Hawaii is a popular tourist destination, and Oahu, Hawaii is one of the islands that sees a lot of tourist traffic. This Hawaiian island is popular for its plethora of tourist attractions. Whether you are a nature lover searching for some serene hiking trails, a beach lover wanting to do nothing but sit on the beach, or someone looking for a little Hawaiian culture, there are things to do in Oahu for everyone!
Best Oahu Beaches to Visit for Some Fun in the Sun
There are so many great beaches in Oahu that it’s difficult to name just a few! That being said, here are the top Oahu beaches to visit for some great snorkeling, sunbathing, surfing and relaxation.
Waikiki Beach is one of the hottest Oahu beaches that tourists flock to. In fact, it’s so popular and there’s so much to do that we could write a whole article on just Waikiki Beach. Spoiler alert: we did and you can read it now for more tips and specific Waikiki attractions. This pristine beach is located along the strip of popular hotels and sits in the shadows of Diamond Head so you get a magnificent view with the stunning golden-sand beach.
For some Oahu snorkeling, you’ll want to visit either Shark’s Cove or Hanauma Bay. Shark’s Cove is located right off the Kamehameha Highway. You can actually park right along the road, walk down to the water, and hop right in. There are tons of colorful fish at Shark’s Cove—and no there aren’t sharks!—but you will want to come at low tide because during high tide the water can get churned up and it’s difficult to see. Hanauma Bayis another good Oahu snorkeling spot, but the parking lot fills up fast so you’ll need to get there early. That’s okay though because it leaves you the rest of the day to explore the stunning bay and snorkel amongst schools of colorful fish.
Laniakea Beach is another one of the famous Oahu beaches, but not for sunbathing and relaxing. Nicknamed Turtle Beach, this stretch of coastline just before Haleiwa is usually teeming with turtles that come to snack on certain algae that is present.
Top Oahu Activities for Some Culture & Thrill in Your Vacation
Oahu, Hawaii has some extremely unique foliage. Most of this is best explored while venturing through the jungle on hikes, but for those who aren’t fit or able, the Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens in Kaneohe are a great Oahu attraction. This botanical garden allows you to get up close and personal with the tropical fauna without the huffing and puffing that comes with a jungle hike. It’s so stunning, that you will actually feel like you’re in the jungle!
Hawaii is known for its tropical aspect, but the teeming waters surrounding it should also be explored. If you want some action and adventure in your Oahu vacation, check out Godspeed Adventures. They offer shark cage-diving adventures for just $150 per person. This includes transportation to and from the harbor, a two-hour boat ride, and over 20 minutes in the shark cage. Beverages, snacks, and lunch are also included, as is photography and videography. If there are people in your party that can’t handle the thrill of diving amongst the sharks, they can come along on the boat for just $95 a person.
Driving up the North Shore is about as iconic Hawaii as you can get. While driving around the island and checking out the stunning beaches and coastline, you can stop along the way to get some real Oahu culture. The Dole Plantation is an Oahu tourist attraction that you can skip, but be sure to check out the various food trucks and shacks along the way for delicious local fresh fruit and seafood. Also, be sure to grab some Shave Ice at Aoki’s or Matsumoto’s when you finally reach Haleiwa.
Top Oahu Activities for Nature Lovers
Nature lovers looking to get away from the bustling Oahu tourist attractions love Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail. That’s because this trail isn’t as busy or commercialized as some of the others like Diamond Head. The trail winds past a beautiful lighthouse, old military bunkers and through stunning tropical fauna. The views at the top are definitely worth the effort!
For some great hiking that rewards you with stunning views, Diamond Head is one of the top Oahu tourist attractions. This state monument is a vacant volcano that was formerly a military base. Now the park is open to the public from 6 am to 6 pm. You can either pay $5 per carload to park or walk in and pay $1 per person. The great thing about Diamond Head is that almost anyone can complete the short 30-minute hike to the top. If you are looking for some refreshments after, we recommend stopping to grab a bite at the Diamond Head Market. They offer blueberry scones, snacks, and full lunches.
Hiking Maunawili Falls Trail is another Oahu activity that you will love. It’s less populated and popular than Diamond Head, but the jungle hike is just as unforgettable. You’ll venture through tropical foliage and over streams until you reach the stunning waterfall. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can jump off the rock ledge into the clear water below!
So, where are you going first on your amazing trip to Oahu? Do you think you’ll hit up Waikiki Beach first, or try the more laid back Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail? Will Pearl Harbor or some shark cage diving be on your agenda? Whatever Oahu attractions you choose, you are primed for the trip of a lifetime!