Living in Oahu, Hawaii is such a blessing. We are surrounded by some of the most beautiful views on this planet and are able to island hop which gives us such different environments effortlessly. After living in Hawaii for a large portion of my life, I would say I experienced a lot of what Oahu has to offer. These are the top things I believe you must do when visiting Oahu – or even for those who live here and haven’t experienced these things. Don’t miss out on some of the best things to do on the island, Let’s get into the 45 best things to do on Oahu!
Header photo shot by Nash Hagen (@nashhaagen)
45 BEST THINGS TO DO ON OAHU
Hiking the Stairway to Heaven for sunrise was one of the most rewarding, yet the scariest experience of my life. Starting off the hike by sneaking past a guard before dawn and hiking in the pitch black to be greeted by a long staircase of nearly 4,000 steps. With both unsteady and slippery railings and steps, you get a feeling of unease. At some points, the stairs go completely vertical and you’re left gripping on for dear life as the strong wind blows from all directions. Reaching the very top takes lots of perseverance as there are checkpoints along the way that makes you question continuing. As the sun rose, the sky cleared up and left us with the most beautiful glow and sunrise we’ve ever seen. It’s no question why so few have the courage to take on this hike.
Waimea Bay is one of the most lively beaches on the island. There are always people playing football or soccer and having a good time. If you’re trying to jump off the famous Waimea bay rock, which is also to referred to as Devil’s rock, we recommend going during summer months. The rock is 7 meters in height (or 23 ft.). During winter months, the waves reach up to 30-40 feet high, which is a good time to sit back and relax and watch the professionals surf. Don’t expect to swim during these months. At Waimea Bay, there is a wall that people can climb year round which is 8 meters tall (or 26 ft.) The only downside to Waimea Bay is the small parking lot. Click here for our full article on Waimea Bay.
3. Watch the fireworks show at the Hilton
Every Friday night at 7:45 pm, the Hilton lights up the city with the most beautiful fireworks show that you absolutely cannot miss. If you’re in the area and have some time – you must see it!
4. Watch a sunrise at Lanikai beach
Lanikai beach just feels perfect – when you get there you’ll know what I mean. From the perfectly soft sand, cool water, and overall vibes makes Lanikai beach such a great place to relax. You cannot miss it when visiting the east side of Oahu.
5. Hike the Tom-tom trail for sunrise
If you’re looking to a beautiful perspective of the East coast of the island – then you’re looking at the right place. The Tom-Tom trail starts off with a nice incline and continues that for roughly 15-20 minutes until it starts to ease out more. You can stop at any point because there is no definite end to this hike. Click here for more hikes on Oahu
6. Hike Makua cave for sunset
Viewing the west side from Makua Cave is absolutely spectacular during sunset. You simply can’t miss this hike – It’s easily my favorite hike for sunset on this side. If you want more of a view of the entire west side, then we would recommend checking out the Maili Pillboxes. Click here for more hikes on Oahu
7. Explore Mermaid Cave
Located at Nanakuli Beach Park is the beautiful Mermaid Caves. There is something so special about this place that you can only understand when you get here. It can get dangerous at times due to swells that can fill up the cave.
8. Get a poke bowl
9. Get shave ice at Matsumoto’s
Visit the famous Matsumoto’s shaved iced – which is only located in North Shore Oahu. Located in the heart of Haleiwa town, Matsumoto’s Shave Ice is the perfect treat on a sunny day. Click here for more things to do in the North Shore
10. Try an acai bowl
The North Shore is home to some of the best acai bowls on the island, don’t miss out! Click here for more things to do in the North Shore
We recommend this hike over Manoa falls for the fact that the waterfall is nicer and it’s not as well-known/crowded. If you’re thinking of hiking to see a waterfall – this is the one to do!
Click here to read our in-depth guide on how to hike to Lulumahu Falls
12. Eat Garlic shrimp from the North Shore
Eat the famous North Shore Garlic Shrimp from Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck – The perfect place to stop to get a delicious bite to eat with some friends. Don’t miss out on some of the best shrimp on the island – make sure to visit Giovanni’s Shrimp truck. Click here for more things to do in the North Shore
13. Hike Pali notches
Hiking the Pali Notches is for the extreme adventurers. With strong winds blowing from all directions and walking on a ridge that gets as narrow as 2-3 feet – this hike is no joke. It is one of the most dangerous hikes on the island and is only recommended for experienced hikers. Please make sure to research this hike plenty before taking it on. Click here to see more hikes on Oahu
Skydiving on the North Shore is a must! The views are absolutely spectacular and the feeling you get from skydiving is one you just can’t replicate – and can’t miss out on. Click here for more things to do in the North Shore
15. Jump at china walls
Visit China walls with friends and let loose! It’s the perfect place for those adrenaline junkies.
Note: This photo is actually shot at spitting caves – which is little ways from China walls. Spitting caves is much more dangerous but we would recommend visiting to watch people jump it!
16. Visit Manoa Falls
The hike to the Manoa falls is one to remember. It is one of the most interesting forest types of atmospheres on the island that makes it so different from other hikes on the island. The waterfall tends to be quite small whenever I hike to the falls, so I would recommend visiting Manoa falls after heavy rainfall. Click here to see more hikes on Oahu
17. Swim with dolphins
If you’re on the west side of Oahu – this is an experience you can’t miss out on. Swimming with dolphins is one of the most beautiful things in the world! They are typically found at Electric beach or Makua beach.
18. Experience an Open-door Helicopter ride around Oahu
Feeling the wind flow through your hair as you travel over the beautiful views – Taking a helicopter ride over Oahu is something you just cannot miss. Costing on average $179 per person – it’s a small price to pay for the experience of a lifetime. We love to promote gaining new experiences and getting uncomfortable – so being able to see Oahu in a whole new perspective is something we cannot recommend enough!
19. Zipline at Kualoa ranch
If you’ve ever fantasized about zip-lining through Jurassic park – this is the perfect place to do it!
20. Swim with sharks
Throwing yourself into the sea with some of the most frightening creatures seems crazy at first – until you do it. But once you realize get underwater – you get to realize how graceful and beautiful sharks really are. The adrenaline rush you get from being surrounded by these guys is one of the best feelings in the world. If it’s something you’ve been thinking of doing, there’s no better time than now, and the North Shore is the perfect place to do it. Click here for more things to do in the North Shore
21. Snorkel at Electric Beach
Electric Beach (Official name: Kahe Point Beach Park) is a well-known place to snorkel on the west side. It attracts a lot of fish and sea life due to the warmer water – which is caused due to the power point across the street which outflows clean warm water. I would recommend coming here with someone who has snorkeled here before because it can get a little harsh at times.
22. Hike and watch the sunrise from Chinaman’s hat
Note: You can get to the Chinaman’s hat via kayak. It take’s roughly 30 minutes in each direction. Click here to see more hikes on Oahu
23. Drive around the island listening to reggae music
This is hands down the best way to experience Hawaii! You just can’t go wrong with this one. Looking for cool places to go in Oahu? Click here!
24. See the Halona blowhole and visit Cockroach cove
25. Visit Tantalus lookout during sunset
If you’re looking for a beautiful view of Waikiki, diamond head, and even pearl harbor, then you absolutely need to come to here! This is a place you cannot miss when visiting Oahu. The effort needed for this phenomenal view is close to zero. I can’t recommend visiting Tantalus lookout enough.
26. Find the Tantalus tower
The hike starts off with a slight incline and after roughly 5-10 minutes you are greeted with the most beautiful bamboo forest. It took us about 20-25 minutes to get to the tower. When climbing the tower, there are strong winds blowing from all directions. At the top of the tower, the winds at some points make the whole tower shake and can be quite scary – but the view and different perspective is just something you just can’t miss! Click here to see more hikes on Oahu
27. Visit Waimanalo Beach Park
Waimanalo Beach Park is a great alternative to Lanikai Beach if parking is full. Being only typically 20 minutes away from Lanikai, and right next to Hālona Blowhole and Cockroach Cove, make’s this beach very practical if you’re trying to visit as much of Oahu as possible.
28. Visit the Sunflower fields
There’s something special about sunflower fields that you cannot miss. I can guarantee that once you arrive, your whole mood for the rest of the day will be filled with happiness. Located on North Shore Oahu – Entrance is free to the beautiful sunflower fields, while the only thing that will cost money is parking – which is only $5. There are only certain allotted times for visiting, so make sure to check out the website we provided below to see if they’re open. Click here for more things to do in the North Shore
29. Cliff Jump at Waimano Falls
This is an awesome spot for cliff jumping – with a jump of approximately 20 feet. A short, yet rewarding hike. If you’re looking to have fun with friends and let loose, Waimano Falls is a perfect choice.
30. Relax at the beautiful Yokohama Bay
Yokohama Bay is the most western beach on the island and is well-known for surfing and bodyboarding. The beautiful mountains in the background combined with the beautiful white sands and vibrant blue waters are what makes this beach so perfect to visit. The waves can get pretty big – especially during winter months, so swimming is probably not an option.
31. Hike the Hanauma Bay Rim Trail
The Hanauma Bay Rim Trail is a 3.6-mile loop trail located at the Hanauma Bay Nature Reserve Park. We would rate the difficulty of this hike moderate. It’s absolutely beautiful during sunrise. Click here to see more hikes on Oahu.
32. Snorkel at Hanauma Bay
After hiking the Hanauma Bay Rim Trail – we recommend snorkeling at Hanauma Bay to cool off. Snorkeling at the beautiful Hanauma Bay is something you absolutely cannot miss out on.
33. Find the crouching lion
Located right off Kahana Bay – the Crouching Lion hike is one you cannot miss out on. Click here to read about more hikes on Oahu.
Accessible by hiking up the Makapu’u Lighthouse and then scaling down the mountain – the Makapu’u tidepools are absolutely beautiful and is a nice treat after hiking. Click here for our full guide on how to find the Makapu’u Tidepools
35. Find the hidden bridge at the Maunawili Falls Hike
Maunawili Falls is a great hike – roughly 2.8-mile round-trip. This hike tends to get extremely muddy and it’s no doubt you might slip so make sure to wear shoes that you don’t care for. Roughly half-way through the hike, you will be rewarded with a beautiful view of Kailua.
Most that visit here jumps off the top part of the waterfall – which is roughly a 15-25 foot drop. Beside the waterfall is an even higher point to jump off which adds around 10 feet more in height.
There is a hidden bridge located along the hike to Maunawili Falls – it’s all about exploring what’s around you! Click here to see more hikes on Oahu.
36. Watch a surf competition
Sunset Beach is home to the World Cup of Surfing competition and some other big surf competitions. Click here to see more beaches on the North Shore of Oahu.
37. Watch the sunset at Sunset Beach
38. Kayak out to the Mokes
The Mokes (Official name: Mokuleia Islands) are two small islands located off the coast of Lanikai Beach. The bigger island, Moko Nui, is the popular island to Kayak to.
39. Visit Cromwell’s Beach
40. Endure the Kokohead Crater Hike
The Kokohead Crater hike consists of 1,048 steps and is a 1.8 mile out and back trail. If you’re looking to push yourself – this is the hike to go with. Click here to read about the best hikes on Oahu.
The Olamana Ridge Trail (Three Peaks) is an extremely tough hike to complete all three peaks. It takes on average 3-7 hours and is very dangerous. Click here to read about the best hikes on Oahu.
If you’re looking for the ultimate place to lay down and relax on the west side of Oahu – the Ko’olina Lagoons are the place to be. It can get pretty crowded on the weekends, so we recommend coming earlier in the day.
43. Find an octopus
44. Snorkel at Shark’s Cove
Keep in mind: The parking lot is on the smaller side – make sure to come earlier in the day
Snorkeling at Sharks Cove is one to remember. It is safest to go during summer months because the current get’s stronger during winter months. The parking lot is on the smaller side, so we recommend coming earlier in the day (8:00 AM – 10:00 AM) to ensure a spot. A good alternative to Sharks cove if the current is too strong or the parking lot is full is Kuilima Cove, which is located at Turtle Bay Resort.
WARNING: Entering this place is considered trespassing. We are not disclosing the location of this place for that reason
Located on the North Shore of Oahu – this place is absolutely magical. Due to the fact that it gets quite hot here, we recommend bringing lots of water. This is a spot you won’t regret visiting.
Thank you for reading the 45 Best things to do on Oahu!