O‘ahu The Gathering Place

Spring is the season of change and new opportunities, a time when people make resolutions to toss out the old in order to make room for the new.

A vacation on an exotic island is the perfect excuse to venture outside your comfort zone, and no place is better to shake things up than O’ahu.

Known as “The Gathering Place,” O’ahu is a melting pot of cultures, traditions and geographic regions. This unique blend allows for adventures unimaginable anywhere else. One moment you may be hiking deep into a verdant rainforest valley untouched by time, then the next you’re hitting the shops along world-famous Waikiki Beach, which is just minutes away from the historic buildings of downtown Honolulu.

To get you started on your journey, we’ve compiled this helpful guide of all there is to do and see while here on O’ahu.

Break out of your rut with a ride high above the island in a bi-plane, hit the high seas aboard a replica pirate ship, ride along the beach on an eco-friendly Segway cruiser, or head to Hanauma Bay to swim with the fishes in the sunken remains of an extinct volcano.

Families with young children can let their keiki (kids) run wild at Kapi’olani Beach Park before checking out some real animals at the nearby Honolulu Zoo and Waikiki Aquarium. For history buffs, Jimmy Buffet’s Honolulu Surfing Museum is a good place to learn about surf culture (and to pick up a juicy cheeseburger in paradise!), while those looking for a bit of live entertainment can fi nd music, magic and more at one of several hotel shows.

Those seeking “spiritual” growth can fi nd a bit of solitude at the Valley of the Temples and its awe-inspiring Byodo-In Temple, capture memories on a peaceful photo safari, watch a pod of humpback whales on their annual migration from Alaska, or spend the day wandering one of O’ahu’s many premier art galleries and botanical gardens.

Kailua Beach is an ideal destination to get your feet wet and try out a new ocean sport or two (think kayaking, surfing, scuba diving, stand-up paddling and snorkeling). Or venture to O’ahu’s legendary North Shore to scope out some big waves, which can grow to mammoth sizes during the winter months. On the return to town, take a detour through historic Hale’iwa to pick up some island art, homemade crafts and local snacks, including Matsumoto’s famous shave ice.

Other landmarks you won’t fi nd anywhere else but O’ahu include ‘Iolani Palace, the only royal “castle” in the United States; Pearl Harbor, the fi nal resting place for American heroes; and cultural parks like the Polynesian Cultural Center, Kualoa and Waimea Valley, just to name a few.

No matter your reason for “gathering” here, welcome, and we can’t wait to get you on your way with this sampling of O’ahu’s top 101 Things to Do!

View our top picks below or see all 101 Things To Do on O‘ahu!

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Go Polynesian

Founded in 1963, the Polynesian Cultural Center celebrates Hawai‘i’s diverse Polynesian background with award-winning performances and interactive attractions. PCC’s signature attraction is a group of six villages and two exhibits highlighting islands from Fiji to Samoa, where hundreds of Polynesian islanders share their customs and traditions with visitors. Moving through the villages, visitors will find… Continue »

Go Snorkeling

Snorkeling is a great way to get a glimpse of the incredible underwater world surrounding the islands without having to go through training or cash out. To snorkel, all you need is a mask, snorkel and fins; however, tours also offer lessons, factoids, gear, transportation to snorkeling hotspots and sometimes, even lunch. If Hanauma Bay… Continue »

Go on a Photo Safari

While here on O‘ahu, you’re likely to experience more scenic imagery than humanly possible to remember. From the churning North Shore surf to tranquil, hidden ocean coves; from a sea turtle or monk seal snoozing on a quiet beach, to a rainbow-colored shave ice—only a picture can begin to capture these thousands of words. Whether… Continue »

Cruise Kailua on a B-cycle

While a car can get you from Point A to Point B quickly, sometimes it’s better to slow down and enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of your surroundings. Set your speed on cruise control on the seat of a bicycle rented from Hawai’i B-cycle. This new bike-share concept recently launched in Kailua with the… Continue »

Take a Private Island Tour

You’d like to get away from the maddening crowds, but let’s face it: you’re visiting the island that’s nicknamed “The Gathering Place.” O‘ahu has a bevy of beautiful sights and activities—one of the benefits of it being the most metropolitan island in the state. Indulge in a unique experience by taking a private guided tour…. Continue »

Catch a Show

Sometimes it’s nice to kick back and enjoy a show, no matter if you’re on Broadway or in tropical paradise. Here are a few options if you’re in the mood to do just that: Sure to take your breath away is Legends in Concert Waikiki Rock-a-Hula, a 75-minute song-and-dance extravaganza that boasts the musical stylings… Continue »