Visiting Oahu for the First Time? Here's What to See and Do
Though it isn’t the largest of the Hawaiian Islands, tropical Oahu is the most populated and receives the most visitors. Navigating its urban culture, waterfall-backed valleys, and long stretches of white sand takes some planning—here are some tips for your first Oahu visit.
Check out Waikiki
And take to the waves.
Most visitors’ introduction to Oahu is through the famed, hotel-lined stretch of Waikiki Beach. The beach is a must-see starting point with plenty to do—shopping, dining, private surfing lessons, swimming, paddleboarding classes, and more. You can even take a trolley from Waikiki to other top Oahu attractions.
Take a Circle Island tour
And cover the major Oahu sites.
Once you’ve gotten your fill of Waikiki, take in the rest of Oahu by venturing to points farther afield. Full-day Circle Island tours circumnavigate the island and are an excellent way to enjoy highlights such as Honolulu’s Chinatown, Kaneohe Bay, the surfing mecca of the North Shore, the Hanauma Bay snorkeling hot spot, the Dole Plantation, hidden waterfalls, and scenic overlooks along the Koolau Mountain Range.
Hit the Honolulu highlights
And make the most of the capital.
In Honolulu proper, landmarks like Iolani Palace and the Mission Houses delve into Oahu-centric history and Hawaiian culture. Once you’ve hit the top spots, follow your interests—you can hike, bike, and Segway in and around Honolulu on fun food tours, art tours, and photography tours.
Soak up Oahu's history and culture
And learn about the island past and present.
Take to the water
And enjoy Oahu's extensive shoreline.
Oahu is ultimately known as a beach destination. Sun-worshippers will be thrilled to note that the island has enough white sandy stretches to spend each day of a 2-week vacation in a different place. To explore new spots and find your favorite, take a dedicated beach tour. And to get out on the water, choose from snorkeling, fishing, whale-watching, and sailing tours, or try your hand at surfing, kayaking, or stand-up paddleboarding with a lesson on the beach.
More things to do on Oahu