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 »

Cruise Whale Territory

Anyone who climbs aboard a vessel this time of the year and heads for the open ocean off O’ahu can expect to see humpback whales. There are so many of them that most boat companies don’t hesitate to guarantee sightings. (Truth is, it’s hard to miss a 40-ton humpback when it propels its 45-foot bulk… Continue »

Shop Paradise

Shop Paradise

O’ahu is a shopper’s delight, with trendy and high-end retailers offering the latest apparel, jewelry and lots more. Ward Centers spans several city blocks from Kewalo Basin to Ala Moana Beach Park in Honolulu. It features several different shopping complexes with everything from native books and psychic readings to chic clothing boutiques. Waikele Premium Outlets… Continue »

Get Carried Away in a Helicopter

Get Carried Away in a Helicopter

On board a helicopter, it’s possible to lift off from a heliport, bypass populated areas and leave civilization behind in minutes. Look down and you’ll find yourself flying low over deep, impossibly tangled, uninhabitable canyons, where inland waterfalls drop hundreds of feet right outside your window. Now and then, helicopter tours will hover before a… Continue »

Visit the Arizona Memorial

Visit the Arizona Memorial

Hawai’i burst into America’s history nearly two decades before statehood when, on Dec. 7, 1941, it became the target of a Japanese attack on the U.S. Pacific fleet in Pearl Harbor. The attack, which claimed the lives of 2,388 military and civilian personnel, resulted in the damage and/or loss of 21 vessels and 170 planes…. Continue »

Hang in Hale‘iwa

Hang in Hale‘iwa

Life on O‘ahu’s North Shore is centered around a lively surf town with a colorful past. Once the playground of Hawaiian royalty, Hale‘iwa is a picture of the past, with rustic buildings set against the backdrop of picturesque beaches. In fact, it is these very beaches and their big winter waves that are the major… Continue »

Walk Historic Honolulu

Walk Historic Honolulu

Honolulu, like many great cities, developed around a harbor; in fact, hono means “bay” and lulu means “calm” in Hawaiian. Today, the Aloha Tower and Honolulu Harbor bring to mind a time when Honolulu was known as the “Crossroads of the Pacific,” filled with ships from lands far and wide—first from explorers, then merchants, and… Continue »

Walk Waikiki Beach

Take off your shoes, roll up your pants and wiggle your toes in the warm, golden sand. This is Waikiki Beach, a 2-mile stretch of shoreline known throughout the world. From the Hilton Hawaiian Village, the beach narrows as you head toward Diamond Head, passing the Reef Hotel and the gracefully prestigious Halekulani Hotel. Kuhio… Continue »

Pick a Golf Course

Pick a Golf Course

O’ahu is home to many golf courses. Some of them are ultra-exclusive—operated only for military personnel or private club members—while some are so busy that tee times are difficult to arrange. Municipal Courses Ala Wai Golf Course Pali Golf Course Ted Makalena courses in Kahuku, ‘Ewa Village and West Loch Resort Courses Hawai’i Prince Golf… Continue »