Commonly dubbed “The Gathering Place,” Oahu is Hawaii’s most populated island and a fabulous destination for all things, history, beach, and nature. Oahu is very diverse that you can visit a couple of idyllic beaches, explore the bustling capital city, climb mountains, gawk at volcano craters, and experience 11 of the world’s 13 climates in a couple of days!
The island of Oahu has so much to offer that creating an itinerary can become a pretty overwhelming task if you only have a few days on the island. If it’s your first time visiting, though, the best way to go is to craft a calendar that mixes a bit of everything the island has to offer. Whatever you do, though, make sure these 7 destinations are in there.
7 Places in Hawaii You’ve Got To Visit
On a beautiful Oahu island is this gorgeous and most significant town in Hawaii called Honolulu. It is a bustling city that offers a wide array of culinary, cultural, arts, entertainment, and shopping options. Add paradisiac beaches, tropical scenery, and volcano backgrounds to the mix, and you’ve got yourself a city that has it all! Honolulu is Hawaii’s capital, and as such, a must-visit if only for a day to experience the state’s cosmopolitan side.
Pearl Harbor may be Hawaii’s most iconic historical destination. Whether you’re a history buff or not, dedicating time to visiting is essential to learn more about one of the most critical events in the history of the United States. Moreover, a visit to Pearl Harbor is a way to pay homage to the victims, especially around the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. The site provides access to the USS Arizona Memorial, Battleship Missouri (“Mighty Mo “) Bowfin Submarine & the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum nearby.
Waikiki is one of the world’s most sought-after beach destinations in the world as a whole, so much that this 2-mile stretch of beautiful beach receives a whopping 5 million visitors per year!
Even if crowded, bustling spots are not exactly your thing, dropping by for at least a couple of hours at some point during your trip is worth it. While here, you’ll find soft white sand, turquoise waters, gorgeous vistas, tasty food, great shopping ops, and an unbeatable nightlife scene. On Friday evenings, dozens of colorful fireworks shot into the night sky, a magical experience you won’t soon forget and a sort of rite of passage in Hawaii.
Diamond Head State Monument
Let me share a fun fact for you: Back in the 1800s, British sailors were so impressed by Diamond Head’s beauty that they scaled the volcano in search of diamonds (which, unfortunately for them, they never found).
Diamond Head may be Oahu’s most iconic natural landmark, and today, you can climb from the center of the volcano’s crater up to the summit. While the hike is short at just under two miles, the rapid altitude gain makes it a challenge well worth the effort as the views from the top is top-notch. Diamond Head is the “mountain” that appears in most Honolulu postcards, so imagine how good it must feel to be able to say you’ve conquered it!
More commonly known as Turtle Beach (a name you’ll quickly figure out once you get there), Laniakea Beach is a stunning beach and a must when visiting Oahu to experience the island’s nature in its entire splendor. Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles have seen this beach more than any other tourist spot on Oahu for the past decade, and watching these threatened creatures frolicking in the ocean is a magical experience.
The majority of people only travel as far as the “turtle area.” Still, if you travel about 100 yards from there, just past the rocky walkway down the coast, you’ll come across Chun’s Reef, a lovely and usually empty length of soft sandy beach that will make you feel like you’ve found your little slice of heaven.
Cascading a whopping 150 feet down into the mountainside, Manoa Falls gives the impression of being more like 1000 feet as you stand at the bottom, looking up at the seemingly endless water falling.
A nice trail that will lead you to the waterfalls is an experience in itself; seeing the waterfalls might excite you; however, make sure to take the time to enjoy the surroundings as you hike along. Seriously, the entire trail will make you feel as though you’re in the middle of the rainforest with so many gigantic plants and exotic sights it provides!
If you’re after a quiet location in the middle of nature, Hanauma Bay has you covered. Set a mere 30-minute drive from Honolulu’s downtown, this gorgeous wine glass-shaped bay will make you feel like you’re a world away from the bustle of the city and its buildings, making it a perfect getaway if a day spent in nature sounds like your jam.
The stars of the show? Honus, or green sea turtles that have made Hanauma their home! Snorkeling is the main thing to do here, with hundreds of marine species swimming right under its waves. If you’re up for a hike, the Koko Bay Trail to a volcanic crater deserves a spot in your itinerary, especially if you’re keen to explore the lush hills that surround the bay and the breathtaking views that come with it.
Have you ever been to the island of Oahu in Hawaii? Which spots do you consider are must-sees every traveler should visit to get the most out of their visit?