13+ of the Top Tourist Attractions in Oahu

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Oahu has a variety of tourist attractions for every kind of traveler. Whether you’re a young family, honeymooning couple, or a retiree, you’ll find plenty to do on this magical island. Keep reading to discover every type of tourist activity that Oahu offers.

Hiking, seeing sea life up close, getting a taste of the traditional culture, or shopping the best Honolulu spots are some of the many options. You’ll definitely find something to add to your itinerary.

Pearl Harbor

One of the most popular and well known Oahu points of interest is Pearl Harbor. The USS Arizona Memorial always has a wait time and get crowded, but it’s worth the wait. As one of the top historic spots in American history, it’s a must-see for any history buffs.

If you don’t feel like battling it out against the crowds, visit during the morning. You can usually avoid the largest numbers of visitors. For many, this is one of the Oahu attractions at the top of their list. You can choose from several different types of tours.

Whether you want a professional guide or just an audio tour, there are options for you! If you’re in need of transportation to and from the hotel, they’ve got you covered!

Excursion

Another of the top Oahu tourist attractions is a trip around the island in a convertible or Jeep. You can arrange a tour with a group of people, with a native, or grab a map of Oahu attractions and head out on the open road.

There are many stops along the way, including temples, hiking spots, and plantations. Also, these plantations offer a mix of guided tours to choose from. You’ll find the Dole plantation is available for seeing pineapple production up close and personal.

Several companies offer tours of their macadamia nut plantations as well. Many of these plantations not only give tours of their operations, but also allow you to take zip line excursions on the property.

Stop and visit onsite restaurants and shops to buy locally made products, fresh from the field. The tours are the perfect accompaniment to a day filled with driving the island’s scenic highways.

Luaus are an integral part of a real Hawaiian experience. You’ll find that many tour operators offer tickets to popular luau shows or parties. These shows incorporate dancing, theater, and incredible food into one fun evening.

Usually, you only have to pay one base price to experience it all. Many include an extravagant dinner buffet, drinks, fire dancers and ancient Polynesian stories.

Cultural Center

If you have children, or a curious mind, you’ll find that the Polynesian Cultural Center is a worthy stop in Oahu that is well worth your time. The center offers up a cultural experience that introduces visitors to a variety of cultures.

Cultures include Hawaiian, Tahitian, and Samoan. There are a lot of hands-on activities for the kids, and plenty of presentations if that’s your thing. Also, they offer a great base for tour guides and operators to sell plantation tours and luau experiences. You can enjoy all three with one easy visit to pick up your tickets and go.

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Diamond Head

Of course, Oahu sightseeing is nothing if you miss the one towering over them all! Diamond Head State Monument is an amazing stop to plan into your itinerary, where you can hike all day and enjoy amazing views of so much of the island.

Not only will you come away with some great memories, but also some great Instagram pics! Most hikers can take the challenge. That said, some parts of the trail are pretty steep. However, stairs are fairly common for assistance.

If you don’t think you or your fellow travelers can handle the ascent, you can combine hiking with another top sight to see in Oahu – humpback whales! If you hike to Makapu’u Lighthouse between November and May, you may just get a chance to see the migrating humpbacks.

Plus, the hike is very easy, at only about two miles, and no rough terrain. In addition to the whales, if you have some binoculars handy, you can get some great bird watching in, too. If you’re still wanting to hike some more, as it is, after all, one of the top Oahu Hawaii attractions, you can try Koko Head Stairs on for size.

Be warned – it’s a rough one! You’ll climb more than 1,000 stairs on your journey to the top. This is not a place for those who are out of shape, but great for those looking for a good workout.

If you’d rather see Hawaii’s beauty within a controlled environment, head over to Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden. Honolulu actually has several botanical gardens, but this is the best.

You’ll see 400 acres of plant and animal life, and you can even try your hand at fishing or camping, if you so wish. This is also a very budget-friendly Oahu tourist site, as your entry is completely free.

Shopping

Fancy yourself a fashionista? Sightseeing in Honolulu is not complete without a trip to Hawaii’s premier shopping district. Kalakaua Avenue draws comparison to other popular American shopping streets, such as Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills.

You’ll find all the luxury names, from Gucci to Chanel to Prada and Yves Saint Laurent. There are so many shopping options to choose from, you may just lose track of time! In addition to the luxury shops, there are also several nearby authentic Hawaiian stores.

Here you can find actual products, including food and handicrafts, if you’re looking for a good souvenir. You’ll also discover farmer’s markets in the Waikiki area.

Art Appreciation

Art-lovers come to find that one of the best Oahu destinations is the Honolulu Museum of Art. No matter if you prefer a group tour, or you’d rather explore the space on your own, you’ll love browsing more than 50,000 pieces of art.

In fact, the Honolulu Museum of Art is home to the largest single collection of Asian art in the United States. Another great museum to visit if you love large collections of historic artifacts is the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum/Hawaii State Museum of Natural and Cultural History.

They have more than 24 million specimens and Polynesian artifacts, including the third-largest insect compilation in the United States.

Snorkeling

We all know that if you’re sightseeing in Oahu, you have to go snorkeling at some point or another. Shark’s Cove is a top snorkeling spot off the island. It comes highly recommended by world-class snorkelers and travel magazines.

As this is a top Oahu tourist attraction, it can be a bit crowded, but once you’re in the water, you won’t notice a thing. You’ll still get some great views of gorgeous sea life in the brightly colored ocean.

If you’d rather rent before arrival, you can arrange for an official snorkeling tour. Here, professional and qualified guides will take you to the best snorkel spots via boat. Many of these tours also include lunch and interactions with various sea life when safe. The sea life includes turtles and dolphins!

Cuisine

Now you’re tired out from your hiking, snorkeling, and Oahu sightseeing. You’re sure to get a little hungry. The Hawaiian foods found on Oahu can be amazing. You may find that these culinary experiences are some of your top reasons for visiting Hawaii. Hawaiians love their spam.

While it’s worth a try, if that’s not your thing, you’ll want to visit Leonard’s Bakery. Leonard’s has been serving up deep-fried malasadas, a type of doughnut, for decades now. They really do it the best. This place is a tried and true tourist spot that every travel publication raves about

If you have an interest in royal history, visit Iolani Palace. The palace is the only actual royal castle in the United States. The beautiful home was used by the Hawaiian royal family up until the islands became a state.

You can book a tour or check out their calendar online to see what kind of events they have going. There’s always something interesting! You can even hold your own event there if you’re planning your dream Hawaiian wedding.

Nightlife

One of the main Oahu destinations for nightlife is Waikiki Beach Walk. This destination is not only a great place for dining and entertainment, but also for shopping. You could also take a leisurely stroll and marvel at the beautiful scenery.

There are loads of different boutiques, eateries, clubs and every other kind of outlet you could need. Shops are open every single day until late evening. In addition to the shopping and dining, there are also live outdoor performances most of the time.

There are also vendors selling local traditional Hawaiian products. This is an Oahu attraction that you can visit every single day of your trip, and still find something new to do. You’ll find it especially convenient if you happen to be staying in one of Waikiki’s many luxury hotels.

You’ll find plenty of Oahu tourist attractions to keep you entertained during your stay. Whatever your interests, budget, travel type, or time of visit. There’s always something going on to tickle your fancy. Don’t miss out on everything that the exciting Hawaiian islands have to offer!

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