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Top 5 things to do in Oahu

Updated on April 23, 2013

Stay for more than 7 days

One thing we've found on each of our Hawaii trips is to make sure to stay for the right amount of time. When we went to Oahu we only stayed for 7 days. We felt like there was still stuff we wanted to do and see. The 1st day you get there (depending on how far you travel) is tied up from catching up on sleep, traveling and getting checked into your hotel. The day you leave you usually have to be checked out earlier in the day and then getting to the airport in time usually eats up that day so a 7 day vacation can feel like 5. On each of our most recent trips we've stayed for 10 days. This seems to be the magic number. It gives us enough time to do all we want to, but we feel ready to come home (as much as you can anyways)

1) See Pearl Harbor

Make sure you go earlier on in your trip as I will explain later on in this post. Pearl Harbor was a amazing site to see. There is so much history to learn and explore on their newly remodeled monument that they have there. Visiting Pearl Harbor does not cost any money. There are a few places that you can make donations (Highly recommend you do to preserve a piece of history that should never be forgotten) They have a movie type theater exhibit that was very informative and interesting.

The reason you want to make sure you go early on in the trip, the day we'd gone, the wind was blowing a bit. Nothing that I thought was too bad but they said because of this, we were unable to take the boat out to see the Arizona memorial (my main reason in wanting to go) Unfortunately, we'd went on the morning of the day we were leaving and so we couldn't come back later to see this.

2) Visit the Polynesian Cultural Center

This can be a ALL DAY event or can be enjoyed for just a couple hours. Having done both, I would highly recomend doing it for just a couple hours. The fist time I went to the PCC we arrived around 3 or 4pm We were able to attend a handful of the exhibits from different Islands from all over Polynesia. The Tonga, Samoa and Tahiti ones were my favorites. After visiting those we attended the Luau (again Highly recommended) Great food and entertainment. After the Luau, we watched the live fire show (I believe it was called HA, BREATH OF LIFE) This show was and is one my favorite things to see or do on the Island of Oahu. They do a amazing performance and is something I would watch each and every time we visit.

When my wife and I tried doing a entire day at the PCC we found that toward the end the day we were both exhausted and did not enjoy it as much as showing up about halfway through the day.

Enjoying the Luau at the PCC

Fire Dancers

3) Visit Waikiki beach

I would say 99.9% of people that visit Oahu spend some time on Waikiki. It is a great place to learn how to surf and paddle board. Beach itself is very nice. The only problem you run into is that it can be very crowded. There are a lot of good places to shop as well as eat right off the beach not too far. From Waikiki you see the famous Diamond Head. If for nothing else, go just so you can say you've been to Waikiki :)


What is your favorite activity to do around Waikiki beach?

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Waikiki beach with Diamond Head in the background

4) Snorkel Hanauma Bay

Get there early! Hanauma bay is very, very popular snorkel/ scuba diving area on Oahu. Make sure you get there earlier in the day so you aren't having to worry about running into other snorkelers as you swim around. Earlier in the morning the tide can be a bit low so be careful about where you are swimming or you can end up just right on top of the reef. We saw some enormous Moral eels. Not gonna lie, scared the heck out me initially so be aware that they are there and can be quite large. This is a place definitely worth hitting up a couple times at least on your trip. If you get there before 7 or 8am (sorry can't remember the exact time) you can get in for free. After that, you end up having to pay a small fee for parking.

Hanauma Bay

Pretty cool video of some of the fish you can see in Hanauma Bay.

5) Visit the Honolulu zoo.

I am a sucker for Zoo's and Aquariums. The Aquarium on Maui and the Zoo on Honolulu are two of my favorite that I've been to. I couldn't believe the amount of different types of Mamals, Reptiles and birds they had here. My favorites were the Rhinoceros, Cheetahs, Sumatrah Tiger and Komodo Dragon. Give yourself plenty of time when go here. I was surprised at how big it was and how much there was to see. We had plans for the evening and found that we had to rush through the last part of it after being there for 2-3 hours. Here is a link to the entire list of all the animals that you can see there.


Komodo Dragon

Runner ups.

1) Visit the Dole Planataion

2) Spend some time on North Shore

3) See the Byodo-In temple at the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park

4) Take a walking tour of Historic Honolulu

5) Eat some Monopua (The only Island you can get some that is decent)


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    • williamcaldwell1 profile imageAUTHOR

      William Caldwell 

      5 years ago from Orem

      Thank you for your comment :)

    • srsddn profile image


      5 years ago from Dehra Dun, India

      williamcaldwell1, Oahu seems to be a great place with lot of fun activities a tourist can have. I love beaches and your video on Waikiki beach has given a very vivid view of it. I agree with you that one needs longer time to enjoy activities fully at such places. Thumbed up and have a nice week end.


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