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.
Hawaiian shirts sell for as little as $4, but vintage varieties from the 1930s will set you back thousands of dollars.
This slightly off-the-beaten-path bar in Chinatown is known among locals for its impressive selection of beers — more than 150 from around the world.
The Honolulu Museum of Art is home to a 60,000-piece collection of art, with an emphasis on Asian works, including Buddhist and Shinto sculptures and Korean ceramics. More than 10,000 examples of Japanese ukiyo-ewoodblock prints comprise the James A. Michener collection.
Henry Adaniya might be the city’s most improbable new restaurateur. He closed his acclaimed Chicago restaurant Trio—where chefs Rick Tramonto and Grant Achatz made their names—to bring the upscale hot dog craze to Honolulu in 2007.
What to Expect: 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 iconic beach is almost always full of tourists and surfers.
Opened in 1994, this eatery has been at the forefront of Chinatown’s trendy renaissance.
Make the trip to the zoo, pausing to inspect a massive immobile tortoise taking a dust bath, then gawping at the unlikely spectacle of an ambulating landmass, which turns out to be a black rhinoceros.
Some of the most envied views in town of curved Waikiki Beach can be had from this 30th-floor restaurant, accessed by a ride in a glass elevator. It’s somewhat touristy, sure, but the view is amazing, the food stacks up, and it’s been a Waikiki favorite for decades.
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.