The Gathering Place
About one million people reside on this beautiful island with famous sites such as the iconic Waikiki Beach, the North Shore, Diamond Head, and of course, home to WWII bombing attack site, Pearl Harbor.
Oahu has a plethora of pristine white sand beaches, warm crystal blue waters and fresh seafood for any visitor looking for a relaxing beach vacation. There are so many activities to choose from in Oahu that I put together a list of the top MUST DO’S during your time on the island.
Watch the surfers at Banzai Pipeline
The Banzai Pipeline is home to world class surfing on a reef break in the North Shore of Oahu. In the Hawaiian winter months, waves can get as big as 20ft tall so I’d recommend leaving the surfing to the professionals.
Visit Kualoa Ranch to see where some of your favorite movies were filmed
Kualoa Ranch is a natural preserve and working cattle ranch that also happens to be where a multitude of big Hollywood movies were filmed like my all-time favorite, Jurassic Park. Tourists are able to visit the ranch and choose from an array of very fun activities like ATV tours, horseback riding, Hollywood Movie Sites Tour and more. It a very fun day trip and makes for some great photo opportunities!
Hike Diamond Head
Diamond Head is a dormant volcano with an amazing view from the top of the crater. There is a beautiful 1 mile hike that people have the option to climb every day between 6AM to 6PM. The hike takes about 1 hour round trip if you do not stop to take photos or relax. It’s most beautiful at sunrise to watch the colors along the water change.
Snorkel in Hanauma Bay
Hanuma Bay was formed many years ago from a volcanic eruption. It is now home to one of the most intricate marine ecosystems with over 400 species of fish. The bay itself is absolutely stunning to behold. It has gotten quite touristy as of late with thousands of people visiting each day. I recommend going right away in the morning when they open at 6AM to beat the crowd. A plead to all visitors however, please be careful during your visit. The ecosystem is very fragile and needs our help to protect it. Do NOT step on the reefs and remember to wear reef safe sunscreen!
Visit the Dole pineapple plantation
The Dole Pineapple plantation is a historical site with a train ride and the world’s largest maze! It’s a great stop to taste some pineapple and get lost in the maze. It’s a really great one for those with young children!
Watch the sunrise at Sandy Beach
Sandy Beach Park is a phenomenal place to watch the waves crash along the shore and the sunrise over the ocean. Sandy Beach is only a 30-40 minute drive from Honolulu and not only has spectacular sunrise, but some great opportunities for body surfing or body boarding!
Hike to one of the many waterfalls on the island
There are many waterfalls on the island of Oahu. You could spend your entire time hiking through the forests and visiting waterfalls but we were limited on time so we chose to visit Waimea Falls in Waimea Valley. This is an excellent day trip from Honolulu and we truly enjoyed spending our day traipsing through the gardens and making our way to the falls. I find the best day to visit is on Thursday’s when they have their weekly local farmers market between 2PM to 6PM. It was so much fun!
Eat a malasada at Leonard’s
Leonard’s is a must when visiting the island of Oahu. It is a historical bakery that has been on the island since 1952. It is home to the infamous Portuguese donuts, the malasadas. Malasadas are a puff pastry donut that will make your mouth linger for more. They have a variety of options but my favorites are their original and their chocolate filled malasadas!
Watch the sunset at Waikiki Beach while floating in the water
Waikiki Beach is famous for the calm surf, beautiful white sandy beach, clear blue waters, incredible sunsets and amazing shopping and restaurants. This is where we typically base ourselves when on the island of Oahu as it’s very convenient and watching the sunset on Waikiki Beach never gets old. It is so relaxing to watch the surfers surf while the sun is coming up and going down. It is a family tradition on my dad’s side to float in the water and watch the sunset so anytime I’m in Oahu, I’m sure to keep up the tradition!
Pay your respects at Pearl Harbor
Visit the WWII historical site where Japan surprised bomb attacked the naval fleet on December 7, 1941. Thousands died on that tragic day and as a tribute, the USS Arizona Memorial was built on the harbor right where the ship sank on that fateful day. There are plenty of historic sites to visit at Pearl Harbor but if you are a history buff or want to pay your respects to our lost serviceman, this is a wonderful experience to learn more abotu what happened that day and how the people of Hawaii rose up from this tragedy.
Hawaii has so much to offer any traveler but if you’re looking to keep busy, Oahu is the island for you! If you’ve been to Oahu and have any other recommendations of things to do on the island, please let me know in the comments below.