Oahu (also known as “The Gathering Place) is the most visited of all of the islands in Hawaii. The drive around the island only takes 4 hours! Oahu hosts the capital of Hawaii (Honolulu) and the infamous Waikiki Beach. Lately, flights from Oahu to the mainland have been on sale for less than $400 roundtrip. My roundtrip ticket was $362 (with Delta) when I visited in October 2018. So, when you see a deal go for it (buy it)! Inter-island flights are also cheaper (thanks to Southwest and Hawaiian Airlines competing with each other). If you have never visited Oahu or did not spend much time there, then I have created a list of 10 things you must do during your visit.
Hike Diamond Head Crater
The hike to diamond head crater is a non-strenuous and fairly easy hike that takes about 45 minutes to an 1 hour going up and 1 hour coming back down. Once you reach the top of the crater, you are rewarded with amazing views! It is best to take this hike early in the morning (6 am-8 am) when it is cooler outside. Doing so will allow you to beat the heat (and the crowds) when walking back down. This is definitely a great workout and you will work up a sweat. Remember to take a towel and a bottle of water (or more) to stay hydrated. Keep in mind that once you start the trail, there are no bathrooms along the way. You’ll have to wait until you come back down. However, there are benches along the trail if you need to sit and or take a break.
Ride an ATV through Jurassic Park (aka Kualoa Ranch)
I went on a 2 hour ATV tour at Kualoa Ranch. This was my first ATV experience and it was awesome! Kualoa Ranch is infamously known as the set for most, if not all, of the Jurassic Park movies. The best part of the ATV tour is that the guides give you a chance to create your own Jurassic Park scene using your phone (being chased by a dinosaur). If you have never ridden an ATV, this is a great place to learn. You will have the opportunity to practice and they will make sure you know how to operate it, before going out on the ranch. If riding an ATV is not your thing, Kualoa Ranch also offers other activities including horseback riding, a food tour, kayaking, catamaran to a secret beach, a movie tour, and a jeep tour.
Visit Wakiki Beach
Oh the infamous Wakiki Beach! A great place to swim, walk, tan, relax, get a perfect view of Diamond Head Crater, and watch the sunset (go early to grab a spot because it gets crowded).
Take a Tour of the North Shore
I took a half day tour of the North Shore with Oahu Nature Tours. On this tour, you will visit the following places: Valley of the Temples (Byodo-in Temple), Chinaman’s Hat, Kualoa Beach Park, Malaekahana Beach, Sunset Beach (surfing beach), Waimea Bay (surfing beach and green turtle spotting), Haleiwa Alii Beach Park, Garlic Shrimp Truck, and Dole Plantation (pineapple ice cream is amazing!!!).
Attend a Lauau
Experience and learn about Hawaiian history and culture by attending a luau (paid and includes a feast and entertainment) or hula show (free, no food). A few luaus you can attend include: Paradise Cove Luau, Chief’s Luau, Germaine’s Luau, and Diamond Head Luau. As for the free hula shows they are held at the following locations: International Marketplace, Hilton Hawaiian Village, Hula Mound at Kuhio Beach, and a few other places. When I visited Oahu, I attended the Kuhio Beach Hula Show which was held on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays between 6:30-7:30 pm. If you decide to attend this hula show, arrive early around 5:30-5:45pm to get a good seat.
Take a Photography Tour
When I visited Oahu, I had just bought a new mirrorless camera and wanted to learn how to take great photos with it. What better place to learn than Hawaii and on a photography tour! The tour covered the following places: Sandy Beach Park, Hanauma Bay (best place for beginners to learn to snorkel), Halona Blowhole, Halona Beach Cove, Makapuʻu Lookout, Nu‘uanu Pali Lookout, and Puʻu ʻUalakaʻa State Wayside. At each stop, the guide personally assisted everyone with the best settings to use for their cameras (or phones) and the perfect angles to capture great photos. After taking the tour, I felt more comfortable using my mirrorless camera and what I learned about my camera on this tour proved to be very beneficial for taking pictures on trips that I took later on.
Go on a Catamaran Day Cruise
Hawaii is a destination that you have to see by air, land, and water. Since I got a great aerial view of Oahu from the plane, and by foot, I decided to go on a day cruise (Tradewind Sail) with Holokai Catamaran. The catamaran ride lasted for one hour and included great music, dancing, and drinks for purchase. Seeing the coast of Wakiki from the water is an amazing experience! If you’re lucky, like I was, you will see a beautiful rainbow and a few turtles!
Malasadas are soft Portuguese donuts (without a hole in the middle) rolled in cinnamon and sugar. You can eat then plain or with a filling. The number one place to try malasadas in Oahu is at Leonard’s Bakery. Malasadas come in a variety of flavors from plain to filled with guava, chocolate, custard, apple, strawberry, and many other flavors. Malasadas are delicious and best eaten while hot. If you are a donut fan then you will definitely enjoy malasadas.
- Pillbox Hike
- Lanikai Beach (#1 beach in Oahu)
- Kailua Beach Park
- Makapuu Lighthouse Trail (easy hike)
- Pearl Harbor
- Try Shaved Ice
- Eat at AI Love Nalo Restaurant (Vegan Restaurant)–North Shore