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TOP 20 Things to do in Oahu, Hawai'i

Are you finally ready to cross Hawai'i off your bucket list?! Because paradise is waiting for you.

But first, some fast facts:

- Hawai'i is made up of 8 main islands.

- Oahu is home to the biggest city, Honolulu.

- To go from one island to another you have to travel by plane.

- It takes less than 4 hours to drive a full circle around Oahu.

There's so much more to see and do in Hawai'i than just beach bummin' and surfing the waves. If you're wondering what else to do during your vacation, I've put together a list of my top 20 things to add to yours:

Where To Stay

📍The Royal Hawaiian Resort in Waikiki

Royal Hawaiian Resort in Oahu, Hawaii on Waikiki Beach in Honolulu Pool

Things To Do

1. Diamond Head

Hike to the top of Diamond Head Crater for the best view of Hawai'i. It's a steep climb that can take about an hour up but it's definitely worth the view!

Diamond Head Crater National Park Hiking location - 20 best things to do in Oahu, Hawaii

2. Makapu'u Point Lighthouse Trail

Hike 2 miles around this cliff to find yourself standing by this hidden gem on the southeast coast of Oahu with a perfect wide-angle view of Makapu'u Beach.

Makapu'u Point Lighthouse Trail in Oahu, Hawai'i - 20 best things to do in Hawai'i

3. Makapu'u Beach

Considered one of the best surf beaches because of the powerful currents that break on the jagged black lava cliffside. But it's also one of the most picturesque for its aqua-blue waters and immense volcanic ridges.

Makapu'u Beach sandy shore and aqua blue waters coastline - 20 best things to do in Oahu, Hawai'i

4. Sharks Cove

I had to show you this secret location in video form so you can see how truly magnificent it is. Not many people stop to swim in the crevices of the volcanic rock formations at this location. But you will actually see that it's shallow enough for you to snorkel and see the amazing wildlife in the sea.

5. Kualoa Ranch

This 4,000 acres of majestic land also known as Jurrasic Valley by many fans is the best destination to experience ATVs & zip-lining adventures. They also offer tours of the movie set and so much more!

Kualoa Ranch also known as Jurassic Park & Jurassic Valley - a spot for ATV & Ziplining

6. Lanikai Beach

The definition of a perfect beach day is Lanikai Beach! Full of fun activities for everyone with soft white sand, epic skies, and the clearest waters I've ever swum with the fishes in. You can Kayak to these two offshore islands, snorkel, surf, ride sailboats or just relax.

Lanikai Beach with 2 off shore islands

There is no official entrance or a beach sign that shows you where to enter the beach covered by residences, but you will find that there are small sandy corridors in between the houses that will lead you into the beach. Parking is also very hard to find, so plan to arrive early in the day.

7. Halona Beach Cove

This is one of the best-kept secrets in Oahu! Rarely anyone visits this hidden turquoise beach with a small hidden entrance on the side of the road. It's pure bliss to swim in these refreshing waters, but don’t go too far because the currents will carry you away!

Halona Beach Cove also known as cockroach beach by the locals
Halona Beach Cove in Oahu, Hawaii - secret locations only the locals know

8. Ko Olina Lagoons

A great place to watch the sunset is at any of these 4 man-made lagoons that sit side by side.

Ko Olina Lagoons in front of Disney Resort and Four Seasons in Oahu, Hawai'i

9. Laniakea Beach (Turtle Beach)

This is the only beach I went to during my stay where I was actually able to see turtles just chilling on the sand. You can swim with them in the ocean here too, but the seafloor is covered in rocks and it's tough to get out into the ocean, so be careful and wear water shoes.

Laniakea Beach / Turtle Beach in Oahu, Hawai'i

10. Pearl Harbor National Memorial

I'm so glad that I visited this memorial. It's an educational experience I think everyone should make time for. It was filled with so much knowledge, pain, and history. If you are interested in going, I highly recommend taking a look at their site or going really early to make sure that you have a spot on the ferry to the USS Arizona Memorial. It's very impressive the way they have maintained these artifacts.

Pearl Harbor National Memorial in Oahu, Hawai'i

11. Ho'omaluhia Botanical Garden

This is definitely one of the most Instagrammable spots with the best views of the lush green rugged-edged mountains of Hawai'i.

12. Waimea Bay

Want to jump off cliffs? Entering Waimea Valley, you will find cars lined up on the road. Park behind these cars, and make your way down to the beach. I'm sure you will see people jumping off the huge rock formations on the cusp of the shoreline. Over 30-40ft cliff jumps! It's definitely a thrill and a good place to start if you've never tried it before.

Waimea Bay in Waimea Valley- cliff diving spot in Oahu, Hawai'i

13. Waikiki Beach

End the day with some of the best sunsets on Oahu at Waikiki Beach after a day of shopping and dining on the main strip (somewhat of a downtown area with tons of tourists).

Sunset on Waikiki Beach in Oahu, Hawai'i

14. Dole Plantation

Walk through the pineapple maze here and grab a fresh pineapple float or ice cream on your way out.

Dole Plantation Pineapple Maze in Oahu, Hawai'i
Dole Plantation in Oahu, Hawai'i - get pineapple floats

15. Round Top Forest Reserve

Spiral your way to the top of this mountain for a view of all of Hawai'i and the best view of Diamon Head.

Round Top Forest Reserve - a whole view of Oahu, Hawai'i

16. Chinaman's Hat Island

Wake up, grab some malasadas from Leonard's Bakery and head over to watch the sunrise at Chinaman's Hat Island. You can even rent a kayak and paddle your way around it! Sounds like fun right?

Chinaman's Hat Island at Sunrise in Oahu, Hawai'i

17. Lanai Lookout

If you want more amazing coastal views and a front-row seat to some major waves rising 10+ feet up in the air against this rocky lookout, then pull up to this destination. If you find yourself driving in a residential area, you are most likely going in the right direction.

Lanai Lookout picture spot in Oahu, Hawai'i

18. Sunrise Shack

Another well-known Instagram spot for the influenstas! Except at this location you can actually enjoy some of the best smoothies and acai bowls. There are multiple locations but only a few are sunny little shacks in front of the beach.

Sunrise Shack - Most Instagrammable spots in Oahu, Hawai'i

19. Hanauma Bay

Get there early or don't go at all! Local law enforcement closes the entrance to the beach here around 2-3pm (says locals) due to the number of visitors this location receives each day.

Hanauma Bay Beach in Oahu, Hawai'i

20. Iolani Palace

The royal residence of the kings and queens of Hawai'i's last reigning monarchs until the 1890s.

Iolani Palace in Oahu, Hawai'i

Where to Eat

So many amazing places and delicious plates you don't want to miss out on while you are here. I've also made a list of my top 20 places to grab a bite all around the island of Oahu, coming to the blog this week!

I was able to do so much on the island because it's so small and you can too! Of course, I didn't get a chance to do everything, so I will definitely be returning and possibly island-hopping my way into Maui.

I would love to know which places interested you the most in the comments?! Until the next trip friends!

*All images and opinions are my own.


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