Oahu’s nickname is “The Gathering Place.” Roughly 70 percent of the state’s residents live on this third largest Hawaiian Island. It’s also the No. 1 visited island in the state. And for good reason; there is plenty to see, from bustling Waikiki and the urban center of Honolulu to the smaller, charming North Shore country and the lush Windward side.
Oahu has every type of activity, too, including history and art museums, including the Bishop Museum–the state’s largest museum–housing an impressive collection of Hawaiian artifacts, as well as those from Pacific islands. You can spend a whole day the Polynesian Cultural Center in Laie. The 42-acre center features interactive villages demonstrating the traditions of the island people of Hawaii, Tonga, Samoa, Aotearoa, Fiji and Tahiti. There’s also the Honolulu Museum of Art, housing more than 50,000 works, spanning 5,000 years.
You came to Hawaii, though, because it’s paradise. For an ultimate snorkeling experience, visit Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve in east Oahu. Head north to island’s renowned North Shore, where you can watch the waves–and in the winter, pro surfers–lunch at food trucks and shop.
Just like any other metropolitan area, Oahu, too, has traffic. Be sure to give yourself plenty of time with the morning and afternoon rush hours, and occasional roadwork. Many of the places on this list can get busy, too–there’s a reason they’re the best!–so plan ahead with reservations.