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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
Turtle Bay Resort 27 minutes ago 4 stars $244
Sheraton Waikiki
Waikiki Beach
33 minutes ago 4 stars $254
Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa
Waikiki Beach
1 hour ago 4 stars $204
Pacific Beach Hotel
Waikiki Beach
1 hour ago 3 stars $157
Luana Waikiki Hotel and Suites
Waikiki Beach
1 hour ago 4 stars $158
Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort
Waikiki Beach
1 hour ago 4 stars $185
Aqua Waikiki Pearl
Waikiki Beach
2 hours ago 3 stars $90
Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort
Waikiki Beach
2 hours ago 4 stars $235
Ala Moana Hotel
Waikiki Beach
2 hours ago 4 stars $145
Ambassador Hotel Waikiki
Waikiki Beach
4 hours ago 3 stars $108

Recently Rated Oahu Hotels

Hotel Reviews Stars Price from
Turtle Bay Resort
4.3 / 5
518 reviews
4 stars $244
Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort and Spa
Waikiki Beach
4.3 / 5
265 reviews
4 stars $322
Queen Kapiolani Hotel
Waikiki Beach
3.4 / 5
310 reviews
3 stars $112
Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort
Waikiki Beach
4.4 / 5
312 reviews
4 stars $235
Ala Moana Hotel
Waikiki Beach
3.8 / 5
400 reviews
4 stars $145
Aulani - Disney Vacation Club Villas
4.7 / 5
22 reviews
5 stars $531
Ambassador Hotel Waikiki
Waikiki Beach
3.4 / 5
344 reviews
3 stars $108
Suites by Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa
Waikiki Beach
5.0 / 5
4 stars $902
Polynesian Plaza, a LITE Hotel
Waikiki Beach
2.3 / 5
8 reviews
2 stars $100
Ewa Hotel Waikiki, a LITE Hotel
Waikiki Beach
3.2 / 5
79 reviews
2 stars $100

Activities in Oahu

Dolphin Encounter

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.

Germaine's Luau

Step onto a beautiful, secluded and private beach on the shores of West Oahu, where we will take you back “100 years and 27 miles” away from the hurried pace of Waikiki.  Experience the ohana (family) feeling of an authentic “backyard-style” Hawaiian luau.  From the enchanting call of the conch shells and romance of a picture-perfect sunset, discover the way a luau is meant to be.

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.

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.

Dolphin Swim Adventure

Try this exciting dolphin adventure and learn about dolphin anatomy, physiology, training, and conservation. Use hand signals to communicate with the dolphins, view them underwater with a dive mask, highlighted with a kiss and a belly ride. 

Featured Oahu Hotels

From $488

1 Aulani - A Disney Resort & Spa

5 stars
4.6 / 5 29 reviews

92-1185 Ali`inui Drive

Stay 4 Nights or More and Save 25%

Welcome to a whole new world of family fun and relaxation. Welcome to AULANI, A Disney Resort & Spa in Ko Olina. Set on the shores of Oahu, AULANI was created with families in mind, by the...

Beautiful and welcoming hotel
We have returned to Aulani four times and love it each time. Tip 1: during holiday periods, get to the pool early in the morning to make sure you get a good deck chair near the amazing pools. Tip...
Jul 17, 2015
From $244

2 Turtle Bay Resort

4 stars
4.3 / 5 518 reviews

57-091 Kamehameha Hwy.

Advance Bookers Save 15%

Del Webb, the real estate mogul and one-time New York Yankees owner, opened Turtle Bay Resort in 1972 and ever since then, it's been entertaining guests with an involving line-up of activities,...

North Shore perfection
Turtle Bay is a world away from Waikiki on the north shore. Very relaxed vibe up there. It was recently renovated so the room and common areas were all in great shape. The pool area and restaurants...
Aug 20, 2015
From $204

3 Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa

4 stars
4.1 / 5 608 reviews

2552 Kalakaua Avenue

Rate Includes Breakfast

The Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort & Spa, located a short distance from Hawaii's renowned Waikiki Beach, provides comfortable, spacious and modern rooms – many with ocean views –...

Great First Hawaii trip
wonderful location of the hotel, beds were so comfortable! Just right across the street from the beach.
Aug 10, 2015
From $226

4 Courtyard Oahu North Shore

3 stars
Not yet reviewed

55-400 Kamehameha Highway

Rate includes breakfast

Discover paradise on Earth here at the Courtyard Oahu North Shore. Our peaceful, contemporary hotel is set within the country town of La'ie, on Hawaii's legendary North Shore; fabled beaches...

From $205

5 Paradise Bay Resort

4 stars
3.8 / 5 26 reviews

47-037 Lihikai Dr

Book Now and Save 25%

Visit Paradise, the ultimate true Hawaii vacation experience. Enjoy panoramic views of the Ko olau Mountains and breath taking views of Kaneohe Bay, Chinamans Hat Island, Ocean and the neighboring...

Best vacation trip
The staff was extremely helpful and friendly. The location if isolated, but it's away from the craziness of Wakiki. I truly enjoyed the canoeing also. The cleaning crew had our room cleaned very well.
Jul 20, 2015
From $531

6 Aulani - Disney Vacation Club Villas

5 stars
4.7 / 5 22 reviews

92-1185 Ali'inui Drive

Stay 4 Nights or More and Save 25%

Welcome to a whole new world of family fun and relaxation. Welcome to AULANI, A Disney Resort & Spa in Ko Olina. Set on the shores of Oahu, AULANI was created with families in mind, by the...

Great Family Trip
Hotel and resort was great. The kids loved it. Kids activities with meet and greet for the kiddies!!!
Aug 25, 2015
From $185

7 Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort

4 stars
4.2 / 5 769 reviews

2005 Kalia Road

Book 7 Nights, Get Last Night Free plus Luau for 2

The Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort boasts 22 acres of roaring waterfalls, huge water slides, fragrant botanical gardens and fine white sand. Local artists Herb Kane and John Young...

Birthday Trip
Had a blast! Hotel was so big though that make sure you don't forget anything in your room. But staying here you'll be sure to get in your 10k steps! Great location and the grounds are gorgeous....
Aug 16, 2015

8 Ko Olina Beach Villas Resort

5 stars
4.5 / 5 17 reviews

92-106 Waialii Place

Early Booking Bonus: 7th Night FREE

Vacation in quiet, luxury, beach front seclusion where lush gardens greet you and endless pools absorb you. The Ko Olina Beach Villas offers 270, 2&3 Bedroom oversized Villas, with grand...

From $322

9 Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort and Spa

4 stars
4.3 / 5 265 reviews

2365 Kalakaua Avenue

4th Night Free + Daily Buffet Breakfast for 2

The Banyan Courtyard is a popular place to relax under the trees while sipping umbrella drinks and enjoying live music, along with occasional hula dancing.Book a room in the Tower Wing for balcony...

My favorite Hotel in Honolulu
Concierge was great. Booked a trip to the Cultural Center and when the vendor made a mistake, hotel got us a full refund, with a smile.
Aug 16, 2015
From $157

10 Pacific Beach Hotel

3 stars
3.7 / 5 402 reviews

2490 Kalakaua Ave.

Book Now and Save 35%

When you book your stay, ask for an oceanfront room above the fifth floor for the most impressive window panoramas.Consider stocking up on snacks or small breakfast treats at the ABC Store in the...

Had a great trip
The staff was very helpful and extremely friendly. I had an issue with the air conditioner in the room not cooling the room to a comfortable temperature. I reported it too the front desk, then went...
Aug 26, 2015
From $108

11 Ambassador Hotel Waikiki

3 stars
3.4 / 5 344 reviews

2040 Kuhio Avenue

Book Now and Save 35%

Welcome to Ambassador Hotel - A Waikiki Hotel, where our ideal Waikiki location meets exceptional value for Oahu Hotels. You'll enjoy contemporary comfort at our Waikiki Hotel, the perfect choice...

Hotel is a value for those on a budget. Location is close to the beach and all the major attractions
Aug 22, 2015
From $254

12 Sheraton Waikiki

4 stars
4.0 / 5 311 reviews

2255 Kalakaua Avenue

Already Discounted Non Refundable Rates

The towering, gleaming Sheraton Waikiki Suites lets you savor so much of what makes Oahu special. It's a centrally-located resort where guests snorkel, encounter dolphins, and admire sunsets...

Honeymoon Hotel
We stayed at Sheraton for Honeymoon. I like the pool, but there are many guests but they are all nice. It was clean but really small room like any other hotel in Waikiki. Everything was clean,...
Jun 23, 2015
From $112

13 Queen Kapiolani Hotel

3 stars
3.4 / 5 310 reviews

150 Kapahulu Ave.

Book Now and Save 30%

Queen Kapiolani Hotel is named for the beloved wife of King David Kalakaua. The spirit of regal patronage lives on in the historic portraits and candle chandeliers which line the lobby, while the...

Convenient Location Accross from Honolulu Zoo
Valets and Bell Hops were very friendly and helpful. Quick service in a hotel that had no self parking. Out room was ok. Would have preferred to be away from an ice machine that was used all night...
Aug 26, 2015
From $100

14 Aqua Aloha Surf Waikiki

3 stars
3.6 / 5 271 reviews

444 Kanekapolei Street

Book Now and Save 30%

Find your nook in paradise at the hip, boutique Aqua Aloha Surf. A short two-block walk to the beach and styled to suit the casual sophisticate, this petite hotel incorporates small things that...

Worked for what we needed
Having a bed in another room worked out really well - allowed for a little privacy for the people in our party. The room itself was in need of a little TLC - paint and such, but didn't affect the...
Aug 14, 2015
From $158

15 Luana Waikiki Hotel and Suites

4 stars
4.0 / 5 115 reviews

2045 Kalakaua Avenue

Complimentary Yoga and Cruise bikes available

Forget about your everyday worries and get away from it all at the Luana Waikiki in Honolulu. Located 10 minutes from Waikiki Beach, this modern Honolulu boutique hotel features spacious rooms with...

Nice family vacation
The experience was good,we had some minor room problems but manager made it okay.the beds are great for sleeping,location was exceptional and i would recommend this hotel to fruends and may come...
Aug 10, 2015
From $235

16 Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort

4 stars
4.4 / 5 312 reviews

2169 Kalia Road

Limited Time Offer - Book Now and Save up to 15%

It's easy to believe paradise really does exist at the Outrigger Reef Waikiki Beach Resort, with accommodations in the Ocean and Pacific Towers allowing full views of the Hawaiian island....

Awesome experience! First time being in Hawaii, and it was an amazing experience. Service and staff was great. Room was very clean. Awesome layout of the resort, and great central location of the...
Jul 29, 2015
From $205

17 Hilton Waikiki Beach

4 stars
4.2 / 5 161 reviews

2500 Kuhio Ave.

Rate includes 7th Night Free

The Hilton Waikiki pairs the amenities and professionalism of a business hotel with the pampering luxuries of a resort. Recently renovated with hip dining space and glamorous common areas, Hilton...

Wonderful time
Everything went as expected. Got to do a lot of cool things. Really relaxing, comfortable. Couldn't have gone any better
Aug 10, 2015
From $182

18 Vive Hotel Waikiki

3 stars
4.2 / 5 37 reviews

2426 Kuhio Avenue

Save 5% Off 2 Nights

Newest boutique hotel in Waikiki, 125 rooms, opening June 12, 2013. Contemporary design, Continental Breakfast in the Vive Cafe for all guests. All guestrooms equipped with refrigerator,...

Decent trip
The rooms were really small, but they were okay since we weren't in the room that much besides the morning and night. AC blew cold so that was nice. Room service did a good job of cleaning. The...
Aug 14, 2015
From $135

19 Waikiki Resort Hotel

3 stars
3.8 / 5 108 reviews

130 Liliuokalani Ave

Book Now and Save 30%

A total overhaul has reinvented the peaceful, tucked-away Waikiki Resort Hotel. A surprising find, the hotel offers more for your money than meets the eye. Located a half-block from Waikiki's best...

Wonderful Family Trip
Great location, once block from Waikiki beach. A little outdated rooms, need new carpet but rooms are kept clean. Very friendly staff except evening front desk staff need to be trained to make...
Aug 25, 2015
From $180

20 Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel

4 stars
3.9 / 5 1083 reviews

2570 Kalakaua Avenue

Save With Already Reduced Non-Refundable Rates

Everything about Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel is fun and full of life - from the modern-Hawaiian beach theme in the lobby (surfboards and all) to the naturally inspired decor of our guest rooms....

The stay was ok. There were way too many people at the hotel. The room was dirty and old. There were bugs in the room. The staff was nice and helpful. Location was perfect. We will not be staying...
Aug 12, 2015