Things to do in Oahu
From the peak of Diamond Head to a coastline of pristine beaches, the list of what to do on Oahu is an especially colorful one.
Most travelers choose Oahu for its white-sand shores and warm Pacific waters, and aside from the famed, tourist-packed Waikiki Beach, there are plenty of more secluded havens for surfers and sunbathers alike.
Many of the most popular things to do on Oahu can also be found in the city of Honolulu itself. Tour the historic 'Iolani Palace, or learn about the island's cultural and natural history at the Bishop Museum. Honolulu is also home to the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor.
Further off the beaten path, travelers can find things to do on Oahu along the dirt roads that lead to forested inland valleys; toward secluded beaches and the local-populated North Shore. Visitors can also hike to the top of the volcanic Diamond Head--its defining skyline trait--for a panoramic view of the island.
For quintessential island experiences, be sure to include a luau on your the list of what to do on Oahu. The festivities include, traditional dishes like Kalua pork and poi, live music, dancing performances and more.
A local institution, the shop for surf gear, mountain bikes, and Franko's Oahu Surfing Map, a vital guide to the legendary surf breaks of the North Shore.
One of the last of the old-school tiki bars, this everyman’s establishment has occupied the waterfront of Keehi Lagoon for more than five decades—in a location even island residents rarely get to.
A National Historical Landmark, ‘Iolani Palace is the official residence of Hawaii’s monarchy. Built by King Kalakaua in 1882, the fortress was home to both Kalakaua and his sister Queen Lili’uokalani.
Hours are easily whiled away digging through the hodgepodge of Hawaiian paintings, Depression glass, aloha shirts, collectible toys, costume jewelry, and kitschy hula girl figurines at this circa-1997 shop.
A profoundly fecund wonderland—with peacocks, giant lilies from the Amazon, and endangered Kokia cookei flowers—run by the National Audubon Society.
Located in the Halekulani Hotel, Lewers Lounge evokes the feel of New York’s swankiest cocktail bars with a touch of Hawaiian hospitality. The cocktail menu was crafted by Dale DeGroff, who enjoyed a stint at New York’s famed Rainbow Room.
Located at the east end of Waikiki, Kapiolani Park is home to Hawaii’s famous Diamond Head (a volcanic crater), as well as the Honolulu Zoo. The park is named after Queen Kapiolani, the wife of King Kalakaua, and was established in the 1870’s.
In the mall next to the iconic Aloha Tower, this shop has hundreds of unique pieces of island jewelry in sterling silver and 14-karat gold, Chinese jade, puka shell, and Tahitian black pearl, many with tasteful designs of tropical flowers and hula girls.
Located in Chinatown, this Honolulu department store is easily recognizable by the words “LAI FONG” written in large red letters across the building’s slightly worn, white façade.
Part Irish pub and part local Hawaiian eatery, Murphy’s Bar and Grill is a casual neighborhood gathering spot for local businesspeople and residents. The bar serves 16 beers on tap, as well as a selection of wines.
In the 1990’s the project committed $585 million in public and private funds to transform eight acres of dive bars and budget hotels within an elbow of land framed by Lewers Street, Fort DeRussy Park, and Kalakaua Avenue.
Tobacco heiress Doris Duke stipulated in her will that her opulent and fanciful home (called Shangri La) on the shores of Diamond Head be turned into a museum.
Charles Yee Hoy and staff have been selling antiques at a pair of shops in downtown Kailua for over 25 years. Their first store draws from the mainland and around the globe, and the spinoff around the corner sticks to Hawaii.