Oahu is known in Hawaiian as “the gathering place” for a reason. It’s the most developed of the isles and full of excitement, people to meet and experiences to be had.
In Oahu there’s as much to enjoy outdoors as there is indoors, so no matter the weather, you’re sure to have an amazing time. Days can be filled swimming in the sun-warmed waters offnear any number of beaches, trekking through a forest path to take in views of the mountains or trying the different flavors of the local eateries.
Oahu boasts bustling city life as well as laid-back rural living, so whether you’re looking for a piece of the action or hoping to slow down for a little while, Oahu delivers. In any case, you're sure to feel like you’re spending time in paradise with the amazing tropical climate and shimmering blue water as far as the eye can see.
Things to Do in Oahu
- Makapuu Point Light: If you’re fascinated by lighthouses, check out Makapuu Point Light, which has the largest lens of any lighthouse in the United States. In 1977, it was listed in the National Register is Historic Places. You can also trek along the Makapuu Point trail where you’ll see breathtaking views of Oahu’s southeastern shoreline. The lighthouse itself creates a picturesque scene with its red roof against the blue sea.
- Pearl Harbor: To witness the location of the infamous attack during World War II, visit Pearl Harbor. It’s a lagoon harbor off the coast of the island and the headquarters of the United States Pacific Fleet. In remembrance of December 7, 1941, the USS Arizona and the USS Missouri battleships have been memorialized. Climb aboard to experience what it was like on a ship during the second world war. There’s also a museum providing history and details about Pearl Harbor.
- Polynesian Cultural Center: Experience life like a local at the Polynesian Cultural Center, a living museum in Laie on the northern shore of Oahu. The center is spread over 42 acres where you can see a real luau and thrill over the annual World Fire Knife Dance competition, in which contestants show off their skills with blazing swords. You can also take a canoe ride, see a show and learn about different villages' cultures.
- Pali Lookout: Take the 5-mile drive northeast of downtown Honolulu to Pali Lookout where panoramic views of the Koolau cliffs and Windward coast greet you. The city slowly disappears and nature takes it place, transporting you to a tranquil and serene setting. Gaze around and enjoy the natural sights as stress slowly melts away with each breath of fresh air you take.
- Lanikai Beach: A trip to Oahu certainly means spending time on the beach, and Lanikai Beach is a perfect option. The half-mile shore is considered one of the best beaches in the world. During the weekdays the sand is relatively empty, so there will be plenty of space to spread out and enjoy the water views and warm sand.
- Honolulu Botanical Gardens: Enjoy more of Oahu’s natural beauty at the Honolulu Botanical Gardens, which is open all year long except for Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Stroll through the different settings and appreciate native flowers and plants at the various green spaces: Foster Botanical Garden, Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden, Koko Crater Botanical Garden, Lili’uokalani Botanical Garden and Wahiawa Botanical Garden.
Shopping and Dining on Oahu
- Alan Wong’s Restaurant: Enjoy a true taste of traditional Hawaiian cuisine at Alan Wong’s. The ethnic roots of Hawaii inspire his dishes that feature native flavors and locally grown produce and ingredients. From the meal options to the service and everything in between, you’ll experience life like a local.
- Waikiki Beach Walk: The Waikiki Beach Walk is the largest development in the area to date and has grown into a gathering place for both natives and visitors alike. Here you can experience a multitude of shops, restaurants and on more than 8 acres. There are more than 40 retailers in the open-air, two-level center as well as a variety of tasty eateries where you can refuel and enjoy a meal.
- Royal Hawaiian Center: The Royal Hawaiian Center provides you with 310,000 square feet of space to indulge in a little (or a lot!) of retail therapy. The center boasts more than 110 shops and restaurants in three four-tiered buildings. You’ll find everything from designer labels to adorable souvenirs to help you remember your trip forever. Other shops include craft, jewelry and surf shops.