Nature, Culture and Adventure on Oahu
Nature, culture and adventure abound on the island of Oahu with an array
of sea, land, and air activities, as well as art and cultural museums and
attractions. Oahu offers beauty and excitement that is easily accessible
and suits all levels, ages, interests and budgets.
Following are some of the highlights to give a glimpse of the treasures to
be discovered on the island of Oahu:
Exploring the Natural Beauty
Whether hiking through rainforests, biking along mountain ranges and horseback
riding in lush valleys; parasailing, parachuting, gliding over the dramatic and
diverse landscape of Oahu; swimming, diving, kayaking, snorkeling and surfing
in the azure blue waters of the Pacific - natural beauty is found in the ocean
and on the land.
Mauka Makai Excursions offers scenic archeological and hiking eco-tours of
Oahu’s windward side and explores sacred sites while teaching Hawaiian myths
and legends of each location.
Phone: (808) 593-3525
Backyard Oahu Dedicated to Oahu's hiking trails since 1998, this free website
offers descriptions, details, trailhead directions, news, and access status
on over 80 trails. Participate in the discussion forums, view extensive hike
photography of Honolulu, Waianae and Koolau Mountains, or read about the
island's geography, weather, important warnings and safety tips.
Oahu Nature Tours provides informative guided excursions to see Oahu’s unique
native bird and plant species with spectacular views, excellent photo
opportunities and information about Oahu’s geology, archeology, mythology
Phone: (808) 924-2473
Discover Hidden Hawaii Tours also offers a variety of eco-tours led by expert
tour guides who teach local legends, geology, history, flora and archeology.
For the more independent hiker, Oahu has many well-marked trails for all levels.
Diamond Head is one of Hawaii’s most recognizable features with a trail that
climbs to a 763-foot summit with unparalleled views of the Honolulu area.
Other popular hikes include Makapuu, Old Pali Highway, and Manoa Falls. On
Sundays, the Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club meets at Iolani Palace at 8 a.m.
and offers guided hikes to various trails on Oahu.
Phone: (800) 946-4432
After a hike, nothing refreshes like the cool waters of the Pacific. With more
than 125 miles of shoreline, Oahu has a beach for every interest from shell
collecting, surfing, snorkeling, romantic walks, seclusion and people watching.
The windward side of Oahu boasts beaches that regularly rank in America’s top
10 beaches including Kailua and Lanikai beaches.
Located on Oahu's scenic North Shore, the 1,800 Waimea Valley Audubon Center
features botanical gardens, wandering peafowl and a 60-foot waterfall, giving
visitors direct interaction with the natural environment.
Address: 59-864 Kamehameha Hwy.
Phone: (808) 638-9199
On the North Shore, winter brings the famous waves known worldwide for surfing
contests at Waimea Bay, Banzai Pipeline and Sunset. In the other months, the
ocean calms make perfect conditions for snorkeling and swimming. The Leeward
coast of Oahu offers miles of uninhabited beaches, the most extensive coral
systems in the state and pristine areas far off the beaten path. On the South
Shore, Waikiki beaches thrive with high-energy people from all over the world
sun bathing, surfing and swimming in the gentle turquoise waters.
Outrigger canoe rides and catamaran cruises are steps away with dramatic
views awaiting those who venture out on the water. Outrigger Hotels & Resorts’
Outrigger Catamaran rides go out four times daily. The well-known beach boys of
Waikiki take visitors out throughout the day to catch waves on the traditional
Phone: (808) 923-0711
On the west side, Wild Side Specialty Tours takes researchers, students,
naturalists, families, photographers, and small intimate groups of travelers
to encounter the coastal marine life. This unique experience includes one of
a few known areas in the world that free-roaming dolphins interact with humans
in the water.
Address: Waianae Boat Harbor, Slip A-11
Phone: (808) 306-7273
The Star of Honolulu, Hawaii’s largest sightseeing and dinner cruise vessel,
sails daily and offers whale-watching, entertainment and sunset dinner cruises.
Whether aboard the Navatek I, "Hawaii’s smoothest cruise," a catamaran off
Waikiki beach or even on an outrigger canoe enjoy the breathtaking views of
Oahu’s coastlines and mountains.
Star of Honolulu
Phone: (808) 983-7827
Phone: (808) 973-1311
Discovering the Diversity of Culture
Art, history and lifestyle, shine through in Oahu’s attractions, reflecting the
rich cultural diversity of the island.
The Hawaii State Art Museum (HiSAM) is known to the locals as the people's
museum and features works that portray the diversity of Hawaii’s culture and
people, created by local artists and those inspired while in Hawaii.
Address: 250 S. Hotel Street, 2nd Floor
Phone: (808) 586-0900
Shangri La, Doris Duke's Oahu home, opened for public tours in November 2002,
showcasing her extensive collection of Islamic art, a result of her 60 years of
travel throughout the world. This was made possible due to a partnership with
the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art and the Honolulu Academy of Arts.
Phone: (808) 734-1941
Fast-forward to modern, innovative times at The Contemporary Museum, the former
Alice Cooke Spalding residence, in the midst of the beautiful residential community
of Makiki Heights. The museum has seven galleries with rotating works of art by
celebrated international and local contemporary artists.
Address: 2411 Makiki Heights Drive
Phone: (808) 526-1322
The Honolulu Academy of Arts, Hawaii’s oldest and largest art museum, was founded
in 1927 and is recognized for its outstanding collections of Asian, European,
Pacific, American and African art showcased in some 30 galleries surrounding six
Address: 900 South Beretania Street
Phone: (808) 532-8700
Visitors will find an endless number of roads leading back through Hawaiian history
at the Bishop Museum. Established in 1889, Bishop Museum is recognized today as the
principal museum of the Pacific and one of the world's leading scientific
institutions. The museum features a permanent Hawaiiana exhibit, rotating exhibits
in the new Castle Hall and planetarium shows.
Address: 1525 Bernice Street
Phone: (808) 847-3511
Hawaii’s seafaring heritage comes alive with exhibits depicting the Pacific’s
rich maritime history at the Hawaii Maritime Center. Guests board the only fully
rigged four-masted sailing ship left in the world, The Falls of Clyde. The Center
is also home of the world famous voyaging canoe, Hokulea.
Address: Aloha Tower, Pier 7
Phone: (808) 535-373
Built in 1849 and nestled in the cool Nuuanu Valley, Queen Emma Summer Palace
was once the country home of King Kamehameha IV and his wife, Queen Emma, and
today houses their personal artifacts.
Address: 2913 Pali Highway
Phone: (808) 595-3167
This complex of New England-style salt box homes at the Mission Houses Museum
includes the Frame House, the oldest existing house in Hawaii built in 1821.
Today, the Frame House is a museum of missionary history with an annex that
houses a replica of the Ramage hand press used to print the first Hawaiian laws,
newspapers, bibles, school books and other material. Visitors will enjoy the
Living History Program where guides dressed in period costumes lead the tours.
Address: 553 South King Street
Phone: (808) 531-0481
Built in 1879, Iolani Palace is the only royal palace in the United States and
was the official residence of Hawaii’s last monarchs, King Kalakaua and Queen
Liliuokalani. Painstakingly restored, the Palace is reminiscent of the grandeur
of Hawaii’s monarch period.
Address: 364 South King Street
Phone: (808) 522-0822
This collection of 30 original and replica plantation homes and buildings at
Hawaii’s Plantation Village offers a glimpse of the time when sugar cane
transformed the land, economy and culture of Hawaii. The living museum of a
plantation village recreates the lifestyles of the different ethnic groups
that helped to shape Hawaii.
Address: 94-695 Waipahu Street
Phone: (808) 677-0110
Pearl Harbor serves as a national landmark and is also home base for three
historic attractions. The USS Arizona Memorial was constructed above the sunken
ship, the USS Arizona, as a memorial to honor those who lost their lives on
December 7, 1941 in a Japanese sneak attack on the United States naval fleet.
The Battleship Missouri Memorial is a living museum that offers guests a
glimpse into life on the historic USS Missouri or "Mighty Mo." Climb aboard
the last and most celebrated battleship ever built. It was aboard the
battleship’s decks that the documents ending World War II were signed.
Located near the world famous USS Arizona Memorial and Battleship Missouri
Memorial, the USS Bowfin Submarine and Museum features a renovated World War
II submarine and museum that introduces visitors to some of the sailors during
U.S.S Arizona Memorial
Address: 1 Arizona Memorial Place
Phone: (808) 422-0561
The Battleship Missouri Memorial
Address: 1 Arizona Memorial Drive
Phone: (808) 973-2494
U.S.S Bowfin Submarine and Museum
Address: 11 Arizona Memorial Drive
Phone: (808) 423-1341
The Polynesian Cultural Center is Hawaii’s number one paid visitor attraction.
Located on Oahu’s North Shore, the center features seven Pacific Island villages
on 42 acres with hands-on cultural experiences and interaction. Visitors can
also enjoy a canoe pageant, hula show, luau and the spectacular evening show,
Address: 55-370 Kamehameha Hwy.
Phone: (877) 722-1411
Another way to soak in and enjoy the culture of Hawaii is through specialized
spa treatments that incorporate ancient techniques of massage and healing.
Local ingredients such as kukui nuts, sea salt, seaweed, noni, ti leafs and
coconuts are also used in their treatments. Whether it’s through a lomi lomi
massage, seaweed body mask or ti leaf wrap, the spiritual and healing aspect
of the islands come to life. Oahu offers the spectrum of spas with most
resorts featuring their signature treatments including the Na Hoola Spa,
Ihilani Spa, Serenity Spa Hawaii, Mandara Spa, SpaHalekulani and abhasa Spa
to name a few.
Satisfying an Appetite for Adventure
For those who want to enjoy the natural beauty of Oahu with activity and
excitement thrown in, adventure abounds.
Surfing was once exclusive to the kings of Hawaii, where the sport originated.
Today, surfing is enjoyed by many and Oahu offers superb surfing conditions for
every level. Hans Hedemann Surf School teaches the art of surfing at six locations
around the island. Hawaiian Fire Surf School, based on the dream of three
firefighters, gives surfing lessons on a secluded sandy beach with padded surfboards
with rubber fins reflecting their work as safety professionals.
Hans Hedemann Surf School
Phone: (808) 924-7778
Hawaiian Fire Surf School
Phone: (888) 955-7873
Adventures Extreme Hawaii activities include everything from windsurfing to sky
diving. Perfect for novice beginners or advanced students.
Phone: (888) 573-5100
Aloha Beach Services offers outrigger canoe rides, surfboard/bodyboard and raft
rentals at Waikiki Beach. Experience Waikiki’s waters through the eyes of an
original beach boy.
Address: 2365 Kalakaua Avenue
Phone: (808) 922-3111
Dangle from a parachute as you float through the air, above the ocean and over
the Waikiki coastline with Aloha Parasail.
Phone: (808) 521-2446
With Atlantis Submarine Adventures, ride aboard the world’s largest submarine
fleet on an unforgettable 45-minute journey to sunken ships, airliners and reef
Phone: (800) 548-6262
Charter boats are popular with both locals and visitors who want to try their hand
at fishing the tropical waters. Hawaii Charter Skippers Association works only with
U.S. Coast Guard documented vessels that are skippered by U.S. Coast Guard licensed
captains. The association takes reservations for half-, three quarter- and full-day
Phone: (808) 594-9100
Take a scenic drive out to Oahu’s famous North Shore and hop aboard a glider plane
at Dillingham Airfield. With Glider Rides, you’ll soar above the island on a
three-seater sailplane with a friendly, knowledgeable and professional pilot, and
see stunning views of the northern coastline. After the ride, visit with Glider
Rides’ owner, Mr. Bill, and hear his personal experiences.
Address: Dillingham Air Field
Phone: (808) 677-3404
Sailing offers a great way to enjoy the ocean and to get a different view of Oahu.
Honolulu Sailing Company provides brief cruises off Honolulu to full-day charters
along the North Shore.
Phone: (800) 829-0114
Take a flight on Hawaii’s only seaplane with Island Seaplane Service. This one-hour
adventure begins with a departure off the water to offshore Waikiki, Diamond Head,
Koko Head, the famous Blow Hole and on to beautiful Kaneohe Bay. The flight continues
along the famous North Shore surfing areas, Haleiwa Town and through the same valley
Japanese Zeros flew for the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, ending with a water
Phone: (808) 836-6273
Oahu is home to the best windsurfing conditions in Hawaii. At Kailua Beach, explore
the island’s waters by kayaking and windsurfing with instructors at Kailua Sailboards
and Kayaks, Inc. Learn how to kayak, windsurf, and kite surf, or brush up on
techniques under the guidance of expert guides. Paddle from Kailua Beach to the
Mokulua Islands surrounded by breathtaking views.
Address: 130 Kailua Road
Phone: (808) 262-2555
Located in lush Kaaawa Valley with sweeping views of Kaneohe Bay, Kualoa Ranch &
Activity Club offers horseback riding, hiking, mountain biking and trolley rides
to Oahu’s adventure-seeking visitors. A boat takes visitors across an 800-year-old
ancient Hawaiian fishpond to Secret Island, to enjoy snorkeling or windsurfing.
In ancient times, Kualoa was considered one of the most sacred places on Oahu. In
1850, Dr. Gerrit Judd purchased the land from King Kamehameha III. His son started
an early Oahu sugar plantation in 1863 and began a cattle ranch at the turn of the
Address: 49-560 Kamehameha Highway
Phone: (808) 237-8515
Power a high-performance glass bottom boat and dart about Hawaiian reefs on the
"Wild Thing Reef Explorer." Snorkel at Hawaii Kai’s Maunalua Bay, populated with
green sea turtles, tropical fish and live coral (equipment will be provided).
Hawaii Ocean Tours and Adventures offers jet skiing, power boat rides, parasailing,
and banana boat/bumper tube rides.
Address: 7192 Kalanianaole Hwy.
Phone: (808) 395-6133
To discover the world under water, scuba diving on Oahu offers the spectrum.
Shore dives and boat dives, night or day, the pristine waters of Hawaii come to
life with colorful reef fish, coral beds, star fish, turtles, octopus, lobster,
intricately designed shells and lots of other marine life. Oahu is also the
only place in Hawaii for wreck diving. Breeze Hawaii and Aloha Dive are just
two of the dive shops that provide instruction, rental diving equipment and
transportation to some of the major dive spots around the island.
Phone: (808) 735-1857
Aloha Dive Shop
Address: 377 Keahole Street
Phone: (808) 395-5922
See Oahu’s largest waterfall cascading over 1,000 feet into a steep gorge
located at a 2,000-foot elevation up in the lush Koolau Mountains, which is
inaccessible except by helicopter. During Makani Kai Helicoptor’s popular tour,
passengers will fly past famous filming locations, Koko Crater, Hanauma Bay,
Kahana Rain Forest Reserve and big surf beaches including Sunset Beach and the
Banzai Pipeline. The tour concludes with a flight over Pearl Harbor’s
submarines and historic World War II battle sites.
Phone: (808) 593-3525
Article provided courtesy of the Oahu Visitor's Bureau
Other Oahu Activities
Attractions on Oahu
Events on Oahu
Oahu Island - Main Menu
Islands of Hawaii
Hawaii for Visitors
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