Best Outdoor Activities in Honolulu

10 Best Outdoor Honolulu Attractions Pack Thrills

What's unique about 10 Best is that we pride ourselves on having local experts as writers who know their local like the back of their hand. That's why we're providing a list of the top ten editor's picks of the best attractions in the Honolulu area. From flying in the air on a jet back, to underwater exploration, facing sharks and sunning on the beach, our local expert has compiles her favorite Honolulu attractions for you.

On the spectacular North Shore of Oahu, several outstanding attractions complete a vacation. Face your fears by cage diving with sharks with North Shore Shark Adventures. You'll be at the center of swimming sharks in a cage with a mask and snorkel. A few minutes away is gorgeous Waimea Bay, where the edge of a valley is quite protected from wind and offers amazing swimming in the summer time, and terrifying huge surf in the winter. Sunset Beach down the street is always a good bet for summer swimming and sunning and watching professional's top level surfing in the winter.

Outside of Honolulu is the island's best snorkeling at Hanauma Bay, a protected reef with flourishing underwater life. To escape the hustle and bustle of Honolulu, head not far inland to raging Manoa Falls, cascading in the middle of a lush rainforest jungle. So our editor's picks list and experience the best of Honolulu.


Fun for everyone and ideal for children, this marine park lets you get up-close with all sorts of creatures who live in, or depend on, the sea for their well-being. Atlantic and Pacific bottlenose dolphins regale audiences with their antics, and penguins clown around with each other. You can also watch trainers feed fish and interact with the animals. A number of different arenas and programs are sure to provide hours of delight, and you'll also discover children's play areas, souvenir shops, restaurants, and facilities to treat injured creatures. Fifteen miles east of Waikiki.

Local Expert tip: Catch the dolphin show.

Read more about Sea Life Park →

Since its founding in 1889 as a repository for Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop's family artifacts, this museum has ascended to become the state's premiere institution for documenting the area's cultural and natural histories. Today, its holdings include fantastic collections of archaeological and anthropological items, which preserve the Pacific region's wide-ranging cultures. Millions of items chart the history of these islands in a variety of exhibits and multimedia displays. The facility also includes a planetarium.

Local Expert tip: Check out the shell jewelry collection.

Read more about Bishop Museum →

It's all about scuba with Dive Oahu, a long standing dive company that caters to residents who love to dive as well as visitors looking for dive charters. You can obtain all the dive gear you need from this company for experienced individual divers, as well as go on charters. Dive charter locations include YO-257 Wreck, the San Pedro and the Sea Tiger, all wrecks off the sores of Waikiki. The YO-257 and the San Pedro are right next to each other. Visibility at both of these is 100 feet while at the Sea Tiger it's 95 feet.

Local Expert tip: They have shops island wide so choose the one that's convenient for you.

Read more about Dive Oahu →


This North Shore beach is a favorite with folks who follow the surfing circuit. During the summer, its two miles of white-sand shores are relatively safe, and you'll find swimmers and snorkelers frolicking among milder waves. Come winter, though, the surf runs high, and rip currents can be deadly. At this point, it's best to leave the imposing waves to experts and simply watch experienced folks tackle the ocean from a safe perch on the beach. It's a wonderful place to watch the sunset over the west side mountain range, and it has the basic amenities you'll need for a day at the beach since there's cold showers and bathrooms across the street.

Local Expert tip: Make sure to catch the sunset here.

Read more about Sunset Beach Park →

East Oahu
Manoa Falls
Photo courtesy of aoltravel

A beautiful hike leads to gorgeous Manoa Valls in the lush Manoa Valley. The trail is about three quarters of a mile near a rocky stream and comes to an end at the falls. The falls are calming and intriguing, but it's advised to not swim in the pool because the occasional rock has been known to fall in, and you're far away from other people here. The hike takes about a half hour, and is generally easy. Yet be aware of footing on the sometimes muddy and slippery trail. Bring water, a camera, and a lunch if you wish to enjoy the peace and quiet of birds chirping and water rushing.

Local Expert tip: Pick up a sandwich at Andy's below the trail head on Manoa Road to enjoy at the falls.

Read more about Manoa Falls →

The North Shore's Waimea Valley is one of the last partially intact ahupuaa (land division) on Oahu and consists of 1,875 acres that are home to 78 archaeological sites, a 150 acre botanical garden, a waterfall, and several native and endangered birds. The valley has been a sacred place for more than 700 years of Native Hawaiian history. They've recently begun offering guided hikes, that offer some of the best hiking experiences on the island. Head out to the North Shore for guided hikes in the valley. Reservations must be made 10 days in advance and a minimum of six people is required. Hikers must have closed toed shoes and those under 18 must be with an adult. Lucky for avid hikers, shorter hikes are only $10 while the longer ones are $15. Below is a listing of the hike options. Ala Ki- 9:00 am - 12:00 pm Climb to the top of Kalahe'e Ridge, following our new marked Ala Ki trai;. After reaching the top of Kalahe'e Ridge and taking a short break we shall descend on a switchback trail through a mixed forest of exotic and native plants. Approximately 2 miles, moderate to easy hike, for ages 7 and above (must be accompanied by an adult). Cost to participate is $10. Kalahe`e - 9:00 am - 12:00 pm Climb to the top of Kalahe'e Ridge, following a switchback trail through a mixed forest of exotic and native plants. Approximately 2 miles, moderate to easy hike, for ages 7 and above (must be accompanied by an adult). Cost to participate is $10. South Ridge Lookout- 9:00 am - 12:00 pm Climb to the top of the South Ridge located behind the famous Waihi (waterfall). This short, yet moderately difficult and steep hike takes you about the waihi for some spectacular views looking down into Waimea Valley. Approximately 2 miles, moderate hike, for ages 7 and above (must be accompanied by an adult). Cost to participate is $10. North Valley Hike - 9:00 am - 1:00 pm Explore Waimea's North Valley from the ridgeline to the valley floor, traversing native plant pockets and discovering the Valley's birds along the way. Approxiamtely 6 miles, moderate to strenuous hike, for ages 7 and above (must be accompanied by an adult). Cost to participate is $10. South Ridge Loop Trail - 9:00 am - 2:00 pm This strenuous hike connects the South Valley to the North Valley of Waimea. Enjoy stunning views of Ka'ena Point, Kaiwiko'ele Stream and Waimea Falls. 6+ miles, this hike may involve several slippery stream crossings and steep uphill climbs, for ages 12 and up (must be accompanied by an adult). Cost to participate is $15. Kamananui Stream Trail - 9:00 am - 2:00 pm The most challenging trail at Waimea. Explore Kamananui Stream above Waimea's waterfall. Numerous stream crossings; prepare to get your feet wet! 6+ miles, steep ascents, for ages 12 and up (must be accompanied by an adult). Cost to participate is $15.

Local Expert tip: No hiking sandals allowed, only closed toed shoes.

Read more about Hike Waimea Valley →

Created from a collapsed volcano crater, this bay is protected and calm, ideal for snorkeling, as you'll see from the crowds around you. The snorkeling is truly amazing, since the preserve protects the wildlife and creates a favorite place for the fish to come eat. It offers great opportunity for viewing marine life and also boasts a terrific beach and hiking trails. Additional facilities include picnic areas, showers and restrooms, concession kiosks, a volleyball court, and lifeguards. Although parking can be difficult if you don't arrive early, a shuttle bus runs from Waikiki in the mornings and makes return trips in the afternoons.

Local Expert tip: Don't forget the snorkel and mask!

Read more about Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve →

SeaBreeze Water Sports is an all around water sport company providing everything from scuba diving and para sailing to flying high in the air with a jet pack on your back. Yup, you heard me right. Here's your opportunity to do some of the usual water sports in Hawaii like spend time at the bottom of the ocean diving or ride a jet ski. Or, you can relive those childhood fantasies and put on a jet stream back pack and shoot yourself high in the air and even hang 30 feet in the air for a while. The Jet Lev R200 was released just last year, and there are only eight units being used around the world - two of which are being offered here at SeaBreeze for $399 a pop.

Local Expert tip: Just make sure to try the jet pack.

Read more about SeaBreeze Watersports →

Deceptively beautiful, this scenic cove � home to some of the planet's most unforgiving surf � can mean death to naive swimmers. That is, in winter, anyway, when the waves churn up and some of surfing's best talents take to the sea to prove their mettle. In this season, rip currents are strong, and waves can rise to thirty feet. Summer brings calmer waters, however, and even mere mortals can enjoy the beauty of Waimea. Then, they're under the protection of lifeguards and can take advantage of picnic areas, restrooms, and showers.

Local Expert tip: Make sure to spend time here, it's one of the best beaches on the North Shore.

Read more about Waimea Bay Beach Park →

What could be more exciting than swimming with sharks? Still thinking of an answer? There's probably not anything better. With North Shore Shark Adventures, the original Oahu shark tour company, you have a choice of two tours beginning at 7 a.m. and leaving from Haleiwa. You'll travel three miles out to sea and there's a good chance of green sea turtle, dolphin and whale sightings along the way. Jump onto either vessel, the Anela or Abunai, and head out into the ocean where you'll hop into the metal cage and enjoy time in the center of a swarm of sharks. Children as young as three are invited, and ages three to 13 cost $60 to actually get in the cage! Children under three can ride on the boat for free. Adults cost $120 but lower specials are sometimes offered. Military and kama`aina (residents) can dive for $50 while a military of kama`aina child is $35. Shark sizes range from five to 15 feet and each boat is 42-feet long. Tours last about two hours. Check the website for hotel pick-ups for an extra fee. Don't forget the water camera!

Local Expert tip: Don't forget an underwater camera!

Read more about North Shore Shark Adventures →


Meet Jade Eckardt

Raised on the Big Island of Hawaii, Jade has traveled the world and doesn't intend to stop, yet the Hawaiian Islands are still her favorite place. She spent seven years living on Oahu and...  More About Jade