Oahu Travel Guide
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.
Located in a non-touristy part of town, the Dee Lite Bakery is best known for their guava chiffon cake made from a secret recipe since the bakery's opening in 1959. Other selections include the rainbow cake with alternating layers of lime, guava, and passionfruit, and a custard pie.
Sit under a pink umbrella while drifting off to the island melodies of slack-key guitarist Ledward Ka’apana. Later, sip Hawaiian rum at the volcanic island’s new hot spot.
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.
Located in Honolulu’s Chinatown, this marketplace features a wide range of Asian and Hawaiian foods and merchandise, including meat, seafood, produce, tea, clothing, trinkets, and kukui nut necklaces.
Located in the Ala Moana shopping center, Panya Bistro is an offshoot of the Panya Bakery, a Japanese bakery founded by Alice and Annie Yeung. The bistro is a sort of expansion on the original bakery concept, providing customers with a full-service restaurant, a bakery, and a full bar.
This shop offers a vast treasure trove of Japanese antiques, from lacquered 19th-century chests to small combs.
A profoundly fecund wonderland—with peacocks, giant lilies from the Amazon, and endangered Kokia cookei flowers—run by the National Audubon Society.
Segway of Hawaii provides tours of the island of Oahu on wheeled, human gliders. A number of excursions are available, including the Diamond Head and Waikiki Tour, as well as the Honolulu History Tour.
Bob’s sells one product mainly, the evocative and characteristically Hawaiian four-string guitar. There are ukes of ribbon-grained koa that cost hundreds and soprano ukes of mahogany that go for $90 and touristy ones of laminated wood for 50 bucks.
With its protected beach, this is one of the North Shore's safest places to learn the sport. The school also runs classes in Waikiki.
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.
Hanaiakamalama was the summer retreat of Queen Emma, the consort of King Kamehamena IV, and their son Prince Albert Edward. It is situated in the Nu'uanu Valley, a mountain pass overlooking the Honolulu plains (and only a 10-minute drive by car from downtown).
Hawaiian shirts sell for as little as $4, but vintage varieties from the 1930s will set you back thousands of dollars.
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.