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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
Hotel Renew
Waikiki Beach
12 minutes ago 3 stars $203
Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa
Waikiki Beach
4 hours ago 4 stars $249
Paradise Bay Resort 5 hours ago 4 stars $214
Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort
Waikiki Beach
8 hours ago 4 stars $215
Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel
Waikiki Beach
8 hours ago 4 stars $192
Vive Hotel Waikiki
Waikiki Beach
10 hours ago 3 stars $202
The New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel
12 hours ago 3 stars $193
Waikiki Beach
22 hours ago 5 stars $579
Stay Hotel Waikiki
Waikiki Beach
22 hours ago 3 stars $122
Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa
Waikiki Beach
22 hours ago 4 stars $226

Recently Rated Oahu Hotels

Hotel Reviews Stars Price from
Vive Hotel Waikiki
Waikiki Beach
4.2 / 5
46 reviews
3 stars $202
Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort
Waikiki Beach
4.3 / 5
357 reviews
4 stars $294
Pacific Marina Inn Airport Hotel
2.7 / 5
127 reviews
2 stars $113
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 $192

Activities in Oahu

Dolphin Star Dolphin Watch & Snorkel Tour

A tropical afternoon of both dolphin watching and snorkeling in paradise with BBQ lunch! See wild dolphins as you enjoy a delicious lunch freshly grilled onboard.

Pacific Aviation Museum, USS Arizona Memorial & Pearl Harbor

Experience the sights and sounds of the first days of World War II. This tour combines a visit to Pearl Harbor and the Arizona Memorial with Hawaii’s newly opened Pacific Aviation Museum.

Atlantis Submarine - Oahu

Plunge into a world of enchanting beauty and natural wonder aboard the Atlantis Submarine.  Relax in the comfortable air-conditioned cabin and watch the breathtaking underwater seascape unfurl before you through large portholes.

Paradise Cove Luau

What would a trip to Hawaii be without a luau? This popular Hawaiian attraction whisks you to a private 12-acre beach estate for a sensational evening of traditional Hawaiian food, entertainment and fun. Set in a secluded cove complete with native villages and beautiful sunsets, this Luau brings out the true Aloha spirit.

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.