23 Best Things to Do for Your Oahu Bucket List

If you’re looking for some fun things to add to your Oahu bucket list, then look no further!

From swimming with sea turtles to hiking to a hidden waterfall, there’s plenty of adventure waiting for you on this tropical island.

So don your sunscreen and get ready to make some incredible memories – here are 23 of the best things to add to your Oahu bucket list.

1. Visit Pearl Harbor

No trip to Oahu is complete without paying your respects at Pearl Harbor

The site of the Japanese attack that led to America’s entry into World War II, Pearl Harbor is now home to the USS Arizona Memorial, which honors the 2,400 lives that were lost in the attack.

Aerial photography of the Diamond Head Crest with the skyline of Honolulu in the background
Diamond Head Crater

2. Hike to the top of Diamond Head

Diamond Head is one of Oahu’s most iconic landmarks, and hiking to the top is a must-do activity for any visitor to the island.

The hike takes about an hour to get to the summit and offers stunning views of Honolulu and the surrounding area.

3. Take Surfing Lessons

Oahu is known for its world-famous waves, so it’s no surprise that surfing is one of the most popular activities here.

Even if you’ve never surfed before, you can take lessons from one of the many surf schools on Oahu and enjoy riding the waves in no time!

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4. Waikiki Beach

No visit to Oahu would be complete without first visiting Waikiki Beach. From its iconic views of Diamond Head and the beautiful blue waters that surround it, this is one of the most famous beaches in the world.

Situated in the heart of Waikiki, Honolulu’s vibrant tourist district, Waikiki Beach is best for swimming, sunbathing, or just relaxing in the sand.

There are also plenty of restaurants and shops nearby if you need a break from the sun.

waikiki beach in the summer
waikiki beach

5. Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve

Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve is a protected marine life conservation area that’s perfect for snorkeling and swimming.

The bay is home to over 450 species of fish, making it one of the best places on Oahu to see marine life up close.

6. Attend a Luau

Oahu is the kind of paradise that dreams are made of, and one of the best ways to experience its beauty is to attend a luau.

A luau is an event where traditional Hawaiian dishes, song and dance come together in joyous harmony, allowing participants to immerse themselves in the culture and find an even deeper connection with the island paradise.

The celebration’s signature dish – kalua pork – will leave your mouth watering, while live performers provide a captivating soundtrack and keep you entertained for hours.

An Oahu bucket list just isn’t complete without experiencing a luau!

7. Koko Crater Trail

One of the best sunrise hikes in Oahu, the Koko Crater Trail should definitely be part of your bucket list!

This 1.6-mile out-and-back trail gives you an up close and personal look at the surrounding beauty and wild terrain of Oahu’s eastern tip.

As you ascend the 1,048 stairs to the summit, prepare yourself for stunning views of Hanauma Bay, Waikiki, Diamond Head, and Hawaii Kai.

So put your game face on and lace up those hiking shoes – it’s time to explore one of Oahu’s best natural adventures!

8. Matsumoto’s Shave Ice

At Matsumoto’s Shave Ice, taste a delightful dessert full of fluffy ice flakes and tropical flavors – perfect for that Hawaiian feel!

Of particular note is their namesake “Matsumoto Original”, served with lemon, pineapple and coconut, a flavor combination that pairs swimmingly with the sun shining down on Haleiwa Beach.

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9. Spend Time at the Honolulu Zoo

If you’re looking for an oasis of fun in the hustle and bustle of Honolulu, don’t miss out on the Honolulu Zoo.

With over 1,200 animals to marvel at, it’s easy to get lost in this little slice of paradise. From Ring-tailed Lemurs to Aldabra Tortoises, there’s plenty of fascinating flora and fauna waiting to be discovered.

10. Snap Photos at Nu’uanu Pali Lookout

Head to the Nu’uanu Pali Lookout for one of the most incredible views of Oahu, and don’t forget your camera – because you won’t want to miss this Insta-worthy moment!

This lookout has both breathtaking views from over 1,100 feet above sea level, as well as fascinating history.

Legend has it that Kamehameha, a great Hawaiian king, routed his enemies here in 1795, making it an important part of Hawaiian culture and history.

If you find yourself at Nu’uanu Pali Lookout on a windy day, know that you can feel the ghosts of battles past stirring up the air!

Whether you visit to admire the stunning backdrop or take in a bit of history, add this classic Hawaiian experience onto your Oahu bucket list.

Polynesian cultural center in oahu
Polynesian cultural center in oahu

11. The Polynesian Cultural Center

As Hawaii’s number one paid attraction, the Polynesian Cultural Center offers visitors a chance to learn about and engage with the passionate cultures of its Pacific Island neighbors.

Immerse yourself in Hawaiian artists’ work as you stroll through the Village Marketplace, join in traditional cultural activities like lauhala weaving, or just kick back and enjoy an outdoor performance.

12. Check Out Oahu’s North Shore

Take the time to step away from trudging through tourist-heavy areas and instead experience Oahu’s North Shore.

This part of the island is perfect for all kinds of activities—from soaking up some sun at Waimea Bay to catching some gnarly waves.

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13. See Where Jurassic Park Was Filmed

If you’re looking for a day that is truly beyond this world, make your way to Kualoa Ranch.

Not only is it a stunningly beautiful location, it’s also been featured in multiple blockbuster films, from Jurassic Park to 50 First Dates!

Spend the day exploring the property and seeing locations that are familiar to movie fans around the world.

Kualoa Ranch entrance sign hawaii
Kualoa Ranch

14. Swim with Turtles

If you’re searching for the ultimate Hawaiian experience, you simply cannot miss out on swimming with turtles off the coast of Oahu.

Grab a mask and fins, jump in the crystal clear water and get lost in the unique beauty of Hawaiian sea life.

This once-in-a-lifetime experience will definitely add some much-needed zest to your beach day!

15. Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck

An Oahu bucket list isn’t complete without visiting Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck, an iconic food truck famous for grilling some of the most delicious, succulent shrimp on the island.

Head on over and see how the locals enjoy their shrimp plate! Legends say that the extra-special marinade recipe has been passed down to several generations.

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16. Befriend Dolphins at Sea Life Park

Sea Life Park offers visitors the chance to dive deep into the water and come face-to-face with these amazing creatures.

Whether they’re ready to give you a big welcome smooch or just surround you in the ocean depths, there is sure to be plenty of fun and laughter during this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Iolani Palace
Iolani Palace

17. Uncover History at Iolani Palace

Iolani Palace is a place where history and culture collide. It’s the only royal palace in the United States, sure to give any prospective traveler a pleasant surprise.

The iconic site is chock-full of stories to uncover—it served as the home to Hawaii’s last king and queen and the capitol of the Hawaiian Kingdom.

Touring this beautiful building is sure to give any history buff a thrilling experience.

18. Lanikai Pillbox Hike

Don’t be fooled by its short distance; this thrilling hike is steep in more ways than one. At only 1.7 miles, it’s a quick trek that offers unbeatable views of Lanikai Beach and the incredible Mokulua Islands.

A short but solid climb brings you to two abandoned World War II bunkers. Don’t forget good shoes for extra grip on any potentially slippery terrain – and maybe something strong enough for all the jaw-dropping views!

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19. Helicopter Ride Over Oahu

Taking a helicopter ride over Oahu is, without a doubt, one of the best ways to experience the island.

From high up above, you can get a bird’s eye view of the majestic Ko’olau Mountain Range and spot some breathtaking sights like Diamond Head and Hanauma Bay. And let’s not forget about all those famous beaches offering up plenty of sun and sand!

But don’t just take it from us – book yourself an excursion, strap on your seatbelt, and get ready for the adventure of a lifetime.

20. Koko Head Botanical Gardens

Everyone knows that the Hawaiian islands are packed full of natural beauty and tropical wonders, but to truly appreciate it all, you have to l`eave some of the white sand beaches behind.

Considering the endless tropical beauty of Oahu, Koko Head Botanical Gardens joins the list of awe-inspiring attractions.

Go for a stroll through the fragrant gardens and get lost in the tranquility. It may only be a fraction of what Oahu has to offer, but this spot is definitely worthy enough to add it your must-visit bucket list!

dole plantation tourist train oahu
dole plantatio train

21. Tour the Dole Plantation

Take a tour of the Dole Plantation and learn all about how pineapple gets from the field to your plate.

Don’t forget to sample the iconic pineapple whip while you’re there – it’s truly a taste of the tropics!

So don’t just sit around dreaming about pineapple fields, make your bucket list a reality by adding this amazing destination to your Oahu itinerary.

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22. Go Shark Diving

If you’re a thrill-seeker looking to make some waves, there’s no better way than taking the plunge into shark-infested waters.

It doesn’t matter if you like swimming with sharks with a cage or prefer them au nature – Oahu caters to your taste.

When you want to add yet another daring adventure to your arsenal of tales, check out the best shark diving tours in Oahu.

23. Go on a Waterfall Hike

Add some adventure to your Oahu bucket list by going on a waterfall hike. Take the trail less traveled and immerse yourself in lush jungle scenery along with cascading waterfalls.

Feel the rush of a cool mist as you get closer, or take a plunge into one of the many pools that are perfect for a refreshing dip.