Oʻahu, the heart of the Hawaiian archipelago, offers a perfect blend of stunning landscapes and diverse experiences. From its pristine beaches and lush hiking trails to iconic tourist sites and hidden local gems, Oʻahu is a treasure trove to explore. Start your bucket list as we take you through the best places to visit on Oʻahu.
Before we dive into the must-visit places on Oʻahu, let’s explore the concept of “pono.” Pono is a Hawaiian term that encompasses balance, harmony, and righteousness. It encourages us to live respectfully. As you explore Oʻahu, keep this principle in mind and let it guide your interactions, decisions, and experiences. While visiting, the best way to sustain Hawaiʻi is to support local businesses, respect Hawaiʻi's people and land, and always live with Aloha. Supporting local businesses in Hawai’i helps stimulate the local economy, provides opportunities for more local businesses to thrive, and creates and sustains local jobs.
- Helena's Hawaiian Food
For authentic Hawaiian comfort food, Helena's is the place to go. Their laulau (pork wrapped in taro leaves) and Kalua pig (slow-cooked, shredded pork) are local favorites.
- Alan Wong's Restaurant
Renowned for its innovative Hawaiian regional cuisine, this restaurant is a must-visit for those seeking a fine dining experience infused with local ingredients and flavors.
- Roy's Waikiki
Created by renowned chef Roy Yamaguchi, this establishment blends European cooking techniques with the bold flavors of Asia and the Pacific, resulting in a genuinely delicious fusion.
- Honolulu Coffee Experience Center
Located in the heart of Waikīkī, the Honolulu Coffee Experience Center offers visitors a comprehensive and immersive coffee experience. This center showcases the journey of coffee from fresh roasted beans to a comforting morning cup, highlighting the art and science behind the perfect brew.
- Aliʻi Coffee Co
Aliʻi is a coffee shop and roastery in multiple locations. They focus on light roasted coffees and delicious breakfast items. All their coffees are roasted in their original location in Honolulu.
- Island Vintage Coffee
With multiple locations including Waikīkī and Ala Moana, Island Vintage Coffee offers a range of coffee drinks made with Hawaiian beans. Their açai bowls are another reason you'll want to stop by.
- Ono Seafood
Located in Honolulu, Ono Seafood is renowned for its fresh and flavorful poke (and celebrity sightings). Since 1995, every serving of poke is marinated to perfection, and the variety of options will satisfy every palate.
- Kahiau Poke
Kahiau Poke offers fresh fish everyday, but more than just raw fish. Beef jerky, dried ʻahi and aku, creamy kalua-smoked fish dip, inari sushi stuffed with poke are also on the menu. Everybody can find something they like.
Major Tourist Sites
- Pearl Harbor and USS Arizona Memorial
A poignant reminder of the attack on Pearl Harbor during World War II, the memorial stands above the sunken battleship USS Arizona, paying tribute to the lives lost and the events that shaped history. Remember to stop by our store by the USS Bowfin and Pick A Pearl to commemorate your trip.
- Polynesian Cultural Center
Immerse yourself in the diverse cultures of the Pacific through interactive exhibits, traditional performances, and hands-on activities. Experience traditional dances, crafts, and demonstrations, and learn about the rich heritage of Polynesian islands.
- Iolani Palace
This historic landmark is the only royal palace in the United States, which offers insights into Hawaiʻi's monarchy, history, and rich culture.
- Byodo-In Temple
A replica of a 950-year-old temple in Japan, this serene site is nestled in the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park. Its picturesque surroundings and tranquil ambiance make it a peaceful escape.
- Mānoa Falls Trail
This lush rainforest hike leads to the picturesque Mānoa Falls, a 150-foot waterfall surrounded by vibrant greenery and tranquil ambiance. It is a relatively easy hike suitable for families.
- Diamond Head
One of the most iconic hikes on Oʻahu, this trial leads to the summit of the Diamond Head crater. It offers panoramic views of Waikīkī, Honolulu, and the Pacific Ocean. Make a reservation before going, and hydrate well.
- Koko Head Crater Trail
Known for its challenging stairs, fitness buffs and hikers alike will love the challenge of climbing Koko Head's 1,000+ steps to reach the summit. The rewarding panoramic views of Hanauma Bay and the surrounding area make it worthwhile. If you want to make it more challenging, try racing your friends to the top, but be extremely cautious as the trail can be hazardous.
- Waikīkī Beach
A world-renowned destination, Waikīkī offers golden sands, gentle waves for surfing and swimming, and a lively atmosphere filled with shops and restaurants.
- Lanikai Beach
With its powdery white sand and turquoise waters, Lanikai is often ranked among the most beautiful beaches globally, making it perfect for swimming and kayaking.
- Sunset Beach
Sunset Beach is famous for its massive winter waves and attracts surfers and spectators alike. During the summer, the ocean calms, offering an excellent spot for snorkeling.
Places to shop
Kamohoaliʻi is a local brand known for its Hawaiian-inspired clothing and accessories. They offer a variety of items that showcase Hawaiian culture, from apparel to lifestyle products.
- Lex Breezy
Lex Breezy is a brand that offers a range of Hawaiian-style clothing, including t-shirts, hoodies, and accessories. Their designs often incorporate elements of Hawaiʻi's natural beauty and laid-back lifestyle.
- Maui Divers Jewelry
Maui Divers Jewelry specializes in creating exquisite jewelry pieces that features Hawaiʻi's precious gems and pearls. They offer a wide selection of rings, necklaces, bracelet and other fine jewelry. You can learn how they make jewelry by scheduling a tour at their Design Center.
- House of Mana Up
House of Mana Up is a platform that showcases a variety of Hawaiian products from local artisans and entrepreneurs. From food and beauty products to home goods, you'll find a diverse range of locally made items.
- Big Island Candies
Big Island Candies is renowned for its delectable gourmet treats, including cookies, chocolates, and macadamia nuts candies. They're known for their creative packaging and high-quality ingredients.
- Waikīkī Beach
A great spot for beginners, Waikīkī Beach offers gentle waves and a long sandy shoreline. It's also known for its iconic view of Diamond Head.
- North Shore (Banzai Pipeline, Waimea Bay, Sunset Beach)
The North Shore is a mecca for experienced surfers during the winter months when big waves roll in. Banzai Pipeline, Waimea Bay, and Sunset Beach are known for their challenging and massive waves.
- Surf lessons from Hawaiʻi Surf Guru Surf School
They will help you figure out how to use the ocean’s natural flows to save your energy and get the best out of your surf lessons. Regardless of if you choose to go with private surf lessons or private SUP lessons you can enjoy yourself a lot more if you go with the flow.
Please do your part to be a responsible and respectful guest on the island. Here are a few suggestions:
- Obey signs such as “no trespassing” and “no parking.”
- Don’t touch, feed, or get too close to turtles, monk seals, or other wildlife
- Don’t stop on the road, however good the photo opportunity – always find a safe place to pull over
- Don’t litter or take any sand or rocks with you
- Support local businesses
Oʻahu's allure lies in its ability to cater to various interests, from relaxation on stunning beaches to exploration of lush trails and important historical cultural. Whether indulging in local delicacies, riding the waves, embarking on unforgettable hikes, or delving into history, Oʻahu promises an extraordinary journey that truly captures the spirit of Hawaiʻi. So, pack your sense of adventure and explore the best that Oʻahu has to offer.