With some of the best beaches and surf in the world, there are countless bucket list experiences and fun things to do on Oahu. This island paradise is one of my favorite places in the world! I lived on Oahu for three years, exploring the best hikes and beaches on the island, and I created this guide to help you plan your dream trip to Oahu.
Searching for fun things to do on Oahu?
- Spend time climbing mountains.
- Explore some of the best hikes in Hawaii.
- Swim with turtles and visit some of the best beaches in the world.
- Eat local food.
- Embrace the “aloha” spirit and slow down.
- Get a taste of Waikiki nightlife.
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Fun things to do on Oahu – Hiking in Hawaii
There are so many amazing hikes on Oahu with spectacular views of waterfalls, nature, and the ocean. Makapu’u Tidepools, Olomana, and Lanikai Pillbox hike are some of the my favorite hikes on the island.
Haleiwa, North Shore
Haleiwa on the North Shore is a must-visit on your trip to Oahu. From Waimea Bay to Sunset Beach, the North Shore is home to some of the best beaches in the world!
Stop in Haleiwa and grab an acai bowl, and head to Pupukea Grill for lunch. When the surf isn’t too big, the north shore is perfect for snorkeling and swimming with turtles.
Oahu sunflower fields
Oahu has beautiful sunflower fields that are worth a visit during your trip to Hawaii. Although the sunflower farms on Oahu vary by size, there are locations in Waialua, Waimanalo, and Kapolei depending on the time of year.
Kayak to the Mokes
Rent a kayak in Kailua and head to Na Mokulua, two islands off of Lanikai Beach. You can only visit one of the islands, and since the ocean is usually pretty calm around here, it’s easy to get here. Before you visit Kailua and Lanikai beach, hike the Lanikai Pillbox Trail for great views of the island.
With top resorts to luxury shopping experiences, Waikiki is where many people choose to stay during their visit to Oahu. After a day at the beach, take a dip in the Sunset Pool at the Modern Honolulu or enjoy happy hour drinks and live music every night at The Hideout at The Laylow in Waikiki.
SUP at Ala Moana
You can’t come to Oahu and not visit Ala Moana Beach Park. Located in town, it’s a great place to swim or standup paddleboard. Grab a Spicy Tuna poke bowl at Foodland and enjoy a relaxing afternoon at the beach. You can also paddleboard for free.
Swim with Sharks in Haleiwa
Ever thought about what it would be like to swim with sharks on Oahu? Add this bucket list experience to your Hawaii itinerary. Out of all the hikes, beautiful beaches, and adventures; swimming with sharks on Oahu is a must-do on your trip.
Take a sunset cruise
One of the best ways to experience Waikiki is on a boat. With iconic views of Diamond Head and the city skyline, spending a few hours on the water is always a good time. Daily catamaran and boat cruises are available in the morning and around sunset in Waikiki.
No time for a sunset cruise? Book an earlier cruise and jump in to explore sea life. Some companies provide snorkels, masks, fins, and snorkel vests.
Pearl Harbor National Memorial
Visit the Pearl Harbor National Memorial and learn about the attack on Pearl Harbor. Check out exhibit galleries, the USS Arizona Memorial, USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park, and the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum.
Eat local food
I love catching up with friends over a good meal, and Oahu has plenty of options that won’t break your budget.
- Onos – Your visit to Oahu isn’t complete without a stop at Ono seafood on Kapahuluu.
- Foodland – Grab a poke bowl to go and take it to the beach. Spicy Tuna is my favorite!
- Pupukea Grill – A North Shore classic, this blue food truck is always busy, but after one bite of their hummus wrap or spicy tuna bowl, you’ll understand why it’s worth a stop here.
Fun Things to do on Oahu: Honolulu at night
Watch the fireworks for free every Friday night at Waikiki Beach at 7:45 pm, hosted by the Hilton Hawaiian Village. Arrive at the beach early, because the show only lasts about ten minutes.
First Friday – Chinatown
If you’re visiting during the first Friday of the month, visit Chinatown at night to check out art galleries, local bars, and restaurants. Artists and creatives stay open late once a month, and they’re excited to mingle with you. Enjoy live music, wine, and food specials, and visit local boutiques. Not visiting during First Friday? Chinatown has a bustling restaurant and nightlife scene. Visit Pig & the Lady, Manifest, and Scarlet Bar & Dance Club.
Go on a sunset or a moonlight hike
Ready for a fun adventure on Oahu? Check the calendar for the next full moon and hike up one of Oahu’s mountains. Grab a headlight/torch, and hiking shoes, and proceed with caution. Hiking in Oahu is no easy feat, especially for beginners. Seek out a local hiking guide or a friend who knows the trails before you hike at night.
Not ready to explore when it’s dark? Head up the Koko Head stairs just before sunset and take a minute to catch your breath at the top before the sun goes down.
Listen to live Hawaiian music
Listen to the waves crash as you sip a cocktail, and enjoy dinner at Duke’s Waikiki. Local musicians play every night from 4 – 6 pm and 9:30 – midnight at this beachfront restaurant. Watch the sunset and enjoy an ice-cold Longboard while you talk about all the fun things you’ve done on your Hawaiian holiday. After the sun goes down, head to Blue Note Hawaii to listen to local musicians play jazz, blues, and Hawaiian music. The club is open year-round.
2335 Kalakaua Avenue, Honolulu, Hawaii 96815
The Royal Hawaiian Center on Kalakaua Avenue features live Hawaiian music from local musicians every Tuesday – Saturday from 5 pm – 6 pm at the Royal Grove.
2201 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, Hawaii 96815
ARTafterDARK – Honolulu Art Museum
Every month the Honolulu Art Museum hosts a party, and you’re invited! Explore the latest exhibits at ARTafterDARK, held from 6 pm to 9 pm on the last Friday of the month. Sip on beer, wine, and cocktails. Tickets are $30, but Honolulu Art Museum members get a discount.
900 S Beretania St, Honolulu, Hawaii 96814
Get warmed up at THE STUDY Bar + Lounge inside the Modern Honolulu. Go beyond the lobby bookshelves and step into a chic lounge. THE STUDY has Happy Hour every night from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm. Live music starts at 8:00 pm. After a few hours at THE STUDY, make your way past the velvet rope to ADDICTION, one of the hottest nightclubs in Honolulu. Reserve a table and dance the night away.
1775 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu, Hawaii 96815
Just a few blocks away, you’ll find the Hideout at the Laylow in Waikiki. Enjoy live entertainment every night of the week, before making your way to Sky Waikiki. Cool off with the tropical breeze at this rooftop bar and restaurant/nightclub. Enjoy happy hour drink specials from 5 pm – 9 pm.
2270 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, Hawaii 96815
Experience a Luau
When visiting the islands, it’s important to embrace the “aloha” spirit. While you’re planning what to do in Honolulu at night, take time to learn about the local culture and way of life. A luau is a celebration of food, music, and culture. Enjoy local favorites like kalua pig and poi, live music, and watch hula dancers share the stories of Hawaii.
Where to stay
- The Modern Honolulu – Waikiki
- Turtle Bay Resort – North Shore
- Laylow Waikiki – Waikiki
- Prince Waikiki – Waikiki
- Moana Surfrider – Waikiki
- The Royal Hawaiian – Waikiki
- Aulani, A Disney Vacation Club Villa – West side
- Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina – West side
Whether you’re visiting for the first time or returning to the islands, there are plenty of fun things to do on Oahu. What’s on your Hawaii bucket list in 2020?
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