One of the most iconic views of paradise is Diamond Head on Hawaii’s magical island of Oahu. Fittingly known as “The Gathering Place,” Oahu offers an abundance of riches ripe for exploration on your next Hawaiian holiday, from bustling Waikiki beaches, distinctive restaurants, and colorful shops to towering cliffs and verdant rainforests.
Surfing was born along these shores. Here, you’ll discover the spirit of aloha in every rainbow, smile, and flower. The island also provides a glimpse into Hawaii’s unique history, from the former pageantry of the Iolani Palace in Honolulu to the enduring World War II memorial at Pearl Harbor.
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Lush grounds, six spectacular pools, a beachfront lagoon, waterfalls and an array of shops and restaurants are all part of the "Village" experience at this expansive resort.
Although this is the third largest of the Hawaiian Islands, it is also the most popular destination for tourists and holds two-thirds of the state’s population. With its impressive blend of traditional Hawaiian culture, stunning beauty and urban vibe, it is frequently the starting point for vacations including other neighboring islands.
Oahu also hosts an array of entertaining events, such as the Aloha Festival or Hawaii Food & Wine Festival, showcasing a delightful selection of Hawaiian music, food, wine, and spirits. When you’re on vacation in Oahu, no matter what time of day, you’ll always find things to do that will delight and entertain you.
What To Do on Oahu
Immerse yourself in the traditions of the region at the Polynesian Cultural Center in Oahu. Here, you can experience authentic native villages, lush tropical forests, and captivating hula dancers and entertainers.
Pay homage to the fallen heroes of World War II on a tour of the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor.
Play a round of golf at one of the island’s 40 spectacular courses. And revisit Hawaii’s royal history from Kamehameha III to Queen Liliʻuokalani at Honolulu’s Iolani Palace.
Check out some of our 5 favorite experiences on Oahu.
What To See on Oahu
On Oahu, you’ll find a wealth of tours and activities with which to explore this beautiful island. Discover sweeping panoramic views of Oahu from Diamond Head and the majestic Nuuanu Pali Lookout. Live out your dreams of endless summers watching surfers along Oahu’s pristine North Shore catch some of the world’s most perfect waves.
Tour the Dole Plantation, where they’ll pack you a pineapple to go or even ship one home. Cap off the day watching a multi-colored sunset while partaking in a traditional luau at the world-famous Paradise Cove Luau in Kapolei in Honolulu County.
Shop till you drop at the fashion-forward stores on Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki, from Luxury Row to Waikiki Beach Walk. Experience Waikiki’s new International Market Place, with seven restaurants offering outdoor seating and over 75 stores including Hawaii’s first Saks Fifth Avenue. Visit more than 110 retail shops at the impressive 310,000 square foot Royal Hawaiian Center. Browse for bargains with the locals in Honolulu’s Aloha Stadium Flea Market. Uncover the perfect souvenirs, designer fashions and more at Waikiki’s International Marketplace or one of the country’s largest open-air malls, Honolulu’s impressive Ala Moana Center.
After dark, downtown Honolulu, Waikiki and Chinatown come alive with music, bars, and restaurants to keep you entertained. Visit Chinatown during the first Friday art celebration. There are also many 24-hour restaurants to satisfy your late-night cravings.
Oahu with Kids
Get up close and personal with gentle dolphins during a kid-friendly dolphin encounter. Learn to surf with your youngsters at fabled Waikiki Beach or take an exciting cruise on a pirate ship.
Snorkel amid rainbow-colored fish at Hanauma Bay or go fishing on an eco-tour. View multi-colored marine life deep beneath the surface on an Atlantis submarine. Cap off another perfect day in paradise with a traditional Hawaiian Luau at Paradise Park for a vacation you’ll remember long after the sun goes down.
Off the Beaten Path
Although you cannot drive around the entire perimeter of Oahu, you can drive to its westernmost tip at Kaena Point and hike even further along its remote northwest coast.
Swim in the ocean with wild dolphins and sea turtles. Get a bird’s-eye view of Honolulu, Waikiki and Pearl Harbor on a breathtaking helicopter tour. Back on the ground, horseback ride and explore Kualoa Ranch, a working cattle ranch beneath the verdant Koolau Mountains and the location of countless movies and television shows, from Hawaii Five-O to Lost.
Visit the beautiful Valley of the Temples Memorial Park near Kaneohe at the foot of these stunning mountains. Here, you’ll find the peaceful Byodo-In Buddhist temple and the golden Buddha, one of the largest outside of Japan.
Food and Drink
The myriad flavors of Hawaii are as abundant as its views. Try a refreshing shave ice in a medley of vibrant flavors, or try “poke,” a favorite dish showcasing raw seafood such as ahi tuna, octopus, salmon in a zesty marinade. Feast on such favorites as loco moco, a contemporary meal in which a hamburger patty, is paired with a fried egg and brown gravy, and served over white rice. Or try the more traditional lomi lomi Salmon or slow cooked Kalua pork. Sample Hawaii Regional Cuisine at one of Honolulu’s upscale spots and restaurants offering farm-to-table cuisine pioneered by Oahu’s remarkable celebrity chefs. On Oahu, you can always find something delicious during your trip to fire up your taste buds and while staying on budget.
When to Go
There are essentially two seasons on Oahu, warm and warmer. The warmer summer season runs from May through October, with temperatures reaching around 84 F.
During the rest of the year, temperatures mostly remain around a delightful 72 F. The higher elevations, such as the Upper Manoa Valley north of Honolulu, receive much more rain than the beaches. The eastern side of the island is lusher and receives more rain, while Honolulu and Waikiki tend to be drier. November through March, Oahu’s rainy season, as well as the summertime months, are considered peak season.