Things to do in Oahu

Noe DeWitt

Oahu’s seemingly endless amount of stunningly beautiful beaches are at the top of every visitor’s bucket list (as they should be), but the state’s mo... Read More

Oahu’s seemingly endless amount of stunningly beautiful beaches are at the top of every visitor’s bucket list (as they should be), but the state’s most populous island also has a rich cultural history and plenty of non-beach-related activities that are worth sacrificing a day or two of ocean time for. Well-known Oahu attractions like the Honolulu Museum of Art and the Bishop Museum showcase the state’s fascinating Polynesian past and the cultures that have helped shape modern Hawaii (including those of Japan, China, and the Philippines). Highly regarded examples of Midcentury architecture are open to the public, like Doris Duke’s opulent mansion, Shangri-La, and Liljestrand House, considered a masterpiece of famed architect Vladimir Ossipoff. Still, the best things to do in Hawaii seem to come back to nature, and hiking to the Makapu’u Lighthouse or through the dense jungle landscape of the Maunawili Falls Trail is one of the best ways to get a sense of the island.

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  • Bishop Museum in Oahu Courtesy of Bishop Museum
    Bishop Museum

    Probably the best museum complex in the world for everything Polynesian (as well as Melanesian and Micronesian), the Bishop is Hawaii’s most famous... Read More

  • Diamond Head State Monument in Oahu Getty Images
    Diamond Head State Monument

    Near the base of Diamond Head—the extinct volcanic crater about three miles west of Waikiki—a steady stream of surfers and hikers make their way down a... Read More

  • Honolulu Museum of Art in Oahu Courtesy of Honolulu Museum of Art
    Honolulu Museum of Art

    The largest museum in the state, downtown’s Honolulu Museum of Art was founded in 1922 and is now home to 50,000 pieces, including one of the biggest ... Read More

  • Iolani Palace Museum in Oahu Getty Images
    Iolani Palace

    Hawaii is the only state that was once a monarchy (before it was overthrown and annexed by the U.S. in 1893), and the best place to get a sense of how... Read More

  • Kailua and Lanikai Beaches in Oahu

    Noe DeWitt

    Kailua and Lanikai Beaches

    A visit to Kailua, an upscale beach town on the southeast side of the island—about a 30-minute drive from Waikiki—makes a perfect day trip: both Kailua... Read More

  • KCC Farmer's Market in Oahu Coral Von Zumwalt
    KCC Farmer's Market

    This is the biggest and best of Oahu’s many farmer’s markets, which happens every Tuesday evenings and Saturday mornings near Diamond Head at the... Read More

  • Liljestrand House in Oahu Courtesy of Liljestrand House
    Liljestrand House

    Located in the hills high above Honolulu on Tantalus Mountain—overlooking the city and the Pacific Ocean—the Liljestrand House is the finest example of... Read More

  • Makapu'u Lighthouse in Oahu

    Courtesy of Hawaii Tourism Authority

    Makapu'u Lighthouse

    On the southeastern tip of the island, the summit of the Makapu’u Lighthouse trail is known as one of the best places to watch the sun rise over the... Read More

  • Maunawili Falls Hike in Oahu Getty Images
    Maunawili Falls Hike

    This three-and-half mile, three-hour hike winds through dense jungle under a canopy of monkeypod trees, and while it’s not an expert hike by any means,... Read More

  • Shangri-La Museum in Oahu Noe Dewitt
    Shangri La

    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... Read More

  • Waialua Sugar Mill in Oahu Courtesy of North Shore Soap Factory
    Waialua Sugar Mill

    On the rural North Shore, a former sugar factory has been converted into a marketplace that’s home to a number of local businesses. There’s a small but... Read More

  • Waikiki Beach in Oahu Noe DeWitt
    Waikiki Beach

    Framed by Diamond Head, one of the world’s most climbed (extinct) volcanoes, and with nearly two miles of continuous white sand and palm trees, this... Read More

  • Waimea Beach Park in Oahu Noe DeWitt
    Waimea Beach Park

    The beach at this bay on Oahu’s North Shore was made world famous in 1957, when a group of surfers braved the winter swells (which reach heights up to... Read More

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