What is the top 10 best of Oahu? It depends a lot on your interests and how much time you have but listed below are the most requested things to do. I've also listed what I think are some of the most beautiful beaches on the island. There is no one size fits all but if coming to Oahu you'll probably want to check these out.
Mokulua Islands in Lanikai
1. Pearl Harbor-Pearl Harbor is the site where the Japanese attacked the US and almost everyone who comes here wants to visit. I strongly suggest doing a tour with a guaranteed reservation and entry time in order to avoid long lines and parking hassles. It's the #1 attraction on the island and some people line up at 6 am with hopes of getting in. Plan at least a day or 2 in advance if doing a tour and much longer if you want to go on your own.
2. Polynesian Cultural Center-Want to get a feel for Polynesian culture and see the best show in the state? This is the place to come as it has the 7 different villages of Polynesia representing different countries with people from those actual countries teaching you about their culture. Lots of singing of dancing, cultural activities, dinner and a show that can rival many in Las Vegas with almost 100 performers and 10 fire dancers.
3. Helicopter rides-This is a great way to get a bird's eye view of the island's untouched natural beauty especially considering that 75% of it is undrivable. The traffic on Oahu is bad so this is another reason to see it from above. There'a a 1,000 ft waterfall that can only be seen from the air and flying over Diamond Head crater, Hanauma Bay, famous film locations and Pearl Harbor can't be beat. Get those classic post card shots especially if you decide to do one with the doors off!
4. Shark Cage Dives-Really popular and I suggest booking immediately if you are vacationing during peak times such as summer. Also choose an early time such as 6, 7 or 8:00 am. Later times especially during the winter often get cancelled due to strong winds.
5. North Shore- World reknown for world class surf breaks, big surf and beautiful beaches this is a definite do while here. If your trip coincides with the winter months of December-February the waves are huge and the contests are on during December. In the summer the clear waters provide the opportunity to swim and snorkel with turtles and all types of fish. It is very laid back and relaxing up there in the "country".
6. Kailua & Lanikai-This is an often overlooked area of the island on the easts side because most circle island tours don't go here due to commercialism restrictions. It is very beautiful with miles of white, sandy beaches and calm, tranquil turquoise water. President Obama and celebrities like Rihanna and John Travolta rent/own homes over here to vacation when in town.
7. Snorkeling-Hanauma Bay gets the most press but it's not my favorite place to go-crowds, parking issue and not as many fish as it used to have. Go by 7 am if you feel you must. I prefer doing it off of a boat on the west side which has the added bonus of dolphin watching. On the north shore Shark's Cove is my top pick. Learn more here.
8. Dolphins-Sea Life park if you want to actually swim with and hold a dolphin. It's similar to Sea World. Some outfitters claim that you can swim with wild dolphins but that's misleading. Wild dolphins will not "swim" with you.
9. Luaus-I think you have to do a luau when you come to Hawaii. What is it? It's a party celebrating the spirit of aloha with a feast for dinner, hula dancers, fire dancers and a show. Learn more here.
10. Circle Island Tours-There's lots of circle island tours to fit every personality, age group and time schedule. Basically you visit the island's highlights by van or coach bus. Some include snorkeling and hiking but most you just sit back and relax. Most stops allow about 15 minutes to get out and take pictures with narration by the driver along the way. Most feature an extended stop or 2 at a particular attraction.
Having fun doesn't have to cost a lot. There's a way to experience all of the above for just about every budget. Here are 2 options:
The GO OAHU CARD-great for those who prefer to do their own thing mostly
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