Oahu offers more than just downtown Honolulu, Waikiki, and souvenir shopping. There’s plenty of things to do in Oahu: beautiful landscapes, historic landmarks, and adventures to dive into, so use this handy list to get you started with planning your off-the-beaten-path Oahu adventures!
Take a drive through the University of Hawaii campus and see the beautiful sights of Manoa. Highlights along the drive are Manoa Falls, the Lyon Arboretum, which is home to more than 5,000 tropical plant species and the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve. At the preserve you can snorkel, although the emphasis is placed on appreciating and understanding the bay and its marine life.
2. Nu’uanu Pali State Park
Going towards the mountains outside of downtown Honolulu, the Nu’uanu neighborhood of Oahu is home to the Nu’uanu Pali State Wayside Park. This is one of the most popular state parks in Hawaii and is easily accessible from a clearly marked access road off of the Pali Highway. Nu’uanu Pali, which means “cool elevation cliffs” lives up to its name, as anyone who has visited the Nu’uanu Pali Lookout can attest. Bring a jacket since it is often extremely windy at the lookout, but the spectacular views make it all worthwhile.
3. North Shore
If you’re a surfer, or just want to watch some of the pros, drive to the North Shore, where you can see some of the most famous surfing beaches in the world, such as Sunset Beach, Waimea Beach and the world-famous Banzai Pipeline. Check the calendar because world-class championships are held on these beaches. If you’re a rookie, be careful in the winter, because the waves break much farther up the beach than expected, and it can be very dangerous. In the spring, summer and fall, the waters of the North Shore are quite calm, and less-experienced surfers can enjoy the smaller waves.
4. Dillingham Airfield
If you’ve got that daredevil spirit and are adventurous, drive out to Dillingham Airfield, which has some of the most ideal and consistent soaring conditions in the world. You’ll be able to experience a scenic glider ride where you will be able to view the Waianae Mountains in a quiet, peaceful glider. Or, if you want to push the limits of adventure, you can choose an aerobatic flight. The most daring thrill-seekers can try tandem sky-diving.
5. Byodo-In Temple
Situated in the Valley of the Temples, Byodo-In Temple is another place not to be missed on the windward side of Oahu. This extraordinary structure is a replica of a Japanese temple built to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the first Japanese in Hawaii. Also check out the Makapu’u Lighthouse, which is located at the easternmost point of the island. If you’re up for a moderate two-mile hike, you’ll see sweeping views of Oahu from this historic landmark. From December to April, it is also an excellent spot for whale-watching.