We are often asked if we ever get island fever living in Hawaii. The answer is always the same. No. There are literally hundreds of things to do in Hawaii.
Perhaps you are military PCSing to Hawaii and you're wondering what you can do while you're here.
Maybe you are thinking about moving to Hawaii and want to know what you can do in Hawaii.
COVID-19 UPDATE: This list is still very current but we advise calling these places or at least checking their websites for updated hours and information. COVID-19 hit Hawaii tourism industry very hard and many of the businesses listed here struggled to get through the pandemic. Additionally, Hawaii state COVID-19 policies change over time and affect each of these bucket list items differently.
My family and I live here and have compiled a list of a 105 things to do in Hawaii on the island of Oahu.
It's the number we came up with after my husband and I pulled out a yellow pad of paper and started writing a list of all the things we had done or guests of ours had done over the past 7 years.
We also think 105 is a good number especially for military families moving to Hawaii. Most will be here for roughly two years or about 105 weekends. The list is in no particular order and do not constitute endorsement.
Are there more things to do in Hawaii?
If you have new experiences or adventures you'd like to see us add please send me an email at email@example.com.
Here is a comprehensive list with links is at the bottom. Here's a printable list.
Read, enjoy and share.
1. Dive With The Sharks
Take time out and head up to the North Shore and go diving with the sharks. The diving with sharks tour is an exciting Hawaii adventure that takes you out into the Great Blue Pacific Ocean about three three miles. From there you'll still have sight of land but you will be far enough out to recognize you are now in the native habitat of sharks. Normally the trip lasts about 2 to 3 hours and costs anywhere from $80 to $200. The crews are friendly and professional and along the way you will gain a great education about sharks. The highlight of the trip is jumping into the cage with your mask and snorkel and seeing these great underwater beasts eye-to-eye.
Photo by Kalanz
Hawaii is a Surfers’ paradise. There’s surfing year round and there are waves for every level of surfer. It doesn't matter if you’re a beginner on a longboard or a pro on a shortboard there’s a wave for you. The South Shore of Oahu is known for its many surfing locations and there are a couple of known spots for beginners such as Canoes in Waikiki located straight out from the Duke Kahanamoku statue and White Plains. The North Shore during the winter boasts some of the best surfing on the planet with massively huge and smooth waves. These waves are not for beginners and should only be attempted by expert-level surfers. Know your limits, be safe and have respect in the lineup for your fellow surfers. Surfing’s a fantastic workout for your whole body, especially your core and shoulders and when you are first learning it’s an extremely challenging aerobic workout as well. There’s nothing that says Hawaii adventure more than loading up the boards on top of the surfmobile and heading out to catch some waves. The true meaning of stoked indeed!
3. Go to the Beach
Go spend the day at the beach. After all that is what Hawaii is most known for its beautiful, beautiful beaches. There are just so many to choose from and some stretch for miles and miles. All the beaches are surrounded by crystal clear blue water and plenty of sunshine. Hawaii's weather is gorgeous 365 days a year and you can go to the beach anytime. Grab your beach towels, bring a tent or umbrella, pack a cooler with some snacks and drinks and head on out and spend a day at the beach. We sometimes take going to the beach for granted because it’s so easy to do and it’s always available. Next time you go, take a few seconds to look around and appreciate how lovely it all truly is. Some notes of caution: If you're one of those people that doesn't tan very well be sure to wear plenty of sunblock. Because Hawaii is so close to the equator the sun's rays are stronger than normal and have been known to catch tourists or newbies to Hawaii off guard.
4. Go Shell Collecting
shell collecting is one of my daughter's favorite hobbies. You can walk the beach for hours sinking your toes in the sand looking for beautiful shells. There are just so many varieties and colors it’s hard to describe them all properly. Take a small shovel and a net and dig around and you’ll find some cool ones, but the best shells are found in 10 to 20 feet of water. If you can go out with a mask and a snorkel and dive down and hold your breath long enough you can score some really cool looking shells. They're fun to pick up and look at but you don't really want to take them home with you.
5. Have Lunch at Turtle Bay
We consider going to have lunch at Turtle Bay a must do while you're here in Hawaii. The drive out is nice and pleasant and takes you by all the famous beaches on the North Shore. After about an hour you’ll end up on the northwest corner of the island of Oahu. Parking is free and easy and it is a short walk from the parking lot to the restaurant. Meals are fairly inexpensive and will cost anywhere between 15 to $25. The cool part of the journey is you can sit at their poolside cafe and have a burger and relax in the cool breezes flowing in from the Pacific. The view is stunning, the staff is friendly and overall it’s such a nice getaway. Afterwards you can tour the grounds of the hotel, visit a few shops and take it easy for a while. We highly recommend this easy and fun Hawaii excursion.
6. Get an Outdoor Massage at Turtle Bay
While you're up at Turtle Bay get a massage. The Turtle Bay Resort has private cabanas where you can get a massage just yards away from the beach. Relax and listen to the sound of the ocean as you indulge yourself in a spa treatment fit for a king. The Turtle Bay Spa is a five star spa that has all treatments available and all the amenities you would expect. You’ll come away from a massage at the Turtle Bay Resort feeling rejuvenated fresh and ready for more Hawaii Adventures. The packages are expensive, there’s no doubt about it. The seaside 80 minute massage in the private cabana is about $300 with tip and tax included, but sometimes you just have to indulge and pamper yourself.
7. Play Golf at Turtle Bay
There are 36 holes of golf at Turtle Bay and they're all pro-caliber courses. Of course there are different teas for all experience levels so the courses are fun to play no Matter your skill level. One is an Arnold Palmer design and the other one is a DeFazio design but both are Championship type courses they are public courses so you just need to get a tee time and you can play them at your leisure. It's part of making a day of your trip out to Turtle Bay for a once-in-a-lifetime. It's part of making a day of your trip out to Turtle Bay foreign experience and memories that will last forever.
8. Watch the Surfers at Turtle Bay
There is a rhythm and flow to surfers in action and there's no better spot on the island of Oahu to watch Surfers than at the Turtle Bay Resort. The Surfers on the west side of the resort are so close to the shore that you can practically reach out and touch them. It is magical and mystical watching the surfers expertly carve up and down and back and forth. The water is crystal clear, there’s a light breeze in the air and then there’s the sound of the nearby surf all adding up to a wonderful experience. Once you start watching it’s hard to stop. And if you’re a photographer or interested in surf photography then this is an ideal location to hone your skills.
9. Drive a Lap Around The Island
Once a year we try to take a driving tour around the entire island of Oahu. It serves to remind us how lucky we are to live in paradise. Sure, Hawaii has traffic issues and it gets a little expensive living here, but there is just so much to see and do and the weather can’t be beat. The drive gets us out of our rut because sometimes when you live on a certain side of the island you tend to forget about the other sides of the island that are just as pretty and just as glorious as where you live. We normally set out early on a weekend morning to avoid traffic and drive counterclockwise around the island of Oahu. We live on the west side so getting out to Hawaii Kai, Makapuu, Sandys and Waiamanalo are treats for us. We love seeing Kahuku and going past the Polynesian Cultural Center as well. We take our time and stop at many of the sights along the way to take pictures for Facebook and Instagram. The whole island tour takes us about 4-5 hours depending on how much we stop.
10. Get Shave Ice at Matsumoto's
Head up to the North Shore and get a world famous Matsumoto shave ice. Shave ice is a tradition in Hawaii. Matsumoto’s has roughly 35 flavors of shave ice that come in 3 different sizes: small, medium, and large. Prices run anywhere from $3 to $6.50. What a great value for these incredibly tasty treats! They also have some combo flavors which are delicious as well. Of course there’s a souvenir shop with T-shirts, hats and other knick knacks. Don't be alarmed by the line to get in, even if it looks long, it moves along at a brisk pace. Yes, it’s a bit of a tourist trap, but if you can get there early you can beat the crowds and have an enjoyable Hawaiian delight.
11. Watch and Photograph a Sunset
Going outside and enjoying a sunset is one of the most fun, relaxing and popular activities in Hawaii. It's truly a statewide tradition and no matter how long you’ve lived here, the beautiful sunsets never get old and they always seem to be different and more spectacular than the day before. What a perfect way to reflect on the day and life’s blessings and to think about tomorrow. There are endless places and vantage points to view the sunset in Hawaii, there's no really bad spot, they're all great. See if you can capture the green flash as the sun disappears over the horizon. We are definitely lucky we live in Hawaii.
12. Take a Photography Tour
We had a friend who visited us several years ago who took this one of a kind Hawaii tour and it was the highlight of her trip. The photography tour bus leaves super early in the morning, we think around 5 or 6 a.m. and returns late in the evening, so it is an all day affair. Our friend returned with some of the best pictures of Hawaii we've ever seen. The photographer who leads the tour knows the great spots, the right angles and the right lighting to capture the best pictures on Oahu. You’ll get some great photos for sure, but you’ll also get to see the island in ways most people have never experienced. This often-overlooked tour of Hawaii is one we highly recommend for anyone with any interest in island photography.
13. Go on a Skydiving Adventure
We will admit, that this one is not for the faint at heart. But it is such a great adventure we highly recommend it. You’ll take off with your instructors and several other parachutists in a medium sized propeller airplane up to an altitude of several thousand feet. Don’t worry though, you’ll be harnessed to the instructor for safety and in case of a rare malfunction there’s a reserve parachute. You can bring a GoPro to be mounted to a helmet and film the entire thing. The instructors will even film you as you plummet to the Earth at a hundred miles an hour screaming your head off. Be sure to post your skydiving video on Instagram and Facebook. Not only will you get a world-class view of the entire island of Oahu but you'll also be able to say you went skydiving. It is a wild ride and adventure for sure.
14. Visit The USS Arizona
Of all the destinations in Hawaii this is our favorite and is the number one site we recommend to all visitors to Hawaii. Even for the long-time locals, this is a must visit. The USS Arizona is a historic place to be sure, but it is also the resting ground for 1,177 Sailors who went to their watery grave on 7 December 1941. There are several ways to get tickets: you can reserve them 2 months in advance, you can get them the day of, or you can pick one up at 7 a.m. the day before. The Arizona tour lasts 75 minutes and begins with a movie in a theater and then a quick ferry ride out to the site. The site is a memorial built over the sunken USS Arizona. Photos are allowed but it is a very solemn place as it is the resting spot for those who lost their lives. it's hard not to look into the sky as you're standing at the memorial and imagine what it must have been like on that fateful Sunday morning 80 years ago.
15. See The Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum
The Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum is home to static displays of fighter and bomber aircraft from yesterday and today. Inside the museum you can see dioramas of history come to life. One of the highlights of the tour is the wreckage from a downed Japanese aircraft found on the island of Niihau. There are also realistic aircraft simulators where you can test your dogfighting skills and there's also a gift shop and snack bar. it's a good tour for a good price ($25 for adults and $12 for children ages 4-12) and it's fun for the entire family.
16. Visit The USS Missouri
The USS Missouri stands faithful watch over the USS Arizona and is docked on Ford Island. You can visit the ship and see where General MacArthur signed the instrument of surrender with the Japanese in Tokyo Bay. The Mighty Mo, as she is called, has a long and storied history and is definitely worth the visit. It's amazing to see these two ships, the USS Missouri and the USS Arizona, sitting side by side on Ford Island. On one ship, the USS Arizona, began America’s entry into World War II, and on the other ship, the USS Missouri, America saw World War II brought to an end. This is definitely one of the most historic and significant locations in the United States.
17. Hike Pillboxes
For a challenging climb you can hike pillboxes over Lanikai. This is not an easy climb and we highly recommend being very careful as some of the steps are very steep and slippery. Hiking Pillboxes is worth the time and effort because the view at the top is absolutely stunning. It also provides the perfect photo opportunity as two islands situated about a mile from shore known as the “Mokes” help frame the shot. You’ll also be looking over one of the world's most beautiful beaches. Adding to the scenery and photo opportunities are abandoned World War II pillboxes. The trail length is 1.8 miles to the top and could take 30 to 45 minutes depending on your skill level. The trek back down can be tricky in spots.
Photo by Amanda Phung
18. Kayak To The Mokes
Another great experience on the windward side of Oahu is to kayak out to the Mokes. The Mokes is the common name however the islands are called the Mokulua islands. It is a pair of islands roughly three quarters of a mile off the coast of Lanikai. You can rent a kayak or even a stand up paddle board and make your way out to the islands to spend some time on a great beach. We recommend doing this early in the morning before the winds kick up. Once the winds start blowing the paddle out and the paddle back can be quite challenging indeed. The bigger island on the left as you look out to sea is called Moku Nui and the one on the right is Moku Iki. Moku Iki is off limits as is the interior of Moku Nui. Both are bird sanctuary islands so this also means no pets whatsoever. Once on the island enjoy a snack, drink some water, take amazing photos and think about what it must have been like for the first explorers who ever set foot on these islands. When the tide is right you can even surf around the side of Moku Nui. This goes without saying, but please don’t litter and try to leave the island better than you found it.
Photo by Christian Joudre
19. Take In A Whale Watching Tour Around Diamond Head
Depending on the season you can take a short cruise to see humpback whales up close and personal. Tours normally run anywhere between December and May and will take about two to three hours for the tour. A whale watching tour normally includes a breakfast lunch or dinner and will give you ample opportunity to take plenty of photos. If you're lucky you'll even get to see some calves and their mothers breach in the water. These creatures can grow up to 18 tons and make their annual journey down to the Hawaiian Islands to birth and raise their calves. Whale watching tours can cost anywhere from about $25 for children to $50 for adults.
20. Take A Tour of Ford Island
If you have a military ID card and are so inclined you can visit Ford Island. Even though it is an active military facility there are tours you can take. Ford island is rich in history and also the site of many movies such as Tora Tora Tora. There's a military housing area that has been in existence since before the attack on Pearl Harbor that’s right next to the USS Arizona. Imagine living in these homes on the morning of December 7th 1941 and looking up in the sky and seeing Japanese aircraft overhead, bombs dropping and ships exploding. Terrifying!
21. Attend A Luau
Okay we will admit that attending a Luau might seem a little touristy, however it is something we believe everybody should do at least once while they're in Hawaii. Luaus are entertaining and also very informative as they teach about the dances and the significance of the music and the movements. We promise no matter what luau you attend you will be impressed with the dancers and the performances. Everyone loves a good luau. The dancers, the flames, the music, the culture and the food make it one of the best attractions in Hawaii.
22. Visit Punchbowl Crater National Cemetery
Situated on an extinct volcano near downtown Honolulu this is another solemn spot on the island of Oahu. Punchbowl crater is a National Memorial Cemetery and is the final resting place for 53,000 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines and their family members. It was dedicated in 1949 and gets over a million visitors a year. It’s Hawaiian name is Puowaina which means “Hill of Sacrifice”. Some notables that are buried here are several medal of honor winners, Ernie Pyle and Hawaii’s first astronaut Ellison Onizuka who tragically died in the space shuttle Challenger disaster. Visiting is easy and there’s plenty of parking. Punchbowl Crater opens every day at 8 a.m. and closes at 5:30 p.m. during winter and 6:30 p.m in summer.
23. Hike Diamond Head At Sunrise
Over the years we've had dozens of visitors who stayed with us and almost every one of them have done the sunrise Diamond Head hike. It's a fairly easy climb, about one mile with an elevation rise of about 400 ft., that’s the equivalent of climbing 35 to 40 flights of stairs. The hard part is judging when to start your climb so that you can beat sunrise. Most people begin to arrive at 5:30 to begin waiting for the park to open at 6 am. If sunrise is before 6:20 AM it's very hard to get to the top before sunrise. Parking is $5. The views from the top of Diamond Head are stunning and spectacular and you’ll end up with pictures that will last you a lifetime. Back in the 60s and 70s there used to be concerts in the crater that were called Crater Festivals! The climb back down is easy and you'll be back out of the park by 7:30 am.
24. Take A Helicopter Tour Around The Island
We took a helicopter tour around Oahu a year ago and wish we had done it much sooner. Everything was so well-orchestrated and everybody was very professional, kind and courteous. The tours do their very best to put everyone at ease and calm any fears about flying. The helicopters can carry up to 7 people and you’ll be seated according to your height and weight to balance the helicopter during flight. The tour starts with a safety briefing about procedures for boarding and unboarding the helicopter. Next you'll make your way out to the flight line to take a photo before the flight. The staff will assist you as you climb into the helicopter and with fastening your seatbelt. The route of flight takes you around the island Oahu counterclockwise takes about an hour. We paid about $500 for two of us and also got a hat, our picture but didn’t purchase the video of the flight that was available for about $65. Be sure to read all the procedures beforehand such as what color clothes to wear. Light colors tend to reflect off the cockpit screen and can ruin photos. There’s also an open door helicopter door for the truly adventurous types.
25. Visit Kualoa Ranch
Check out the Kualoa Ranch and you won't be disappointed. This is an incredible private Nature Reserve that has been the site for many Hollywood movies and television shows. It's great for group activities and for a family day trip to learn about Hawaii, the land, the animals, and the food. The ranch boasts over 4,000 acres and is a working cattle ranch so you're sure to see plenty of cows and steers. But there's so much more to do out here such as zip lining, bike riding, walking and exploring their super secret beaches. Prices for all these activities run anywhere between 50 to $200 but it is well worth the investment for this once-in-a-lifetime Hawaii adventure.
Photo by Colton Jones
26. Order Malasadas At Leonard’s Bakery
This is one treat you will not want to miss. Leonard’s Bakery has been in business since 1952 and their malasadas are mainstays at all Hawaii functions. Located on Kapahulu avenue just outside of Waikiki, Leonard’s is home to the world’s greatest malasadas. These tasty treats are like puffy doughnuts rolled in powdered sugar. Some are even creme-filled. It is hard to eat just one of these sugary delights and you’re just not doing it right if you’ve never had one. Parking is tough because of the tight spaces and small crowds, but the line inside moves fast. Beware, super fresh malasadas are hot to the touch…..give them a minute or two to cool off.
27. Dine At 53 By The Sea For Sunset Dinner
Call and reserve a table at 53 by the Sea for a sunset dinner. Be sure to call a day or two early to get a good reservation because they fill up soon. The restaurant is known for their great seafood. We recommend the seafood platter that will easily feed 3-4 people. We love coming here for special occasions and looking across the channel to see the surfers at Kewalos Beach Park. 53 By The Sea has free valet parking and a meal for 4 will normally cost about $300. The food is great, the atmosphere is magnificent and when the sun goes down the staff light the tiki torches and all's well with the world. It's one of our top 3 “go to” restaurants for hosting out of town guests and celebrating special occasions.
28. Dine At Signature Steaks For Sunset Dinner
Located on the 36th floor of the Ala Moana hotel you're sure to be impressed with the signature Prime Steak & Seafood Restaurant. The views are quite amazing as you can see all the way to Diamond Head and to the west side of the island. There's a quaint casual bar and the steaks are some of the best in Oahu. Make reservations early. A dinner for a party of four will probably cost about $300 or more. Perfect for special occasions or when guests come to town.
29. Taste Halekulani’s Signature Coconut Cake
Located at the five star hotel Halekulani, Orchids is one of the classiest restaurants in Oahu. Orchids offers outstanding seafood, steaks and a seaside setting that is right on the water's edge. We go there for our anniversary every year because of the food, ambiance and service. The highlight of the meal is the desert which is truly one of a kind. Orchids is famous for its signature coconut cake which is so good they FEDEX out hundreds of these a year to former guests of the Halekulani. For overall experience, food, service and atmosphere Orchids at the Halekulani is our favorite restaurant. The Halekulani offers free valet parking and the price of a meal for two is close to $200...a little on the pricey side but well worth it.
30. Watch Boogie Boarders and Bodysurfers At Sandy's Beach
For pure wow factor, Sandy's Beach, located just beyond the Makapuu lighthouse, is a must stop for any tour around the island. Here you will find expert body surfers and boogie boarders challenging some of the most dangerous waves in the world. The problem is they make it look easy when in fact they are making life and death split decisions on every wave. There is a rhythm and vibe to the beach and the break, especially on bigger days, but don’t get lulled into thinking it’s easy. The beach break is also known as Breakneck Beach for good reason. Do not, we repeat, do not venture out into these waves unless you know exactly what you are doing. 95% of the time, lifeguards will stop you before you get in the water if they don't think you are capable of handling these extremely demanding waves. They are fun to watch but also very, very dangerous. The beach park parking fills up quickly and it can be challenging to find a spot when the waves are crashing.
31. Watch A Surf Contest
The North Shore of Oahu is the mecca of surfing. it is home to five or six surfing competitions held between October and January where the world's best surfers take on the world's biggest waves. There's nothing more exciting than going and watching pro surfers expertly carve up some of the gnarliest and biggest waves on the planet. They do it with style, grace and power and make it look ridiculously easy. At some of these breaks the waves can get as big as 20 to 30 ft and all of the breaks have jagged and sharp coral lurking just beneath the surface. A slight miscalculation or bobble and it could mean a life-threatening injury. Here’s a list of the pro tournaments held every year on the north shore:
Vans Pro Presented by HIC
Vans World Cup of Surfing
Billabong Pipe Masters
Volcom Pipe Pro
The Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational
32. Watch A Professional Golf Tournament
If golf is your thing, there are two professional golf tournaments each year hosted on the island of Oahu. In January, Waialae Golf Club hosts the PGA for the Sony Open. Scores are low, normally 20 under with plenty of exciting action. Entrance is free to military service members and as far as PGA golf tournaments go, the crowds are very light, so it is easy to get good views of your favorite golfers. In April, on the other side of the island, Ko Olina hosts a LPGA tournament, the Lotte championship. Once again the crowds are sparse so parking is not a problem and you can get close to all the action.
33. Take A Ride In A Semi Submersible Submarine
This is one of the newest attractions on Oahu. The Semi Submersible will take you underwater and allow you to see exciting aquatic life in their native habitats. There's also a world-renowned chef on board so not only do you get a world-class view of undersea life you also experience world-class cuisine. The tour takes about 2 hours and prices range from $55 for children to $149 for adults. There are four different types of cruises with varying degrees of service and activities. There's even a Friday evening cruise where you can watch the fireworks. We recommend going for the adventure but also the cuisine is quite the draw too.
34. Visit The Polynesian Cultural Center
The Polynesian Cultural Center is located on the far side of the island of Oahu opposite Waikiki. The PCC, as it is more commonly known, features information and exhibits representing six different Pacific Islander cultures. You can literally spend an entire day at the PCC learning about these different cultures. The PCC is not just exhibits but family friendly hands on interactive experiences. The day ends with a world-class luau that not only entertains but informs and educates. We've had numerous visitors that have visited the PCC and every one of them has thoroughly enjoyed their experience. It's located on the far side of the island so it will take about an hour to get there from just about anywhere on the island. Prices for admission and the shows and the dinner run anywhere between $100 to $250. The park opens at 11:00 AM and closes at 9:00PM. To say there is a lot to see and do here is an understatement!
35. Jump Off The Rock At Waimea Beach
Jumping off the Rock at Waimea beach park is a rite of passage for anyone who lives in Hawaii. During the summer months the water on the North Shore of Oahu is calm and conducive for swimming. Waimea Beach is wide and seems to go on forever. Toward the west end of the beach there's an outcropping of rocks that stick out about 30 yd into the water depending on the tide. Local experts climb to the very top and do backflips, spins and twists landing expertly in about three to four feet of water. How do they do it? Expert timing and experience. It's a fairly simple climb up the face of the rocks on the opposite side and then you simply walk over to the other side and jump off, if you dare. It's always good to have one of your friends on the beach ready to take a video or a Snapchat to send to friends. For the faint-hearted or older folks there's about a 7 or 8 foot jump from at the far end of the rock. One word of caution, the sand at Waimea is very very hot and you'll probably want to wear your slippers on to the beach.
36. Visit Waimea Falls Park and Botanical Gardens
As far as hikes go this is about as easy as it gets. To hike up to Waimea Falls it is only three quarters of a mile gently uphill. Along the way you will pass through Botanical Gardens and you will see some historic and interesting Hawaiian sites. When you get to the falls you are allowed to swim in the pond at the base of the falls. It is a great way to cool, and it's also a lot of fun to swim under a waterfall. The park is open seven days a week and opens at 9 a.m. each day. Tickets can run anywhere from $5 for group rates to $20. There are kama ‘aina and military discounts available and there's a snack bar and gift shop at the trailhead. We also think they are home to the nicest and cleanest bathrooms on the North Shore of Oahu. Good to know, just in case.
37. Paddle A Canoe At Waikiki
This is one of the coolest adventures you can do in Waikiki. For about $25 you get to ride in an outrigger canoe with an expert steersman. OK, “ride” is a misnomer, you have to paddle out as a team and then catch three waves. On bigger days this can be almost terrifying but the locals driving the canoes know exactly what they're doing and make it fun. A word of caution however, paddling canoes is not easy and it will take effort on your part. Your local guide will make it fun and it will be an experience that lasts a lifetime. Most offer photos for about $50 at the end of the experience. To sign up just walk up to the guys on the beach and tell them you want to go out on the outrigger canoe and they will set you up. They're easy to find in Waikiki located near the Duke Kahanamoku statue.
38. Spend A Day At The Beach
This is probably our favorite activity in Hawaii, going to the beach and just spending time there. We load up a cooler, a tent, a few chairs, some towels and maybe a surfboard or a boogie board depending on where we are going. Then it is time to kickback, take off your slippers, close your eyes and listen to the sound of the waves gently lapping on the shore. Dig your toes into some sand or just read a book. But every once in awhile look up and enjoy the beauty and splendor that is Hawaii. What's our favorite beach? It's the beach we're currently at. They're all good. The beaches are great in Hawaii but what's even better is the weather that goes along with the beaches. You can go to the beach every day of the year and swim in the water without a wetsuit. Forget about the traffic, forget about the high cost of living, this is why you live in Hawaii.
39. Take A Sunset Cruise
There are plenty of sunset cruises on Oahu. Tickets range from about $50 to $125 depending on the type of the cruise and how long it is. Most tours are about 3 hours and will take you out to sail around Diamond Head and then back around to Waikiki as the sun sets. You'll get an awesome view as you look westward as the sky begins to turn pink and orange. Most of the cruises have plenty of food and booze. You will marvel at how clear the water is and how gorgeous the night sky is as the sun sets. Pinch yourself, because you live in Hawaii and it's like this every night.
40. Hike Makapuʻu Lighthouse
Park your car and take a hike up to the Makapuʻu lighthouse. The hike is about three-quarters of a mile but it goes almost straight uphill. It's best to go late in the afternoon when it’s cooler and for the view of the sun as it begins to set. The park closes early, around 5:30 or 6:30 depending on the time of the year so you'll have to plan your trip accordingly. The views from Makapuʻu Lighthouse are stunning and breathtaking and you'll get a great view of Makapuʻu Beach Park and Rabbit island. On the way down explore the tide pools if you are up to the challenge of the descent down a steep embankment. The tide pools are fun but can be dangerous during high tides and bigger waves. Please be careful.
41. Swim With Dolphins
Ok, this might be one of the coolest things you can do in the world. Head on over to the Kahala Hotel & Resort and join their Dolphin Quest program. You’ll get to swim with dolphins in a very controlled and safe environment. We promise you will fall in love with these beautiful and intelligent mammals. There are programs for all ages and swimming abilities and the dolphins are super friendly and playful. It is a little expensive, prices range from $100 to over $1000 depending on the experience, but for a true bucket list adventure it’s definitely worth it. Might be a good graduation, anniversary or wedding gift to someone.
42. Take A Surf Lesson In Waikiki
Moving to Hawaii and want to learn how to surf? There are several ways to go about this such as learning with a friend, trying it on your own (we don’t recommend this method by the way) or getting a surf lesson. For anyone moving to Hawaii, especially military PCSing to Hawaii, we recommend getting a surf lesson sometime in the first few weeks of arriving on Oahu. The reason being, you are most likely going to love it and you’ll regret not having learned to surf earlier once you do. Go online right now and book a lesson for you and everyone in your family with one of the surf schools in Waikiki. These guys are pros and they’ll ensure you have a great time and learn to surf. They even take photos and videos that you can buy after your first surf session. Next stop, buy a board and then get a vehicle to transport all your boards. Loads of fun and only in Hawaii!!
43. Visit The Ala Moana Mall
Ala Moana mall is the largest outdoor mall in the world and has hundreds of shops and restaurants. It is a local favorite and is also a favorite with the millions of tourists that visit Hawaii each year. There's ample parking, great restaurants, good nightlife, and of course world class shopping. There's even a Foodland Farms Grocery store on the first floor so you can do a little grocery shopping while you're there as well. The mall is located directly across the street from Ala Moana Beach Park and it is an easy walk from Waikiki.
44. Learn To Scuba Dive
One of the best perks of being on an island is being surrounded by the beautiful Pacific Ocean. Whether you have experience or not, scuba diving can be an exciting way to explore the beauty beneath the waves. A majority of the wildlife on Oʻahu is found in the water. Scuba diving is the perfect way to get a close-up view of Hawaiian green sea turtles, monk seals, sting rays and countless colorful reef fish. If you’re lucky you might even spot the state fish: the humuhumunukunukuāpuaʻa! There are a wide range of scuba packages available throughout Oʻahu ranging in price from $70 - $160 depending on the depth and amount of time spent underwater. Minimum age requirements average between 8-10 years old. Please keep in mind the physical nature of this activity. Participants should be in good health and able to swim confidently.
45. Take A Snorkeling Tour
If you want to explore underwater but are looking for something a little more casual than scuba diving, snorkeling is another great option. Snorkeling tours can be found all over Oʻahu and some companies even offer circle island snorkeling tours. You can even select a tour based on your personal interests. Some tours are centered around watching sea turtles while others focus on spotting dolphins or exploring reefs. However, it is important to remember that these sea creatures are wild animals therefore it is never completely guaranteed that you will see a specific animal on your tour. Snorkeling tour packages range in price from $70 - $130 depending on the length of the tour. Minimum age requirements average between 8 and 10 years old.
46. Go To A Turtle Beach On The North Shore
Laniakea Beach, popularly known as Turtle Beach, is a great spot to stop at if you find yourself cruising along the North Shore. As its nickname suggests, Turtle Beach often has Hawaiian green sea turtles (honu in Hawaiian) basking on its shore. While it may be tempting to get close to these beautiful animals, it’s important to know that green sea turtles are listed as a threatened species and are protected under federal and state laws. For your safety it is recommended that you stay at least 10 ft. away from all sea turtles and do your best not to disturb them. Parking is located across the street and is quite limited.
47. Get Some Shrimp On The North Shore
After a long day of cruising along the North Shore you’re sure to be hungry. Make a pit stop in Kahuku and visit one of the famous shrimp trucks to refuel. On your way there see if you can spot the shrimp farms just off of the highway. There are two different spots in Kahuku where you can find shrimp trucks. One spot is right off of the highway next to the shrimp farms and a cute little antique shop. Parking at this spot is limited. The other spot is a little further south at the Kahuku Sugar Mill. No longer an operating sugar mill, this small shopping center has several food trucks and eateries as well as a gas station in case your vehicle needs fuel as well. Public restrooms are also available making this the perfect pit stop. An average plate at one of these shrimp trucks ranges from $12-$14 and often comes with a side of rice. World famous Giovanni's is there too. You can smell the garlic in the air as your mouth starts to water in anticipation. Bring cash because they don't take credit cards. Old school indeed.
48. Walk Ala Moana Beach Park
Ala Moana Regional Park is a 100-acre public park with more than a half-mile of beautiful sandy beach.Whether you decide to walk along the shore or through the park itself, the views are sure to be stunning. On the ends of the park you can admire the boats that are docked and maybe even watch some of the local fishermen. The park’s large grassy fields are full of banyan trees that provide plenty of shade and make it the perfect place to have picnics or barbecues with your family and friends. Park facilities that are available to use include tennis courts, restrooms, showers and picnic tables. Food concessions are also available if you want to grab lunch or you could cross the street to Ala Moana Shopping Center for more options. There is also a music pavilion in the middle of the park where events are often held. If you decide to swim, the east side of the park (towards Diamond Head) is sandy whereas the middle and west parts of the beach have a lot of rocks and coral. Beginner swimmers should be cautious as the ocean bottom drops abruptly. Lifeguards are on duty at the park every day. The park closes at 10 PM every night and opens again at 4 AM. Ample parking is available.
49. See The Fireworks On Friday Night At The Hilton Hawaiian Village
Every Friday night between 7:45 and 8 PM the Hilton Hawaiian Village puts on a free firework show that attracts tourists and locals alike. The best spot to see the show is right at the Hilton Lagoon where they are launched into the Waikiki night sky. Some people opt to paddle out into the water in order to get a closer view but the show can be seen from almost anywhere within Waikiki and throughout much of Honolulu. Parking at the Hilton Lagoon is limited and fills up quickly on Friday nights. If you really want to make an event of it, there are dinner cruises that allow you to watch the show from a ship while you eat.
50. Visit The Honolulu Zoo
On the east end of Waikiki at the corner of Kalakaua Avenue and Kapahulu Avenue you will find the Honolulu Zoo. This popular family attraction is open from Wednesday to Sunday, 10 AM - 2:30 PM. Admission is $11 for children (3-12) and $19 for adults (13+). Discounts are available with either military or state I.D. and bring admission down to $4 for children and $8 for adults. Infants (under 2) can enter for free. The Honolulu Zoo has a large variety of animal residents that you can visit in areas such as Primates of the World, an Ectotherm Complex, the African Savanna and a Bird Sanctuary. A small petting zoo allows children to get up close with animals like goats and llamas. Concession stands, a picnic area and a playground are available for guests to take a break at. There are also restrooms throughout the park and a souvenir shop located at the entrance/exit. Strollers and wheelchairs are available to rent at the souvenir shop on a first come first serve basis. Zoo parking is available just off of Kapahulu Avenue for $1.50 per hour with a 4 hour maximum time limit. Free parking is available across the street on Monsarrat Avenue at the Waikiki Shell.
51. Visit The Botanical Gardens
A huge part of the beauty in Hawai’i can be credited to its plant life. The tropical climate on the islands allows for a large variety of colorful plants to thrive. A great way to appreciate that beauty on O`ahu is to visit one of five botanical gardens which can be found in Honolulu, Kāne`ohe, and Wahiawā. Most of these gardens offer free admission with the exception of the Foster Botanical Garden. Admission at Foster Garden is $5 for adults, $3 for Hawai`i residents and $1 for children ages 6-12. Guided tours are available at all gardens but you also have the option to do a self-guided tour if you prefer. Hours of operation vary between gardens and can be found at http://www.honolulu.gov/parks/hbg.html . In addition to offering tours, many gardens host events and activities. For example, Ho`omaluhia Garden in Kāne`ohe has a family-friendly catch and release fishing program as well as group painting sessions every Wednesday.
52. Watch Polo Matches
Hawai`i has a long history with the sport of polo that dates back to the late 19th century. Polo in Hawai`i has strong connections to the paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) culture. Today there are two polo fields on O`ahu, one in Mokuleia and the other in Waimanalo. If you’re looking for a fun way to spend your Sunday afternoon you can book a ticket to watch a polo match at https://hawaii-polo.org/. Bring along your cooler and barbecue setup to join the tailgate party fun. There are also food vendors, a bar and live music on site. Gates open at 11 AM, the games start at 2 PM and the live music goes from 5 PM until sundown. Admission is between $15 - $18 and reserved parking spots cost between $35 - $45.
53. Visit The Kāne`ohe Sandbar
Kāne`ohe Bay is the largest sheltered body of water and barrier reef in Hawai`i. It is one of the most scenic points on O`ahu with the Ko`olau mountain range overlooking it and the small island of Mokoli`i (Chinaman’s Hat) resting in its waters. In the middle of the bay there is a raised sandbar that has become a popular attraction. At high tide the water is about waist high and at low tide the sand is completely exposed. The best way to get to the sandbar is by boat. If you don’t have a boat, it is also possible to kayak or paddleboard there. He`eia State Park or Kualoa Regional Park are both good spots to launch from. When you visit the sandbar please be mindful of the sea life. Coral and native seaweed can be damaged if walked on.
54. Do The Koko Head Hike
Located along the south side of O`ahu, overlooking Hawai`i Kai, is Koko Crater. During World War II, the military built a railway along the side of the crater that was used for hauling cargo. Today, the abandoned railway has become one of the most popular hiking trails on O`ahu. With a total of 1,050 steps, the Koko Head Hike is quite strenuous and not recommended for beginner hikers. The trailhead is located in the back of the Koko Head District Park where there is plenty of free parking. The park opens at 7 AM and closes at 10 PM. Make sure to bring lots of water and wear a hat because there is no shade along the hike.
55. Do The Friendship Gardens Hike
If you’re looking for a less strenuous hike with more shade, the Friendship Gardens trail is perfect! Located at the edge of Kāneʻohe and Kailua, this hike is a 0.4 mile loop through a lush green forest. Parking is extremely limited because the trailhead is tucked away in the residential Kokokahi Place. Please be respectful of the residents in the area. The Friendship Gardens Hike is a significant remnant of the Kokokahi Tract, a community built in 1927 that was centered around demonstrating that all of the people of Hawai`i could live in harmony. It is the perfect place to escape the hustle and bustle of modern city life. The trailhead is relatively easy to find as it is marked by the hike’s most defining feature, a beautiful set of mossy lava rock stairs. Originally designed by landscape architects Richard Tong and Francis Bowers, there are several stunning architectural features along the trail including an Asian-style masonry lantern and a Japanese pavilion bridge. At the top of the loop hikers can enjoy a panoramic view of Kāneʻohe Bay.
56. Visit The Aloha Stadium Swap Meet And Marketplace
If you are searching for unique and affordable gifts or souvenirs, the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet and Marketplace is the largest open-air flea market in Hawai’i and the perfect place to shop. More than 400 local vendors set up small pop-up shops with unique items such as clothing, toys, local snacks and handmade arts and crafts. It is conveniently located just 20 minutes outside of Waikiki. The Swap Meet is family friendly but kindly leave your pets at home. Ample parking is available, admission is free and you can get an early start as shops open at 8AM on Saturday and 6:30AM on Sunday. Closing time is 1PM.
57. Take A Picture By The Duke Kahanamoku Statue
Duke Kahanamoku was a renowned Native Hawaiian waterman. He was a competitive swimmer who went on to win five Olympic medals for the United States swim team. In addition to his swimming career, Duke is well known for popularizing the ancient Hawaiian sport of surfing throughout the world. In 1990 a nine-foot bronze cast statue of Duke was placed in front of Kuhio Beach in his honor. It has since become one of the most photographed landmarks in Hawai’i. The statue’s outstretched welcoming arms are often adorned with fresh flower lei from passersby who wish to pay homage to Duke. If you find yourself walking along Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki, consider stopping by to pay your respects to this Hawaiian legend. Afterwards you can make your way over to the popular Duke’s Waikiki for dinner and a delicious slice of Hula Pie.
58. See The Honolulu Museum Of Art
Whether you’re looking to browse an art exhibition, take a painting class, or join a book club, The Honolulu Museum of Art provides multiple avenues to cater to your artistic side. Located in the middle of Honolulu off of South Beretania Street, the Honolulu Museum of Art features a museum, an art school, a theatre, a cafe and a museum shop. Self-guided tours are available as well as docent-guided tours in English, Japanese, Korean and Chinese.Walk-ins are welcomed and reservations are not required. The museum’s permanent collection includes more than 50,000 pieces of art from Asia, Africa, Europe, the Americas and Oceania. In addition to this impressive collection, the museum also hosts rotating exhibits, screens films, and has recurring community events like Art After Dark. The Honolulu Museum of Art opens at 10 AM from Thursday - Sunday. It closes at 6 PM on Thursdays and Sundays and 9 PM on Fridays and Saturdays. Admission costs around $20 but there are various discounts available as well as several annual museum membership options.
59. Go Parasailing
If you’re looking for a thrilling outdoor experience with an amazing view, you might want to consider parasailing. Several companies in Honolulu offer parasailing tours that allow you to experience a unique birds-eye view as you soar hundreds of feet above the beautiful south shore of O`ahu. Choose to fly solo or share the adventure with a friend on a tandem parasailing tour. In addition to flying high above the ocean’s surface, you will also get to enjoy time on a boat and in some cases you will have an opportunity to get in the water. Most tours will give the option to dip in the water while you are parasailing. Be sure to dress in clothes that you don’t mind getting wet. Tour prices range between around $40 - $100 depending on the type of experience that you’re looking for.
60. Go Snorkeling At Electric Beach
Whether you decide to book a tour or just go out on your own, snorkeling at Electric Beach is sure to be fun. Located on the west shore of O`ahu, this beach gets its name because of a power plant nearby that warms the water and attracts countless varieties of sea creatures. Dolphins, sea turtles and even reef sharks are known to frequent the area. As you explore you will most likely stumble across large underwater pipes used by the power plant as part of a cooling system. Please be cautious near these pipes as they create a strong current. There is no lifeguard on duty at this beach. The beach itself is quite small and parking is limited. Showers and restrooms are available for public use.
61. Go To Coral Crater Adventure Park
Coral Crater Adventure Park offers a wide selection of thrilling activities including ziplining, off-road ATV riding and various aerial obstacles. A defining feature of the park is its adventure tower which boasts 18 aerial challenge elements that will put your balance, agility and bravery to the test. There is also a rock climbing wall for various experience levels and an opportunity to free fall from the highest point of the tower. Tour guides help you to get geared up, give you a safety briefing and remain available to provide assistance throughout your adventure. Coral Crater Adventure Park is located in Kapolei just past Kapolei High School.The park is open daily from 9 AM - 5 PM. Prices range widely depending on the activities that you choose to do. Tour packages are available as well as military and kama`aina discounts. All activities require closed-toed shoes. Please check the height, weight, and age restrictions for your chosen activity at https://coralcrater.com/.
62. Go To The Water Park In Kapolei
Wet n’ Wild Hawaii is the perfect place for you and your family to escape the heat. It is the only water park on O`ahu and has something fun for all ages. Attractions range from the easy-going lazy river to more extreme rides like the Tornado and Volcano Express. For families with younger children there are two designated kids’ play areas with fun features like slides, water cannons and a giant water-dumping bucket. The park has lockers, showers, restrooms and free life jackets available. Various food vendors can be found on site as well as a small retail shop. Wet n’ Wild also offers cabana rentals for those who would like to secure an area where their group can lounge. Admission fees range from $25 - $50 and does not include parking. Annual passes are available as well as discounts for kama`aina.
63. Visit Manoa Falls
This 1.7 mile hike is moderately difficult and full of spectacular views including the 150 foot Manoa Falls for which the trail is named.The trailhead can be found directly behind the Lyon Arboretum in Manoa Valley. Weather in this area is commonly rainy resulting in a frequently muddy and slippery trail. Flash floods are also common in the area so please stay alert to changing weather conditions. As you ascend you will notice several small pools of water off the path. Swimming in these pools is not recommended because there is a risk of contracting leptospirosis. When you do reach the falls be sure to exercise caution and adhere to any signs restricting access to certain areas.Getting too close to the waterfall can be extremely dangerous. Limited parking is available on site for about $5.
64. Visit Iolani Palace
‘Iolani Palace is a National Historic Landmark and the only royal palace in the entire United States. Construction of the palace was completed in 1882 after which it became home to the monarchs of Hawai`i. The palace was ahead of its time with features such as indoor plumbing, electricity and a telephone. During the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom, Queen Lili`uokalani was imprisoned within the palace. Following the overthrow, `Iolani Palace remained as the government capitol until 1969 when the current State Capitol building took its place. Tour options include a docent-guided tour as well as a self-guided audio tour both of which are expected to last between 60 - 90 minutes. Reservations can be made either online or over the phone and tickets range between $12-$27. The palace is located in downtown Honolulu and metered parking is available both on the palace grounds as well as on the street.
65. Learn To Kitesurf
If you’re looking for a fun and unique way to enjoy the ocean, why not give kitesurfing a try? Test your skills as you harness the wind to push you across the water’s surface. Whether you are a seasoned surfer or an absolute beginner, there are several companies on O`ahu that offer kitesurfing lessons for all skill levels. Necessary equipment is provided and instructors will ensure that you remain safe while you learn. Minimum requirements to participate in lessons include good health and the ability to swim. The ocean is a powerful natural force that should always be approached with caution no matter how experienced a swimmer is. When choosing a kitesurfing instructor it is a good idea to check that they follow the International Kiteboarding Organization (IKO) standards. Upon completing your lesson with an IKO instructor you will be issued an IKO Kiteboarder Card that will allow IKO instructors around the world to recognize your skill level and provide appropriate, consistent instruction. Classes start at around $100 and vary depending on class size and duration.
66. See The Famous Blowhole
Located next to Hanauma Bay is Hālona Point which features the spectacular Hālona Blowhole. This blowhole was formed by lava from the now dormant Koko Crater thousands of years ago. During high tide, the unique rock formation works together with the crashing waves to create an impressive geyser. It is quite the sight to see but it is not recommended to get too close as the water is powerful and poses the risk of being knocked over or swept away. The ocean directly below Hālona has one of the world’s most dangerous currents. The blowhole can be observed from Hālona Lookout right off of the highway and ample parking is available. After admiring the blowhole, take a dip in the crystal blue waters of Hālona Cove next to the lookout. In order to access the cove you will need to climb down a small but steep rocky slope.
67. Climb Tantalus
Tantalus is an extinct cinder cone found in Honolulu, O`ahu. It’s Hawaiian name is Pu`u Ohia and its modern nickname was chosen by Punahou students in the19th century. Today Tantalus has become a popular lookout point and is frequented by hikers, bikers and runners. At the top of Tantalus Drive you will find the Pu`u Ohia trail head which leads to an easy hike that is just shy of a mile long. It is a kid-friendly trail and dogs on leashes are welcomed. The beginning of this hike is known to be muddy so be sure to dress accordingly. Limited street parking is available across the street from the trail head.
68. Rent Jet Skis
There are countless ways to enjoy the ocean but jet skiing has got to be one of the most exciting. Hop on by yourself or with a friend and have fun zooming along as salt water splashes in your face and the warm ocean breeze blows through your hair. Jet skiing is a fun activity for all ages. The minimum rider age is 5 years old while drivers must be at least 16 and 18 to carry a passenger. Your jet ski rental will begin with a quick boat ride and safety briefing. Once you are on a jet ski you will be allowed to ride along a designated course for a predetermined amount of time. Rental prices range from around $70-$90.
69. Do The Kuliouou Ridge Hike
In addition to the beauty of the ocean, Oʻahu features countless breathtaking mountains. Their volcanic origins create stunning cliff sides and ridges. Kuliouou Ridge is one of the many rewarding hikes found on Oʻahu. This 5 mile trail allows hikers to get a birds-eye view of both Hawaiʻi Kai and the Windward Coast. It begins at the end of Kalaau Road but be careful not to be confused by the valley trail that starts in this same area. Pay attention to the posted signs to stay on track. The trail starts with a series of switchbacks and ends with steep sets of stairs. There is ample street parking available in the surrounding neighborhood but please remember to be respectful of residents.
70. Buy Something At The Kailua Farmers’ Market
Supporting local vendors has never been easier! Every Thursday from 5 - 7:30 PM, local farmers and local restaurants gather in Kailua for the Farmers’ Market. It is a family and dog friendly event where everyone is sure to have fun and find something to suit their tastes. Go shopping for produce, grab dinner for the whole family or just stop by for a quick snack. Popular vendors include The Pig and the Lady, Crepes Hawai’i and Nalo Country where you can pick up a mason jar of the delicious local lemonade that has grown to define farmers’ markets and food truck events across Oʻahu. Located in the Kailua Town Center, this event has ample free parking available. Live music can often be heard throughout the market and creates a fun lighthearted mood.
71. See The Waioli Kitchen And Bakeshop
In 1922, the Waioli Tea Room was opened to help orphans from the Salvation Army Girls Home learn skills that would be useful for them in the workplace and everyday life. The girls operated the restaurant which served breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea. Today, the tea room has become The Waioli Kitchen and Bakeshop and provides a cozy gathering place for the residents of Mānoa. While the restaurant is no longer operated by Salvation Army Girls, a similar program is in place that employs people who are recovering from substance abuse disorder. Waioli Kitchen and Bakeshop is open on Wednesday through Sunday from 8 AM - 1PM. It is located at the Salvation Army Divisional Headquarters where there is ample parking.
72. Visit Kyoto Gardens of Honolulu Memorial Park
On the eastern end of the Honolulu Memorial Park you will find the beautiful Kyoto Gardens. It feels like you’ve stepped out of Honolulu and into Japan once you see the three-tiered Sanju Pagoda, the Kinkaku-ji Temple and the Mirror Gardens. Honolulu Memorial Park was established in 1958 and in 1966 Kyoto Gardens was constructed. It was given its name when the city of Kyoto, Japan gifted the park with a bronze bell to celebrate the garden’s opening. The Sanju Pagoda and the Kinkaku-ji Temple both serve as columbariums where families can respectfully store the urns of their loved ones. In 2004, the Kyoto Gardens of Honolulu Memorial Park was placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The park is located off of Nuʻuanu and has ample parking. It is open everyday from 6 AM - 6 PM. Be sure to ring the giant bell!
73. Take The Historic Railroad Tour
O`ahu is the only island in the state of Hawai`i that has an operating railroad museum. The Hawaiian Railway Society is a nonprofit organization that is working to preserve the railroad history of Hawai`i. Travel back in time with a train ride along 6.5 miles of restored historic railroad track from Ewa to Nanakuli. Several historic locomotives have been restored and three of them are fully operational. The famous Dillingham Parlor Car has also been restored and is available to ride on the second Sunday of every month as well as for charter. The Hawaiian Railway Society offers train rides every Saturday and Sunday as well as charter rides on weekdays. Standard fares are between $10-$15 and around $30 for the parlor car. Train rides are about 90 minutes long and are fully narrated with the history of railroads in Hawai`i. Be sure to check out the free toy train museum before or after your tour. Parking on site is limited but street parking is available.
74. Take A Fishing Excursion
Hawai`i has a long cultural history of fishing and it is still a popular pastime throughout the islands today. The ocean surrounding the islands is home to countless species of fish, many of which are a staple in local cuisine. Whether you are visiting O`ahu or live on island and want to spend the day fishing from a boat, there are several companies that offer fishing excursions. Experienced crew members will take care of all the logistics so that you can focus on enjoying your time fishing. Customize your excursion by choosing between half day, ¾ day or full day charters. Depending on the season you will be able to try your hand at catching big fish like marlin, tuna and mahimahi. Fishing excursions vary in price depending on the duration of your charter and can cost between $200 - $1300.Be sure to check the fish policy of the company that you choose before you go on your excursion. Many charters restrict the amount of fish that guests can take home in efforts to promote sustainable fishing practices.
If you’re not ready for a full-blown fishing excursion, there are plenty of casual fishing opportunities as well. Being on an island means that we are surrounded with fishing spots. On any given day of the year you are sure to find fishermen somewhere along the shores of Oʻahu. Both shoreline pole fishing and spearfishing are popular amongst locals. There is no shortage of fishing supply stores on the island where you can gear up. Like any other place, the types of fish that are available to catch varies depending on the time of year. Before you go out to fish it is a good idea to read up on the local fishing regulations which can be found at http://state.hi.us/dlnr/dar/regulations.html . It is important to exercise caution whenever you are in or around the ocean. Water and weather conditions can change quickly and unpredictably creating dangerous situations in an instant.
76. Learn To Boogie Board
Boogie boarding is yet another fun way to play in the ocean’s natural playground. You can pick up a boogie board at a nearby surf shop or even a local grocery store if you’re not looking for anything too serious. There are also many places where boogie board rentals are available. Boogie boarding can be a great alternative for those who aren’t quite ready for surfing as it does not require going too deep into the ocean and uses a much smaller board that is made of foam. Lessons are available as well if you feel that you need professional guidance. One thing to note when learning to boogie board is that it is important to be aware of shore breaks. Because boogie boarding is often done in shallow water near the shore it can be dangerous when you fall off of your board. Pay attention to signs posted at beaches and always stay alert to your surroundings. Whenever possible choose a beach that has a lifeguard and avoid going into the water alone. Boogie boarding in Hawaii can be great fun for the family and is an excellent workout too, but please be careful and leave the bigger waves to the pros.
77. Lunch at the Seikoan Tea House
One of the many beautiful aspects of Hawaiʻi is its rich melting pot culture. Japanese culture has had a strong influence throughout the islands for several generations. Oʻahu is home to the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaiʻi where the public can come to learn about the unique Japanese American experience in Hawaiʻi. Within the center is the beautiful Seikōan Tea House and garden. This is an authentic Japanese tea house with three tea rooms where Japanese tea ceremonies can be practiced. Cultural classes are available for the public where you can learn and practice tea ceremonies and participate in other cultures activities as well. The Japanese Cultural Center is located on South Beretania Street near the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Paid parking is available on site as well as metered street parking. The center is open on weekdays from 9 AM - 5 PM.
78. Take A Horseback Ride
Horseback riding can be either a romantic date or a fun activity for family and friends. There are several ranches on Oʻahu that offer horseback riding tours. Hawaiʻi is a unique place to go horseback riding as a lot of tours take place oceanfront and many allow riders to watch the sunset. Between the polo lessons offered by Oʻahu Horseback Rides and the combined horseback and native tree planting tour offered by Gunstock Ranch, you are sure to find a tour that caters to your personal needs and skill level. Before booking your tour be sure to check the company’s requirements as many have age, weight and height restrictions. It is not recommended for people who are pregnant or have severe back issues to go horseback riding. On average, tours cost between $95-$150.
79. Visit The Bishop Museum
In 1889, Charles Reed Bishop founded the Bishop Museum in honor of his wife Bernice Pauahi Bishop who was the last descendant of the royal Kamehameha dynasty. Today the Bishop Museum boasts 25 million Hawaiian and Pacific cultural artifacts and natural treasures, the largest collection of its kind in the world. In addition to its impressive collection, the museum is always offering programs and events for the public. The museum grounds include a planetarium, a science adventure center, a Hawaiʻi sports hall of fame, a Hawaiian garden and a café by Highway Inn. The museum is a great learning center for guests of all ages. Admission fees range between $10-$25 and discounts are available for kamaʻāina and military members. Museum annual membership is available as well and includes free admission, free parking and discounts on exhibits, events and programs. The Bishop Museum is located in Honolulu behind the Kalihi YMCA and has ample parking available.
80. Have Fun In Waikiki At Night
Waikiki is a world of its own that intricately balances city life with island life. At night the city lights twinkle and the real fun begins. Restaurants, bars and nightclubs fill the streets of Waikiki with endless entertainment. Even the sidewalks are bustling with excitement as street performers roam about. No matter what day of the week it is, you’re sure to find something fun to do in Waikiki. Here are some activity ideas if you’re not sure where to start: attend a luau, sing karaoke, watch fireworks on the beach, go out dancing, or listen to live music. Parking in Waikiki can be expensive and difficult to find but you can choose to walk, rent a Biki bike, catch the bus or call an Uber to help you get around.
81. Visit The International Marketplace
Located in the middle of Waikiki, the International Marketplace is an open-air shopping area with the city’s largest collection of restaurants. The marketplace was originally established in 1956 by Donn Beach and included a Hawaiian Hālau, a Japanese Tea House and Esplanade buildings. The most notable feature of the marketplace is a banyan tree in the center that can still be seen today. In the original marketplace, Donn Beach had a treehouse built in the banyan tree and used it as his office. Today, the International Marketplace is still one of the most popular attractions in Waikiki. Swing by with your family or friends to browse one of the many shops or grab a bite to eat. While restaurant and shop hours may vary, the marketplace is open every day from 11 AM - 7 PM. Parking is available for $3 for every 30 minutes.
82. Play The Royal Hawaiian Golf Club
Take a break from the city and book a tee time in the breathtaking historic Maunawili Valley. The Royal Hawaiian Golf Club was originally established in 1993 but was recently redesigned by hall-of-fame golfer Greg Norman. Make your way through the lush 72-par course with the majestic Koʻolau mountains and Mount Olomana as your backdrop. In addition to golfers, the club also hosts weddings, meetings and other events on its stunning grounds. These stunning views have earned the club the nickname of “Jurassic Park”. A 45,000 square-foot clubhouse provides golfers with lockers, showers as well as food and beverage options. Start your day early and fuel up before your tee time with a fine dining breakfast experience at The ʻOlena, a restaurant located on the ground level of the clubhouse. Rates range from $30-$160 with discounts available for kamaʻāina and military members.
83. See The Hawaiian Mission Houses
Immerse yourself into the 19th-century with a visit to two of the oldest houses in Hawaiʻi. The Hawaiian Mission Houses were established as a National Historic Landmark in 1965. Today the site is an educational resource that allows the public to learn about American Protestant missionaries and better understand their role in Hawaiian history and culture. Guided house tours are available from Tuesday to Saturday every hour from 11 AM - 3 PM. On Wednesdays a Hawaiian Perspectives Tour is offered where Native Hawaiian staff members teach about the interactions between Native Hawaiian people and missionaries. 19th-century archives are also available on site as an additional educational resource. Admission is $5 for children and college students, $10 for kamaʻāina, senior citizens and military members and $12 for the general public. The Mission Houses are located on King Street next to Kawaiahaʻo Church. Parking is limited to metered street parking.
84. Snorkel at Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve
Hanauma Bay is a great place to go snorkeling while also educating yourself about the preservation of the marine ecosystem in Hawaiʻi. The bay was formed within a volcanic cone and has a distinct curved shape. In 1967, Hanauma Bay was declared a protected marine life conservation area. Before entering the water all first-time visitors must watch an educational video in order to learn about marine life, preservation and safety rules. Guests are also legally bound to refrain from mistreating marine animals and from touching or walking on coral. Snorkel gear is available for rent as well as lockers to store belongings. Shuttles from Waikiki are also available. There is an entrance fee of $7.50 as well as a $1 parking fee. Parking fills up quickly so it is recommended that you show up early. The park opens at 6 AM every day except for Tuesdays. The gates close at 6 PM during the winter and 7 PM during the summer.
85. Go To Yokohama Beach Park
The west side of Oʻahu has some of the most picturesque beaches and Yokohama Bay in Makaha is one of the best. This area tends to be much less crowded than the south shores of Honolulu or the popular North Shore beaches. Beautiful expanses of golden sand sit beneath the Waiʻanae mountain range. If you are planning to swim this may not be the best beach for you. The waves at Yokohama tend to get big and rough. There is also a steep drop off that causes dangerous shore-breaking waves. If you aren’t a highly experienced swimmer please exercise caution and use your best judgement before you decide to enter the water. There is a lifeguard on duty as well as bathrooms and showers. Yokohama Beach Park is located on the most northern part of the west shore near the Kaʻena Point State Park and has ample parking.
86. Go On A Chocolate Tasting Tour
There’s chocolate tasting on Oahu? There is! There’s even a top 10 chocolate tasting tours on Oahu on Yelp. Most chocolate tasting tours take a couple of hours and are great fun for kids and adults alike. Prices are fairly inexpensive ranging from free for small kids to $45 for adults. The Hawaii climate is perfect for the cocoa plant and it makes a thick, dark and rich chocolate. You’ll receive a tour of the gardens and get to experience some tropical fruits along the way. Most tours end with chocolate tasting in a shaded cool environment and of course there’s always chocolate to buy. Yummy!
87. Spend A Day At Kailua Beach
Kailua Beach is consistently rated one of the most beautiful beaches in the world and surprisingly it’s also a bit secluded at times, if you are willing to walk down the beach a little. It’s 2.5 miles long so there’s plenty of space! You’ll enjoy the white sands, the beautiful, clear and tranquil blue water and the ironwood trees that surround the beach. Most tourists don’t venture this far from Waikiki so it’s mostly a local spot, enjoyed by people who have made Hawaii their home. Kick back, relax, enjoy the view of kite surfers off in the near distance and take a dip in the refreshing and warm water of the Pacific. Arrive early in the day if you can before the winds pick up and if motivated get there early enough to watch a glorious sunrise. There’s ample parking nearby with facilities and the beach has an overall laid back vibe and feel to it. The shore break in some spots can be intense and you’re sure to see some expert and experienced boogie boarders and body surfers.
88. Watch Pipe Masters At Pipeline
Every year at the end of the year the world’s best surfers gather on the north shore of Hawaii to determine three things: who will be world champion, who will win the Hawaii triple crown of surfing and who will be crowned as the Pipe Master. Sometimes it all comes down to the final day of the World Surfing League’s prestigious Pipe Masters surfing competition held at the famous Banzai pipeline surf break. Pipeline surf break is just across the beach from Ehukai Beach Park and Sunset elementary school. Arrive early to find free parking along Farrington Highway but be careful to look for no parking zones as cars do get towed. You’ll also want to get there early to beat the crowds. By the end of the day on final’s day there can be as many as 12,000 on the beach. Paid parking close to the competition ranges anywhere from $10 to $20 and admission to the event is free. Recommend picking a seat far enough back so when the tide rises or when a monster set of waves comes in you and your belongings will remain safe and dry. This event is terrific fun, it’s uniquely Hawaiian and it’s packed with non stop action, tense drama and death defying surfing.
89. Watch A Concert At The Waikiki Shell
For a truly Hawaiian experience attend a concert at the Waikiki Shell. The Shell was built in 1956 and is located in Waikiki between the Honolulu Zoo and Kapiolani Regional Park. It is an outdoor arena with regular and lawn style seating. The arena holds about 8,500 people and normally hosts concerts in the early to late evenings. Imagine sitting under a star filled sky, palm trees gently swaying in the breeze and sitting on a blanket with your friends and family listening to some cool tunes. Talk about laid back. The Shell does serve alcohol but does not allow coolers, backpacks, chairs or large purses. Ticket prices all depend on the act. Parking in this area of Waikiki can be challenging so plan on arriving early and maybe taking in dinner beforehand in Waikiki.
90. Attend A Concert At The Blaisdell Center
The Blaisdell Center is centrally located in downtown Honolulu so it is very easy to get to from all points on the island. There is ample paid parking on site for about $7 and plenty of places to park within easy walking distance to the center. The Blaisdell will host almost all concerts in Hawaii except for super large draws like the Rolling Stones, Eagles, Bruno Mars and Eminem who play at Aloha Stadium. Seating inside the center is comfortable and normally there’s several hundred floor seats depending on the act or the show. Get there early because sometimes the lines to get in can back up slightly. There are concessions stands for food, soft drinks and liquor. Remember to bring cash to avoid long lines for the ATM because that’s all concession stands accept. Here's one of our favorites, Sam Hunt, in action.
91. Swim With The Dolphins At Sea Life Park
This amazing aquarium is located right on the beach just past makapu’u beach park. Sea Life Park boasts a huge aquarium with dolphins, sea lions, rays, sea turtles and even penguins. It’s also a bird sanctuary. Visitors to the park not only get to see these amazing creatures but they get to interact with them as well by feeding them and even swimming with them. Sea Life Park opened in 1964 and was featured in the movie “50 First Dates” with Adam Sandler. Tickets are fairly inexpensive with yearly passes for adults only costing about $60.
92. Take Some Yoga Classes
Hawaii is a great place to take some yoga classes because you can do your classes outdoors. Imagine setting up your yoga mat underneath a shady Banyan tree and meditating and stretching to a cool Pacific breeze. Sounds alluring doesn’t it? And it’s peaceful and good for the body and mind. Did you know the practice of yoga is thought to be 5,000 years old. The goal is to reach enlightenment! There are plenty of yoga classes on Oahu and prices vary from $100 to $200 a month with many schools offering annual plans. Once you are confident enough to practice the poses on your own you can do yoga just about anywhere; in your home, at the beach, in a park or anywhere you can fit your mat. Grab your mat and get started today. Namaste, indeed.
93. Run The Honolulu Marathon
Ok, it’s time to get in shape. You live in Hawaii and the weather is perfect 365 days a year. Every day is a great day to go for a run or a jog so why not sign up for one of the world’s biggest marathons? Yes, one of the world’s biggest. One year there were over 35,000 entrants, half from Japan. Every second Sunday in December thousands of runners take their mark and begin their 26.2 mile journey starting at the Ala Moana Beach park. The race begins early in the morning and runners start arriving as early as 3:00 AM. Imagine running on streets throughout Hawaii without any traffic on them, that is amazing on its own. The Honolulu marathon is a one of a kind event where runners run with aloha and good cheer. To make it even better it is a qualifying race for the Boston Marathon.
94. Catch A University Of Hawaii Football Game
The University of Hawaii Rainbow Warriors are a division I football team that play at Aloha Stadium. They are in the Mountain West Conference and lately have had a run of successful winning seasons. What’s really cool is each year they play one of the Service Academies at home so if you are a military member living in Hawaii this is a great time to show some spirit for your Service. Paid parking at the stadium is normally around $7 and lines to get into parking can get long depending on who the Warriors are playing. It is best to try and arrive early and set up a tailgate party in the parking lot. Alcohol is allowed as are tents, chairs and everything else you would expect at a college football tailgate. Tickets are anywhere between $25 to $150 and can normally be purchased the day of the game. The stadium seats about 50,000 but we’ve never seen more than about 25,000 at any game. Bring a jacket as it gets cool once the sun sets.
95. Learn To Stand Up Paddle
Stand up paddling is one of the fastest growing and most popular water activities in Hawaii. It’s easy to learn and fun to do. Supping is also a great total body workout and will give you hours of enjoyment each day. You can start by renting a stand up paddle board or buying a used one on Craigslist. A good paddle board set up which includes a leash and a paddle will cost anywhere between $400 used to $1200 new. Highly recommend taking it out for the first time in calm waters and calm winds. It’s also a good idea to find a spot that has a sandy or deep bottom because falling in shallow water on coral could be dangerous. Most beginners start on their knees until they learn to stand and paddle. That won’t take long. Next up is learning to catch a wave. That will take some time and effort, but with determination and practice it won’t be long before you are shredding! Some notes of caution: surfing and supping can be dangerous. Know your limits and please take time to learn the etiquette and the rules of the road.
96. Hike to Kaena Point
This hike is one of the coolest places on the island because of its exquisite views. You can start the hike from either the north shore side in Mokuleia, or from the west side from Yokohama bay. This hike is a simple dirt trail that wraps around the corner of the island. Most people walk through the trail, but you are able to drive through it given that you have a permit and a good reliable car with 4 by 4. There is no development throughout the hike because it serves as a wildlife sanctuary. It is best to start this hike early in the morning because there is no shade, and the afternoon heat can be exhausting. Another important point is that pets are not allowed on this hike because of the wildlife that is present.
97. Take Hula Lessons
Now is the time. There’s not a better time than while living in Hawaii to take Hula lessons. Hula represents so much more than grass skirts and the gentle soft strumming of a ukulele. Hula is a series of dance movements used to tell stories and pass on rich Hawaiian and Polynesian history. Each additional instrument such as the Uli’uli are more than decoration pieces. Each requires a skill and art to play and when done correctly adds to the overall experience. Hula will also teach you coordination, relaxation and it’s great for your posture and confidence. This is a chance to learn a lifelong skill while also gaining a deeper appreciation and understanding of Hawaii.
98. Do A Dinner At Ko Olina At Sunset
Live on the west side of Oahu and need a fancy place to have dinner to celebrate an anniversary, graduation or a birthday? Head over to Ko’Olina and choose from some of their snazzier restaurants such as Longhi’s in the Marriott or Mina’s Fish House at the Four Seasons. There’s also Aulani’s at the Disney resort. Each of these comes with a sunset view, great food and a delightful experience. Expect to spend $300 for a family of 4. Most offer validated valet parking with a small tip expected. These restaurants are a bit touristy but you can’t beat the view or atmosphere. For a more local vibe, but not much of view, head over to the Monkey Pod. The food is outstanding and you won’t hurt your wallet as bad over here either.
99. Go Shopping At The Waialua Sugar Mill
There's no better place to get a great Hawaiian knick-knack or a gift for someone than at the Sugar Mill in Wailua located on the North Shore. The Sugar Mill traces its roots back to 1865 and was one of the last operating sugar mills on Oahu. It's just outside the town of Haleiwa and it's almost impossible to miss because of the large smokestack. The Sugar Mill has a few souvenir shops, a small farmer’s market and it is also home to several surfboard factories. Do you want to get a custom board made? This is a great place to get one. Some of the world’s greatest surfboard shapers are located right next to the Sugar Mill in Waialua. Make it a habit to stop in here from time to time when you come to the North Shore.
100. Get A Pineapple Whip At The Dole Plantation
Yes, the Dole Plantation is a big time stop for tourists and most locals wouldn’t be caught dead here. However, whenever we go to the North Shore we try to stop here on our way home if possible. One of us will pull up to the curb and drop the other one off so they can go in and by a pineapple whip or two. The lines to get this pineapple delight may look long and daunting but they move along very quickly. The pineapple whips are reasonably priced at $7 and it's one of the only places in the world where you can get pineapple ice cream, so you just gotta do it. Sure, the parking lot is a little bit tough to get in and out of and sometimes it is extremely crowded but there's nothing better that a pineapple whip from the Dole Plantation at the end of a day at the beach. If you get the big waffle cone, get to work on it as soon as you can because the ice cream sometimes melts fairly quickly.
101. Take Outdoor Art Lessons
A few weeks ago we were down at the beach in Kailua and we looked over and saw about 10 to 15 people all with easels and paints, painting the coastline. I went over and talked with one of the artists and discovered that they were being led by a local artist and we're learning how to paint with oils and watercolors. Additionally, some were using paint brushes and others were painting with palette knives. It all looked so thoroughly relaxing. What a great idea. You get to learn to paint and in the end will have plenty of paintings to hang in your Hawaiian home. We also discovered the world famous Eva Makk gives painting lessons at the Royal Hawaiian on Tuesday evenings most weeks. The cost is roughly $50 but well worth the time. Art is definitely a pastime to look into while living in Hawaii.
Royal Pink by Eva Makk
102. Visit Laie Hawaii Temple
Grab your camera and your history books and head to the north east side of the island to visit the Laie Hawaii temple. This Temple is part of Brigham Young University and the Church of the Latter Day Saints. It has a fascinating and rich history and was built in the early 1900s. Although only Mormons are allowed inside the temple you can walk and take tours of the grounds which are quite spectacular. The views, the scenery and the history make it a must do at least once while living in Hawaii. The grounds are open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily and admission is free.
103. Visit Maui
Maui is known for its endless beautiful beaches, green and lush landscape and as a destination for honeymooners. Maui is slightly bigger than Oahu but only has about 145,000 people on it. The climate is a lot like Oahu with cool breezy weather year round. Of course, like all the islands there is a lot to do on Maui. You can surf, hike, drive the road to Hanalei, or just enjoy the glorious beaches. If you do visit Maui from Oahu there are plenty of cheap flights and great places to stay on the island. We highly recommend taking the snorkeling tour out to the Mokulani. It's about a three-hour Excursion and costs roughly about $75 per person. You get to snorkel and crystal clear waters color ride on a great giant catamaran and you get served a fabulous lunch. you also get to swim with some turtles and maybe even see some dolphins and whales depending on the time of the year.
By dronepicr - Kaanapali beach sunset on Maui Hawaii, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=74172860
104. Visit Kauai
Kauai is the wettest spot on the face of the earth and is named the Garden Isle. The lush tropical jungle at the center of the island gets 400 inches of rain a year and is listed in the Guinness Book World of Records. But not to worry, it's a great Island to visit because there's so much to do and the scenery is just unbelievable. It’s about the same size as Oahu with only 72,000 people, but many parts of the island are inaccessible. Kauai is located about 90 miles west of Oahu so it is a very short flight. There are plenty of accommodations and rental cars are fairly inexpensive. On the south & southwest side of the island are some of the most beautiful secluded beaches in the world. We highly recommend taking a catamaran trip around this side of the island. Be sure to check the wave heights and the weather before signing up for this excursion. Of course there are plenty of beaches, ziplining, hikes, fishing tours and so much more to do.
105. Visit The Big Island Hawaii
Hawaii is called the Big Island because it's the largest island in the Island chain. We could write a book about all the things to do and see on the island of Hawaii. The island is roughly seven times the size of Oahu and has a population of about 186,000. This is one of the few places in the state where you can drive for miles without seeing anyone else. The island boasts two mountains, Maunaloa and Maunakea, which top out over 14,000 feet. During the winter both mountain peaks are covered in snow. That’s right, it snows in Hawaii. Where else can you surf, golf and ski all in the same day? The island of Hawaii has almost every type of fauna, landscape and climatology you’ll see in the rest of the world. And, there is a very active volcano on the island which is the highlight of any trip to the big island. There are several flights to and from the island of Hawaii to and from Oahu everyday and accommodations and rental cars are relatively cheap. Check with other people before you visit the island if you have any respiratory condition because the vog, which is short for volcanic fog, is real and could bother you.
That's the list of 105 things to do in Hawaii: Oahu version. No doubt there are hundreds of other activities to do on Oahu and of course the other islands as well.
Facebook: @MaryJo McGillicuddy Real Estate Agent