There are so many amazing things to do in Oahu Hawaii, and I have very fond memories of my first trip to the main island.
Hawaii is also one of my favourite solo travel destinations. I spent a memorable week here in November where I hiked, ate, practised yoga, surfed, watched the sunset and floated around Waikiki Beach.
There are so many amazing things to do in Oahu Hawaii, but here are seven of my best recommendations.
Things to do in Oahu Hawaii
1. Hike Diamond Head
Diamond Head is one of the most popular hikes and things to do in Oahu Hawaii- with good reason. It has spectacular views of Waikiki Beach and is suitable for people of most fitness levels. Diamond Head is an extinct volcano which has been dormant for the past 150,000 years.
Because Diamond Head is such a popular hike, try to arrive first thing in the morning to avoid the crowds.
Summit: 750 feet
Time: 1-hour return (2.5 kilometres)
Cost: $1 USD per hiker, $5 USD per car
Opening hours: 6am – 6pm (last entry is at 4.30pm)
2. Go snorkelling at Hanauma Bay
Hanauma Bay is an award-winning beach and home to some unique and colourful marine life. Before entering the conservative, visitors are made to watch a short video about the marine life. It was sad to see some tourists walking on and touching the coral, so ensure you follow all the rules presented in the video.
Snorkeling gear and flippers can be hired from the beach. Ensure you arrive at Hanauma Bay early as it gets busy.
Hanauma Bay is a 25 minute drive from Wakiki. You can also catch bus 22 to get there.
Parking cost: USD$3
Opening hours: 8am – 4pm, Wed – Sun
3. Drive to the North Shore
Hiring a car in Hawaii is affordable (from USD$25 per day) and a great way to escape touristy Honolulu. Head to Oahu’s North Shore to see the Banzai Pipeline- a spot known for having waves as high as 20 feet!
Check out the sea sunbathing turtles at Laniakea Beach and take photos with the Shaka sign in Laie, a short drive from the North Shore.
The North Shore is a different experience from the hustle and bustle of the city, so take the time to go exploring!
4. Go surfing at Waikiki Beach
One of the must-do things to do in Oahu Hawaii is having a surfing lesson on the famous Waikiki Beach.
You can book a group or private lessons at Waikiki Beach, starting from $40USD. If you’re brave you can also talk to some of the locals and see if they can give you a lesson.
With warm temperatures all-year round, Hawaii is one of the best places to visit in the USA during winter for a surf break.
You can hire surfboards, paddleboard and floaties from Waikiki Beach as well. The waves are very mellow at Waikiki Beach so it’s perfect for beginners. There is nothing quite like feeling a wave underneath you and flowing along with it!
5. Hike the Stairway to Heaven
This hike isn’t for the faint-hearted, and it’s called the Stairway to Heaven for a reason.
There are two routes to the summit; one is legal and the other is illegal.
The Stairway To Heaven, also known as the Haiku Stairs, was built during World War II as a way for soldiers to access the radio antenna that sits at the top. A storm damaged the stairs in 2015, and it was closed off and the route deemed illegal. Many people still continue hiking the illegal almost 4000 stairs, but there is another [legal] way to reach the summit, which has spectacular views across Oahu.
The legal route, the Moanalua Valley Trail, is quite difficult and suitable for experienced hikers. It’s 17.2km and you gain 1530m elevation.
I’ve written a guide on hiking the illegal Stairway to Heaven route if you’d like to know more about this option. This route means you climb the actual stairs to the summit, while the legal option takes you via a path.
If you’re going to attempt the illegal route, you are doing so at your own risk. If caught on the Haiku Stairs, you could be fined USD$1000 and/or arrested.
6. Try a yoga class
There is something about Oahu that instantly makes you feel more zen; maybe it’s the salty ocean air, the warm weather, or the happy and relaxed vibe of holiday-goers around you. Whatever it is, be sure to embrace this feeling while you’re there, and book yourself into a yoga class.
I tried a hot yoga class when I was in Hawaii, and as I lay still and sweaty on my yoga mat, I swear I found inner peace. Oahu is filled with yogi’s, and there are plenty of different yoga classes to try.
You can even try a yoga class on the beach! Be sure to book ahead so you don’t miss out.
7. Try the noodles at Marukame Udon
Immerse yourself in Hawaii’s Japanese culture at one of the most famous restaurants for udon noodles!
Marukame Udon Waikiki is an ‘order at the counter’ style restaurant and often has a line out the door. Don’t let this put you off however- the food is what everyone is looking for: affordable, delicious, and plentiful.
Marukame Udon’s speciality is their noodle soup. Their noodles are made ‘sanuki-style’ which is famous for its time-consuming process, where the noodle dough is aged for two hours, the rested overnight to be used the next day.
It’s a ‘must-eat’ restaurant in Waikiki!
Address: 2310 Kuhio Avenue, Suite 124 Honolulu, HI 96815
Hours: 7am – 9am, 11am-10pm, Mon-Sun
Do you have any more recommendations for things to do in Oahu?