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Oahu guide

Mention the name "Oahu," and many people will instantly envision a tropical island shining with exotic flora and kissed by bright blue waves; a place where the pace of living is slow and the beaches seem endless. In general, that is a pretty accurate description, but there is even more to Oahu: this Hawaiian island is also home to the capital city of Honolulu, which is every bit as vibrant as any major city on the mainland. The third-largest island in the Hawaiian chain, Oahu is also home to some of the best-known sites in Hawaii, including Pearl Harbor, Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head.

Things to see

Unmatched views

A visit to the lighthouse on Makapuu Point is well worth the two-mile hike out of the city. Makapuu Point Lighthouse was activated in 1909 with the largest lens ever put into service on a U.S. lighthouse. The point is a popular spot for whale watching, and its panoramic views of the ocean are both beautiful and humbling. Lovers of heights shouldn?t miss Diamond Head Summit Trail, which takes visitors up to the mouth of the spectacular Diamond Head crater, as well as the Nu'uanu Pali Lookout, with vistas that nearly encompass the whole island. Homage to the heroes.

Head over to the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center to pay respect to one of the defining moments of WWII and its heroes. The memory of 1,177 sailors and marines lost on December 7th, 1941 lives on in the USS Arizona Memorial, which is accessible via shuttle boat following the screening of a documentary in one of the on-site theaters. As part of this incredibly moving experience, visitors can read the names of all the deceased as well as those of the surviving shipmates who decided to have their ashes interred beside them.

Discovering Oahu culture

Both Honolulu's Hawaii State Art Museum and the Polynesian Cultural Center in Laie showcase local culture and history. The former features the Ewa Gallery, which houses over 150 works tracing Hawaii's visual-arts during statehood, and the Diamond Head Gallery, which offers themed exhibitions. The Polynesian Cultural Center is situated along Oahu's northern shore, and offers a look into the heritage of the Hawaiian isles. In this ?living museum? you can tour traditional-style villages and witness the creation of native arts and crafts.

Where to stay

Waikiki Beach

Waikiki Beach, on the southern shore of Oahu, has been famous for decades as a haven for surfers, but what most people don?t know is that Hawaiian royalty enjoyed surfing there as far back as the 1800s, when the area was a royal retreat. Modern Waikiki is home to several resorts and hotels, including properties by Sheraton, Hilton and Hyatt, as well as historic and independent hotels. Waikiki Beach also hosts a variety of events: from outrigger races to hula dancing and surfing competitions, guests will never run out of things to see and do in Waikiki.

North Shore and Windward Coast

For those looking to get away from the crowds, enjoy the sheer beauty of Oahu's most rugged areas, or try some of the world's most challenging waves, the scenic North Shore and Windward Coast are marvelous alternatives to the streets of Honolulu. Just an hour's drive away from the island's capital, the North Shore offers some of the island's most impressive resorts, such as Turtle Bay Resort, located near Kahuku, which extends over 840 acres. If you?re trying to stay closer to Honolulu instead, Windward Coast's Paradise Bay Resort is an excellent base for kayaking and boat excursions.

When to go

Weather-wise, there is really no bad time to visit Oahu. However, more tourists book their trips between the middle of December and the middle of April, which results in a 10 to 15 percent increase in prices during these months. Regardless, there are plenty of great reasons for visiting Oahu during the busy season. For those coming to catch the waves, it's worth knowing that surfing high season is between December and the end of February. And for those who wish to gaze at majestic ocean life, whales are more frequently spotted between November and March.

Recently booked Oahu hotels

Hotel Last booked Stars Price from
Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort
Waikiki Beach
1 hour ago 4 stars $215
Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort and Spa
Waikiki Beach
1 hour ago 4 stars $300
Waikiki Resort Hotel
Waikiki Beach
2 hours ago 3 stars $167
Sheraton Waikiki
Waikiki Beach
2 hours ago 4 stars $229
Waikiki Beach
5 hours ago 5 stars $579
Vive Hotel Waikiki
Waikiki Beach
8 hours ago 3 stars $212
The Modern Honolulu
Waikiki Beach
8 hours ago 5 stars $305
Kuhio Banyan Club
Waikiki Beach
10 hours ago 3 stars $112
Ambassador Hotel Waikiki
Waikiki Beach
10 hours ago 3 stars $119
Aqua Aloha Surf Waikiki
Waikiki Beach
14 hours ago 3 stars $107

Recently Rated Oahu Hotels

Hotel Reviews Stars Price from
Aulani - Disney Vacation Club Villas
4.7 / 5
26 reviews
5 stars $531
Aston Waikiki Circle Hotel
Waikiki Beach
3.8 / 5
104 reviews
3 stars $174
Stay Hotel Waikiki
Waikiki Beach
2.9 / 5
96 reviews
3 stars $122
Holiday Inn Resort Waikiki Beachcomber
Waikiki Beach
4.1 / 5
144 reviews
3 stars $204
Luana Waikiki Hotel and Suites
Waikiki Beach
4.0 / 5
126 reviews
4 stars $181
Sheraton Waikiki
Waikiki Beach
4.0 / 5
309 reviews
4 stars $229
Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel
Waikiki Beach
3.9 / 5
1089 reviews
4 stars $204
Waikiki Marina Resort at the Ilikai
Waikiki Beach
3.9 / 5
56 reviews
3 stars $230
Hawaii Prince Hotel Waikiki
Waikiki Beach
4.1 / 5
212 reviews
4 stars $226
Aqua Aloha Surf Waikiki
Waikiki Beach
3.6 / 5
278 reviews
3 stars $107

Activities in Oahu

Go Oahu Card

The Go Oahu® Card is the best choice for maximum savings and flexibility when visiting Oahu. Save up to 55% off retail prices with this all-access pass that includes admission to over 35 TOP activities, attractions and tours for one low price. All 3 day or higher passes include a choice of a Luau, “HA Breathe of life” dinner show, full day Kualoa ranch experience with lunch, or a one day jeep rental. Take up to 14 days to use your pass.

SpaFinder Wellness Gift Cards

Accepted at 20,000+ spas; fitness; yoga and Pilates studios, and wellness practioners worldwide, SpaFinder Wellness eGift Cards allow you to choose the treatments, services, products and experiences that are right for YOU!  Unwind, relax and renew your mind and body with SpaFinder Wellness. SpaFinder Wellness eGift Cards have NO expiration date. 

Fresh Flower Lei Greeting In Oahu

Start your Hawaiian vacation out right with a traditional flower lei greeting.  This colorful symbol of island hospitality blesses your trip with the warmth of the Aloha Spirit.

Dolphin Royal Swim

For anyone curious about the fascinating world of dolphins, Sea Life Park Hawaii offers you a hands-on view with the all-new Dolphin Adventures Program! Not only will you interact with these lovable creatures, you’ll get an overview of their anatomy, physiology and training, as well as current marine conservation efforts.

Legends in Concert Waikiki

Legends in Concert Waikiki presents “Rock-A-Hula”, a dazzling, brand new, live concert quality experience from yesteryear to today, featuring a unique tribute to Elvis, joined by an all-star cast, hula and spectacular sound, light and video integrated into the production. “Rock-A-Hula appeals to a wide audience that timelessly extends beyond any international and cultural borders. The all star cast portrays legends such as Elvis, Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga, Elton John and others.