Best Places to Visit on Oahu

Best Places to Visit on Oahu

From laidback surf spots to urban city centers, O‘ahu is the most diverse island in the State of Hawai‘i when it comes to population, cultures and cuisines. There’s something to enjoy for everyone here, which makes O‘ahu a great place to visit and gather—hence its nickname, “The Gathering Place.” Here are our top recommendations on where to visit during your vacation.

Feature Photo: Grace Towle


Iolani Palace Oahu
Photo Courtesy of ‘Iolani Palace Facebook

‘Iolani Palace

364 South King St.

Built in 1882 by King Kalākaua, ‘Iolani Palace was home of Hawai‘i’s last monarchs. At its height, it served as the political epicenter for the Kingdom of Hawai‘i until the monarchy was overthrown in 1893. Throughout the years, the palace has been meticulously restored to its former glory—furniture, decorations, thrones and more. Visitors can walk through the halls, see the palace how it once was back when King Kalākaua, and his sister and successor Queen Lili‘oukalani walked through its halls.

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Lyman Heritage Museum, Big Island, Hilo
Photo Courtesy of the Lyman Heritage Museum

Bishop Museum

1525 Bernice St., Honolulu

The largest museum in the State, Bishop Museum celebrates the history of Hawai‘i and the Pacific. Walk through the Hawaiian Hall, which showcases important artifacts that displays the Native Hawaiian history and culture. Learn how voyagers used the stars to navigate the ocean by visiting the museum’s planetarium. Kids especially love the Science Adventure Center, where they can start their own volcano eruption, ride an invasive snail and walk through a glow-in-the-dark tunnel that depicts Hawai‘i’s origins.  

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Windward Coast

Kualoa Ranch, Oahu
Photo Courtesy of Kualoa Ranch

Kualoa Ranch

49-560 Kamehameha Highway, Kāneʻohe 


A 4,000-acre private nature reserve and cattle ranch, Kualoa Ranch is home to a multitude of adventures. Soar through the sky on a zipline, see a fishpond, embark on a food tasting tour, ride a horse or go on a movie tour—Kualoa Ranch served as the film site for more than 50 TV shows and movies including Jurassic Park, LOST and 50 First Dates

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Kaneohe Botanical Gardens
Photo Courtesy of Samantha Dowd

Ho‘omaluhia Botanical Gardens

45-680 Luluku Rd., Kāneʻohe 

Home to one of the most “insta-worthy” spots on the island, Ho‘omaluhia Botanical Gardens is a refuge far away from the hustle and bustle of Honolulu. Enjoy a sweeping view of the Ko ‘olau Mountains, check out a 32-acre lake and feed the fish and ducks (bring bread) and view plants from all over the world: the Philippines, Malaysia, India, Polynesia, Africa and of course, Hawai‘i. 

More info: Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden Website

Byodo-In Temple Oahu
Photo Courtesy of the Byodo-In Temple Website

Byodo-In Temple

47-200 Kahekili Hwy., Kāneʻohe 

Nestled deep in a gorgeous valley along the 2,000-foot Ko‘olau Range, the Byodo-In Temple is a scale replica of the famous temple in Uji, Japan. Everything from its gravel’s design to the quaint bridges over the fishpond pays homage to the temple in Japan. Sound the three-ton brass bell, see peacocks and black swans and of course, view the gorgeous koi fish that symbolizes love and friendship. 

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Central Oahu

Pearl Harbor Memorial Oahu
Photo Courtesy of the Pearl Harbor Memorial

Pearl Harbor National Memorial

1 Arizona Memorial Pl., Honolulu

Visit the historic site where the Japanese launched a surprise air attack on the United States on December 7, 1941. At Pearl Harbor, hear stories from survivors of the battle, walk through an airplane hangar and see remains of the USS Arizona in the harbor. The visitor center features galleries, a memorial sculpture and a theatre where you can watch a film about the attack. Nearby are the Battleship Missouri Memorial, the Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum and the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum. 

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Dole Plantation, Oahu
Photo Courtesy of Dole Plantation

Dole Pineapple Plantation

64-1550 Kamehameha Hwy., Wahiawā

Explore what used to be the world’s largest maze (per the 2008 Guinness World Book of Records), where you can search for eight secret station to solve the maze. Ride aboard a pineapple express train that gives you an overview of the history behind the pineapple industry in Hawaii. Stroll through eight mini gardens full of fruits, flowers and native plants. Don’t forget to grab a delicious cone or cup full of ice-cold pineapple soft serve. 

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Leeward Coast

Wet'n'Wild Oahu, Waterpark
Photo Courtesy of Wet’n’Wild

Wet’n’ Wild Hawai‘i

400 Farrington Hwy., Kapolei

While it’s easy to access the ocean from anywhere in Hawai‘i, Wet’n’Wild offers a different kind of fun as O‘ahu’s largest water park. Get your adrenaline rush with giant waterslides, an interactive splash station for keiki, a lazy river and so much more

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Ka'ena Point State Park, Oahu
Photo Courtesy of Grace Towle

Ka‘ena Point State Park

92-1047 Olani St., #1206

Explore rocky coves, frolic in tide pools or take a hike along a volcanic coast at this magical park. There’s a special reserve area designated to protect albatrosses, Hawaiian monk seals and other endangered native plants—if you see any creatures, be sure to keep a 50-foot distance on land and in water.  

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North Shore

Waimea Valley, Oahu
Photo Courtesy of Waimea Valley Facebook

Waimea Valley

59-864 Kamehameha Hwy., Hale‘iwa

Rich in Hawaiian history and a multitude of cultural sites, Waimea Valley offers more than 5,000 botanicals to experience as you walk along a paved path. Your destination is a 45-foot waterfall where you can swim with life vests offered by staff. Along the way, you can learn about native Hawaiian practices and traditions. 

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Hale’iwa Town

66-197 Kamehameha Hwy., Hale‘iwa

Haleiwa, Oahu, North Shore
Photo Courtesy of Grace Towle

Hale‘iwa Town is more than just a chill surf town—it’s a charming, walkable hub of the Noth Shore that’s a welcome escape from the busyness of Waikīkī. Stroll through cool shops, boutiques, quirky art galleries, delicious restaurants and one-of-a-kind food trucks. Grab shave ice after swimming at Waimea Bay and be sure to grab a souvenir from one of the many cute boutiques. 

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Did we miss your favorite restaurant?

Our always-hungry team of foodies have compiled this list.
Please let us know if we’ve missed your favorite

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