What are the most jaw-dropping, incredible, unforgettable things to do on Oahu?
Well – to put simply: there’s a lot.
In fact, it can be incredibly… incredibly… incredibly overwhelming.
That’s why I wanted to pull back the curtain on not only the most unreal things on the island…
But the absolute BEST 45 things to do on Oahu.
There will be things you’ve likely never heard or seen anywhere else. That’s intentional.
Without further ado… Let’s jump right in!
1. Hike Stairway to Heaven for sunrise
Hiking the Stairway to Heaven for sunrise was one of the most rewarding, yet the scariest experience of my life. Starting off the hike by sneaking past a guard before dawn and hiking in the pitch black to be greeted by a long staircase of nearly 4,000 steps. With both unsteady and slippery railings and steps, you get a feeling of unease. At some points, the stairs go completely vertical and you’re left gripping on for dear life as the strong wind blows from all directions. Reaching the very top takes lots of perseverance as there are checkpoints along the way that makes you question continuing. As the sun rose, the sky cleared up and left us with the most beautiful glow and sunrise we’ve ever seen. It’s no question why so few have the courage to take on this hike.
2. Jump off the Waimea bay rock
Waimea Bay is one of the most lively beaches on the island. There are always people playing football or soccer and having a good time. If you’re trying to jump off the famous Waimea bay rock, which is also to referred to as Devil’s rock, we recommend going during summer months. The rock is 7 meters in height (or 23 ft.). During winter months, the waves reach up to 30-40 feet high, which is a good time to sit back and relax and watch the professionals surf. Don’t expect to swim during these months. At Waimea Bay, there is a wall that people can climb year round which is 8 meters tall (or 26 ft.) The only downside to Waimea Bay is the small parking lot. Want to have a blast at Waimea bay? Check out our article on 5 Awesome Things to Do at Waimea Bay Beach Park.
3. Watch the fireworks show at the Hilton
Every Friday night at 7:45 pm, the Hilton lights up the city with the most beautiful fireworks show that you absolutely cannot miss. If you’re in the area and have some time – you must see it!
4. Watch a sunrise at Lanikai beach
Lanikai beach just feels perfect – when you get there you’ll know what I mean. From the perfectly soft sand, cool water, and overall vibes, Lanikai beach is the perfect place to relax. You cannot miss it when visiting the east side of Oahu. Click here to see 7 Awesome Things To Do in Kailua Hawaii – with one of the best being Lanikai Beach!
5. Hike the Tom-tom trail for sunrise
If you’re looking to a beautiful perspective of the East coast of the island – then you’re looking at the right place. The Tom-Tom trail starts off with a nice incline and continues that for roughly 15-20 minutes until it starts to ease out more. You can stop at any point because there is no definite end to this hike. Make sure to check out our article on the Top 15 Best Hikes on Oahu.
6. Hike Makua cave for sunset
Viewing the west side of Oahu from Makua Cave is absolutely spectacular during sunset. You simply can’t miss this hike – It’s easily my favorite hike for sunset on this side. If you want more of a view of the entire west side, then we would recommend checking out the Maili Pillboxes. Click here for more hikes on Oahu.
7. Explore Mermaid Cave
Located at Nanakuli Beach Park is the beautiful Mermaid Caves. There is something so special about this place that you can only understand when you get here. It can get dangerous at times due to swells that can fill up the cave.
8. Get a poke bowl
Poke is a raw fish salad that is typically served as an appetizer in Hawaiian cuisine, but for most locals – the main course. Eating a poke bowl is a definite must if you want to truly experience the local lifestyle. Ono Seafood is a popular local spot located in Honolulu.
9. Get shave ice at Matsumoto’s
Matsumoto’s is an extremely popular store to grab shave ice from. Its only location is on the North Shore in the heart of Haleiwa Town. This is definitely the best way to cool off on a hot summer day. Click here for more things to do in the North Shore
10. Try an acai bowl
An Acai Bowl is a Brazilian dish made from frozen and mashed acai palm fruit. It’s typically served in a bowl and usually topped with granola, banana, and other types of fruits and treats. We would say the North Shore is home to some of the best acai bowls on the island – so we recommend trying some from there! Our personal favorite is Haleiwa Bowls or Crispy Grinds. Click here for more things to do in the North Shore
11. Visit Lulumahu falls
Located right off the Pali Highway, Lulumahu Falls is a 2.5 out-and-back trail. We rate this hike as moderate due to the fact that you need to hike across streams and since it can get quite slippery. We recommend this hike over Manoa falls for the fact that the waterfall is nicer and it’s not as well-known/crowded. If you’re thinking of hiking to see a waterfall – this is the one to do!
12. Eat Garlic shrimp from the North Shore
Eat the famous North Shore Garlic Shrimp from Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck – The perfect place to stop to get a delicious bite to eat with some friends. Don’t miss out on some of the best shrimp on the island – make sure to visit Giovanni’s Shrimp truck. Click here for more things to do in the North Shore
13. Hike Pali notches
Hiking the Pali Notches is for the extreme adventurers. With strong winds blowing from all directions and walking on a ridge that gets as narrow as 2-3 feet – this hike is no joke. It is one of the most dangerous hikes on the island and is only recommended for experienced hikers. Please make sure to research this hike plenty before taking it on. Click here to see more hikes on Oahu.
Skydiving on the North Shore is a must; The views are absolutely spectacular and the feeling you get from skydiving is one you just can’t replicate – and can’t miss out on. North Shore is such a beautiful place and makes it the perfect place to take that jump out of your comfort zone!
Click here to book your skydiving adventure.
15. Jump at china walls
Note: This photo is actually shot at spitting caves – which is little ways from China walls. Spitting caves is much more dangerous but we would recommend visiting to watch people jump it!
Located right off Hawaii Kai, China Walls is an extremely popular cliff jumping spot. Both locals and tourists visit this location to let loose and have a good time! Located along here is Spitting Caves, which is a much taller cliff jumping spot that is only for those adrenaline junkies looking to push their limits.
16. Visit Manoa Falls
The hike to the Manoa falls is one to remember. It is one of the most interesting forest types of atmospheres on the island that makes it so different from other hikes on the island. The waterfall tends to be quite small whenever I hike to the falls, so I would recommend visiting Manoa falls after heavy rainfall. Click here to see more hikes on Oahu
17. Swim with dolphins
If you’re on the west side of Oahu – this is an experience you can’t miss out on. Swimming with dolphins is one of the most beautiful things in the world! They are typically found at Electric beach or Makua beach.
18. Experience an Open-door Helicopter ride around Oahu
Feeling the wind flow through your hair as you travel over the beautiful views – Taking a helicopter ride over Oahu is something you just cannot miss. Costing on average $179 per person – it’s a small price to pay for the experience of a lifetime. We love to promote gaining new experiences and getting uncomfortable – so being able to see Oahu in a whole new perspective is something we cannot recommend enough!
19. Zipline at Kualoa ranch
Kualoa Ranch is a 4,000 acre set of land that holds so much history to it. This is the location that they shot Jurassic Park, Godzilla, and a few other hit movies. They hold tours, horseback riding, ATVing and also ziplining! If you’ve ever fantasized about zip-lining through Jurassic Park, then this is the perfect place to do it!
20. Swim with sharks
Throwing yourself into the sea with some of the most frightening creatures seems crazy at first – until you do it. But once you realize get underwater – you get to realize how graceful and beautiful sharks really are. The adrenaline rush you get from being surrounded by these guys is one of the best feelings in the world. If it’s something you’ve been thinking of doing, there’s no better time than now, and the North Shore is the perfect place to do it. Click here for more things to do in the North Shore
21. Snorkel at Electric Beach
Electric Beach (Official name: Kahe Point Beach Park) is a well-known place to snorkel on the west side. It attracts a lot of fish and sea life due to the warmer water – which is caused due to the power point across the street which outflows clean warm water. I would recommend coming here with someone who has snorkeled here before because it can get a little harsh at times.
22. Hike and watch the sunrise from Chinaman’s hat
Located on the East Coast of Oahu, Chinaman’s hat is an offshore island that is perfect to kayak out to. It takes about 30 minutes in each minute, and the island itself can be hiked up – making for an awesome day-adventure. The views at Chinaman’s hat is incredible during sunrise! Want to go out paddle boarding with one of Oahu’s best tours? Click here to Book A Chinaman’s Hat Paddle Boarding Tour.
23. Drive around the island listening to reggae music
24. See the Halona blowhole and visit Cockroach cove
The Halona Blowhole is a popular tourist destination located in-between Makapu’u Lighthouse and Hanauma Bay. Located right beside Halona Blowhole is this nice little cove that is perfect for sunbathing or jumping off into the water. The current is normally pretty rough – so it’s definitely not a beach to relax at.
25. Visit Tantalus lookout during sunset
If you’re looking for a beautiful view of Waikiki, diamond head, and even pearl harbor, then you absolutely need to come to here! This is a place you cannot miss when visiting Oahu. The effort needed for this phenomenal view is close to zero. I can’t recommend visiting Tantalus lookout enough.
26. Find the Tantalus tower
The hike starts off with a slight incline and after roughly 5-10 minutes you are greeted with the most beautiful bamboo forest. It took us about 20-25 minutes to get to the tower. When climbing the tower, there are strong winds blowing from all directions. At the top of the tower, the winds at some points make the whole tower shake and can be quite scary – but the view and different perspective is just something you just can’t miss! Click here to see more hikes on Oahu.
27. Visit Waimanalo Beach Park
Located on the East Coast of Oahu, Waimanalo Beach Park is a beautiful white sand beach and is a great alternative to Lanikai Beach if parking is full. Being only typically 20 minutes away from Lanikai, and right next to Hālona Blowhole and Cockroach Cove, make’s this beach very practical if you’re trying to visit as much of Oahu as possible. Click here to check out more Top Oahu Beaches.
28. Visit the Sunflower fields
There’s something special about sunflower fields that you cannot miss. I can guarantee that once you arrive, your whole mood for the rest of the day will be filled with happiness. Located on North Shore Oahu – Entrance is free to the beautiful sunflower fields, while the only thing that will cost money is parking – which is only $5. There are only certain allotted times for visiting, so make sure to check out the website we provided below to see if they’re open. Click here for more things to do in the North Shore.
29. Cliff Jump at Waimano Falls
Waimano Falls is a 2.8-mile out-and-back trail located within Pearl City. Parking is located on the street and is easy and safe. Waimano Falls is an awesome spot for cliff jumping – with a jump of approximately 20 feet. It includes a rope swing – which makes things that much more fun! If you’re looking to have a good time with friends and let loose, Waimano Falls is a perfect choice.
30. Relax at the beautiful Yokohama Bay
Yokohama Bay is the most western beach on the island and is well-known for surfing and bodyboarding. The beautiful mountains in the background combined with the beautiful white sands and vibrant blue waters are what makes this beach so perfect to visit. The waves can get pretty big – especially during winter months, so swimming is probably not an option.
31. Hike the Hanauma Bay Rim Trail
The Hanauma Bay Rim Trail is a 3.6-mile loop trail located at the Hanauma Bay Nature Reserve Park. We would rate the difficulty of this hike moderate. It’s absolutely beautiful during sunrise. After hiking the Hanauma Bay Rim Trail – we recommend snorkeling at Hanauma Bay to cool off. Snorkeling at the beautiful Hanauma Bay is something you absolutely cannot miss out on. Click here to see more hikes on Oahu.
32. Snorkel at Hanauma Bay
Located on the East side of Oahu, Hanauma Bay is the most famous snorkeling locations on all of Oahu due to its high fish population and calm shallow waters. We recommend visiting Hanauma Bay very early in the morning because it gets crowded very quickly. The entrance fee is $5 per person, but the fee is waived for those under 13 years of age or for residents of Hawaii. Snorkeling at Hanauma Bay is perfect to cool off at after hiking the rim trail. Snorkeling at Hanauma Bay is something that you absolutely cannot miss out on.
33. Find the Crouching Lion
The Crouching Lion Trail features astonishing views of Kahana Bay and is a hike you should do in any weather condition because of how different it looks from each time. It get’s very slippery, though, so bring some grippy shoes or hiking boots. Parking can be quite difficult for this hike – make sure you park legally because people do get their cars towed/ticketed.
34. Visit the Makapu’u Tidepools
Note: This side of the island is very hot and dry – make sure to bring lots of water and use sunscreen. When visiting the tidepools – make sure to wear shoes because the rocks that surround it tend to be slippery and sharp. Take note of how the water breaks on the reef. It can get quite dangerous – so make sure to be safe and use proper judgment when visiting the Makapu’u Tidepools.
There’s no doubt if you have an Instagram that you know about the incredibly beautiful Makapu’u Tidepools. These tidepools rest in the eastern part of the island right beside the Makapu’u Lighthouse trail. Accessible by hiking up the Makapu’u Lighthouse and then scaling down the mountain – the Makapu’u tidepools are absolutely beautiful and is a nice treat after hiking. Click here for our full guide on how to find the Makapu’u Tidepools
35. Find the hidden bridge at the Maunawili Falls Hike
Maunawili Falls is a great hike – roughly 2.8-mile round-trip. This hike tends to get extremely muddy and it’s no doubt you might slip so make sure to wear shoes that you don’t care for. Roughly half-way through the hike, you will be rewarded with a beautiful view of Kailua.
Most that visit here jumps off the top part of the waterfall – which is roughly a 15-25 foot drop. Beside the waterfall is an even higher point to jump off which adds around 10 feet more in height.
36. Watch a surf competition
During winter months, Sunset Beach is the perfect place to visit to watch professionals surf some of the biggest waves on the island. Sunset Beach is home to the World Cup of Surfing competition and some other big surf competitions. With its soft sand and cool waters, it’s a solid beach that you just cannot miss out on. Click here to see more beaches on the North Shore of Oahu.
37. Watch the sunset at Sunset Beach
As its name implies – Sunset Beach is an incredible place to lay back and watch the sunset. During summer months, this beach is perfect to relax at – but during winter months, waves can get up to 30 feet in height. Click here to see more beaches on the North Shore of Oahu.
38. Kayak out to the Mokuleia Islands
The Mokuleia Islands are two small islands located off the coast of Lanikai Beach. They are only a few miles off the shoreline and during the weekends, people bring coolers of food and drinks and plant themselves there for hours – or even the whole day. Kayaking out takes about 30-45 minutes on average. If you don’t own a kayak, they cost roughly $65 for a double kayak for 4 hours from Kailua Beach Adventures. The bigger island, Moko Nui, is the popular island to Kayak to. It is most popular for its cliff jumping spots.
39. Visit Cromwell’s Beach
Located only 10 minutes from Waikiki, Cromwell’s beach is a nice secluded place to visit during morning hours. During this time, not much people are here – and it makes for the perfect place to relax at.
40. Endure the Kokohead Crater Hike
Located right next to Hanauma Bay, The Kokohead Crater hike consists of 1,048 steps and is a 1.8 mile out and back trail. This hike is absolutely beautiful during sunrise and the hike itself takes you to an old pillbox bunker – which is a popular place that locals and tourists take pictures at. If you’re looking to push yourself – this is the hike to go with. Click here to read about the best hikes on Oahu.
41. Survive the three peaks
The Olamana Ridge Trail (Three Peaks) is an extremely tough hike to complete all three peaks. It takes on average 3-7 hours and is very dangerous. It is only recommended that the most daring adventurers take on this hike! Click here to read about the best hikes on Oahu.
42. Relax at Ko’olina resort
Located in the western part of Oahu, the Ko’olina Resort is an awesome place to stay at. Inside the resort is the Disney Aulani Resort, Four Seasons, and the Marriot’s Ko Olina Beach Club. This type of resort is very comparable to the Turtle Bay in the sense that it’s more of a private getaway. Within the Ko’olina Resort are 6 public lagoons that are the ultimate place to lay down and relax on the west side of Oahu. It can get pretty crowded on the weekends, so we recommend coming earlier in the day.
43. Find an octopus
Finding an octopus is something so unique. It’s more common for divers to find, but you can find it while snorkeling as well if you’re in the right place! They live their lives within tiny holes, so you will find them within coral areas.
44. Snorkel at Shark’s Cove
Keep in mind: The parking lot is on the smaller side – make sure to come earlier in the day
Pupukea Beach Park is where Sharks Cove is located. If you’re looking for the absolute best snorkeling spot on the North Shore, this is the place to be. It is safest to go during summer months due to the strong currents during winter months. The parking lot is on the smaller side, so we recommend coming earlier in the day (8:00 am – 10:00 am) to ensure a spot. If the parking lot is full, or the current is too strong, a good alternative to Sharks Cove is Kuilima Cove, which is located at Turtle Bay Resort.
45. Find the coconut forest
WARNING: Entering this place is considered trespassing. We are not disclosing the location of this place for that reason
Located on the North Shore of Oahu, this place is absolutely magical. This coconut forest is something so different from all other parts of Oahu. Running around this forest makes me feel like a kid again – and is a spot you definitely won’t regret visiting!
It’s really been a wild ride sharing this with you… Hopefully you’ve gotten some new “bucket list” things to do when you visit Oahu. I poured my heart and soul into this to give you as much value possible, so you can have the best time when visiting. And of course, make the most of your vacation.
What I would recommend is checking out some of the other articles we have. Hopefully, they will help you fully grasp how incredible Oahu is, and pick up some more golden nuggets on what to do when visiting. So, from the bottom of my heart: thank you for reading the 45 Best Things To Do On Oahu!
Let me know your thoughts and questions in the comments.
See you in paradise 🙂