Oahu is the most populated island in Hawaii and is home to plenty of outstanding attractions. A short distance from many Oahu vacation rentals are renowned museums, a unique zoo and aquarium, natural wonders, and the filming sites from beloved movies. Other activities in Oahu include learning to surf, swimming with sea mammals, climbing to the rim of a volcano, and attending a Polynesian luau. Here are the top 15 things to do in Oahu.
1. Pearl Harbor
The Pearl Harbor Visitors Bureau handles tours to the various iconic World War II memorials. These include the USS Arizona Memorial, the Battleship Missouri Memorial, and the USS Oklahoma Memorial. The Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park highlights the history of submarines in the United States and includes a visit onboard the retired vessel. In the hangers of the Pacific Aviation Museum are numerous vintage aircraft, historic videos, and other exhibits.
2. Bishop Museum
Honolulu’s Bishop Museum, also known as the Hawaii State Museum of Natural and Cultural History, is an immense complex spread out over several buildings. These include a Science Adventure Center, which focuses on volcanology, oceanography, ecology, and other facets of the environment. The planetarium explores how ancient ocean-goers could navigate by starlight. The museum has the world’s largest collection of Pacific Area and Hawaiian artifacts.
3. Iolani Palace
The stunningly beautiful Iolani Palace, former home of Hawaiian royalty, is now a National Historic Landmark and museum. Located in downtown Honolulu, this iconic structure is open for self-guided tours. You can wander the 7,000 square feet of this amazing building, admire the original furniture and numerous works of art, and recall the magnificence of the Hawaiian royal era.
4. Hawaii Surf Guru
While visiting Oahu, don’t miss the opportunity to learn to surf. Located at the western end of Waikiki Beach on the Honolulu shore, Hawaii Surf Guru offers private or semi-private lessons to beginning, intermediate, and advanced surfers. Get out and ride the waves like a local.
5. Wet ‘n’ Wild Water Park
Wet ‘n’ Wild Hawaii is a 29-acre water park at the western edge of Honolulu. Its attractions range from extreme slides that vault swimmers 50 feet into the air to gentle tube cruise river rides and fun pools for younger children. The park rates its rides chill, moderate, and extreme depending on the level of excitement, so you can easily choose the activities that are the most fun and comfortable for you and the kids. The site also features an 18-hole mini-golf course.
6. Atlantis Submarines
The Atlantis Submarines Waikiki Underwater Adventure takes you for a tour of the ocean depths off Diamond Head in an authentic submarine. Among things to do near Honolulu, this is one of the most fascinating and unique. From the viewing ports, watch marine creatures such as sharks, stingrays, moray eels, green turtles, and many species of fish in their natural environment.
7. Whale Watching With Dolphin Excursions Hawaii
From December to March, during the migration season of the humpback whales, Dolphin Excursions Hawaii offers small group tours to go out on the open ocean and watch whales up close as they breach and slap the water with their tails and fins. All year long, Dolphin Excursions takes you out to encounter spinner dolphins, bottlenose dolphins, spotted dolphins, and Hawaiian sea turtles along the west coast of Oahu.
8. Honolulu Zoo
The Honolulu Zoo is on the eastern end of Waikiki Beach in southern Honolulu. This attraction features 42 acres that house over 1,000 animals, including Komodo dragons, elephants, giraffes, rhinos, and tigers. The site has a large African savanna exhibit, a special children’s zoo, and a collection of native Hawaiian birds.
9. Waikiki Aquarium
The University of Hawaii administers the Waikiki Aquarium, which lies next to a living reef on the Waikiki shore. The aquarium houses over 3,000 specimens of 500 marine species in a fascinating array of exhibits. These include special environments that enclose living coral, giant clams, ocean predators, and Hawaiian monk seals.
10. Hanauma Bay Dive Tours
Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, one of the premier snorkeling spots in Hawaii, is a protected area that lies east of Honolulu on the southern Oahu coast. Hanauma Bay Dive Tours offer guided explorations of the bay’s wonders in small groups. As you tour the bay’s colorful coral reefs, you can see an astonishing array of lovely marine creatures, including green sea turtles, moray eels, butterfly fish, parrot fish, and octopuses.
11. Diamond Head State Monument
Making it to the top of Diamond Head State Monument is worth the hike, which leads up two sets of stairs and through a dark tunnel. At the summit of this 760-foot tuff crater, you have a breathtaking view of Waikiki Beach, the south shore of Oahu, and the awe-inspiring Pacific Ocean.
12. Sea Life Park
Sea Life Park is on the southeast edge of Oahu near Makapu’u Point. Among its main attractions are the Dolphin Encounter and Sea Lion Discovery, which allow you to get up close to and even touch these creatures in the water. Another activity is the Sea Trek Adventure, in which you stroll underwater in a coral reef environment surrounded by marine life. The park also features an aquarium, marine mammal shows, a penguin habitat, and a marine bird sanctuary.
13. Kualoa Ranch Movie Tours
The Kualoa Ranch on the eastern Oahu coast is a vast private nature reserve where some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbuster movies were filmed. These include “Jurassic Park,” “Jurassic World,” “Kong: Skull Island,” “Godzilla,” and “Pearl Harbor.” The ranch offers a number of guided tours through breathtaking natural beauty to the movie filming locations.
14. Polynesian Culture Center
The Polynesian Culture Center, on the eastern side of Oahu, is one of the island’s most popular attractions. The site features 42 acres with seven Pacific Island villages, canoe rides, luaus, and a unique Polynesian Marketplace where you can shop for local handicrafts.
15. Dole Plantation
The Dole Plantation, which lies north of Honolulu in central Oahu, has a number of unique and fascinating things to do. Among its attractions is one of the world’s largest mazes. Its Pineapple Express train takes you on an interesting tour of the plantation and gives you a glimpse into pineapple agriculture in Hawaii, and the Plantation Garden Tour highlights the island’s beautiful flowers, fruits, and other native plants.
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