Oahu’s North Shore is a picturesque coastal area filled with not only scenic sites but ancient temples, wildlife habitats and world-class beaches.  A total of 51 beaches line the 17 miles of North Shore, stretching from Kaena Point to Kahuku Point.  There are numerous sites to see in this coastal region.  However, if you’re pressed for time I picked six Oahu North Shore Attractions I think you shouldn’t  miss.

Oahu North Shore Attractions

Image via Anthony Quintano, flickr

Top Oahu North Shore Attractions

1)  Haleiwa Town

You can’t visit the North Shore without stopping at Haleiwa Town.  The laid back atmosphere is irresistible.  Stroll through town visiting cool surf shops and boutiques, casual yet charming restaurants and appealing art galleries.

Oahu North Shore Attractions

By MUrra (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

2)  Banzai Pipeline

Famous for its tubular waves, this beach has become a mecca for surfers.  The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing is held here.  Stop by and watch the surfers perform.  Amateurs beware!  The surf here is powerful. 

Oahu North Shore Attractions

Horseback riding through Kuoloa Ranch is a true highlight of any North Shore experience.

 3)  Kualoa Ranch

Surround yourself in the natural beauty of Oahu by experiencing one of the outdoor packages available at the Kualoa Ranch.  I recommend the two-hour horseback tour as you get to ride deep into Kaaawa Valley where Jurassic Park, 50 First Dates and Lost were filmed. You’ll also see forests, WWII bunkers and fantastic views of the Kualoa Mountains and the Pacific Ocean.

Oahu North Shore Attractions

You can spend the entire day immersing yourself in the cultures of Polynesia at the Polynesian Cultural Center.

4)  Polynesian Cultural Center

As far as Oahu North Shore attractions go, this is one that combines education with fun! Learn firsthand from the native peoples of each island with interactive demonstrations that teach you the games, fun, and friendship of Polynesia. You can spend the day at the cultural center engaging with each culture represented.  Luaus and the night show HA! Breath of Life are performed at the end of each day.  During your visit, don’t miss the Rainbows of Parade canoe pageant.  It’s a signature performance of the center.

Oahu North Shore Attractions

Waimea Bay is the perfect play to relax on Oahu’s North Shore.

5)  Waimea Bay and Waimea Valley

You can take in both of these scenic spots easily.  Waimea Bay is a scenic beach with crystal blue waters and wide stretches of beach. It attracts a lot of surfers during the winter season but during the summer season it is calm enough for swimming.  Nearby Waimea Valley consists of 1,875 acres and has been a sacred place for more than 700 years of Native Hawaiian history.  Explore botanical gardens, ancient Hawaii archaeological sites, a waterfall, and cultural activities. 
Oahu North Shore Attractions

Photo by MECU, Wikimedia

6)  Dole Plantation

To taste the sweetest and most delicious pineapple you’ve ever had, you have to go to the Dole Plantation.  You can see how pineapples grow and try some mouthwatering pineapple whip.

Explore More of Oahu North Shore Attractions

As you can see, these Oahu’s North Shore is teeming with things to do. Be sure to explore the best places for snorkeling on Oahu’s North Shore as well as all of the exotic beaches this island locale has to offer. As always, check out Reserve Hawaii for all your vacation needs including tips on where to stay, what to do and how to make the most of your vacation.

Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Hawaii to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

Stretching from Kaena Point to Kahuku Point, the North Shore of Oahu is 17 miles of pristine beachfront access.  Popular for surfers, sunbathers and swimmers, the beaches of the North Shore are some of the best of the island.  You can also find spectacular snorkeling in Oahu on the North Shore. Find out where you should spend the day exploring life under the sea with our North Shore guide.

Snorkeling in Oahu

The Best Snorkeling Beaches on Oahu’s North Shore include:

Shark’s Cove

Snorkeling in Oahu

Shark’s Cove Beach

Pupukea, Oahu
Part of Pupukea Beach Park, Shark’s Cove is a lava-rock beach with unique underwater rock formations and diverse marine life. Tropical colorful fish and sea turtles are the cove’s constant inhabitants. Harmless white-tipped reef sharks may also be spotted just outside the cove.

Malaekahana Beach

Kahuku, Oahu
Malaekahana Beach is popular for snorkeling in Oahu as the Waters here are calm and shallow, creating a great environment for snorkeling.  Green sea turtles are often seen along this coastline and Goat Island, just offshore, is a protected seabird sanctuary.

Turtle Bay

Snorkeling in Oahu

Turtle Bay

Kahuku, Oahu
The bay is named after the large number of green sea turtles that inhabit the area.  There is a reef in the nearshore waters and the area also has numerous rock formations.  This beach also has quite a few humuhumunukunukuapuaa, the famous former Hawaii state fish.

Waimea Bay

Pupukea, Oahu
A popular surfing spot, Waimea Bay also has crystal clear waters perfect for snorkeling – during the summer months at least.  Rock formations on either side of the bay are havens for marine life.  Even dolphins can be spotted here.

Mokuleia Beach Park

Snorkeling in Oahu

Waimea Bay

Waialua, Oahu
This is a great place for the beginning snorkel up to the intermediate level. Shallow waters and a long flat reef provide unlimited snorkeling and the sandy beach is a relaxing place to soak up some sun.

Make Time for Snorkeling in Oahu

Snorkeling in Oahu is a must-do vacation activity. Grab some a mask and finds, and get ready to dive into the underwater world of the North Shore.

Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Hawaii to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

Organizing a family trip to the scenic island of Oahu can add up quickly. Between air travel, activity tickets, and excursion planning, you watch your budget dwindle down at lightning speed. And that’s before adding in a hotel! Fortunately, ReserveHawaii.com has some of Oahu’s best hotel bargains available—that won’t demolish your vacation funds.

These Oahu hotels feature unparalleled beach and mountain views, affordable accommodations, and prime locations in the greater Honolulu or Waikiki area. You’ll be situated just seconds away from the beach, top restaurants, and exciting activities.

Image via OHANA East Hotel / Facebook

Top Bargain Hotels in Oahu

1. OHANA East Hotel

Featuring tropical-themed condo-style accommodations in east Waikiki, OHANA East Hotel offers a multitude of room types. Choose from a Waikiki Beach view or a view of the gorgeous city of Honolulu. Certain room types include a kitchenette and a balcony. The lowest rate rooms are an average of $129.00 per night.

Oahu's best hotel bargains

Oahu’s best hotel bargains are also stylish!

2. OHANA Waikiki Malia

Perfectly situated near Kuhio Beach Park in Waikiki, OHANA Waikiki Malia provides guests with a world of convenience. In addition to the various room types, guests enjoy on-site dining, easy access to the beach, and an outdoor pool and spa. Included among Oahu’s best hotel bargains, rooms at this Waikiki hotel start as low as $129.00 per night on average.

Imagine waking up to a view of Diamond Head or Waikiki Beach.

3. Aston at the Waikiki Banyan

Imagine waking up to a Honolulu sunrise, going out on your hotel balcony, and watching the day begin while looking out over the ocean. With a reserved room at Aston at the Waikiki Banyan, you can! As with most of Oahu’s best hotel bargains, this Waikiki area hotel is conveniently located near Diamond Head Monument, the Honolulu Zoo, and of course, the beach. This particular hotel features amenities such as WiFi, an on-site cafe, and two outdoor pools along with a whirlpool spa. Depending on when you visit, rooms at this hotel begin around $159.00 per night on average.

Image via Courtyard by Marriott Waikiki Beach / Facebook

4. Courtyard by Marriott Waikiki Beach

Located conveniently between top Oahu destinations such as Waikiki Beach, Diamond Head, and more, Courtyard by Marriott Waikiki Beach features comfortable accommodations at a price you can justify. With complimentary WiFi, an indoor and outdoor pool, on-site dining options, and so much more, you’ll have everything you need for a picture-perfect Oahu vacation at your fingertips. On average, the basic room type begins at $168 per night. Certain room types include balconies, ocean views, and other amenities for an additional cost.

How to Maximize Oahu’s Best Hotel Bargains

While choosing the right hotel is the first step to saving, use these tips to maximize your savings and vacation budget:

Visit in the Off-Season
During the peak tourist season, hotels will raise their rates as a result of the demand. To take advantage of lower hotel rates, consider visiting during the off-season. In Oahu, the off-season is during the following time periods:

  • The last two weeks in January through the month of February.
  • The last two weeks in April through the month of May.
  • The entire months of September and October.

Visiting during these times result in lower hotel rates, fewer crowds, and more fun for you!

Bundle Your Hotel with More Fun
When you book with Reserve Hawaii, bundling your activity tickets with a hotel results in serious savings! And who doesn’t love additional discounts? Try it for yourself now and see how much you can save.


Oahu is Hawaii’s most populated island, and certainly the epicenter for visitors on vacation.  The area offers a mix of big city life along with the casual island-vibe you crave.  When you travel to Oahu, you’ll find there are five distinct regions to explore. Honolulu, the Windward Coast, Central Oahu, the Leeward Coast and the North Shore. Honolulu, home to famous Waikiki Beach, and the North Shore are perhaps the most famous. However, you don’t want to overlook the beauty of Oahu’s Windward Coast. 

Oahu's Windward Coast

Oahu’s Windward Coast

Oahu’s Windward Coast is just a short drive from famous Waikiki and Honolulu.  Leaving the city behind, travel along the mountainous Pali Highway until you reach the lush countryside and golden beaches of this breathtaking region. 

Must-see sights and things to do on Oahu’s Windward Coast include:

Valley of the Temples

Valley of the Temples Memorial Park houses Byodo-in, a replica of a Japanese Buddhist Temple.

Kailua Beach Park

Kailua Beach Park overlooks Kaneohe Bay and the Mokulua Islands and is a great spot for kayaking, windsurfing and other water sports.

Oahu's Windward Coast

Valley of the Temples

Makapuu Point Lighthouse

Hike to this scenic point on Oahu’s eastern most tip for incredible views and whale watching during the winter.

Nuuanu Pali Lookout

Nuuanu Pali Lookout is one of Oahu’s most popular scenic spots with panoramic views of Windward Oahu and the Koolau mountain range.

Kailua Town

Kailua Town is a buzzing beach community on the Windward Coast of Oahu, Hawaii, and is known for its turquoise water, crescent beach, unique shopping and dining.

Polynesian Cultural Center

Explore and experience eight island villages and exhibits representing the Islands of Aotearoa New Zealand, Fiji, Hawaii, Samoa, Marquesas, Rapa Nui, Tonga and Tahiti at Polynesia

Oahu's Windward Coast

Kualoa Ranch

n Cultural Center.

Kualoa Ranch

Take a horseback ride, ATV tour or take advantage of numerous other activitiesavailable at this picturesque setting.  Kualoa Ranch and its scenic valley has been the backdrop for numerous movies and television shows, making it even more fun to explore.

North Shore

Home of the best surf spots in Hawaii, stop here to test out your skills or watch the pros catch a wave.

Oahu's Windward Coast

Hanauma Nature Preserve

Hanauma Nature Preserve

This beautiful cove was once a volcanic crater, and is now the island’s most popular snorkeling destination.  Clear blue waters and an abundant reef system creates the perfect conditions to explore life under the sea.

Sea Life Park

At this Oahu attraction you can get up close and personal with dolphins, sea lions and rays, as well as see penguin and sea turtle exhibits and sea life shows.

The Best of Oahu’s Windward Coast

Add these sights and stops to your tour of Oahu’s Windward Coast. As a result, you’ll be rewarded with some of the most impressive landscape, scenes, and activities the island has to offer.

Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Hawaii to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

When I visited Oahu, one of the most memorable experiences was the anticipation I felt from the seat of my plane. As we descended into Oahu, I began to think about all of the exciting things we had planned for our vacation. From snorkeling to hiking, museum tours to historical sites, there were so many things to do in Honolulu. My biggest worry was if we had time to fit it all in!

Spoiler alert: we did and I loved every second of it.

Be sure to check out these 10 exciting things to do in Honolulu during your vacation.


Check out Waikiki Beach at least once when visiting Honolulu.

1. Waikiki Beach

During your vacation, make sure you carve out time for one (or two… or three…) trips to the beach. The crystal blue water and beautiful sunny weather will be calling your name from the moment your plane touches down.

However, it should be noted that Waikiki Beach can be extremely crowded. Should you prefer a more secluded beach, you have plenty of other beaches in Oahu to choose from. If you’re up for an excursion, I recommend also visiting the beaches on the North Shore.

No matter which beach you visit, don’t forget the sunscreen. Seriously, a sunburn in Hawaii is not fun.

Experiencing the USS Arizona Memorial is one of the top things to do in Honolulu.

Experiencing the USS Arizona Memorial is one of the top things to do in Honolulu.

2. Tour the USS Arizona Memorial and Pearl Harbor

As most travelers know, December 7, 1941 was a fateful day for the island of Oahu and the United States of America. The USS Arizona Memorial seeks to honor and remember those who sacrificed their lives for our country. As one of the most popular things to do in Honolulu, a visit to the USS Arizona Memorial must be part of your itinerary.

While the 75-minute program and visit are free, only 1,300 tickets are distributed for the memorial daily. And these tickets run out, fast. My husband and I showed up at 7:00 AM when the memorial officially opens and the line was already sprawled to the end of the parking lot. Luckily, we were one of the last people to get a ticket for the tour.

Since tickets to the memorial are on a first-come, first-serve basis, the National Parks Service asks that all members of your party be at the ticket booth to receive their tickets.

Depending on how early in the day your USS Arizona Memorial tour is scheduled for, you will have more than enough time to explore Pearl Harbor. While walking around the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center is free, tours on the other ships are a separate admissions fee. However, these tours are well worth the price. Be sure to tour and visit the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum, Pacific Aviation Museum, and Battleship Missouri Memorial.

Be sure to visit Iolani Palace while in Oahu.

Be sure to visit Iolani Palace while in Oahu.

3. Iolani Palace

When strolling through downtown Honolulu, you’ll come across Iolani Palace. As one of the most historic things to do in Honolulu, this site is the official residence of the Hawaiian monarchy. The palace was built in 1882 for King Kalakaua and his relatives to reside in. Iolani Palace was restored in 1969, reopened to the public in 1978, and has provided guests with an extraordinary (and affordable) experience ever since.


View from the top of Diamond Head.

4. Hike Diamond Head

If you’re the outdoorsy type, hiking Diamond Head should be on your list of things to do in Honolulu. This steep, rocky path leads guests from the center of the iconic crater to the rim of the inactive volcano, where you’ll be met with stunning views of the city, ocean, and mountains.

A few tips before you hike:

Bring a Lot of Water
Trust me on this one. You’ll need it.

Wear Appropriate Attire
If I had a dime for every pair of ballet flats, Sunday best attire, and heels I saw walking on that trail, I could buy you and I a 5-star meal along Waikiki Beach. While it’s not a long hike, it is steep, rugged, and narrow. Your nicest attire is not meant for this Hawaiian hike.

Hanauma Bay is tops my list of things to do in Honolulu by far!

Hanauma Bay is tops my list of things to do in Honolulu by far!

5. Hanauma Bay Preserve

Snorkeling bay at the Hanauma Bay Preserve by far one of my favorite things to do in Honolulu. If you’re an animal lover like me, snorkeling here will top your list as well. Between the beautiful ocean landscape and the tropical fish swimming all around you, I never wanted to leave.

Before snorkeling, guests are required to watch a video detailing how to preserve the bay and safely snorkel. Once down at the bay, you can rent snorkel equipment if necessary. However, if you are visiting the bay as part of a tour, excursion, or group, your snorkel gear is likely provided in your tour cost.

Image via Bishop Museum / FB

Image via Bishop Museum / FB

6. Bishop Museum

One of the more educational things to do in Honolulu is Bishop Museum. With exhibits focused on the ancient Hawaiians, the culture of Hawaii, and more, groups of all ages will enjoy touring this legendary museum. Plus, be on the lookout for the different traveling exhibits.

Image via swimfinfan / flickr

Image via swimfinfan / flickr

7. Waikiki Aquarium

If snorkeling isn’t up your alley but you still want to discover the aquatic life of Hawaii, visit the Waikiki Aquarium. You’ll be able to see fish from all areas of Hawaii, monk seals, coral, and so much more. Be on the lookout for the angelfish — those are my favorite!

Image via Dorthy / flickr

Image via Dorthy / flickr

8. Honolulu Zoo

Continuing with the animal theme, one of the top things to do in Honolulu is visit the Honolulu Zoo for a wild time. You’ll encounter a wide range of mammals, reptiles, birds, and so much more. Plus, the zoo goes above and beyond with their conservation efforts, which you can learn about throughout the zoo.

Parasailing is one of the many water activities that await you in Honolulu.

Parasailing is one of the many water activities that await you in Honolulu.

9. Hop in the Water

A trip to Honolulu isn’t complete without experiencing at least one water activity. When figuring out what things to do in Honolulu, why not be adventurous and try one of these water activities:


Plus, did you know that Honolulu offers a wide range of cruises for travelers to enjoy? Whether you want a snorkeling adventure or a classy dinner cruise, hop in the water and experience Oahu!

Tour Honolulu from high above in a helicopter tour.

Tour Honolulu from high above in a helicopter tour.

10. Go on a Tour

There’s no better way to experience Honolulu than on one of the many tours. One of the coolest things to do in Honolulu is a submarine tour and discover what lies below the ocean surface. Or, if you’d rather see Honolulu from high above, embark on one of the many helicopter tours available throughout the island.

Whether by helicopter, by foot, or by submarine, there’s no better way to learn about and see the island than on a tour.

There are So Many Things to Do in Honolulu

As you can see, there’s no shortage of fantastic things to do in Honolulu. Whether you’re vacationing with family, friends, or going solo, you’ll create lifelong vacation memories in Oahu. To make your trip memorable and affordable, rely on Reserve Hawaii for exclusive deals on hotels, attractions, and luaus.

Vacationing in Oahu is an unforgettable experience. In fact, I visited Oahu for the first time not too long ago. I was so excited about my trip to Oahu that I obsessively counted down the days. However, instead of counting down the days, I should have spent my days figuring out what to do in Oahu. Or more importantly, what mistakes to avoid.

Before deciding what to do in Oahu, review these common tourist mistakes. It could be the difference between a joyous vacation and a dreary vacation.

sky-beach-vacation-summer what to do in Oahu

1. Never Leaving the Resort

While I’m proud to say I’m not guilty of this mistake, I met multiple vacationers who were.

All-inclusive resorts are wonderful, but they can’t come close to all that Oahu has to offer. When deciding what to do in Oahu, look beyond your resort. If you never leave the resort pool, you’ll never experience the incredible opportunities on the island.

I bet your resort doesn’t provide:

  • Exceptional hiking trails
  • Mesmerizing waterfalls
  • Quaint, peaceful beaches (No, not Waikiki Beach)
  • Local food
  • Conversations with locals

Spending your entire vacation at a resort is a costly and quite frankly, boring, mistake to make in Oahu.

rental car what to do in Oahu

2. Not Getting a Rental Car and Exploring the Island

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – there’s far more to do in Oahu than lounging around Waikiki Beach. Although we only rented a car for a day (there are plenty of transportation options in Oahu), it was a perfect way to escape the Waikiki Beach area and explore the whole island.

Had we not rented a car and drove to the North Shore, I would have never seen Turtle Bay, tasted the outstanding local food, or seen ¾ of the island!

Although you don’t need to rent a car for your entire trip, reserve at least one day to take a car through the island.

3. Forgetting to Bring Cash

If possible, bring cash on your Hawaiian vacation. Since there are no major banks on the island, you will be forced to use an ATM. While it’s not the end of the world, the high ATM transaction fees can add up quickly.

Also, several shops and restaurants on the island are locally owned, mom and pop stores. More often than not, these stores only accept cash.

4. Having a Packed Schedule

Once your plane lands at Honolulu Airport, you’re officially on island time. Slow down, relax, and take in as many memories as possible. Packing too many activities into each day will only result in stress, being overtired, and hazy memories of being shuffled all over the island

When figuring out what to do in Oahu, plan one activity for each day. Whether that means spending the day at the beach or seeing the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor, you’ll have a goal and can plan your itinerary around that.

underwater sea turtle and fish what to do in Oahu

5. Not Respecting Local Wildlife and Animals

When vacationing in Hawaii, you will see local wildlife and animals. As you will likely be told, show them respect and give them ample space.

There is nothing worse than watching a crowd of tourists rush over to a turtle swimming to shore. The poor turtle just wants to enjoy the sun and now it’s bombarded with camera flashes, little kids attempting to touch it, and an overwhelming amount of peace signs and hang loose hand gestures.

When wondering what to do in Oahu, you’ll likely choose an outdoor activity with the possibility of seeing a wild animal. No matter the situation, respect the local wildlife. Doing so not only ensures your safety, but the safety of the animal as well.

6. Stepping On Coral

When figuring out what to do in Oahu, you’ll likely decide on a popular island activity such as snorkeling or scuba diving. As your instructor or guide will tell you, do not step on the coral. Not only can it lead to serious scrapes and cuts on your feet, it’s dangerous to the underwater ecosystem.

Several aquatic species rely on coral for shelter, food, and protection. By stepping on it, you are damaging a critical component to aquatic life. Be aware of coral while enjoying Hawaii’s crystal clear water.

7. Taking Lava Rocks and Sand Home With You

It may seem enticing to take a souvenir home from Hawaii. However, taking a souvenir such as lava rocks, sand and other natural elements off of the island is believed to bring bad luck. The last thing you want when figuring out what to do in Oahu is to bring bad luck upon yourself.

Instead, go browse through locally owned shops filled with art and products made by native Hawaiians. Not only will this support the local Oahu economy, you’ll have a piece of Hawaii to bring home with you — that won’t cause bad luck.

diving-1049477_1280 what to do in Oahu

8. Not Stepping Out of Your Comfort Zone

If you can’t come up with any ideas for what to do in Oahu, you need to step out of your comfort zone! Oahu is filled with exhilarating excursions, cultural lessons, relaxing beaches, and so much more. By not taking the time out of your vacation to do or learn something new, you’ve wasted a great opportunity

During my Oahu vacation, I had the opportunity to learn more about the Polynesian culture, go snorkeling with tropical fish for the first time, get up close to a sea lion, and try a new type of cuisine. Had I not stepped out of my comfort zone, I would have flown numerous hours just to sit on the beach.

When figuring out what do in Oahu, start with something completely new. I guarantee you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

9. Forgetting the Essentials

Although it may sound trivial, do not forget to bring the essentials with you. My husband and I forgot to bring beach towels on our trip. As a result, we had to find an ABC Store (which you’ll learn is not hard to do) and purchase towels.

While on your Oahu vacation, you’ll need the following essential items typically not provided by a hotel or resort:

  • Bathing Suit
  • Gym Shoes
  • Beach Towel
  • Sunscreen
  • Sunglasses/Hat
  • Cash

My advice would be to make a list of items you’ll need to pack while simultaneously deciding what to do in Oahu. This allows you to see your activities and packing list side-by-side and pack everything needed for a fantastic vacation.

10. Not Bringing or Wearing Sunscreen

We just talked about the essentials, didn’t we? My husband and I brought sunscreen to Oahu. Plenty of it, in fact. But after a life-changing snorkeling experience at Hanauma Bay, I decided to take a nap on the beach. What could go wrong?

Forgetting to reapply sunscreen. That’s what could go horribly wrong.

While I woke up before getting too badly burned, I looked like a lobster for several days and the flight home was not comfortable. As I looked around the airport before my flight, I learned out that I was not the only tourist who had made this mistake!

No matter what activity or adventure you choose to experience in Oahu, bring and apply sunscreen.

lagoon hawaii 700 what to do in Oahu

Still Wondering What to Do in Oahu?

For more advice on what to do in Oahu (and what not to do), subscribe to the Getaways newsletter from Reserve Hawaii. You’ll receive the exclusive savings, insider tips, and news you need for a memorable Hawaiian vacation.

Hawaii is an eclectic mix of cultures, combining traditions and ways of life from throughout Polynesia.  At the Polynesian Cultural Center Oahu you can explore eight island villages and exhibits representing the Islands of Aotearoa New Zealand, Fiji, Hawaii, Samoa, Marquesas, Rapa Nui, Tonga and Tahiti.  Collectively, they create the way of life and unique experience that is Hawaii.

The Polynesian Cultural Center Oahu Experience

During my visit, I opted for the package that included an ambassador, the Ali’I Luau and HA Show.  The personal touch of a visit to Polynesian Cultural Center is enhanced when you opt for the Ambassador led tour.  With this ticket type, you’re given a friendly, knowledgeable guide who leads your small group from village to village.  If you have the time and money, this is the way to go!

Not only do you get access to more firsthand knowledge, but you also get more one on one time at each village.  Still, it can be difficult to visit all of the cultural center’s villages in one day. So, be sure to plan ahead and have an agenda before you enter the park.  This way you can make the most of your day at one of Oahu’s finest attractions.

Rainbows of Paradise canoe pageant is one of the highlights of a visit. Held around noon each day, the pageant showcases the songs and dances of each island culture on boats that float through the Center’s winding lagoon.  Be sure to head to the lagoon a bit before the show starts so you can get a prime viewing spot of the Polynesian spectacular.

hawaii_2012_round_2_2268 Polynesian Cultural Center Oahu

Immersive, engaging and educationally entertaining, a day at the Polynesian Cultural Center Oahu is an excellent introduction to the history as well as the traditions of Hawaii.  To fully explore all the attraction has to offer I recommend spending a full day at the park.  Generally speaking, this will provide enough time to visit the different sections of the park. Each is dedicated to a different Polynesian Island, with an atmosphere all it’s own. Accordingly, it’s easy to learn firsthand from the native people of each island with interactive demonstrations.

At the Tahitian village I shook my hips as I learned native dances and tried my hand a spear throwing. Then, at the Samoan village I learned the skill of fire making and how to crack a coconut using a small pebble. Meanwhile at the Islands of Aotearoa I got a Maori tattoo (don’t worry they wash off!) and tried the art of twirling poi balls.  Of course, at the Hawaiian village I brushed up on my hula skills and find out why the hula plays an important part in Hawaiian heritage.  These are just a few of the things to do at Polynesian Cultural Center Oahu.  As you can see, whether it be through costume, food, music, or ritual, each aspect of Polynesian culture is presented.

807 Polynesian Cultural Center Oahu

At the end of an activity filled day, I head to the Ali’I Luau.  Luaus are of course a staple of Hawaii attractions. However, I must say this luau is extremely well done. Moreover, the food is some of the best I’ve had at Hawaiian luaus.  Plus, the entertainment showcases not only the history of luaus and importance of the royal ceremony but adds some adorable kids who are already pros at the art of dance and showmanship.

There’s a short break before HA! starts. Take this time to shop at the open market.  Art work, coconut candles, handmade jewelry and many other Hawaiian handicrafts are available for purchase.  Gather up some souvenirs before HA: Breath of Life begins.  Ignited by fire, song and dance, this symbolic story is a tale of birth, death, love and family.  Be prepared for not only an emotional, Broadway-style saga but a stunning show unlike any other you’ll see on the islands.

My day of discovering Polynesian culture was aided by my ambassador, the entertaining and delicious Ali’I Luau and simply stunning HA night show.  As a result, I was very pleased with my package purchase. Make a day of it and explore all this enthralling Oahu attraction has to offer.  It’s worth every penny and I’ll certainly return to learn more about the Polynesian heritage of the islands.

Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Hawaii to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

I recently visited the beautiful island of Oahu and never wanted to leave. The island is filled with so much to see, do, and experience. Even after 7 exciting days in Oahu, I still had things I wanted to do and places I wanted to see. Had I known about the Go Oahu® Card then, I would have been able to do so much more during my Hawaiian vacation.

Use your Go Oahu Card to see especially great views of the city from Diamond Head.

Use your Go Oahu Card to see especially great views of the city from Diamond Head.

What is the Go Oahu Card?

Simply put, the Go Oahu Card is your key to top attractions and activities throughout the island. The pass grants you admission to 33 attractions and saves you 55% on admission simultaneously. Go Oahu Cards can be purchased for 1, 2, 3, 5, and 7 days. During your allotted days, you can enjoy admission to all 33 attractions in whatever order or frequency you desire. After visiting your first attraction and activating the card, the Go Oahu Card is valid for 14 days. Plus, you can access your Go Oahu Card on your phone or by printing it out – however is most convenient for your vacation plans!

With over 32 attractions, locations, and activities to choose from, you can’t go wrong with the Go Oahu Card.

The card is the perfect vacation choice for everyone, especially:

  • Couples on their honeymoon or celebrating an anniversary
  • Families visiting the island for the first time
  • Friends looking to maximize their Oahu vacation


You really can’t beat the opportunity and discounts provided by the Go Oahu Card!

Visit the Polynesian Cultural Center with your Go Oahu Card.

Visit the Polynesian Cultural Center with your Go Oahu Card.

Where Can I Go with the Go Oahu Card?

With 33 attractions and activities to choose from, you’ll have no shortage of especially fun experiences using the Go Oahu Card. A few of the popular attractions available with the pass include:

Polynesian Cultural Center
Known as Hawaii’s #1 paid attraction, the Polynesian Cultural Center allows guests to learn about the Polynesian way of life and history through interactive exhibits and shows.

Hanauma Bay Snorkel
As the top snorkeling spot on the island of Oahu, the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve is not to be missed. Discover tropical fish and coral, and be on the lookout for sea turtles! Tip: Visit as early as possible for a spacious snorkeling experience before the crowds arrive.

Kualoa Ranch Movie Site Tour
Due to Hawaii’s natural beauty, it’s no secret that movie crews flock to the island to film. On the Kualoa Ranch Movie Site Tour, you can see where your favorite movies were filmed on the island.

Use your Go Oahu Card for admission to the USS Arizona.

Use your Go Oahu Card for admission to the USS Arizona.

USS Arizona Memorial Narrated Tour
Learn all about WWII and the infamous day at Pearl Harbor in 1941 on a narrated tour. As one of the most popular spots on the island, visiting the USS Arizona is a must during an Oahu vacation.

Dole Plantation Train Ride and Maze
Ever wondered how Dole Pineapples are harvested or why they taste so darn good? When you visit the Dole Plantation, use your card to gain access to the educational and entertaining train ride. You’ll find your answers here! Don’t forget to find your way through the Dole Plantation Maze while you’re there.

Sea Life Park Hawaii
Use your Go Oahu Card to gain admission to Sea Life Park to see sea lions, dolphins, sea turtles, sharks, stingrays, and so much more! Want to meet an animal up close? Schedule an animal encounter ahead of time.

Diamond Head Hike (with Shuttle Service)
When visiting Oahu, you have to climb Diamond Head. This once active volcano provides a riveting hiking experience to guests ready to climb higher and higher for stunning views of Oahu.

This is only a handful of the attractions and activities you can access with the Go Oahu Card. From interactive tours across the island to historical sites, extreme activities to enjoying the beach, I’m not kidding when I say the Go Oahu Card is your exclusive pass to Hawaii.

Hanauma Bay by Banzai Hiroaki / flickr

Hanauma Bay by Banzai Hiroaki / flickr

Why Should I Purchase a Go Oahu Card?

If the sheer number of exhilarating activities hasn’t convinced you to purchase your Go Oahu Card yet, these reasons will.

The Go Oahu Card Saves You 55% on Admission
Imagine paying top dollar for all of the attractions available through the Go Oahu Card. You’d blow through your vacation budget instantly. The card saves you an extraordinary amount of money, which you can use elsewhere on the island or save for your next Hawaiian vacation.

The Luxury of Convenience
With a Go Oahu Card, you can skip waiting in line for tickets and scrambling to get last-minute admission online. You’ll already have access to Oahu’s top attractions, tours, and activities in the palm of your hand. No waiting, no worries, and more fun.

Choose Your Perfect Pass
The Go Oahu Card isn’t one size fits all. This pass allows you to purchase 1, 2, 3, 5, or 7 days of absolute fun. Whether you want a single day of access to top attractions or a whole week of savings, the card allows you to do exactly that.

Purchase your Go Oahu Card and explore the island today!

Purchase your Go Oahu Card and explore the island today!

Ready to Purchase Your Go Oahu Card?

There’s no doubt that the Go Oahu Card is the best way to explore the island of Oahu. Between the savings and sheer number of attractions, it’s simply an unbeatable opportunity. Enjoy an affordable vacation in Oahu by purchasing your card on Reserve Hawaii today.

Day time might sizzle in Oahu, but when the sun goes down, Waikiki gets even hotter. The nightlife scene in Oahu is centric to its appeal as Waikiki is the island’s main party district. Trendy lounges, restaurants and bars line the blocks of Kalakaua Avenue. Conversely, there’s more relaxed things to do in Waikiki at night that highlight the natural allure of the island. No matter your travel style, the shores of Waikiki will have you sailing away towards a good time.

RumFire FB1


Hot Nightlife

From hole-in-the-wall bars to over-the-top clubs, there’s something brewing in Waikiki every night of the week.

RumFire: Popular with locals and visitor alike, RumFire is a posh beachside lounged with creative cocktails and comfort food. Grab a seat by the fire pit to enjoy an island night under the stars.

Duke’s Waikiki: Set in the half moon bay of Waikiki, with Diamond Head in the shadowy distance, Duke’s Waikiki is a lively place to drink, eat, dance and revel in the aloha spirit of Hawaii. The tiki-bar atmosphere is old school, and pays homage perfectly to its namesake—surfing legend Duke Kahanamoku.

Blue Note Hawaii: Drift away on a breeze of Island tunes and Jazz riffs at Blue Note Hawaii. This iconic lounged is relatively new to the Waikiki nightlife scene, but is already a hit with crowds. Listen to a year-round lineup of musical entertainment – from local talent to international sensations – all in a swanky, stylish setting.

Bar 35: The millennial crowd gathers at Bar 35, a hipster-esque lounge with brick walls, a massive craft beer selection and a DJ spinning jams.

Scenic view of Honolulu city, Diamond Head and Waikiki Beach at night; Hawaii, USA

Scenic view of Diamond Head

Cool After Dark Activities

If the bar scene isn’t for you, don’t worry. Things to do in Waikiki at night don’t end there.

Honolulu Zoo: Going to the zoo at night might sound strange. But, Honolulu Zoo takes advantage of the night with twilight tours and stargazing programs. Check out the nocturnal creatures that call this zoo home, as well as the vibrant night sky from an island perspective.

Diamond Head: If you think touring Diamond Head is strictly for daytime, think again! Segway of Hawaii offers sunset tours of this natural attraction. Cruise along Diamond Head road, to Diamond Head Lighthouse for epic views of the sun dipping into the water. IF you’re not game to ride a Segway, you can still plan to hike Diamond Head at the end of the day for a personal look at sunset views. Diamond Head Park closes at 6pm.

Cocktail Cruises: This activity is a good way to inject nightlife into your veins without overdosing on the scene. With an Oahu cocktail cruise, you get a mix of music and mai tai’s all while sailing around the shores of Waikiki. In addition, the island vibe is made even better by the swoonworthy sunset. As the sun dips below the horizon, you have even see the famous green flash!

Hilton Hawaiian Village FB1

Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort/Facebook

Mild Family Fun

Many parents travel with their kids to the island of Oahu. Luckily, the things to do in Waikiki at night extend themselves to families, too.

Luaus: In my opinion, every Hawaiian vacationer needs to experience a traditional luau. The Aha’aina Royal Luau at The Royal Hawaiian Hotel is an upscale event set right on Waikiki Beach (Mondays only). Over at Hilton Hawaiian Village guests get a more interactive experience with the Waikiki Starlight Luau (Sunday-Thursday). Further, on Friday nights, the Village hosts the Rockin’ Hawaiian Rainbow Revue. This is the ultimate party with Hawaiian music, a torch lighting ceremony and hula girls setting the scene. Of course, the setting at the hotel’s super pool doesn’t hurt either. To top it all off, there’s fireworks at the end of the night.

Picnic at the Beach: Grab an easy meal to-go for dinner at the beach. Then, watch the sun set into the Pacific Ocean as you bask in the mild temps and ocean air. This idea is even better on Friday nights, as you can see the aforementioned fireworks from just about any spot on the beach.

Don’t let the sun set on your Oahu vacation without spending a night out in Waikiki. It’s a hotspot blooming with activity, flair and aloha spirit.

Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Oahu to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.

Looking to experience family fun in Oahu?  With sun, sand and surf signatures of the area, these play heavily into the activities on the island. Likewise, there are numerous outdoor adventures and cultural activities to take in. There add to the authentic atmosphere only Hawaii can provide. One things for sure: the whole family is guaranteed to have a good time when you vacation on Oahu! 

Family Fun in Oahu

Sea Life Park
DSC_9170_optExplore and learn about the abundant sea life in Hawaii’s ocean waters at this aquarium. It features shows, personal aquatic encounters tailored to your interests, and interesting marine life exhibits.

You can opt to simply tour the Sea Life Park and enjoy the interactive shows and aquariums or you can upgrade your visit to include a dolphin encounter or sea lion swim. I highly recommend booking the dolphin package.  Not only do you get to interact with these amazing creatures, but you get a pedal-push and special dolphin kiss during your time.  It’s super fun and totally memorable!

Pearl Harbor
Hawaii 1879_optA trip to Pearl Harbor, located about 10 miles from Waikiki, can be a somber but poignant one.  Share the significance of this moment in our nation’s history with your kids.  As a result, they’ll have a deeper appreciation of what it means to be free.

The USS Arizona Memorial is located above the sunken USS Arizona, where over 1,000 Americans lost their lives.  The USS Missouri Battleship, which was active for more than five decades, from WWII to Operation Desert Storm, is also stationed here.  You can tour the battleship and see the spot where the Japanese surrendered to end World War II. The entirety of Pearl Harbor is worth exploring as a family. Above all, seeing this historic site in person drives home the impact of that day even more, and will give children a true sense of living history.

Polynesian Cultural Center
689_optFor authentic island experiences, there is simply no attraction better than the Polynesian Cultural Center.  To begin with, a trip to the cultural center offers a full day of activities for kids. Learn how to climb a coconut tree, race outrigger canoes and practice spear throwing. Younger kids can learn to hula and learn how to catch a fish, native-style.

In addition, there is a beautiful canoe pageant that is a highlight for visitors of all ages.  Occurring at 2:30pm each day, it showcases the songs and dances of each island culture on the Center’s winding lagoon.  Soon thereafter, end your day with a delicious luau feast, complete with whole roasted pig and the show “Ha: Breath of Life.”  100 performers bring Polynesian culture to life through the art of singing, dancing, fire and special effects.

Pro Surf School Hawaii
Pro_Surf_School_Hawaii_(002)Surfing is synonymous with fun in Hawaii.  Which is why the whole family, at least those ages 6 and up, can take part in learning how to surf.  At Pro Surf School, you can choose from private or group lessons.  Lessons are two hours long and are available three times a day. Further, Pro Surf School Hawaii caters to all skill levels. So, whether you’re a novice surfer ready to catch your first wave or an experienced surfer looking to improve your skills, you’ll have a great day in the surf.

Dole Plantation
Younger kids will really enjoy this excursion, located about 40 minutes from Waikiki.  Admission to the plantation is absolutely free, but activities available are paid for a la carte.  Dole Plantation provides enjoyable activities for the entire family. Options include the Pineapple Express, a 20-minute narrated train tour through the working planation, and the Pineapple Garden Maze, a 3-acre labyrinth featuring a  mystery you must solve.  Try a variety of pineapple dishes at the Plantation Grille for a sweet yet refreshing treat after you conquer the maze.

Ashley is Reserve Direct’s travel expert, visiting Hawaii to find the best travel tips, money-saving deals and insider information. With over 10 years of experience in first-hand-travel adventures, she shares her stories, advice, and current events to help you stay in the know.