Did you know that the island of Oahu draws the most visitors to Hawaii?
, is Hawaii’s third largest and most populated island. It is 44 miles long, 30 miles wide, and 122 miles around. The capital being Honolulu City
, Oahu’s financial and business center. Hawaii’s major international airport and seaport, and State University are all located in Honolulu. The city is known as a major hub for military defense and international business.
But it’s not all business on Oahu, the island is also known as one of the major tourist destinations in the world. Here you’ll see Hawaii’s most visited historical attractions – USS Arizona Memorial, USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park, the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific and many more. For those looking for some of the globe’s most spectacular views, there’s Pali Lookout, Waimea Bay, Sunset Beach, and China Man’s Hat to name a few.
With Oahu’s vibrant mix of business and leisure opportunities, it is no surprise that millions of tourists flock to this beautiful island every year. But with the many spots and attractions to visit, it can get overwhelming which ones to go to first.
Pearl Harbor Website’s list of top 10 things to do on Oahu (in no particular order) can help you narrow down your choices.
1. Visit Pearl Harbor
December 7, 1941, 7:55 A.M, Pearl Harbor, a standard military post and U.S base on Oahu was attacked by Japanese fighter planes. The assault claimed over 2, 500 lives, wounded 1, 000, and destroyed nearly 300 airplanes and 18 American ships making it one of the deadliest attacks in American history. The surprise attack
was what pushed the United States into WWII.
Of the 18 ships that were damaged, naval battleship USS Arizona took the most blows as she was hit four times by Japanese bombers. She sank and took with her almost half of Pearl Harbor’s total number of casualties, including the entire USS Arizona band.
In 1958, then President Dwight Eisenhower signed a legislation to create a national memorial to serve as a permanent tribute to the men and women who lost their lives in the attack. On March 25, 1961, Elvis Presley performed a benefit concert at Pearl Harbor’s block arena that raised over $50,000 for the construction of the memorial.
Today, USS Arizona Memorial
is the most visited attraction in Pearl Harbor. Other famous historical sites in Pearl Harbor include the USS Missouri Memorial
(America’s last battleship) and USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park
(dubbed the Pearl Harbor Avenger) Museum & Park.
2. Visit Punchbowl National Cemetery
The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific more known as Punchbowl National Cemetery, is located in the middle of the Puowaina Crater which is an extinct volcano. Punchbowl Cemetery is often described as the most beautiful and most moving of all the national cemeteries. It is one of the nation’s 2 honored resting places in the Pacific along with the American Military Cemetery located in Fort Bonifacio, Metro Manila, Philippines.
Punchbowl National Cemetery
serves as a resting place for the recovered remains of World War II, the 800 unidentified remains of servicemen who died in Korea, and those who fought in Vietnam.
3. Visit Iolani Palace
was built in 1879 and is located in 364 South King Street in the capitol district of downtown Honolulu. It is United States’ only Royal Palace and was the official residence of two reigning monarchs, King Kalākaua
and Queen Liliʻuokalani. The monarchy was overthrown in 1893.
Iolani was the world’s first palace to have flush toilets installed. It had electricity years before the Windsor Palace (the Imperial Palace of Japan) and the White House did. It also had the first telephone system in the city.
In 1978, Iolani Palace opened to the public as a museum. It became a National Historic Landmark on December 29, 1962 and was added to the list of National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966.
4. Go on an Oahu Island Tour
Tourists from all around the world go to Oahu to visit the island’s famous scenic views. There’s Pali Lookout
, a historical landmark that was the site of Hawaii’s bloodiest battle; Haleiwa City, the surfing capital of the world; China Man’s Hat, a basalt islet with a very interesting story and Waimea Bay, known for having the most breathtaking view of a sunset in the world. Those and more awaits anyone who visits Oahu.
5. Visit Diamond Head
300,000 years ago, a single explosion created a 475-acre land crater. That crater is what we know today as Le’ahi Diamond Head State Monument. It is one of the most famous sites not only on Oahu but in all of Hawaii. Every year, many tourists would hike or drive through Diamond Head
to enjoy a magnificent view, take photos, go on a picnic or just spend some quality time with their friends and loved ones.
6. Visit Bishop Museum
Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum
in Honolulu City is home to 24.7 million cultural artifacts and 22.3 million animals and plant species, some of which are now extinct. For more than 120 years, Bishop Museum has housed the remnants of the Hawaiian Islands’ long and rich history.
7. Visit Shangri La
, an American heiress, art collector and philanthropist built her Honolulu home, Shangri La in the late 1930s. The property was built on 5 acres of land overlooking Diamond Head and the Pacific Ocean.
Shangri La which is also known as the Honolulu Museum of Art, is where interaction of the dramatic Hawaiian landscape meets modernist architecture meets Islamic art. Duke’s collection of Islamic art took her almost 60 years to complete. The museum has been opened to the public for educational programs and for small guided group tours.
8. Go to Hanauma Bay
Located about 10 miles east of Waikiki, along the southeast coast of Oahu, Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve
is a top destination for tourists who come to Hawaii looking for some snorkeling adventure. The bay is famous for its deep blue waters that allows snorkelers to see the gorgeous marine life.
9. Go to Dole Plantation + Eat the World-Famous Pineapple Ice Cream
started out as a fruit stand back in 1950. It opened to the public as “Hawaii’s Pineapple Experience” in 1989. Today Dole Plantation welcomes over 1 million visitors every year.
There are many enjoyable activities you can do and explore around the plantation including the Pineapple Express Train Tour, the Pineapple Garden Maze (World’s Largest Maze – Guiness Book of World Records) and the Plantation Garden Tour. Don’t forget to try their DoleWhip®, Dole Plantation’s world-famous soft serve ice cream.
10. Eat the world famous Hawaiian garlic shrimp in North Shore
When you visit North Shore on Oahu, you will surely notice shrimp trucks that sell local fresh shrimps. Giovanni’s, now known as Giovanni’s Original White Shrimp Truck
started the trend of serving shrimp from a truck. As tourism increased, so did the number of shrimp trucks, among them are Blue Water Shrimp, Fumi’s Kahuku Shrimp and Seafood, and The Shrimp Shack.
Oahu Fun facts:
- According to News Discovery, there are 13 best surfing spots in Hawaii, six (6) of which are found on Oahu, namely; Laniakea, Banzai Pipeline, Castles, Ma’alaea Pipeline, Canoes, Ala Moana Bowls, and Diamond Head Lighthouse.
- The largest wind generator in the world is on Oahu.
- Honolulu City, Oahu is America’s 17th most educated city. 34.7% of the city’s population holds a bachelor’s degree or higher.
- Oahu is home to the oldest garden in Hawaii, the Foster Botanical Garden. It was built in 1855 and is located near Iolani Palace.