The island of Oahu is one of the most visited islands in Hawaii. Home to Honolulu, Hawaii’s largest city  and where the largest international airport is located, it is easy to understand why over five million people visit the island each year. But Oahu is more than just the hustle and bustle of the city and Waikiki Beach. There are a plethora of things to see, experience, and taste on the island. Here is my list of the top 5 things you should put on your to do list when visiting Oahu.


It might seem obvious that when vacationing on a tropical island you should go to the beach, but make sure you visit several different ones as each has something unique to offer. Waikiki Beach may be the most famous beach in all of Hawaii and is located in the city of Honolulu and it’s mild waves make it perfect for younger kids. Lanikai Beach, on the eastern side of the island, is considered one of the most beautiful in the world and is a great spot for windsurfing, sailing, and snorkeling. Several beaches on the island are great for spotting sea turtles, seals, and other animals. And the North Shore offers some of the best beaches for surfing.


The site of the devastating attack that pulled the US into World War II, Pearl Harbor is a must for any history buffs. There are five historic sites to explore, including walking through a historic airplane hangar, as well as the chance to peer into the harbor where the famed USS Arizona rests.


Learn about the history of the local culture by exploring six villages depicting different island nations, play ancient games, shop for hand crafted souvenirs, and sample local cuisine. Stay through the evening to experience one of the island’s best luaus.


Speaking of luaus, this is absolutely one of the must does when visiting Hawaii and Oahu has several amazing ones to choose from. Many of the resorts offer a luau select nights that are very highly rated, like the Waikiki Starlight Luau at the Hilton Hawaiian Village resort in Honolulu. Or combine it with a whole day experience learning about the local culture and traditions by visiting the Polynesian Cultural center mentioned above. Whichever luau you choose, you will love participating in traditional Hawaiian games and crafts before enjoying a buffet of authentic Hawaiian luau cuisine like kalua pork, huli chicken, and poi.


The sport of surfing was born on the island of Oahu so it is the perfect place to learn this “Sport of Kings”, so called because ancient Hawaiian royalty would show off their skills on Waikiki Beach and other surf spots around Oahu. In the early 20th century, legendary surfer, Olympic swimmer and Waikiki native Duke Kahanamoku introduced the sport to the world. There are many options for surf lessons throughout the island, or head to the North Shore during the months of December and January to watch one of the biggest surfing competitions, the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing.

This is just a small list of the many wonderful things you can experience while visiting Oahu. No matter what you choose to do while visiting the island, you will be surrounded by breathtaking beauty and inspiring culture. I highly recommend immersing yourself as much as you can in the local traditions, places, and foods to truly get a feel for how unique and special Hawaii is.

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