Updated: April 23, 2021
From world-class surfing to some of Hawaii’s best snorkeling, Oahu is a vacationer’s paradise. If you’re visiting the island, there are many incredible things to do during your vacation. Don’t miss out on beginner surf lessons on the North Shore, the Waikiki sunset from a luxury catamaran, or an incredible dolphin excursion adventure. Find out more by checking out our list of the top things to do on Oahu.
#1 – Take a Dolphin Cruise
For a truly unforgettable experience, you can’t miss out on swimming with the dolphins in their natural habitat. You’ll be fully outfitted with snorkel gear so you can glide through the ocean with these playful creatures. After saying goodbye to your new dolphin friends, climb back on board your ship for the rest of the day’s activities. Before the day is over, you’ll enjoy authentic Hawaiian cultural arts, snorkel through one of Hawaii’s best coral reefs, and slide down your boat’s waterslide! There is no better way to spend a day on the water.
Free Honolulu hotel pick up | Includes Snacks & Drinks | All equipment included
#2 – Go on a Sunset Dinner Cruise
Watching the sun set from the water will remind you of why you came to Hawaii in the first place: to discover the beauty of paradise. But of course the sun doesn’t get all the credit here—once the show’s over, you’ll be stunned by views of the Honolulu city lights as they shimmer in the water’s reflection. There’s no better way to enjoy a Honolulu sunset than on a luxury dinner cruise. Makani Catamaran departs from Kaka’ako, just west of Waikiki, and includes a delicious dinner buffet, one complimentary beverage, as well as a full cash bar. Book online to save 15% on your tickets!
Pro tip! If you’d prefer a day sail from Waikiki beach, check out their 2 Hour Fun In The Sun Sail.
Discounted rates | Free Waikiki hotel pick up | Food and drink included
#3 – Shark Cage Experience
Give yourself a dose of adrenaline on Oahu’s North Shore on this shark cage experience run by Hawaii Shark Encounters, a tour company that specializes in education and ecology. As you climb into the cage, you’ll have a chance to encounter these incredible creatures up close and personal in their natural habitat. This is a small-group tour and lasts approximately two hours. The objective is to shed a different light on these much-misunderstood aquatic creatures. One thing’s for sure—you’ll remember your experience for a lifetime!
Small-group tours | All equipment provided
#4 – Private Helicopter Tour
If you’ve always wanted to take to the skies in a helicopter there’s no better place to do it than Hawaii. Imagine the incredible contrast of blue ocean and vibrant mountain views from above. Mauna Loa Helicopter Tours offers an incredible 1 hour Private VIP Tour for 2-3 passengers, where you’ll see Diamond Head, the North Shore, Jurassic Valley, and fly over Pearl Harbor on your way back. This one is definitely bucket list worthy!
Hotel Pick up | Bucket list
#5 – Learn to Surf on the North Shore
There’s a reason the North Shore is surfer central. Famed for its waves reaching up to 30 feet, Oahu’s North Shore is home to annual international surfing competitions and some truly fearless surfers. But don’t worry, there are plenty of sheltered bays along the coast perfect for beginners. Check out Sea & Board Sports in Haleiwa for the ultimate North Shore surfing experience.
For those staying in the Kapolei area, check out Surf HNL Kapolei for the closest option to you. They offer private, semi-private, and group lessons in 1 or 2 hour durations.
Small-group classes | Family-friendly | Equipment provided
#6 – Take a Waikiki Catamaran Cruise
After lounging on Waikiki Beach, you’ve probably been thinking to yourself, what’s the view like from out there on the water? Or maybe, what’s the other side of Diamond Head really like? Well, the best way to find out is to hop on this luxury catamaran for a 2 hour cruise, sip a cool beverage, and take in the beauty of Oahu from a whole new angle.
Hotel pick-up included | Discounted Online Tickets
#7 – See the Whole Island in a Day
Taking a Circle Island Tour is a must-do on Oahu. From the glitz and glamor of Waikiki to the laidback surfers’ paradise on the North Shore, exploring the island from coast to coast is the best way to get the most out of your trip. Check out this island tour—you’ll visit Diamond Head, the Halona Blowhole, Makapu’u Beach, Sunset Beach, and more. This is also the only Circle Island tour on Oahu that includes snorkeling with sea turtles on the North Shore!
Hotel pick up included | Family-friendly | Equipment provided
#8 – Eco Swim with Dolphins
If swimming with dolphins in the wild is on your bucket list, this one’s for you. Dolphin Excursions offers daily cruises along Oahu’s leeward coast, led by seasoned island naturalists with years of experience on Oahu. They’ll take you out to the natural habitat of the beloved Hawaiian spinner dolphins. Watch these spectacular creatures perform superb aerial stunts (for which they are named) and have a chance to passively interact with them in the water. Dolphin Excursions also offers afternoon Whale Watching Tours from January to early April.
Hotel pick up included | Food & drink included | Ages 4+
#9 – Pay your respects at Pearl Harbor
A visit to Pearl Harbor is a must during your time on Oahu. Explore the historic museums, watch live footage from the attack, and climb aboard a Balao-class submarine, the USS Bowfin. But the real show-stopper is the USS Arizona Memorial, an iconic white structure built directly over the final resting place of the USS Arizona. You need to take a short boat ride to get to the memorial, and tickets are limited, but this is the part of the experience that brings you closest to the tragedy that occurred on December 7, 1941. We recommend visiting the memorial in a small-group tour—not only is transportation included, but you’re also guaranteed a spot on the boat over to visit the memorial.
Hotel pick up included | Family-friendly | Snack included
Did you know that Hawaii has recently banned the use of sunscreens that aren’t considered reef safe? Check out our review of the best reef safe sunscreens to make sure you’re protecting yourself, and the environment.
Looking for other great experiences in Hawaii?
Join Our Facebook Group!
We created the Hijinks Hawaii Facebook Group to provide support and guidance on Hawaii tours, activities, and adventures. Whether you’re an experienced Hawaii traveler, a local with insight to share, or a first-time visitor to the islands, you’ll find advice, special offers, and a community of passionate people ready to help. Join us now!