Oahu Vacations

Many visitors to Oahu never leave Honolulu and Waikiki to explore the rest of this surreal island, and that's their loss. The Hawaiian island, a favorite of surfing enthusiasts, history buffs, and hikers, is dotted with sparsely populated beaches, lush rain forests and bucolic surf towns. Travelers in the know seek out these places. Naturally ... Read more
divided into distinct portions, the eastern “city side” is dominated by Honolulu, with its skyscrapers, the Pearl Harbor Monument, and famed Waikiki Beach. Oahu’s North Shore is known the world over for its massive waves legendary surfers. Stay at an old pineapple plantation nearby in Haleiwa or take in a hula lesson or lu'au at the Polynesian Cultural Center. The southwestern part of the island, known as the "windward coast" offers a quieter setting, with towns like Kailua attracting families, including the Obamas, to enjoy its stunning beaches. The many restaurants on the island specialize in classic Hawaiian fare (yes, Spam is on many menus) with an Asian twist, and former President Obama has introduced the world to his favorite home state treat, the Hawaiian shaved ice. You can't throw a coconut without hitting a hotel; Oahu has hundreds of lodging options from high-end resorts to homey B&Bs.

Oahu places to stay and top hotels

Oahu things to do and experiences

  • Hanauma Bay State Park
    9.4238 reviews
    Outdoors, Beaches and Watersports, Snorkeling, Beach, Popular
    Popular withOutdoorsyFamilies
  • Dole Plantation
    8.3257 reviews
    Tours, Classes and Rentals, Outdoors, Farm, Garden
    Popular withFamiliesHistory
  • Pearl Harbor
    9.2173 reviews
    Sights and Museums, Historic Site, Monument
    Popular withHistoryFamilies
  • Diamond Head State Monument
    9.1171 reviews
    Outdoors, Scenic Lookout, Park
    Popular withOutdoorsyAdventure




Oahu is blessed with some of the best (i.e. driest) weather in Hawaii, and many of the places with the highest chances of finding sun at any time of year are located on the southern coast of the island ... Read more
(Waikiki, Ko Olina, etc.). With that said, there is a rainy season, and you are more likely to see some precipitation between October and March, but it’s rarely anything more than a moderate splash. Crowds are the most intense during the winter when temperatures are ironically at their lowest (travelers generally want to escape worse weather elsewhere) but given that the mercury doesn’t rise that much the rest of the year, considering a low-season vacation could mean saving a few bucks without much of a tradeoff. Like all Hawaiian islands, the north-east side is 'windward' and gets more precipitation, and the south-west side is 'leeward', generally less rainy and warmer.

Top Oahu restaurants


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Oahu reviews & trip reports

  • 9.8
    Outdoor Enthusiasts
  • 9.4
    Adventure Travelers
  • 8.8
    Family Travelers
  • 7.2
  • 6.7
    Luxury Travelers

Member Reviews(225)

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Pittsford (town), New York

Hawaii always has an allure that draws you here. Make sure you get out of Honolulu to see the rest of the island.

Recommended for:Outdoor EnthusiastsBudget TravelersFamily TravelersBackpackers
San Luis Obispo, California, USA

When we went to Oahu for the first time this year, I was so blown away by Turtle Bay Resort in North Shore! My highlights were being awed by the partly outdoor portions that is unique to the Honolulu airport. I can't believe how so many places don't have a front wall/door because the weather is so incredible year round! People who work at the hotels all seem really happy and are well trained. I don't see how anyone would not want to live here! All the fruits taste so fresh and you can enjoy so many different types of cuisines!

Recommended for:Outdoor EnthusiastsBusiness TravelersFamily TravelersAdventure Travelers
Local from Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

The best Hawaiian island! Honolulu, Waikiki, Ala Moana Shopping Center, Iolani Palace, Pearl Harbor, the North Shore, Dole Plantation, and many other sites are popular tourist attractions!

Recommended for:Family TravelersAdventure Travelers
West Covina

I love this island. So much good food and beautiful beaches all across the coast!

Los Angeles

A great mix of urban and nature. Oahu is probably one of the best spots to start out if you are just visiting the islands for the first time. Diverse in scenery as well, from city to lazy beaches to countryside towns to farmlands

Local from Honolulu, Hawaii, USA

Wonderful way to challenge yourself and meet knowledgeable and friendly staff.

Recommended for:WellnessStudentsAdventure Travelers
Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA

If you only have one week on the islands Oahu should be your destination. Oahu is the essence of what Hawaii is, from the crashing waves of the north shore to the nature induced iconic hiking adventure of cocoa head. Oahu is for you. Just don't forget to stop and grab a postcard photo from sunset beach before you leave.

Recommended for:FoodiesBackpackersAdventure TravelersArt & Design Lovers
Rochester, Minnesota, USA

There is a lot to do on Oahu, from city activities (Honolulu) to famous beaches (Waikiki and others) to Diamond Head to water activities all over the island to beautiful waterfalls.

Recommended for:Family Travelers
Vancouver, Canada

The most populous island of Hawaii is still a tropical delight. There are lush valleys, small towns, beaches, & hiking trails. You could easily spend 10 days here. To save money, stay & dine with locals in towns like Kailua.

Recommended for:Outdoor EnthusiastsFamily TravelersBackpackers
Carlsbad, California

We did a organized tour that included snorkeling in one location, boogie boarding and then a beautiful hike. A ton of fun and ate at a great hole in the wall called Kenekes... It was near Waimanalo beach.. Best Kahlua pork!

Recommended for:Adventure Travelers