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20+ Amazing Things To Do In Oahu, Hawaii In 2022

Aloha travelers! Welcome to O’ahu! Still wondering where to go and what to do here because it’s a huge tourist attraction with thousands of things recommended to do when visiting? Worry not fellow travelers! As we – Hyannisholiday have got you covered with our list of 20+ most amazing things to do in O’ahu, Hawaii.

Sometimes called “The Gathering Place,” Oʻahu certainly lives up to its name. The third largest Hawaiian island is home to the majority of Hawaiʻi’s diverse population, a fusion of East and West cultures rooted in the values and traditions of the Native Hawaiian people. It’s this fundamental contrast between the ancient and the modern that makes discovering Oʻahu — from bustling city life to laidback surf towns — so enjoyable.

Home to the majority of Hawaiʻi’s population plus a wealth of activities and attractions, the island of Oʻahu is carved into five distinct and dynamic regions: Honolulu, the Windward Coast, Central Oʻahu, the Leeward Coast, and the North Shore.

While most visitors spend the majority of their time in Honolulu and Waikīkī, there are hidden treasures of Hawaiʻi’s past and present waiting to be discovered throughout the island. From the laid-back surfer culture of Haleʻiwa and the North Shore to the lush valleys and scenic panoramas of the Windward Coast.

Here are 24 amazing ideas for how to spend your time on Maui, the Big Island, Kauai, and of course Oahu, from sightseeing to daring adventures and everything in between.

Kayak to Mokulua

One of the best day trips to take on Oahu is kayaking to the Mokulua Islands off of the shores of Kailua and Lanikai. A thirty-minute trip over the mountains from Honolulu on Oahu’s east side brings visitors to the more quiet and more residential side of the island.

Mokulua consists of two small islands that are right off the coast of Oahu. You can get there from either Kailua or Lanikai by kayak, which is a wonderful way to get out onto the water and explore the islands while also getting some exercise. Another option is to rent a paddleboard and paddle over. Kailua Beach Adventures has both kayaks and paddleboards available to rent from Kailua. Only one of the two islands is open to the public–Mokulua Nui. There, you can hike the trails and even go cliff jumping!

Hike to Diamond Head Crater

Diamond Head Trail is one of the most rewarding Oahu hikes, offering amazing 360-degree views when you reach the top. Hiking Diamond Head might first appear to be a challenging all-day climb, but this Oahu hiking trail can look deceiving, as it really only takes about 40 to 60 minutes to reach the 760-foot summit. The hike itself is 1.5 miles round trip.

There are some steep sections including narrow stairs, and the number of hikers ahead of you might slow you down, but just imagine the panoramic views you will be rewarded with once you reach the top of this Diamond Head hike. Keep reading to see everything you need to know before you go!

See the Byodo – In Temple

A UNESCO World Heritage site, this temple is a highly detailed replica of the 1,000-year-old Byodo-In Temple in Uji, Japan. The site itself is serene and boasts some ornate gardens which are worth taking a walk through.

The Temple grounds are a lushly landscaped paradise nestled in a cleft of the pali and are home to wild peacocks and hundreds of  Japanese koi carp. The beautiful grounds include a large reflecting pond, meditation niches, and small waterfalls. Visitors describe this destination as beautiful, peaceful, and restful.

This is one of the many places in Hawaii that highlights the multicultural and multiethnic social landscape of the islands.

Zipline through Jurassic Park, Kualoa Ranch

Alright, so you won’t be literally ziplining through a dinosaur-filled Jurassic Park. You can however zipline through Kualoa Ranch, which has some amazing scenes that have been featured in the mega-popular movies.

I can’t think of a better way to get the adrenaline pumping than to be hundreds of feet in the air and imagine a pterodactyl could collide with me at any moment. Obviously, if that isn’t your thing, simply taking in the gorgeous views as you zipline is great, too.

Go out to Chinaman’s Hat

The Mokoli’i island is popularly known as Chinaman’s Hat for its shape, which resembles an old-style Chinese laborer’s hat.

Anyone wanting to walk to Chinaman’s Hat is encouraged to travel during low tides and wear old tennis shoes or water shoes to avoid getting cut by the reef. On the island there are two main attractions: The climb and the cove. After reaching the island, hikers can make the climb to the top of Mokolii.

You can kayak over the serene Kaneohe waters to get there, but some adventure seekers like to try swimming over from Kualoa Regional Park. Active Oahu is a great place to rent a kayak. Once you get there, you can hike around the island, exploring its caves and taking in the incredible views.

Stroll through Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden

Another great place to take in the impressive plant life is the Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden on Oahu, which is situated along a 32-acre freshwater lake. This area is huge and has plenty to explore and is one of the many beautiful places to visit around the islands.

The gardens contain every shade of green you can imagine, and the Koolau Mountain Range provides the perfect backdrop for your vacation photos. Visiting this garden is an absolute must-see for your Hawaii itinerary, which will give you a more in-depth experience. If you fall in love with the garden, you can camp there overnight. Just make sure you make a reservation ahead of time.

Catch a sunrise from Lanikai Pillbox

The Lanikai pillbox hike in Hawaii is one of the best hikes in Oahu, and it’s also great for sunrise or sunset. It’s easily one of the best things to do in Oahu! Also known as the Kailua pillbox hike or the Kaiwa ridge trail, this one has become popular to do as a sunrise hike since it’s short and you get stunning views of the sun rising over Lanikai Beach and the Mokulua islands in the distance.

Enjoy this treasure of a beach. Lanikai Beach is covered with fine white sand. Most rank this beach as one of the best in the world. Start your morning with a peaceful swim or enviable views of two offshore islands, known locally as “the Mokes.”

It takes about 40 minutes to drive to the beginning of the trail and about an hour by bus. Once you get to the base of the trail, it’s a short yet steep hike up to the lookout point. At the top of the ridge, there are amazing 360-degree views of windward Oahu. To the east, you can see Lanikai Beach and the little Mokulua islands (the ‘Mokes’), while to the west you can see the Ko’olau mountains and parts of Kailua.

Spend the day at Hanauma Bay

Hanauma Bay is a must-do for your Oahu island itinerary. It is one of the premier destinations on Oahu if you want to get acquainted with hundreds of tropical fish and marine life. It offers an overall great experience whether you are a beginner or an avid snorkeler and it’s for people of all ages. It even has a Marine Education Center where you can learn about marine life before taking the plunge to see it in real life.

Even though the beaches there tend to be a bit crowded, it is still a wonderful place to get in for a swim due to its shallower waters. Not only that, it’s a gorgeous place to hang out and relax!

Check out Halona Blowhole

The Hālona Blowhole is one of Hawai‘i’s natural wonders, created thousands of years ago when molten lava tubes were formed from volcanic eruptions. There aren’t any active volcanoes on O‘ahu anymore, but the blowhole remains a must-see scenic stop.

The blowhole overlooks some of the most violent waters in Hawai‘i, and when the Ka‘iwi Channel is churning during the winter months, strong currents and big waves send waters rushing into the molten lava tubes below the lookout, sending geysers as high as 30 feet through the blowhole. The bigger the waves, the higher the geysers. Visitors can literally hear and feel the waters rumbling below just before the eruptions.

Swim with sharks

If you’re afraid of sharks, don’t be! Sharks are not likely to attack humans as frequently as in Movies. Furthermore, they are essential to the ocean’s survival! If you want to get up close and personal with these incredible animals, consider getting in the water with them and a guide.

You can choose to do it with or without the cage. Yes, you can actually safely swim with sharks, cage-free. There are plenty of options to choose from, so I recommend taking a look and deciding which experience is right for you. This shark dive experience is a superb and safe option.

Look for whales in Waianae

If swimming with sharks is a bit much for you, consider heading out to look for whales instead. There are plenty of options for tours and many of them have awesome sustainability initiatives.

Humpback Whales migrate to the Hawaiian Islands during the winter months Mid-December to March. The humpback whales come to the Hawaiian Islands for the purpose of calving and mating, the warm inshore waters surrounding these islands offer the young whales protection from predators as they build up enough body fat for their 3,000-mile journey north.

These acrobatic animals are known for breaching and slapping the water with their tails and pectoral fins. This type of whale can be found at Waianae, which is known for having the most whales to see in all of Oahu.

Snorkel with sea turtles

Oahu’s Turtle Canyon is one of the top spots to snorkel because of how many green sea turtles there are. You can catch a catamaran from Waikiki out into the sea where you can swim alongside these amazing animals while also enjoying the other marine life around.

Share the warm Hawaiian waters with green sea turtles, and tropical fish, and discover the vibrant sea life of Turtle Canyons.

Turtle Canyon is a great place to start if you’ve never snorkeled before, especially if you’re preparing for longer snorkelling adventures around the islands.

A word on the sea turtles: Some guests don’t respect boundaries in terms of personal space for the turtles. They are endangered, and the coveted turtle selfie is much too close. Please keep a 6-foot distance at least, and never touch or try to ‘ride’ the turtles.

Take an Atlantis Submarine Tour

With Atlantis Submarines, you explore the depths of Hawaii’s ocean waters 100 feet below the surface and “swim” amidst schools of beautiful fish in the world’s most technologically advanced passenger submarine.

Atlantis has been sharing the magnificence of Hawaii’s undersea world since 1988 using environmentally safe submarines that are battery-powered, emit no pollutants, and quietly move through the water, disturbing no one. It’s the ultimate in sustainable tourism.

Explore Oahu’s waters on this submarine-style glass-bottom boat ride aboard the Atlantis Submarine. During this family-friendly adventure, you can learn more about the local fish, coral, and other animals in this marine habitat through your guide’s informative commentary.

Try paddleboard yoga in Honolulu

You might think you’re a yogi… right up until you try your most perfected poses on a paddleboard and completely wipe out. All jokes aside, doing yoga on a paddleboard is an awesome way to test your balance no matter how much yoga experience you have.

Perfect your yoga poses on a stand-up paddleboard while floating in Hawaii’s tropical waters. Learn to adapt familiar seated, kneeling, and reclining yoga poses for the water. Work on balance and core stability with some standing poses and use free time to work on any poses you’d like. Try a savasana supported by the rocking of the ocean waves. This might be the whole new world of yoga that you’ve never known!

Swim under Lulumahu Falls

Lulumahu Falls stands tall and tucked away up the Pali Hwy. The trick to seeing this beautiful Oahu waterfall is actually finding it! And that is only half your battle, as it’s located on private property as well. The waterfall is located near the Kaniakapupu Ruins, King Kamehameha III’s summer home. What makes Lulumahu Falls one of the best Oahu waterfalls, is its impressive height and adventure getting there.

This unsanctioned Oahu hiking trail will take you on an adventure through old hunting grounds, a dense bamboo forest, up concrete steps in the middle of nowhere, along the Nu’uanu Reservoir, through a stream, across giant rocks, and alas an amazing 50 ft plus waterfall!

Get out and surf

The island of Oahu is home to some of the best and most famous surf breaks in the world, many of which are located on the North Shore. From the picture-perfect barrels of Banzai Pipeline to the humongous mountainous waves of Waimea Bay, Oahu has some of the most photographed waves in the world.

Waikiki beach on Oahu is a great spot to take a surf lesson, as the waves tend to be calmer there. Even if you don’t find yourself getting to pro-level after the first couple of tries, it can be a lot of fun to simply get out onto the water and enjoy the process. Ohana Surf Project is one of the top-rated places to go for a lesson.

When you want to get away from the frenzy, come experience the serene beaches on the Leeward side of Oahu.  Located at Kalaeloa (former Barbers Point Naval Air Station), White Plains Beach is another great spot to learn how to surf, have party gatherings, frolic in the sand, surf, or just relax under the Hawaiian sun.

In case you need some surf info or just want to see the pros do their thing, head over to Waimea Bay Beach where the waves are ideal for high-level surfing, but only in the winter. During this season, the waves are so big that the beach isn’t even swimmable. This makes great conditions for surf competitions, which you might be able to catch while you’re there.

Parasail at Waikiki Beach

Take the thrill ride of your life on this Oahu parasailing experience! Soar through the air on lines up to 1,000 ft. and enjoy views of Diamond Head, Waikiki Beach, and the Ko’olau Mountains.

Fly over the sparkling waters of Oahu on a parasailing adventure in Waikiki. Hop aboard your 12-person boat, soaring up into the skies with one or two other people for 10 minutes. Then, spend the rest of your hour gliding across the ocean, keeping your eyes peeled for dolphins, tropical fish, and sea turtles.

One of the best ways to see the island is from up above. A parasail will take you hundreds of feet up where you can get a 360-degree view of Oahu’s beauty. This adventure is definitely something you won’t forget. There are a few options for parasailing at Waikiki beach, but this one from Hawaii Activities comes highly recommended.

Enjoy the Hawaii beauty from up and above

If you don’t think parasailing is high enough, you can also make your visit even more magical with a scenic helicopter ride.

Explore Hawaii’s island of Oahu by air on this helicopter tour. Fly above the island and many of its most well-known landmarks, such as Diamond Head, Sacred Falls, the Dole Plantation, and Pearl Harbor. Helicopter tours are popular all over the Hawaiian islands.

The tours are especially desirable because Oahu’s beautiful landmarks take on a different look during sunset. Seeing the islands from above is the experience of a lifetime.

Eat a poke bowl

For the uninitiated, poke (which means “to cut” or “to slice” in Hawaiian) is most commonly a dish of raw, chopped fish and onions, seasoned with soy sauce and sesame oil. It is not some overwrought bowl with extra toppings and kale, labeled as poké or poi on the menu at a bougie fast-casual outlet like you see on the Mainland.

Poke bowls have exploded in popularity on the mainland, but nothing really compares to the ones they have on the islands. With the freshest fish available, these poke bowls are next-level. The traditional one comes with Ahi tuna and rice, but you can also choose squid or octopus. Across the board, for the best poke, fresh fish is the star. Sometimes the simplest ingredients really make for the best meal.

Maguro Brothers is one of the most recommended places to get poke bowls and can be found in Waikiki. It started as a fish counter in Chinatown and was so popular that they had to expand!

Shop at China Town

Honolulu’s historic Chinatown is a mix of Asian cultures, all packed into a small area where tangy spices rule the cuisine, open-air markets have kept out the mini-malls, and the way to good health is through acupuncture and herbalists.

Chinatown is a bustling area on the western side of Honolulu’s financial district in Downtown Honolulu. There you can find local produce and a large selection of Asian groceries. This area is far less touristy than other places on the island, so prices are a bit more reasonable. You can also find a ton of great Chinese, Vietnamese, Malaysian, and other Asian restaurants. Yum!

The open-air Oahu Market is a central part of Chinatown. The Maunakea, Oahu, and Aloha marketplaces boast exotic fruits, seafood, and all kinds of Chinese vegetables. Shrines and temples abound and will transport you back in time to historic Japan and China.

Be a true Hawaiian at Paradise Cove

The Hawaiian experience you always dreamed of still exists at Paradise Cove.

Your Hawaiian Luau begins with a tropical Mai Tai greeting and traditional Hawaiian music to set the festive mood of the evening. Casually stroll through the Hawaiian Village and learn the Arts & Crafts of the islands or test your skills at Hawaiian Games.

Go for a canoe ride in Paradise Cove. No swimming allowed. Witness the time-honored techniques of underground oven cooking at the Imu Ceremony.

The evening continues with a feast in the company of friends, old and new. Bring your appetite to fully enjoy Paradise Cove’s extensive menu which tastefully blends the best of traditional Hawaiian dishes, local favorites, and continental cuisine.

With the most spectacular Hawaiian sunset as a backdrop, the award-winning performers will entertain and amaze you with an unforgettable display of songs and dances of Hawaii and Polynesian culture at the incomparable Paradise Cove Extravaganza.

Uncover the top secret of the Hawaiian community

The Ehukai Pillbox Hike on Oahu’s North Shore is a local secret. Unlike the Lanikai Pillbox Trail on the Windward side, which has become extremely popular and a bit crowded at times, this Oahu hiking trail still remains a gem worth discovering!

The Ehukai Pillbox trail is better known as the Sunset Pillbox Hike because it has some beautiful views of Ehukai Beach (better known as Banzai Pipeline) and the North Shore coastline. You’ll get an overlooking view of the beaches from the top and it’s impressive to see the huge waves roll in from this vantage point!

Now that you have a comprehensive list of more than 20 amazing things to do while you’re on Oahu, Hyannisholiday hopes you will have the time of your life while visiting there! Share with us your wonderful stories in the comment section down below. Have a nice Holiday! I mean, … Aloha!

Hyannis Holiday
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