The 10 Best Things to See and Do on Oahu

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. 





The Honolulu Museum of Art has a permanent collection that includes 50,000 pieces spanning 5,000 years. The museum is known for its significant collection of Asian art, American and European paintings and decorative arts, 19th- and 20th-century...  Read More

Diamond Head State Monument
Photo courtesy of IslandLeigh/iStock


In the 19th century, British sailors mistook crystals in the soil of this extinct volcanic crater for diamonds, thus the now internally known name, Diamond Head. Its Hawaiian name is Leahi. Today, the crater is the most photographed site in the...  Read More



There's a reason why President Obama and the first family vacation in Kailua each winter. Kailua is a small, but lively town on Oahu's windward side. There's plenty to do, without feeling crowded or overwhelmed. The few city blocks Kailua Town...  Read More



Whether it's your first time to Oahu, or your fifth visit, Hawaii luau are always fun. For an Oahu luau right by the ocean, visit Paradise Cove Luau on the west side of the island. Paradise Cove is inside the Ko Olina Resort in Kapolei. Each...  Read More



Driving to the North Shore of Oahu, you can't miss the Polynesian Cultural Center once you hit the tranquil town of Laie. After all, it's 42-acres. You could easily spend an entire day there. Polynesian Cultural center features realistic...  Read More

'Iolani Palace


The nearly 140-year-old Iolani Palace served five Hawaiian kings. The palace also had electricity and telephones installed several years before the White House. Step into the fascinating history of the Hawaiian kingdom and its people with a...  Read More



Regardless of where you're staying during your Oahu getaway–but especially if you've booked a hotel in the bustling Waikiki–plan a day trip to island's North Shore. The North Shore is home to some of the world's most famous surf breaks,...  Read More



At Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, in East Oahu, you can swim up close to Hawaii's state fish: the humuhumunukunukuapuaa, or the reef trigger fish. The volcanic crater is not only home to the humuhumu, but 450 additional fish species, as well as...  Read More

World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument


December 7, 1941 is a day America, but particularly Hawaii, will never forget. Learn about that infamous day and help honor the men and women who served in World War II with a visit to the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument. The...  Read More



Want to take a deep dive in Hawaii's rich history, culture and traditions? Then a visit to the Bishop Museum is a must do. It's an authentic education of Hawaii and Pacific island peoples (the museum also has traveling exhibitions). In 1889,...  Read More


Meet Tiffany Hill

Tiffany Hill has lived on Oahu’s Leeward and Windward sides, but today she calls Honolulu home. She is a writer whose work is regularly published in regional and national publications,...  More About Tiffany Hill