Things To Do In Oahu – Complete List Of The Best Activities

Things To Do In Oahu – Complete List Of The Best Activities

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With 112 miles of shoreline, O‘ahu is a nature lover’s paradise.

Given that it’s the most populated island in Hawaii, Oahu has a little bit of everything, including some of our favorite tours on Oahu. Honolulu is an international destination: the city offers a world-class shopping scene, exciting nightlife, an abundance of highly rated hotels, and a culinary scene that rivals major cities around the world.

Yes, it’s home to the most crowded Hawaiian beach, Waikiki Beach, but Oahu has a lot more to offer than most travelers might guess! It’s easy to feel overwhelmed in Honolulu, so it’s good to break away and experience the more mellow side of Oahu in addition to all the hot tourist spots.

Top 10 Things to Do in Oahu

Drive to Oahu’s North Shore

Drive to Oahu's North Shore

While Oahu’s North Shore is known for its massive waves and professional surf competitions during the winter months, this beautiful stretch of coastline has so much more to offer. The main settlement in this area is Haleiwa, which has consistently been voted one of Hawaii’s favorite small towns for years.​

From the best acai bowls and shave ice in Haleiwa to snorkel spots, secluded beaches and phenomenal hiking, you could spend a year exploring the north shore without visiting the same place twice.

Known as the “surfing capital of the world,” Oahu’s North Shore spans from La’ie to Ka’ena Point. Still, it’s an area that far too many visitors never take the opportunity to see.

An easy hour-long drive from Waikiki will bring you to lovely Haleiwa town where the North Shore begins. From there you can drive in an eastward direction around the North Shore.

Oahu’s North Shore is home to the top world-class surfers in the world when the winter waves reach their majestic heights. Be sure to stop at the Banzai Pipeline where you can see surfers make their way through the middle of a wave. Other North Shore places to visit include Kahuku with its shrimp trucks, Turtle Bay, Waimea Valley, Waialua, Mokuleia and Kaena.

For the best snorkeling around, hang out at Shark’s Cove. Named one of the top shore dives in the world by Scuba Diving Magazine, Shark’s cove is an idyllic spot to head underwater and hang out with Hawaii’s sea life.

Be sure to try one of Hawaii’s favorite foods – the acai bowl – at Haleiwa Bowls. For the perfect pre-adventure breakfast, Haleiwa Bowls is a must-stop. The small shack in Haleiwa may not look like much, but their acai bowls are to die for.

To watch surfers catch some waves, head to Waimea Bay – but only during the winter. While Waimea Bay is a popular spot for boogie boarding in the summer, it is a haven for surfers of all skill levels during the winter months.

And finally, watch the sun slowly sink behind the horizon at Sunset Beach. Because who doesn’t want to experience a magical Hawaiian sunset at a beach named for its killer sunset views?

Click here to view a tour I enjoyed!

Explore the Bishop Museum

Explore the Bishop Museum

Like Hawaii’s version of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington, DC, the Bishop Museum showcases a remarkable array of cultural and natural history exhibits. It is often ranked as the finest Polynesian anthropological museum in the world.

Founded in 1889 in honor of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, a descendant of the Kamehameha dynasty, it originally housed only Hawaiian and royal artifacts. These days it honors all of Polynesia.

The main gallery, the Hawaiian Hall, resides inside a dignified three-story Victorian building. The three floors are designed to take visitors on a journey through the different realms of Hawai‘i. On the 1st floor is Kai Akea, which represents the Hawaiian gods, legends, beliefs, and the world of precontact Hawai‘i.

One floor up, Wao Kanaka focuses on the importance of the land and nature in daily life. The top floor, Wao Lani, is inhabited by the gods.

The fascinating two-story exhibits inside the adjacent Pacific Hall cover the myriad cultures of Polynesia, Micronesia and Melanesia. It shows how the peoples of Oceania are diverse, yet deeply connected, and is filled with cultural treasures such as canoes, woven mats and contemporary artwork.

The eye-popping, state-of-the-art multisensory Science Adventure Center is based on better understanding Hawaii’s environment. You can explore areas of science in which Hawai‘i has gained international recognition, including volcanology, oceanography and biodiversity.

The Hawai‘i Sports Hall of Fame has photos and memorabilia from outstanding accomplishments by Hawaiian sports legends.

The Na Ulu Kaiwiula Native Hawaiian Garden features species important to Hawaiian culture ranging from endemic plants to others like breadfruit that were brought to Hawaii by Polynesians centuries ago.

The Bishop Museum is also home to Oahu’s only planetarium, which has an ever-changing range of shows, including traditional Polynesian methods of wayfaring (navigation). Check the museum website for upcoming shows.

The gift shop sells books on the Pacific not easily found elsewhere, as well as some high-quality Hawaiian art, crafts and souvenirs. There is also a quality cafe, open 10:30am to 3:30pm daily. Check the museum website for special events.

From Waikiki or downtown Honolulu, take bus 2 School St-Middle St to the intersection of School St and Kapalama Ave; walk one block makai on Kapalama Ave, then turn right onto Bernice St. By car, take eastbound H-1 Fwy exit 20, turn right on Houghtailing St, then take the second left onto Bernice St. Parking is free.

Click here to view a tour I enjoyed!

Honor America at Pearl Harbor and the Arizona Memorial

Honor America at Pearl Harbor and the Arizona Memorial

  • USS Arizona Memorial

Pearl Harbor is one of the biggest tourist attractions on Oahu. Located here are the USS Arizona Memorial, which offers free tours daily; the Battleship Missouri; the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park; and the Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor. The main highlight is the USS Arizona Memorial, built over the sunken hull of the Battleship USS Arizona.

It commemorates the World War II attack on Pearl Harbor and is a somber reminder of the events that occurred here on December 7th, 1941. Docked nearby is the Battleship Missouri, where the Japanese surrendered, bringing an end to the war.

The USS Arizona Memorial is the most visited attraction in Hawaii, with more than 1.5 million visitors a year. It is also free of charge to the public. The memorial, located above the sunken battleship, was opened in 1962 and stands in memory of those killed during the attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec 7, 1941.

Parts of the battleship still project above the water. The gleaming white floating building, about 197 feet long and accessed by Navy shuttle boats, contains a large semi open-air room, where visitors gather. At the end of the memorial is a shrine with the names of the 1,177 victims, including the commander and his deputy, engraved on a wall of Vermont marble.

The Visitor Center, built in 1980, can accommodate up to 4,500 visitors daily. Tours, which are free, apart from a nominal convenience fee, include a documentary film, a boat trip to the USS Arizona Memorial, and time to wander around. They begin every fifteen minutes and last seventy-five minutes.

Only a certain number of tickets are handed out each day, some of which are reservable and some of which are available for walk-ins, but they usually fill to maximum capacity, so it’s best to either reserve in advance or arrive early in the day to secure a tour.

  • Battleship Missouri

Docked just down the shore from the USS Arizona Memorial, is the USS Missouri, where the Japanese officially surrendered, ending WWII. The ship was brought to Pearl Harbor in 1998.

Two tours are offered daily: one is a basic tour on the decks with information on the history of the ship, the other is a more extensive tour that goes into the engine room and explores the inner workings of the vessel.

An admission fee is charged to visit the USS Missouri, but a number of passes cover multi-sites at Pearl Harbor and are a good option if you plan on seeing more than just the Missouri and the Arizona Memorial.

  • Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor

This museum, located on Ford Island and accessed by shuttle bus from the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, features two hangars displaying aircraft related to World War II and the attack on Pearl Harbor. Aircraft range from those in pristine condition to those that still show destruction caused during the war.

The tour begins in Hangar 37 and starts with a 12-minute video on the attack on Pearl Harbor. Afterwards, you can take your time exploring the aircraft and photos on display. The second hangar, Hangar 79, showcases the “MiG Alley Korean War Exhibit.”

Also on site are combat flight simulators that allow you to try your hand taking off from a runway and landing on an aircraft carrier.

  • USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park

The USS Bowfin was a submarine built during the Second World War and later restored by a private organization, the Pacific Fleet Submarine Memorial Association. This association also maintains the park as a memorial to the 52 U.S. submarines and their crew, sunk during the war.

The Bowfin is known for having sunk a total of 44 Japanese ships and was one of the most sophisticated submarines produced by the US during World War II. Volunteers stationed in the various compartments explain how all the equipment and polished brass was used. You can wander around the ship at will or climb the command tower and gain a 360-degree view of Pearl Harbor through a periscope.

Many photographs and other memorabilia illustrate life aboard a submarine, both on friendly patrols and in wartime situations. Also in the collection is the Kaiton, a World War II Japanese suicide manned torpedo. A variety of torpedos and the conning tower of another historic submarine complete the exterior collection.

In the USS Bowfin Museum building, which covers all aspects of submarine history, are artifacts and models that trace the history of U.S. Navy submarines and submarines in general.

If you are only planning on touring the USS Arizona Memorial, be sure to book in advance or arrive early to secure a tour. If you plan on visiting a combination of sites or all of the sites, including the USS Missouri, the Submarine Bowfin, and the Aviation Museum, a tour or multipass is your best option!

Click here to view a tour I enjoyed!

See Waikiki and Oahu from the Top of Diamond Head

See Waikiki and Oahu from the Top of Diamond Head

You have to like a little hiking to like Diamond Head Beach. This beautiful, remote spot is at the base of Diamond Head crater. The beach is just a small strip of sand with lots of coral in the water. This said, the views looking out from the point are breathtaking, and it’s amazing to watch the windsurfers skimming along, driven by the gusts off the point.

From the parking area, look for an opening in the wall where an unpaved trail leads down to the beach. Even for the unadventurous, a stop at the lookout point is well worth the time.

There’s just something empowering about walking up the side of an extinct volcano. More than 3,500 feet in diameter with a 760-foot summit, Diamond Head in Waikiki is perhaps the world’s most recognized volcanic crater. It is a lasting remnant of a volcanic explosion that occurred about 500,000 years ago.

Ancient Hawaiians called it Le’ahi, which translates to “brow of the tuna.” The name “Diamond Head” can be traced to the 1800s, when British sailors mistakenly thought there were diamonds lodged in the crater’s soil. The “diamonds” turned out to be calcite crystals embedded in the lava rock.

The 0.7-mile hike up Diamond Head is considered a moderate climb.

It’ll take about an hour to reach the summit, and half that time for the return. The trail climbs the inside slope of Diamond Head for about 0.6 miles. It’s a switchback trail with the mountain on one side and a railing on the other. After a lookout point that doubles as a rest stop, the trail takes a steep upward ascent through a series of stairs and tunnels.

The last set of stairs is a 99-step climb—just take it slow and steady—that eventually leads to a World War II bunker. From there, the stairs reach an end and you step up to some of the finest panoramic views on Oahu. Take a short walk around and savor the moment.

On a clear day, you see forever. Standing atop the lookout, viewing Oahu’s entire leeward side, feeling the trade winds and hearing waves crashing far below, one can’t help but feel humbled to be on this glorious island.

You can also try this fun and “different” way of viewing Waikiki and Diamond Head!

Click here to view a tour I enjoyed!

Tour the Polynesian Cultural Center

Tour the Polynesian Cultural Center

Imagine launching yourself into the ultimate Polynesian adventure, visiting Hawaii, Samoa, Tahiti, Fiji, Tonga, New Zealand and the Marquesas. Envision yourself discovering their peoples, cultures, customs and histories. Sample their foods. Learn their languages. Enjoy their hospitality.

Now imagine yourself doing it all in a single day!

Millions of people have done just that by visiting the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC), a 42-acre attraction located in Laie on Oahu’s rugged North Shore. Opened to the public in October 1963, the PCC offers a wide range of unique visitor experiences—everything from a top-notch luau to a spectacular evening show with more than 100 performers.

Guests are able to explore seven recreated Polynesian villages and gain a hands-on appreciation for the intriguing cultures of Polynesia. Learn how Samoans crack open a coconut or climb a 40-foot coconut tree. Make joyous Fijian music with a derua, a bamboo percussion instrument.

Tour a Tahitian garden and learn a native dance. Play a Maori stick game or get a temporary tattoo. Or try your hand at weaving leaves and flowers into beautiful Hawaiian leis.

Other highlights at the PCC include the Alii Luau, the “Rainbows of Paradise” canoe show, an IMAX Theater presentation and the highly acclaimed revue, Horizons: Where the Sea Meets the Sky. Each spring, the PCC hosts the World Fire-Knife Dance Championships, featuring the world’s top Samoan fire knife dancers vying for the prestigious “world champion” title.

The PCC, staffed primarily by students at neighboring Brigham Young University-Hawaii, has lived up to its goal of serving as “a unique treasure created to share with the world the cultures, diversity and spirit of the nations of Polynesia.”

The PCC is open Monday-Saturday (closed on Sundays, Thanksgiving and Christmas). The box office opens at 9 a.m., and the gift shops, snack bar and luncheon buffet opens at 11 a.m. Island tours and cultural presentations begin at 12:30 p.m., with other island activities spread throughout the afternoon. The PCC is located at 55-370 Kamehameha Highway, nearly 40 miles from Waikiki.

Click here to view a tour I enjoyed!

Find Your Way Around the Dole Pineapple Maze

Find Your Way Around the Dole Pineapple Maze

Hawaii’s pineapple industry is no longer what it once was, but at Dole Plantation on Oahu, this prickly fruit is still king.Nearly a million people visit Dole Plantation each year. It originally opened in 1950 as a simple fruit stand, and reopened in 1989 after an extensive remodeling of its facilities to provide the complete “pineapple experience.”

In 1997, the site underwent a $125,000 interior renovation to simulate building facades patterned after old Haleiwa Town.

A favorite attraction here is the Pineapple Garden Maze, made from 11,400 colorful Hawaiian plants. Covering an area of more than two acres (with a path length of approximately 1.7 miles), the maze in the 2001 Guinness Book of World Records as the “world’s largest maze.”

Once you find your way out of the maze, take some time to enjoy Dole Plantation’s other offerings: The Pineapple Express train tour is a two-mile, 20-minute, fully-narrated tour that provides insights on the history of the pineapple; the rigors of plantation life; and the story of James Dole, who pioneered the pineapple industry in the Islands.

The Plantation Garden Tour, meanwhile, is a self-guided walk that brings you face to face with a variety of agricultural crops in Hawaii.

Dole Plantation also features informational displays and presentations about the pineapple. The visitor center offers a wide variety of pineapple-related merchandise. You can even treat yourself to an icy-cool cup of world-famous Dole Whip.

It’s believed that the pineapple originated in the lowlands of Paraguay. Historians believe the fruit was introduced to Hawaii in 1527, after a Spanish shipwreck near the coast of South Kona on the Big Island brought a number of goods to the Islands.

In later years, a Spanish adventurer named Francisco de Paula Marin experimented with raising pineapples in Hawaii in the early 1800s. James Dole would later pioneer the pineapple industry, earning acclaim as Hawaii’s “Pineapple King.”

Click here to view a tour I enjoyed!

Find Places Where Movies were Filmed

Find Places Where Movies were Filmed

The Hawaiian Islands are no stranger to the big and small screen, and have been featured in many movies over the years. Though all islands have been used in feature films, Oahu has been utilized the most, and continues to be a hot spot for both television and movies. You may recall that the island was the prime film location for the hit series LOST, and many of the sites from the show can be found and visited.

As you look around the island, it is easy to see why Hollywood has been so willing to use the beaches, rainforest, and even the local communities in movies. The diverse landscape allows the use of different parts of the island as different locales, and production crews don’t have to go very far to find beautiful scenery.

Here are 5 movies and their film locations that you can see while visiting Oahu:

  • 50 First Dates – though this film starring Adam Sandler and Drew Berrymore used a large portion of the island, the primary spots seen throughout the film are Kualoa Ranch and Sea Life Park. Sandler depicted a trainer at the park, and even utilized some of the parks residence in the film.
  • Godzilla – multiple Godzilla films have used Oahu, most recently the 2014 version that filmed in Waikiki and at Kualoa Ranch. Visiting Kualoa, Godzilla’s footprint is still there, and you can stand in it, just to see how big he really is.
  • ​Pearl Harbor – not well received throughout the years, Pearl Harbor opened to much hype when it was released. Filming took place on Ford Island, at Pearl Harbor, and at Kualoa Ranch. Many active duty sailors were used, as well as many island locals.
  • ​Forgetting Sarah Marshall – this comedy has developed quite the cult following over the years, and was filmed largely at Turtle Bay on Oahu’s North Shore. Local beaches were used for filming, and the luxury hotel plays a prominent role in the story.
  • Jurassic Park – we’ve saved the biggest of them all for last. The blockbuster used Oahu’s Kualoa Ranch for one of the most famous scenes in movie history. Visit the ranch and see the log that the park visitors hid under while running from a flock of dinosaurs. Kauai was the main film location, but Maui and Oahu were also featured.

Click here to view a tour I enjoyed!

Visit the Halona Blowhole Before You Hike to Makapu’u Point in Southeast Oahu

Visit the Halona Blowhole Before You Hike to Makapu'u Point in Southeast Oahu

On the eastern most point of Oahu sits the Makapuu Point Lighthouse, a shining beacon built in 1909 on a 600-foot sea cliff overlooking Makapuu Beach — a stretch of sand known as one of Oahu’s best bodysurfing beaches — and family friendly Sea Life Park.

Fifteen minutes past Hanauma Bay and beyond Sandy Beach (another popular local beach) you’ll find the large parking lot that leads to the two-mile, paved trail overlooking the lighthouse. This moderately easy hike pays off with breathtaking views of the indigo ocean and Oahu’s eastern, or Windward Coast. You can even see the island of Molokai in the distance. Two other smaller islands, Manana (the larger of the two, also known as Rabbit Island) and Kaohikaipu are also visible just offshore.

The Molokai Channel runs right past the Makapuu Lighthouse so this is also a great place to spot whales using on-site telescopes during whale watching season between December and May.

On your way to Makapu`u Lighthouse, stop at one of Hawaii’s most popular attractions: the Halona Blowhole.

Hawaii offers a plethora of natural wonders and spectacular visitor attractions, but a must-see when visiting the islands is the Halona Blowhole on Oahu. The blowhole is a natural occurrence formed by molten lava tubes from volcanic eruptions thousands of years ago. The lava tubes run to the ocean and, when the surf is right, the blowhole shoots water up to 30 feet in the air. The larger the waves, the larger the spray.

Situated to the right of the Halona Blowhole is the Halona Beach Cove, also known at the “Peering Place.” This small sandy beach at the cove is great for swimming when the surf is calm. The site is known for the famous love scene between Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr in the movie, From Here to Eternity (1953). If you’re lucky, you can see the resident honu (endangered Hawaiian green sea turtle).

Below Halona is the Ka’iwi channel, one of the most dangerous, unpredictable ocean channels in the world. There are no lifeguards at the Halona sites, so be extremely careful, and do not swim when the surf is rough. Wear sturdy shoes and use extreme caution, as the walk down to the beach is steep and rocky.

Be cautious of your surroundings when in the water. The waves crash against the sides of the narrow bay, producing very powerful waves. Do not go near the blowhole. The lookout is the safest spot where you can view the site.

Halona Blowhole is just a 10-15 minute drive from Waikiki and is a spectacular scenic stroll. Located off the Kalanianaole Highway and north of Hanauma Bay, the lookout at Halona Blowhole is worth the stop.

The lookout offers an excellent view of the coastline and outer islands, such as Molokai and Lanai, on clear days. During the winter months, the lookout is a great spot to watch whales at play.

Click here to view a tour I enjoyed!

Go Cage Diving with Sharks, If You Dare!

Go Cage Diving with Sharks, If You Dare!

On this ultimate open ocean adventure, you’ll get to see sharks from up close, not in a zoo, but in their natural territory. Not to worry though, this Oahu shark cage tour is completely safe. But it will still get your adrenaline flowing!

Shark cage diving on Hawaii is simply the most adventurous activity to add to your next Hawaiian vacation.

Oahu shark encounter tours depart from the island’s North Shore. You’ll head out into the open ocean, and about 3 miles offshore you’ll have the opportunity to get into the shark cage. This is more than just an exciting adventure. It’s an educational experience as well, something very few people ever get to do.

Shark species that you’re most likely to see include Galapagos sharks, sandbar sharks, grey reef sharks and the occasional tiger shark. Best of all, no scuba diving experience is necessary. You’ll enter the shark cage from the boat and stay on the surface using a snorkel and mask.

The shark cage has large polyglass windows that let you observe she sharks from a safe vantage point.

Click here to view a tour I enjoyed!

Watch Fireworks in Style – VIP Private Helicopter Style

Watch Fireworks in Style – VIP Private Helicopter Style

Friday – the day on which Hawaiians greet each other with “Happy Aloha Friday” – colorfully comes to a close each week with fireworks on Waikiki Beach.

The 10-minute show, which begins at 7:45 p.m., is presented by Hilton Hawaiian Village. And while the resort offers some terrific vantage points for the pyrotechnics, there are others, too.

I’ve compiled this list of six suggestions of great places from which to enjoy the Friday night show in the sky:

The Hilton towers. Guests staying in various towers may have a bird’s eye view depending on which way their windows face. Ask when making a reservation.

Tropics Bar & Grill. The resort’s beachside restaurant has a patio that provides picture-perfect views.

The beach itself. Literally thousands of people can gather on Waikiki Beach, and in the warm ocean water, to watch the magical light show above.

Barefoot Beach Cafe. As the name implies, this is a casual spot – at the Diamond Head end of Waikiki – that offers not only fireworks, but skyline views, too.

Sarento’s. For an upscale experience, pair a fine meal with the pyrotechnics show from this restaurant perched atop the Ilikai.

And the best way to not only watch the fireworks but to also cap off your Hawaiian vacation is to:

Ride a 30 Minute VIP Private Helicopter Tour. This is guaranteed to provide you with the best seat for viewing the Hilton Hawaiian Village fireworks show on Waikiki Beach.

Click here to view a tour I enjoyed!

Travel Tips to Oahu: Everything You Need to Know Before You Go

Travel Tips to Oahu

If you’ve narrowed down your selection of islands and Oahu is your destination, you’ve made an excellent choice! Oahu has great weather year round; in fact, many people believe it has the best weather of all the islands.

Maybe that’s why almost half of all visitors to the state of Hawaii pick Oahu. Or maybe it’s because Oahu is the most scenic of all the islands, or… well, that list could go on and on. Here’s a different list which tell you everything you need to know before booking that flight.

Best Time to Visit

Weather is the main concern of many travelers, so it’s a relief to know you don’t really have to worry about it much on Oahu. Even in the winter months, from mid-November through March, the high-temperature averages somewhere around 80°F. In the summer months, the high typically averages somewhere in the mid- to upper- 80s.

As with all the islands, Oahu does see a bit more rain during the winter months, especially on the leeward (east) side. Typically, showers are scattered and the sun quickly returns after a brief rain storm. Plus, there’s the added benefit that rain keeps the island nice and lush. Not to mention, winter is prime whale watching season.

Accommodations wise, you’ll find better deals during the months of April-May and August-November, when demand for rooms is lower. The holidays are the busiest time on the island, and the increased demand sends prices rocketing. This is especially true during Christmas, when the island feels quite crowded, in our opinion.

So, taking into consideration the crowds, the weather, and accommodation prices, we believe the best time to visit the island is either mid to late May or anytime in September. April is usually a good month, but the last week in April is Golden Week in Japan and that typically means a large swell of Japanese visitors to the island during that period.

We should note, however, if you’re looking to catch some of the big waves on the North Shore, you’ll probably want to visit in the winter months when the surf is up. The best waves usually occur during the months of December through mid-February. If you’re lucky, you may also catch a glimpse of the humpback whales that spend their winters in the warm Hawaiian waters.

Money-Saving Tips

A vacation to Hawaii doesn’t have to break the bank. Take advantage of coupons in the free publications stacked at the airport and in racks all over Waikiki. Online sources like Groupon or Livingsocial offer discounted rates for everything from dinner cruises to massages.

Buy your souvenirs at Longs rather than at shops catering solely to tourists, and you’ll likely get the same goods for less money.

You don’t need to stay at a pricier waterfront hotel when, in Waikiki, almost all hotels are a short walk to the shore. Access to beaches and most hiking trails on the island is free to the public. For inexpensive fresh fruit and produce, check out farmers’ markets and farm stands along the road—they’ll often let you try before you buy.

For cheap and quick lunches, consider a food truck. Part of the culinary landscape of Oahu for generations, these lunch wagons—which rove around downtown and other areas—charge substantially less than restaurants.

Take advantage of pau hana time (happy hour) for cheaper drinks and appetizers at many establishments.


Oahu is casual: sandals, bathing suits, and comfortable, informal clothing are the norm. In summer, synthetic slacks and shirts, although easy to care for, can be uncomfortably warm.

There’s a saying that when a man wears a suit during the day, he’s either going for a loan or he’s a lawyer trying a case. Only a few upscale restaurants require a jacket for dinner. The Aloha shirt is accepted dress on Oahu for business and most social occasions. Shorts are acceptable daytime attire, along with a T-shirt or polo shirt.

There’s no need to buy expensive sandals on the mainland—here you can get flip-flops (locals call them slippers) for a couple of dollars and off-brand sandals for $20. Golfers should remember that many courses have dress codes requiring a collared shirt; call courses you’re interested in for details. If you’re not prepared, you can pick up appropriate clothing at resort pro shops.

If you’re visiting in winter or planning to visit a high-altitude area, bring a sweater or light- to medium-weight jacket. A polar fleece pullover is ideal and makes a great impromptu pillow. If you’re planning on doing any hiking, a good pair of boots is essential.

Shipping Luggage Ahead

Imagine globe-trotting with only a carry-on in tow. Shipping your luggage in advance via an air-freight service is a great way to cut down on backaches, hassles, and stress—especially if your packing list includes strollers, car seats, etc. There are some things to be aware of, though.

First, research carry-on restrictions; if you absolutely need something that isn’t practical to ship and isn’t allowed in carry-ons, this strategy isn’t for you. Second, plan to send your bags several days in advance to U.S. destinations and as much as two weeks in advance to some international destinations.

Third, plan to spend some money: it will cost at least $100 to send a small piece of luggage, surfboard, or a golf bag to a domestic destination, much more to places overseas.

Some people use Federal Express to ship their bags, but this can cost even more than air-freight services. All these services insure your bag (for most, the limit is $1,000, but you should verify that amount); you can, however, purchase additional insurance for about $1 per $100 of value.


Oahu is generally a safe tourist destination, but it’s still wise to follow the same common-sense safety precautions you would normally follow in your own hometown.

Rental cars are magnets for break-ins, so don’t leave any valuables in the car, not even in a locked trunk. Avoid poorly lighted areas, beach parks, and isolated areas after dark as a precaution. When hiking, stay on marked trails, no matter how alluring the temptation might be to stray.

Weather conditions can cause landscapes to become muddy, slippery, and tenuous, so staying on marked trails will lessen the possibility of a fall or getting lost.

Women traveling alone are generally safe on the Islands, but always follow the safety precautions you would use in any major destination. When booking hotels, request rooms closer to the elevator, and always keep your hotel-room door and balcony doors locked. Stay away from isolated areas after dark; camping and hiking solo are not advised.

Distribute your cash, credit cards, IDs, and other valuables between a deep front pocket, an inside jacket or vest pocket, and a hidden money pouch. Don’t reach for the money pouch once you’re in public.

Planning Your Activities

Oahu offers great shopping venues, ranging from world-class malls and boutiques located at Waikiki to quaint specialty shops found at nearby towns. If you’re looking for a unique Hawaiian souvenir, you have several shopping venues to choose from.

For the shoppers’ convenience, there are actually several prominent shopping areas that provide free shuttle service to and from the shopping area and several major hotels. If you’re planning on some serious shopping, make sure to just pack light so you can use an extra bag or two to store trinkets and souvenirs on your return trip.

Oahu is an adventure-seeker’s paradise because this island offers plenty of exciting sports activities such as water skiing, skydiving, horseback riding, and hiking. However, before you join any sports activity, make sure that you are equipped with the right gear and attire.

If it’s your first time in Oahu, make sure to stick to your guide and tour group. Before you do any dangerous sporting activity, make sure you are physically fit to do so. Also, make sure that you have travel insurance especially when planning to do some serious sports activities in Oahu.

Smoking Regulations

Hawaii is a place greatly concerned about its people and environment. It has enacted The Smoke Free Hawaii law, which promotes healthy air for the residents and visitors from all over the world. Visitors and smokers can still buy and use tobacco products but they should only smoke these on smoking areas.

In Hawaii, smoking is prohibited in enclosed areas such as those places owned by the state, places that are open to the public, and workplaces. In this US state, you cannot smoke within 20 feet of doorways and other ventilation facilities such as windows.

Numerous Hawaii hotels and motels can offer a percentage of their rooms specifically to smoking guests. So, if you are a smoker and are going to stay in a hotel or motel, you should specify that you or your companions prefer a smoking room when making reservations. Violators of this anti-smoking law will have to pay fines.

Final Thoughts

Final Thoughts

Going to Oahu is definitely an exciting experience, whether you’re from mainland or from another country. Because of so many things to see and adventures to experience in this Hawaiian island, it’s best to have some sort of itinerary to make things go smoother as you land in Oahu.

Coordinating with a travel agent or tour guide is always a good idea if you wish to visit various locations and destinations within Oahu and its neighboring islands without the hassle and headache. With these traveler tips and tricks in mind, you are sure to have some peace of mind as you enjoy what Hawaii’s Oahu has to offer.​