one place. They even have an information desk where you can book various fun experiences right from the resort.
After you see the 5 miles of untouched shoreline, you will understand why Oahu’s North Shore is deemed the Surf Capital of the World. With spa services, golf courses, entertainment, and fine dining you really don’t ever need to leave the resort if you don’t want to… but you will want to do the other things I suggested.
Turtle Bay Resort checks ALL the boxes that I mention in my post about Top 5 Things you Need to Know When Finding a Hotel. I promise you that this 4 star hotel will not disappoint! It is one of the best places to stay on the island.
There are SO many Things to do in Oahu, Hawaii!
If you can’t decide which attractions from my list of 7 Amazing Things to do in Oahu, Hawaii and you want to do it ALL, then maybe you should get the Oahu: Go City All Inclusive Pass with 40+ Experiences! This Go Oahu Card includes the best Oahu attractions like: snorkeling in Waikiki, Pearl Harbor tours, the Polynesian Cultural Center, popular tours of North Shore, and SO much more!
Quick Links for Things to do in Oahu, Hawaii
I like to purchase my tickets in advance online so I have them all in an app on my phone. Viator and Get Your Guide allow you to book in advance and most of the items can be canceled within 24 hours with NO FEES. Here are some quick links to things I’ve suggested in the post “7 Amazing Things to do in Oahu, Hawaii”.
If you liked 7 Amazing Things to do in Oahu, Hawaii, then you might also want to read How to See 4 Hawaiian Islands in 7 Days.
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LET’S CONNECT: Which suggestions from “7 Amazing Things to do in Oahu, Hawaii” do you think you’d definitely want to try?