Oahu Activities and Tours

At forty miles long and 26 wide, Oahu's not the biggest island in the Hawaiian archipelago, but it serves as the seat of government and is home to the state's largest city. You can find a bit of everything on Oahu, ranging from timeless to the high-tech allure of downtown Honolulu. The third largest of the four major islands. 

In addition to being one of the top all-around beaches in the world, the hotels and businesses crowding the waterfront at Waikiki offer cultural activities and entertainment venues unequaled anywhere in the world.  The city of Honolulu is itself a tourist mecca, offering exotic historic sites like Iolani Palace and the famous statue of King Kamehameha, as well as the kind of shopping you can only dream of on the mainland. 

The island is split from northwest to southeast by twin mountain ranges, the Waianae range to the west and the Koolau range to the east, providing plenty of opportunities for adventure on the slopes and in the associated valleys. Between the ranges is a fertile central plain, bracketed by Pearl Harbor on the south and the famous surfing area, North Shore(on the north, oddly enough).  The less-developed leeward (western) side of the island hosts the lovely towns of Waianae and Mahaka. Honolulu, which means "protected bay" in native Hawaiian) is on the south end of the island and, if you're like most visitors, that's where you'll begin your Oahu adventure.

One of the top sites on the island is historic Pearl Harbor, where World War II began for the United States; located just a few miles to the west of Honolulu, this is a site no one should miss.  If it's surfing and other water sports you're interested in, try the incomparable North Shore of the island; you'll also find opportunities there to experience ocean kayaking, windsurfing, swimming, and just about any water-based activity you can imagine!  The Waikiki area, including fabulous Kewalo Reef near Diamond Head, and the Leeward Coast are the best locations for both snorkeling and scuba diving, whether you're a beginner or a seasoned pro.  The Leeward Coast also offers some of the finest golf courses in the world, if you're of a mind to hit the links.   

As the center of the tourism industry in Hawaii, a wide variety of tours is available on Oahu.  You'll have the option of circumnavigating the entire island, hitting certain hotspots, or traveling to neighboring islands for day tours.  You can even tool around in a vintage World War II amphibious vehicle called a "Duck," going from land to sea with no trouble at all.  If you prefer to cover the maximum amount of ground in the minimum amount of time, you have the options of air tours in both helicopters and seaplanes.  At sea and during the appropriate season (from December to April), you can even get up close and personal with the largest animals on the planet: whales.  The waters between Oahu and Maui have been designated as the "Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary," and every winter they host the Islands' best known repeat tourists for a well-deserved winter break.  Then there's the unique experience for which Hawaii is famous: the sunset dinner cruise.  You'll find a variety of vendors offering these fine combinations of ocean excursions and dining, mostly from docks near Waikiki.

Up for a little adventure?  The island is host to a variety of vendors who'll be glad to give you a taste of the exciting and unusual, from the tame to terrifying! The world-famous Kualoa Ranch offers both horseback and ATV riding into lush mountain valleys well known for their appearances in Hollywood movies like Jurassic Park.  The west side of the island is host to the only water park in Hawaii, Hawaiian Waters, where you can choose from three different water sports packages.  Care to dive deep below the sea in a submarine?  With Atlantis Submarines, which operates a big 60-passenger boat out of Waikiki, you can.  Or you can head out to sea to frolic with inquisitive spinner dolphins and watch as they live their passionate lives.  If you're really brave, take a trip out to the deep waters off Oahu's North Shore with Hawaii Shark Adventures, then climb into a giant Plexiglas cage while curious sharks press their noses against the windows.