What to do on Oahu

Hawaii is somewhere I’ve wanted to go to since I was a child, it was surreal to finally be able to visit the beautiful islands. We kicked off our visit to Hawaii by flying into Honolulu on the island of Oahu.

Oahu is home to the state capital Honolulu which is where we stayed during our time on the island. Honolulu is a busy city that is never quiet, however it somehow manages to stay peaceful and chilled out which is something that most cities lack. We stayed in the Polynesian Beach Hostel which was one of many other hostels in Waikiki. Our reason for staying there over other hostels in the area was the low price and the fact we needed a mixed dorm not male/female only, which was hard to find in a lot of the hostels. After travelling to the North Shore late during our stay, we wished we had stayed there rather than Waikiki. It has much better vibes and is so much more relaxed.

Here is a break down of what we got up to on Oahu, some of our favourite places and things we recommend:

Waikiki Beach

This is one of the most popular beaches on Oahu. It wasn’t our favourite but it was the closest to where we stayed. The water is so clear and beautiful and there is a really nice atmosphere where you will find families and groups of friends soaking up the sunshine. If you prefer to not tackle the waves then take a walk or catch the bus to the man made lagoon, Magic Island Beach. This is a really popular and beautiful place to go for a swim!


Manoa Falls

This waterfall is very easy to get to by bus from Waikiki, the walk to the falls is really enjoyable and pretty easy. If it rains, then proper footwear would probably be a good call, as it gets very muddy and unstable on the way back down. Trip Advisor reviews say that you can no longer access the pool of water beneath the waterfall, but when we got there people had gone under the rope and jumped right in! Obviously we can’t advise that you do the same, but just don’t be put off by the reviews.

With a lovely friend we met at our hostel!


Diamond Head

Again, this place is super easy to get to by bus. The bus will drop you off at the car park of Diamond Head, from there you will need to walk up to the main entrance of the park. It costs $1 per person or $5 per car to go into the park itself for the day. The walk is very, very steep and would be very challenging in mid day heat, so we recommend going early in the morning or later on in the afternoon when it’s cooled down a little. Once you have climbed up to the top you will be rewarded with the most stunning views of Oahu. It is said that on a clear day you can see the longest recorded land views in the world. If that’s not a reason to go then I don’t know what is!


Hanauma bay

Hanauma Bay is one of the best places to go snorkelling on Oahu. Hanauma Bay is protected by the government which means you do have to watch a short informational video before you are allowed into the park. It costs $7.50 per person to go into the park which is soooo worth it! Bring your own snorkel and flippers to save some extra cash and be sure to bring your own food too as there are no restaurants there. The water is crystal clear and makes for a wonderful snorkelling experience, you get to see all types of beautiful native fish and if you’re really lucky you might even spot a Honu, otherwise known as a sea turtle!



Makapu’u point lookout

The Makapu’u Point Lookout is located just off Kalanianaole Highway. You can catch the bus from Waikiki and jump off at the sea-life centre. From there you will need to walk back up the road to find the entrance of the lookout. This place has breathtaking views over the ocean and is such a picturesque spot, it’s worth stopping off at that’s for sure.


Lanikai/Kailua Beach 

Lanikai beach is said to be one of the most beautiful beaches on the whole of Oahu, with gorgeous turquoise waters and beautiful mountains surrounding it, I can totally see why! This beach is easy to access by bus, although it might be tricky to find once you arrive. The entrance to the beach is by a public access in a residential neighbourhood. Pop it into google maps and you will find it super easily, google always knows where to go! We spent a while relaxing at this beach and felt as though we had landed in paradise. We preferred this beach so much more to the super busy beaches in Waikiki!

Oahu-16 Oahu-17 Oahu-18


If you head to the north shore then be sure to stop off at Haleiwa, a cute little town that is famous for its shave ice! We had a wander around the shops and galleries and soaked up the wonderful atmosphere that the town had to offer. It felt a lot more like Hawaii than Waikiki did! Before you jump on the bus to the next destination, be sure to get in line for a shave ice from Matsumoto shave ice shop! You can choose three delicious flavours from an ever expanding list. It was the best shave ice we’ve ever had, and so cheap!

Oahu-7 Oahu-8 Oahu-9

My crazy blue tongue after the shave ice!

My crazy blue tongue after the shave ice!

Laniakia beach

We stopped off at Laniakea beach on the promise of seeing turtles on the beach, however when we arrived there hadn’t been any for two days! We were gutted at the time, but got chance to see them on Big Island a week later… so don’t feel too sorry for us! Usually the turtles come up onto the beach to soak up some sunshine and lay eggs in the sand. There are volunteers at the beach who help to keep the turtles safe from the many tourists who visit the beach every day. If you do go we hope you see more turtles than we did!


Waimea Bay

This place is so beautiful! it’s a gorgeous beach with crystal clear waters that are hard to resist! This beach is host to many famous surf competitions that happen each year from December – February where surfers fly in to take advantage of the super huge swell.  At other times of the year it makes for an awesome surf spot. When the tide is low it’s a great place to go bouldering, there is a small cliff edge at the entrance to the beach where you can find lots of people scrambling up to the top.


Banzai Pipeline

You can’t go to Oahu without seeing the famous Pipeline! A famous surf reef break on the popular Ehukai beach, surfers fly in from all over the world to surf this break! The break itself is pretty dangerous as it is well known for its huge waves which break in really shallow water above a sharp reef. Only surfers who know what they are doing surf on pipeline, otherwise you will really upset the locals! It’s a great place to spend the day sunbathing and swimming/surfing in the shallow waves, but the best time to go there is at sunset. We saw a beautiful sunset and got to watch the surfers in the golden light as the sun went down.

Oahu-14 Oahu-12 Oahu-13

Oahu did not disappoint – we absolutely loved the island! It’s a great place to go to get a well rounded experience of Hawaii, from surfing, to snorkelling to sight seeing it has it all!

Follow us on our journey to our next location, Big Island!

Kay and Dom

*All views and opinions are our own. We are not sponsored by any company(s), we just want to create great travel guides for people who want to know more about locations around the world.




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *