oahu attractions

Discover Top Oahu Attractions & Sights!

Are you planning a trip to Oahu and looking for the best things to do? Do you want to uncover the top sights that make this island a must-visit destination? Look no further! In this article, we will reveal the hidden gems and must-see attractions that will make your Oahu adventure unforgettable.

Oahu is a 600 square mile island in Hawaii that is known for its stunning landscapes, rich culture, and vibrant city life. Whether you are a nature enthusiast, a history buff, or a food lover, Oahu has something to offer everyone. From iconic landmarks to picturesque beaches, there is an abundance of attractions and sights to explore.

Join us as we take you on a journey through the top attractions of Oahu. Discover the breathtaking views from the summit of Diamond Head, immerse yourself in the cultural experience of the North Shore, and indulge in the culinary delights of Waikiki. From hiking to surfing, snorkeling to enjoying a refreshing Hawaiian shave ice, there is no shortage of adventure and experiences on this beautiful island.

So, are you ready to uncover the best things to do in Oahu? Let’s dive in and discover the top attractions and sights that will make your trip truly unforgettable!

Key Takeaways:

  • Discover the hidden gems and must-see attractions of Oahu.
  • Uncover the breathtaking views from the summit of Diamond Head.
  • Immerse yourself in the cultural experience of the North Shore.
  • Indulge in the culinary delights of Waikiki.
  • Embark on outdoor adventures such as hiking, surfing, and snorkeling.

Climbing Diamond Head

Diamond Head is an iconic landmark on Oahu, known for its breathtaking views and striking presence. Climbing to the 760-foot summit of this volcanic cone is a popular activity for visitors seeking adventure and magnificent vistas. The hike is relatively easy, making it accessible to people of various fitness levels.

As you ascend the trail, you’ll be greeted with panoramic views of the island that are truly awe-inspiring. The stunning views stretch across the sparkling blue waters of the Pacific Ocean, the lush green landscape of Oahu, and the vibrant city of Honolulu. It’s a sight that encapsulates the beauty and grandeur of the island.

The trail itself is well-maintained and offers a gentle incline, making it suitable for families and individuals looking for an enjoyable outdoor experience. Along the way, you’ll come across informative signboards that provide geological and historical insights, adding to the educational value of the hike.

“Climbing Diamond Head is a must-do activity for anyone visiting Oahu. The experience of reaching the summit and taking in the panoramic views is simply unforgettable. It’s a chance to connect with nature and appreciate the natural beauty that surrounds us.”

Reaching the summit of Diamond Head rewards you with astonishing vistas that capture the essence of Oahu’s allure. The sprawling coastline, the dramatic cliffs, and the vibrant cityscape create a captivating landscape that is best witnessed firsthand.

Discovering the North Shore

North Shore Oahu

The North Shore of Oahu is a must-visit destination for any traveler. It is home to some of the most famous big wave beaches in the world, making it a paradise for surfers and beach lovers alike. The stunning coastline and powerful waves attract professional surfers from around the globe, who come here to test their skills and ride the notorious waves. If you’re not a surfer, don’t worry. There’s still plenty to explore and enjoy on the North Shore.

A Taste of Old Hawaii in Haleiwa

One of the highlights of the North Shore is the charming old town of Haleiwa. This historic town offers a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of Hawaii. Stroll along the streets lined with quaint shops, art galleries, and surf boutiques. Sample local flavors at the shave ice stands or indulge in some fresh seafood at one of the town’s many restaurants. Haleiwa is the perfect place to immerse yourself in the laid-back vibes of old Hawaii.

From Shrimp Farms to Garlic Shrimp

Another unique experience you can have on the North Shore is visiting the shrimp farms in Kahuku. Take a tour and learn about the sustainable practices used to cultivate these delicious crustaceans. And speaking of shrimp, don’t miss trying the famous garlic shrimp at one of the local food trucks or restaurants. It’s a mouthwatering delight that you won’t soon forget.

Soak in the natural beauty of the North Shore’s beaches, enjoy the local charm of old town Haleiwa, and satisfy your taste buds with some flavorful shrimp dishes. The North Shore of Oahu truly has it all.

“The North Shore is a magical place where the beauty of nature and the rich Hawaiian culture come together. It’s a must-visit destination for anyone seeking an authentic and unforgettable experience.” – Traveler’s Journal

Top Attractions on the North Shore

Waimea BayOne of the most iconic and picturesque beaches on the North Shore, known for its crystal-clear waters and stunning sunsets.
PipelineA legendary surf spot that attracts professional surfers with its massive waves. Watch the action from the shoreline or enjoy the competitions during the winter season.
Turtle Bay ResortA luxury resort offering breathtaking views, world-class golf courses, and a relaxing spa. Perfect for a luxurious getaway or a romantic escape.
Laniakea BeachAlso known as Turtle Beach, this is a popular spot for seeing sea turtles basking in the sun. Be sure to maintain a respectful distance and observe them from afar.
Polynesian Cultural CenterImmerse yourself in the diverse cultures of the Pacific islands through live performances, traditional arts and crafts, and interactive exhibits.

Spending a day at the Polynesian Cultural Center

Polynesian Cultural Center

The Polynesian Cultural Center is a popular attraction on Oahu that allows visitors to experience the rich culture and vibrant traditions of the South Pacific. With its authentic portrayal of seven different villages representing various regions, this center offers a fascinating journey into Polynesian heritage.

Upon arrival, you’ll be greeted by the warm aloha spirit and transported to the enchanting world of the South Pacific. Each village showcases the unique traditions, art, and way of life of its respective culture. From the vibrant dances of Tahiti to the rhythmic beats of Samoa, you’ll be mesmerized by the colorful performances and cultural demonstrations.

Immerse yourself in the rich history and traditions as you have the opportunity to partake in various activities. Take a ride in an ancient style canoe, guided by experienced navigators who will share stories of Polynesian voyaging. Engage in educational demonstrations to learn about traditional crafts and practices, like coconut husking or hula dancing.

Be sure not to miss the entertaining shows that bring the South Pacific to life. From exhilarating fire dances to captivating storytelling, these performances are an essential part of the Polynesian Cultural Center experience. You’ll be captivated by the talent and passion of the performers as they showcase the diverse cultures of the region.

As the day comes to an end, indulge in the grand luau, a feast fit for royalty. Savor the flavors of Polynesia while enjoying lively music and traditional entertainment. Experience the warmth and hospitality of the Polynesian people as you dine under the starlit sky.

Experience the Polynesian Cultural Center:

  1. Explore seven different villages representing the South Pacific.
  2. Watch entertaining shows that showcase the vibrant cultures.
  3. Paddle in an ancient style canoe with experienced navigators.
  4. Participate in educational activities and demonstrations.
  5. Indulge in a grand luau feast under the stars.

Discover the magic and diversity of the Polynesian Cultural Center, an experience that will transport you to the South Pacific and leave you with unforgettable memories.

“The Polynesian Cultural Center is a captivating immersion into Polynesian culture, offering a unique opportunity to connect with the traditions and heritage of the South Pacific.” – Traveler’s Review

Ha: Breath of LifeHawaiian
AotearoaNew Zealand Maori
Rapa NuiEaster Island

Explore Waikiki

Waikiki Beach

Waikiki, located in Honolulu, is a vibrant and bustling neighborhood that attracts tourists from all over the world. Known for its stunning beach, grand hotels, trendy shops, and lively rooftop bars, Waikiki offers a plethora of attractions to explore.

If you’re looking for a luxurious stay, Waikiki is home to some of the most renowned grand hotels in Hawaii. These hotels not only provide top-notch accommodations but also offer breathtaking views of the ocean and the city skyline.

For the shopaholics, Waikiki is a dream come true. The neighborhood is filled with a mix of local boutiques and international designer stores, making it a paradise for fashion enthusiasts. You’ll find everything from high-end luxury brands to unique local creations.

As the sun sets, head to one of Waikiki’s rooftop bars to enjoy a refreshing cocktail while taking in the stunning panoramic views of the city and the beach. These trendy bars offer a vibrant atmosphere and are perfect for a night out with friends or a romantic evening with your loved one.

The culinary scene in Waikiki is also a major highlight. From traditional Hawaiian cuisine to international flavors, you’ll find a wide range of culinary experiences to satisfy your taste buds. Whether you’re craving fresh seafood, tropical fruits, or mouthwatering desserts, Waikiki has it all.

One of the must-visit spots in Waikiki is the iconic International Market Place. This open-air shopping center is not just about shopping; it’s a whole experience. Here, you’ll find a mix of local artisans, international brands, live entertainment, and delicious street food. It’s the perfect place to immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of Hawaii.

And of course, no visit to Waikiki is complete without spending time on the beautiful beach. With its soft white sands and crystal-clear waters, Waikiki Beach is a paradise for sun-seekers and water sports enthusiasts. Whether you want to relax under the sun, take a dip in the ocean, or try your hand at surfing, this beach has it all.

Explore Waikiki and discover why it’s one of the most popular attractions in Oahu. From grand hotels to trendy shops, rooftop bars to culinary delights, and the iconic International Market Place to the beautiful beach, Waikiki offers an unforgettable experience for every visitor.

Hiking up to Waimea Falls

Waimea Falls

Located in the stunning Waimea Valley, Waimea Falls is a breathtaking Hawaiian waterfall surrounded by beautiful botanical gardens. This natural wonder is a must-visit attraction for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers alike.

As you stroll through the scenic botanical gardens, you’ll be captivated by the vibrant colors and fragrant aromas of the native plants and flowers. The lush, tropical setting creates a serene and tranquil ambiance, making it the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

The highlight of your visit to Waimea Falls is the opportunity to hike up to the magnificent 15-foot waterfall. The trail leading to the falls is well-maintained and suitable for all fitness levels, allowing visitors of all ages to enjoy this incredible natural wonder.

Once you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with a picturesque view of the cascading waterfall, which plunges into a crystal-clear pool of water. It’s the perfect spot to cool off and take a refreshing swim, surrounded by the beauty of nature.

If you prefer to admire the waterfall from a distance, there are designated viewing areas where you can sit back, relax, and marvel at its majesty. The sound of the rushing water combined with the lush greenery creates a serene and peaceful atmosphere that will leave you feeling revitalized.

Whether you’re an avid hiker or simply someone who appreciates the beauty of nature, hiking up to Waimea Falls is an experience that should not be missed. Immerse yourself in the stunning botanical gardens, listen to the soothing sound of the waterfall, and create lifelong memories in this Hawaiian paradise.

Learning how to Surf

learning how to surf

Learning how to surf is an exciting and fulfilling experience that many visitors to Oahu seek. With its beautiful beaches and favorable conditions, Waikiki Beach is the perfect place for beginners to catch their first wave. The gentle waves at Waikiki Beach provide an ideal learning environment, allowing newcomers to develop their skills and boost their confidence in the water.

Surfing schools along Waikiki Beach and the North Shore offer comprehensive lessons tailored to both individuals and groups. These schools provide professional instructors who are experienced surfers and passionate about sharing their knowledge. With their expert guidance, you’ll learn the fundamentals of surfing, including proper paddling techniques, stance, and how to catch and ride waves.

One highly recommended surfing school is the Waikiki Beach Services. They offer group and private lessons for all skill levels, ensuring personalized instruction to help you progress quickly. Their dedicated instructors will teach you the essential skills you need to surf with confidence while prioritizing safety in the water.

For those looking for a more immersive experience, the North Shore is renowned for its world-class surfing spots, attracting seasoned surfers from around the globe. Here, you can take lessons from advanced surf schools that specialize in teaching intermediate and advanced surfing techniques. The North Shore’s challenging waves are an excellent opportunity for surfers to hone their skills and experience the thrill of riding larger swells.

Surfing SchoolsLocationServices Offered
Waikiki Beach ServicesWaikiki Beach
  • Group Lessons
  • Private Lessons
  • Surfboard Rental
Hans Hedemann Surf SchoolNorth Shore
  • Intermediate Lessons
  • Advanced Lessons
  • Surfboard and Gear Rental

Whether you choose to learn at Waikiki Beach or venture to the renowned North Shore, learning how to surf in Oahu is an unforgettable experience. It allows you to connect with the ocean, embrace the local culture, and challenge yourself physically and mentally. So grab a board and get ready to ride the waves in paradise!

Snorkeling Hanauma Bay

Hanauma Bay Snorkeling

When it comes to snorkeling in Oahu, Hanauma Bay is a must-visit destination. This pristine marine sanctuary is home to a diverse underwater ecosystem with over 300 different species of fish and marine life. Snorkelers of all skill levels can explore the clear turquoise waters and get up close with vibrant coral reefs and colorful marine creatures.

To ensure the preservation of this fragile environment, Hanauma Bay restricts the number of daily visitors. The limited daily visitors policy helps protect the reef and allows for a more intimate and sustainable snorkeling experience. It’s important to plan ahead and arrive early to secure your spot.

Snorkeling at Hanauma BayDetails
LocationOahu’s southeastern coast
Marine SanctuaryProtected area preserving the coral reef
Species of FishOver 300 different species
Visitation PolicyLimited daily visitors

Whether you’re a snorkeling enthusiast or a first-timer, Hanauma Bay offers an unforgettable underwater adventure. Dive into the crystal-clear waters and immerse yourself in the beauty of this marine wonderland. Just remember to respect the environment and follow the guidelines to ensure the long-term preservation of this natural treasure.

Exploring Hanauma Bay allows you to witness the beauty and diversity of Oahu’s underwater world. The vibrant colors, intriguing marine life, and pristine coral reefs make it a snorkeling experience like no other.

Enjoying a Hawaiian Shave Ice

Hawaiian shave ice

A trip to Oahu is not complete without indulging in the deliciousness of Hawaiian shave ice. One of the most famous establishments for this icy delight is Matsumoto’s Shave Ice, located on the North Shore. Here, you can experience the true essence of this refreshing treat.

Matsumoto’s Shave Ice offers a wide range of flavors that are sure to tickle your taste buds. From classic favorites like strawberry and pineapple to unique creations such as lilikoi (passion fruit) and lychee, there is something for everyone.

But the fun doesn’t stop there! Matsumoto’s also offers a variety of toppings to elevate your shave ice experience. Whether you prefer the traditional sweetened condensed milk drizzle or want to add a burst of flavor with azuki beans or mochi balls, the choice is yours.

However, Matsumoto’s is not the only place to enjoy a Hawaiian shave ice on the island. Oahu is home to numerous shave ice establishments, each with its own unique flavors and toppings. Exploring the different options is like embarking on a flavorful adventure.

So, what are you waiting for? Treat yourself to a refreshing shave ice while exploring the beautiful island of Oahu. It’s the perfect way to cool down and savor a taste of the tropics.

Popular Flavors at Matsumoto’s Shave Ice

StrawberryA classic flavor that combines the sweetness of ripe strawberries with the cooling sensation of shave ice.
PineappleTropical paradise in a cup, this flavor will transport you to the sandy shores of Oahu.
LilikoiAlso known as passion fruit, this flavor packs a tangy punch that is both refreshing and tantalizing.
LycheeA unique and exotic flavor that combines the floral notes of lychee fruit with the icy goodness of shave ice.

Signature Toppings

  • Sweetened Condensed Milk: An essential topping that adds a creamy and sweet touch to your shave ice.
  • Azuki Beans: These sweet red beans provide a delightful textural contrast and add a touch of earthiness to your treat.
  • Mochi Balls: Soft and chewy, these rice cake balls are a popular topping that adds a playful twist to your shave ice.
  • Fruit Syrups: From mango to guava, these vibrant syrups take your shave ice to the next level with their fruity flavors.

“Hawaiian shave ice is the perfect treat to beat the heat in Oahu. Its refreshing texture and explosion of flavors make it a must-try when visiting the island.”


Oahu, with its diverse range of attractions and sights, offers an unforgettable island adventure for every type of traveler. Whether you’re seeking cultural immersion, thrilling outdoor activities, or simply a day of relaxation on the picturesque beaches, Oahu has it all. Don’t miss out on these must-see sights when exploring the island.

Begin your adventure by climbing Diamond Head, the iconic landmark that rewards you with stunning panoramic views from its 760-foot summit. Immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of the North Shore, home to notorious big wave beaches, the charming old town of Haleiwa, and mouthwatering garlic shrimp found in the local shrimp farms.

For an immersive cultural experience, spend a day at the Polynesian Cultural Center, where you can explore seven different villages representing various regions of the South Pacific and enjoy entertaining shows and a grand luau. Indulge in the vibrant atmosphere of Waikiki, with its grand hotels, trendy shops, rooftop bars, and culinary delights. Don’t forget to bask in the beauty of the Waikiki Beach, stretching for two miles.

Take a refreshing hike to Waimea Falls, surrounded by beautiful botanical gardens, and cool off in the pool beneath the 15-foot waterfall. Learn a new skill by trying your hand at surfing, with gentle waves perfect for beginners along Waikiki Beach or on the North Shore. Snorkel in the pristine waters of Hanauma Bay, a protected marine sanctuary teeming with diverse marine life.

To complete your Oahu adventure, indulge in a Hawaiian shave ice from the famous Matsumoto’s Shave Ice on the North Shore, offering various flavors and toppings to tantalize your taste buds. Oahu truly offers an unparalleled island experience filled with unforgettable memories and endless exploration.


What are the top attractions in Oahu?

The top attractions in Oahu include Diamond Head, the North Shore, the Polynesian Cultural Center, Waikiki, Waimea Falls, learning how to surf, snorkeling at Hanauma Bay, and enjoying a Hawaiian shave ice.

How do I climb Diamond Head?

Climbing Diamond Head is relatively easy. You can hike up to the 760-foot summit and enjoy breathtaking views of the island. The hike is a great way to start your morning in Oahu.

What can I do on the North Shore of Oahu?

The North Shore of Oahu is known for its notorious big wave beaches and offers a unique cultural experience. You can visit old town Haleiwa, explore the shrimp farms in Kahuku, and indulge in some delicious garlic shrimp.

What can I experience at the Polynesian Cultural Center?

The Polynesian Cultural Center allows visitors to experience the culture and traditions of the South Pacific. You can explore seven different villages representing different regions, watch entertaining shows, paddle in ancient style canoes, participate in educational activities, and enjoy a grand luau.

What is there to do in Waikiki?

Waikiki is a vibrant neighborhood in Honolulu and offers a plethora of attractions. You can visit grand hotels, trendy shops, rooftop bars, and enjoy a thriving culinary scene. Don’t miss the iconic International Market Place and the 2 miles of beautiful beach.

How can I hike up to Waimea Falls?

Waimea Falls, a stunning Hawaiian waterfall, can be reached by strolling through beautiful botanical gardens. Once there, you can admire the 15-foot waterfall and even swim in the pool of water.

Where can I learn how to surf in Oahu?

Waikiki Beach is a popular spot for beginners to learn how to surf. There are several surfing schools along Waikiki Beach and the North Shore that offer lessons. They even guarantee that you will be able to stand up on the board on your first day.

What should I know about snorkeling at Hanauma Bay?

Hanauma Bay is a popular snorkeling destination on Oahu. It is a protected marine sanctuary with over 300 different species of fish and marine life. Due to its popularity, the number of visitors allowed each day is limited to protect the reef and marine life.

Where can I enjoy a Hawaiian shave ice in Oahu?

One of the famous establishments for Hawaiian shave ice is Matsumoto’s Shave Ice on the North Shore. There are also many other shave ice establishments on the island that offer a variety of flavors and toppings. It’s the perfect refreshing treat on a hot day.

What can I expect when visiting Oahu?

When visiting Oahu, you can expect to find a treasure trove of attractions and sights. From climbing Diamond Head to exploring the North Shore, there is something for everyone on this beautiful island. Whether you’re interested in cultural activities, outdoor adventures, or simply relaxing on the beach, Oahu has it all.

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