Oahu is a destination of many contrasts, variety and abundance: an island of traditional culture and modern history, of luxurious resorts and manicured pineapple fields, of world-class dining and sensational surfing. Oahu offers the best of many worlds. Here, you'll find a sophisticated town vibe with entertainment, museums, festivals and shopping; and you'll also find the relaxed and rejuvenating appeal of quiet beaches and the countryside. With the warmth of aloha and the unique beauty of island scenery, Oahu is an island to explore and discover; a place to play and indulge. Let Oahu's magic work on you. You'll soon understand why Oahu is "The Heart of Hawaii."
A ribbon of roads unwind before you and Oahu reveals its treasures, one after another. As you explore, allow yourself to savor the unique character of the island. There is so much to see and do on Oahu!
In addition to Waikiki, the island of Oahu has much to offer. Its beauty rivals neighboring islands with its dramatic mountain cliffs, aqua blue coral bays, beautiful beaches and deep valleys teeming with rich flora and fauna. Discover Oahu's striking contrasts from a tropical playground to an urban island fantasy.
WAIKIKI: Welcome to Rodeo Drive with an island twist. Couture meets culture, live Hawaiian entertainment, Hawaii Regional Cuisine, oceanfront fine dining, surf lessons, aloha wear, luau and the famous sands of Waikiki Beach. Known for its world-class hotels, vibrant nightlife, great shopping and dining, Waikiki continues to be steeped in history and its cultural roots. Enjoy Waikiki’s trendy cosmopolitan vibe from global chic and local crafts, haute cuisine and plate lunches, surfing and waterfall hikes, hip clubs and hula lessons. Waikiki offers something for everyone. Immerse yourself.
LEEWARD COAST: Less than 30 miles from Waikiki, the quiet Leeward Coast is an ideal place to swim with dolphins and watch surfers and sunsets. Nestled between the 4,000 foot Waianae Mountain Range and Central Oahu, the Leeward Coast is a collection of small towns, royal historic sites, world class beaches and the 43-acre resort area and marina of Ko Olina with its golf courses, seven lagoons, Four Seasons Oahu and the Disney resort, Aulani.
WINDWARD COAST: Less than an hour from lively Waikiki and below the green ramparts of the Koolau Mountains, the Windward coast of Oahu is home to some of America’s best beaches, lush botanical gardens and valleys, white powdery sand, offshore islands and crystal blue waters. Take a drive out to a perfect outdoor paradise for kayaking, horseback riding, lounging, hiking, golfing and discovering native flora.
CENTRAL OAHU: Heading north from Honolulu, the fertile central valley of Oahu still bears remnants of its plantation past. Charming historic towns dot the landscape up through the center of the island between bustling Honolulu and the wide sweep of the dramatic North Shore. Some of Oahu’s best attractions lie in Central Oahu. This rural area of Oahu encompasses the historic battleships and memorials of Pearl Harbor; the pineapple fields and one of the world’s largest mazes at Dole Plantation; Plantation Village; the Hawaiian Railway and the state’s largest flea market at Aloha Stadium.
NORTH SHORE: The North Shore is home to the world-famous Banzai Pipeline, Waimea Bay and Sunset Beach, known for their epic winter waves and international surf competitions. Charming and rustic surf towns, quaint shops and the cultural treasures of the North Shore are yours to discover. Oahu’s North Shore is exciting, refreshing and at the same time infused with a laid-back country feel. Feel exhilarated and relaxed all at once on Oahu’s legendary North Shore.
HONOLULU: Honolulu is a unique and vibrant blend of museums, art galleries, eclectic dining options, the financial district and bustling Chinatown. Historic landmarks abound within walking distance. Cuban cafes and Eurasian hotspots tantalize the taste buds, while the rich arts and culture scene enliven the mind. Be inspired.....come join the scene.
Tradition and culture are preserved and treasured on Oahu. It offers a multitude of cultural attractions and events suitable for even the most discriminating tastes. Whether your tastes are classical or contemporary, sophisticated or down-to-earth, world renowned or culturally local, Oahu's arts and culture rival the best in the country.
Hawaiian ancestry lives on in heiau (temples), colorful luau, music and, of course, hula. The unique royal history is captured in museums, palaces, churches, festivals and historic sites across the island. Even international trade, tourism and surfing have made an indelible mark on Oahu, leaving the island with structures, landmarks, art and attractions that draw visitors from around the world. A melting pot of diverse people, cultures and delicious flavors, Oahu is a world in itself - a world to discover and treasure.
Efective April, 2023, Pearl Harbor National Memorial is charging a parking fee for all personal or rented vehicles. The parking fee is $7 for the day and it must be paid via a virtual pay system through visitors' mobile devices or though an onsite kiosk located within the Visitor Center complex.
The unique profile of Le'ahi (Diamond Head) sits prominently near the eastern edge of Waikiki’s coastline. Hawaii’s most recognized landmark is known for its historic hiking trail, stunning coastal views and military history. Diamond Head State Monument encompasses over 475 acres, including the interior and outer slopes of the crater. Advance reservations are required for non-residents who want to visit Diamond Head. Reservations can be made here.
Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve is a beautiful place to visit, and it’s especially amazing if you’re a fan of marine life. This nature preserve is home to a stunning coral reef that features over 450 varieties of fish. You can see all sorts of tropical fish, as well as octopus, crabs and eels. If you’re lucky, you might even get to see a green sea turtle. Advance reservations are reuired for non-residents to enter Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve. In addition, visitors must watch an orientation video to learn about reef safety, proper snorkeling techniques and how to avoid damaging the corals. Hanauma Bay is a snorkeler’s paradise with crystal clear water and an abundance of marine life, so it is well worth the entry fee and watching a 9-minute video. You can make reservations here. There are a limited number of walk-in tickets available as well.
The USS Arizona Memorial is built over the remains of the sunken battleship USS Arizona, the final resting place for many of the 1,177 crewmen killed on December 7, 1941, when their ship was bombed by Japanese Naval Forces. A reservation is not required for entry to Pearl Harbor, but a ticket is required for the boat launch to the USS Arizona Memorial. Tickets are free, but the National Parks Service charges a $1 per ticket reservation fee. Advance tickets can be obtained here.
Farmers' markets are a great place to meet local people, listen to local music, try local food and buy local products. There are several farmers' markets worth a visit on Oahu. One of the best is the Kapi'olani Community College Farmers' Market located on Diamond Head Road in Waikiki.
If you're looking for a souvenir to take home or a gift for someone else, please consider purchasing "Made in Hawaii" products to help support the local community. One of my favorite places to shop is Na Mea Haiwaii, which sells items made by local artists and crafters. Another great option would be to go to Art on the Zoo Fence, located along the Honolulu Zoo Fence, which features some amazing works of art by local artists.
'Iolani Palace is the only royal palace in the United States and that alone makes it well worth a visit, but if you go on a Friday you'll have an even more special experience. On most Fridays, the Royal Hawaiian Band performs a free concert on the grounds of the Palace from 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM. The band has been in existence since 1836 and they have a long tradition of sharing Hawaii's music with the world. You can check the band's schedule to find out if they will be performing during your stay.
USS Arizona Memorial
Reservations are required for entry to Hanauma Bay State Park. It is recommended that you make a reservation as soon as they open for your desired reservation date since they are capacity controlled.
You do not need a reservation to visit Pearl Harbor Historic Sites, but you do need tickets to take the boat to the USS Arizona Memorial. The tickets are free. Audio and VIP tours are available for a fee.
Entrance and parking fees are required for entry to Leahi (Diamond Head State Monument) unless you arrive on foot, Fees can be paid at the parking booth upon arrival and must be paid by credit card.