Years ago, planning our very first trip to Hawaii, we were wondering “Which islands should we choose?!” – As on the internet, all seem equally beautiful and worth visiting. Oahu Hawaii became our very first island to explore, and for many first-time visitors, it is one of the best. Here is why:
- It is beautiful and the most affordable one among 4 popular islands (other 3 are Maui, Big Island, Kauai) in terms of flights and accommodation.
- Oahu is relatively small, you can see everything if you’re short on time (7-10 days). Great beaches, tropical nature, hikes, and unique tours.
- More likely you won’t be fooled by weather (as very possible on Kauai)
Oahu Hawaii: Things To Do For Older Adults, Young, And Kids
1. Visiting Polynesian Cultural Center
Among nearly a dozen of tours we tried on Hawaiian islands, there is one of its kind and unavailable anywhere else. If you are a history buff or interested in Hawaiian culture, book a tour at Polynesian Cultural Center. Pricey but worth it. (Luau, popular Hawaiian attraction, we watched there too)
2. Oahu Hawaii: Exploring Dole Plantation
Dole Plantation is worth visiting even without taking tours. Seeing for the first time in our lives how pineapples grow was unforgettable! Plantation grounds are free to visit, including fish pond. Paid attractions are train, maze, garden. (We booked “train+maze”.) Pineapple whip at the local cafe is delicious!
3. Hiking Diamond Head summit trail
For “Only one trail to hike on Oahu”, try Diamond Head. The trail is beautiful and very worth climbing, but hot. If you are more of a “walker than hiker” and heat intolerant (like me), keep in mind. 1.6 miles round trip, 2 hours hike. Fairly steep: 500 feet up. Amazing panoramic views:
4. Oahu Hawaii: Visiting Honolulu
We insist on visiting Honolulu instead of staying in Honolulu for a “authentic Hawaiian experience”. After living in the rural northern part of the island, it felt too touristy for us. Pictured below: huge banyan tree, local graduation at the Father of Surfing, Waikiki beach:
5. Paying respects at the Pearl Harbor National Memorial
Pearl Harbor National Memorial located very close to Downtown Honolulu. Since 1941 it’s been known for Japanese attack during World War 2 and is the most visited place on the island now. The National Memorial complex consists of two galleries, a theater, and outdoor exhibits:
Crawling inside US Pacific Fleet Submarine
From the Pearl Harbor National Memorial area, you can access the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park:
WWII fleet submarine was great to visit with kids, and us, adults, enjoyed provided audio-tour. The Submarine Museum is one of the few places in the world where you can learn about the history of the U.S. Navy’s Submarine Force.
6. Watching sunset and learning about Hawaiian history at the Lāʻie Point State Wayside
Hawaiian history intertwined with legends and stories. 500 years ago Polynesians arrived at the uninhabited islands, bringing farm animals, tools, and beliefs. Lāʻie Point State Wayside has breathtaking scenery, charm of residential Hawaii and a legend to learn:
Lāʻie Point State Wayside, North Shore Oahu:
At the Wayside we were also impressed … by cliff-jumping, Hawaii ancient passion performed by locals.
You can also spot plenty of birds there. Red-crested cardinal, pictured above, native to Brazil, was introduced to Oahu in 1930.
7. Kualoa Ranch Valley tour
Kualoa Ranch we visited alone, while grandparents were taking care of kids. Touring the valley on the ATV was one of the most interesting trips ever. (Especially seeing the island through the eyes of the guide who grew up on the island). And views are amazing:
On the #3 picture – macadamia nuts, Hawaiian icon. Try some!
8. Oahu Hawaii: Swimming in Waimea Falls
Swimming in the waterfalls is something you’ll want to do in Hawaii. Although the highest concentration of such activity we found on Maui, there is at least one you can try on Oahu. Plus, hike through the tropical forest, botanical garden, and join educational/history walks:
Check out the hours, fees, and conditions before you go for swimming in the waterfall.
9. Enjoying a typical Hawaiian beach
After visiting all 4 popular Hawaiian islands, we’d name Oahu #2 for beaches (#1 Maui). Most of them are safe, and there are a lot of them. Also, Oahu has least a dozen of waterfront parks, where you may book a dream campsite. The picture below (no filter) was taken from one of them:
Oahu Hawaii Essentials. Good to knows
- The wettest months on Oahu last approximately from December till April.
- April and May are our most favorite months: the rain season is wrapping up, and the island is in all shades of green you can ever imagine. (and no summer crowds and “summer prices” yet)
- Camping at Oahu can be on your bucket list destination and budget saving opportunity. Reserve your spot early!
- We found more affordable rentals to be on the North side of the island and at the Waikiki “condo towers”
- Snorkel during the mornings – the best time for it.
- Car is essential for exploring Hawaii.
- You’ll also need: comfortable shoes, swimsuit, sunscreen (please, use only mineral sunscreen, chemical ones are killing the reefs), binoculars, cell phone pouch.
- Please respect the Honu and local sacred sites.
- Hawaii has unique culture many people don’t know about. From 1800’s till 1960-70’s it was forbidden for locals to practice their culture/customs/language. For learning more, try Shaka self-driving Guide. Love it a lot and recommend.
Oahu Hawaii: All the mentioned places on My Map
Thanks for reading friends!
What makes Maui Hawaii distinct from other islands. Hawaiian volcanoes. Planning first trip to Hawaii/Hawaii on a budget 2021. What else on Big Island besides volcanoes? Maui top things to do with/without kids.
Crater Lake National Park in one day with kids.
Yellowstone: what we have learned after we arrived in the park.