Known as “The Gathering Place”, Oahu is one of America’s best-loved travel destinations. The combination of sultry weather, stunning scenery and an almost indefinite list of activities create a nearly perfect holiday getaway. The big question, for former visitors and newbies alike, is what to do with your time.
Beach lovers, shoppers, historians, foodies, and adventurers will all feel drawn to this very special place, known as the melting pot of the Pacific. It can be overwhelming to decide on what to see and do, much less take into account the entire groups wishes. The good news is, regardless of the preferences of the group, there is always fun to be found on this island in the Pacific.
Here are some of the most popular tourist attractions on Oahu, broken into categories to fit the whole gang. Get ready to jump on a jet plane and experience the wonders of this beautiful island.
For the Beach Lovers
There is a perfect beach for everyone on Oahu. The island is ringed by gorgeous sand lapped by the aquamarine waters.
Kailua Beach Park – The waves are gentle enough for all and the park boasts volleyball courts, shaded picnic spaces, and numerous eateries.
Waikiki Beach – For those wanting to see and be seen, there is no better spot than Waikiki Beach. Right in the heart of the action, Waikiki is synonymous with Hawaii and along with water activities is only a short walk from sightseeing such as the Honolulu Zoo and Waikiki Aquarium.
For the Shoppers
Shoppers beware; with all of the options available on Oahu, you might need to pay for extra baggage on your trip home! The normal suspects such as Premium Outlets exist, but why not go local and head to one of the most popular tourist attractions on Oahu.
Ala Moana Shopping Center – The Ala Moana Shopping Center is known for being the largest outdoor mall in the world. Unique shopping coupled with food courts and great people watching is the norm here.
International Marketplace – Another option is to check out the International Marketplace which features high-end chain stores along with unique local options.
Aloha Stadium Swap Meet – One of the best places to shop is at the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet, a colorful collection of goods new and used.
North Shore – Outside of Honolulu, the North Shore offers a shopping option different than the rest of the island in Haleiwa where local artisans and galleries compete with surf shops and shaved ice for your attention.
For the Historians
Historians visiting Hawaii will be pleased with the many historic tourist attractions on Oahu. Most travelers to Hawaii are familiar with the story of Pearl Harbor, and the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial that can be found on Oahu. This touching memorial can be toured as a tribute to the 1102 sailors killed during the attack. What you may not know is that there is also U.S.S. Bowfin submarine museum as well as the Battleship Missouri Memorial. WWII buffs rejoice at the bounty of choices.
Other than the military side of Hawaii, the history of the islands, themselves are fascinating and all of the family will enjoy touring the Iolani Palace and check out the King Kamehameha statue in honor of this founding father, and first leader of the Hawaiian Islands. The Hawaiian Mission House Museum displays three missionary homes built in New England and shipped to Oahu.
For the Foodies
As the melting pot of the Pacific, Oahu has drawn visitors from near and far, many of whom have chosen to make her their home. With such a wide variety of cultures, the cuisine of the city has morphed into a foodie haven, offering up endless variety. You will certainly enjoy the high-end restaurants, but the fun is in the variety. The last Friday of each month check out Eat The Street, where over 40 food carts offering up their best in the hipster neighborhood of Kakaako. From cheesy waffle dogs to malasada burgers, your taste buds will thank you.
Experiment with some very Hawaiian specialties such as the ubiquitous Spam Musubi which appears literally everywhere from mini-marts to lunch counters. Poke, a raw fish dish is universally loved across the islands, and every grocery store or the market will have a dozen varieties for sale.
The loco moco is said to be Hawaii’s national dish and appears everywhere. White rice and a hamburger, hidden under eggs, and covered in gravy. What’s not to love? The Asian influence brings hundreds of options in noodle dishes, and the Portuguese settlers brought their special island version of linguica. Be assured, you will not go hungry on Oahu.
For the Adventurers
Oahu is an outdoors man’s paradise with water sports, climbing, hiking, biking, and everything in between. If your main reason for escaping to Hawaii is for the adventure, get ready to choose between endless options of tourist attractions on Oahu perfect for you.
North Shore – Surfers flock to the North Shore, that epic surf that brought the legendary Van’s Triple Crown competition. Even those not on the pro tour can join the fun.
Koko Head Crater – For anyone missing their gym just head on over to the 1000 step climb at Koko Head Crater. This old rail line ascends straight up the mountain using more than 1000 railroad ties as steps.
Tide Pools of Makapu’u – The tide pools of Makapu’u call to those looking for adventure with a bit of serenity. Watch out for sharp lava rocks underneath and sneaker waves as you navigate to this scenic spot.
Waimea Bay – You can rock jump into the waves.
Alan David Beach – Will you be brave enough to “walk the plank”, somersaulting over six feet into the surf?
Skydiving, zip lining, mountain biking, hiking, swimming with sharks, or parasailing are all yours for the taking. With a little bit of fortitude and a big sense of adventure, the adrenaline rush is there for the taking on Oahu.
The beautiful island of Oahu will continue to beckon visitors from near and far. There is so much more to see and do, including:
- traditional Hawaiian luau’s
- Byodo-In Temple
- numerous tropical parks
- Polynesian Cultural Center
- Dole Plantation
- Diamond Head
- capital buildings
Oahu will continue to amaze and impress visitors with her beauty, warmth, and captivating spirit. So if your next vacation is a trip to Oahu, be sure to check out some of the most popular tourist attractions on Oahu mentioned on this list. They will not disappoint!