The Best of Oahu, Hawaii – In Photos

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I've done a lot of posts about the trip I took to Oahu, Hawaii back in February. But, in case you missed some of those posts (and also because it's so dreary out today and I need to look at something pretty), I've decided to share with you some of my favorite spots and activities from Hawaii, through various pictures I took there.

We'll do a quick tour of the island of Oahu, going counterclockwise from Honolulu.

Starting in Honolulu, there's the ever-popular Waikiki Beach, which is usually full of people on any given day and in any kind of weather. (Though, if you go in the evening, it's much less crowded.)

Waikiki Beach on Oahu

>>> Here's a little taste of Waikiki Beach (photos and video).

If you're interested in more than just beaches, also consider visiting ‘Iolani Palace downtown, the only (former) royal palace in the United States.

Iolani Palace, Honolulu, Oahu, Hawaii

Right across the street from ‘Iolani, check out the statue of King Kamehameha in front of the Ali'iolani Hale government building.

King Kamehameha statue in Honolulu, Hawaii

>>> You can get to all of these downtown locations by hopping on TheBus.

Getting away from the city, a popular activity on Oahu is the hike to Diamond Head Crater, which affords nice views out over Honolulu. Though, I personally found Diamond Head Beach much more photogenic.

Diamond Head Beach on Oahu

Next up is horseshoe-shaped Hanauma Bay, which is one of Hawaii's most popular snorkeling destinations. It's not difficult to understand why!

Hanauma Bay on Oahu

>>> Here's my account of snorkeling at Hanauma Bay.

As you're making your way along the island's eastern coast, be sure to stop to see Halona Blowhole and Eternity Bay. Sandy Beach (a very dangerous beach with wicked rip tides) is also within view from here.

Eternity Beach on Oahu, Hawaii

From there, cutting inland, don't miss a stop at the wind-swept Pali Lookout, which offers views down onto the windward coast and the town of Kaneohe.

Pali Lookout, Oahu, Hawaii

Take time to visit the Byodo-in Temple, too, a Buddhist temple located at the foot of the beautiful Ko'olau Mountains near Kaneohe.

Byodo-In Temple on Oahu, Hawaii

>>> Here's a quick photo essay of the Byodo-in Temple.

Be sure to also marvel at the islands off the windward coast while you're there, including one that's amusingly named “Chinaman's Hat.”

Oahu, Hawaii

Also nearby along the Kamehameha Highway is Kualoa Ranch. This fun pit stop offers everything from horseback riding to ATV tours. If you're a movie/TV buff, consider a film location tour to the ranch's Ka'a'awa Valley, where scenes from “Jurassic Park” and “LOST” were filmed.

Kualoa Ranch on Oahu, Hawaii

>>> Here's a look at film tourism at Kualoa Ranch.

Continuing on along the coast, it's worth your time to drive out to Laie Point.

Laie Point, Oahu, Hawaii

While you're there, consider a stop at the Polynesian Cultural Center. Even though this place is slightly kitschy, it's still possible to learn a lot about the peoples of the South Pacific by spending a day here.

PCC Samoa Village

>>> Here's my take on the Polynesian Cultural Center.

Before you know it, you'll be on the North Shore (the island isn't really that big, after all!). A beach of interest may be Sunset Beach, which is known for its huge waves.

Sunset Beach on Oahu, Hawaii

Don't miss Laniakea Beach, either. This beach has been nicknamed “Turtle Beach” for good reason — each day, green sea turtles can be spotted here, resting on the sand.

Green sea turtle in Hawaii

If you're feeling extra gutsy, stop in Haleiwa and sign up for a tour with Hawaii Shark Encounters, where you'll get to cage dive with local sharks.

Haleiwa, North Shore, Oahu, Hawaii

>>> Here's my story of how I didn't quite swim with any sharks

From there, you can either head to the leeward side of the island, or continue on along Kamehameha Highway through the center of Oahu. If you continue through the center, perhaps you'll stop at the Dole Pineapple Plantation.

Dole Plantation

On your way back to Honolulu, don't skip Pearl Harbor. This U.S. naval base was attacked by the Japanese on December 7, 1941, catapulting America into WWII. Today, you can tour the visitor center and take a ferry out to the USS Arizona Memorial for free, as well as explore battleships and submarines. It's a very moving location well worth a stop.

USS Bowfin submarine at Pearl Harbor

>>> Here are my tips for visiting Pearl Harbor.

After Pearl Harbor, consider heading up to “the Punchbowl,” another volcanic crater like Diamond Head, which houses the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.

National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu, the Punchbowl, Oahu, Hawaii

>>> Here's my account of visiting this beautiful national cemetery.

While at the Punchbowl, along with paying respects and admiring the memorial, be sure to stroll out to the lookout, which arguably has better views of Honolulu than Diamond Head.

View of Honolulu, Hawaii

So there you have it. My top picks for things to see and do on Oahu!

This, of course, is not an exhaustive list of all the great places you can visit on Oahu. And you're also unlikely to be able to visit them all in one day.

Would any of these places be included on your dream Oahu itinerary? What would you add to/remove from this list?


"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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34 Comments on “The Best of Oahu, Hawaii – In Photos

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  1. Hi Amanda,

    Thank you,thank you!! I grew up in Oahu(I had to return quickly a few weeks back for a family matter). You did a very nice sampling of spots to see. I could add the freaking beautiful coast of the North shore such as in Haleiwa.

      That’s awesome to hear! I know I didn’t get to see everything Oahu has to offer, but I saw enough to know that it’s a really beautiful island!

    I really enjoyed the Polynesian Cultural Center when we were there. The dancing and foods from the Islands are like none other! Thanks for the pictures, the definitely are good reminders of why I need to go back!

      Good to hear another positive vote for the PCC. I went with my friend’s grad school class, and we spent most of our day at the New Zealand village (her class was a Maori language class). But everything else on offer seemed really, cool, too.

    Considering that here in Denver we are currently in another snow storm after several the past few days, I really appreciate the beach scenes of Oahu.

      Hopefully the photos could warm you up a little bit!

    Is the Dole Pineapple Plantation where all our pineapples come from? I’d seriously love to live near there. 🙂

      I think it USED to be where all our pineapples came from. Not so sure about it anymore… I think I remember them saying that a lot of pineapples now come from overseas. Can you believe it? We’re even outsourcing pineapple growing now! Lol.

    What a beautiful post. Glad you posted the pics again. Oahu seems like a perfect getaway, clean turquoise blue waters, beautiful beaches… Great landscape.
    Thanks for sharing the wonderful pics:)

      Thank you so much for the kind words, Arti! Oahu is indeed a perfect getaway… I can’t wait to go back someday!

    Some beautiful looking coves. Love your turtle photo.

      Thanks, Sam! That turtle photo seems to be popular. 🙂

    What great photos! I have to thank you for posting these as it brought back memories of when I took my family to Hawaii for a holiday. What an experience that was, Hawaii is such a lovely place, one that we will one day return to.

      Thanks, Sire! And thanks for stopping by! I agree that Hawaii is a great place — especially to take the family! There really is something there for everyone to enjoy.

    These pictures are gorgeous! The Dole Pineapple Plantation looks like heaven.

      Thanks, Maria! The Dole Plantation had a “tropical garden” that was really pretty and colorful. But I will point out that, unless you visit on a tour, they charge you extra for EVERYthing there. The only real downside.

    Oh I did the Shark Encounter while I was there a few years ago and loved it!

    I love these photos brought back som great memories. My fav is the one with the Sea Turtle that looks like a rock… it’s like an I SPY shot.

      I hope you actually got to see some sharks when you went! Lol, I was very unlucky in the shark department, which was a shame because I love sharks!

      Glad I could help bring back some Hawaii memories for you with these photos! Thanks for stopping by to check them out.

    Such a beautiful place. I hope to visit one day… but I think I’ll skip the shark swimming.

      All of Hawaii is so pretty, especially considering how small the islands are! You get a lot of pretty for your money.

      And the shark swimming is definitely not required. 😉

    Bright colourful tour of Oahu! I enjoyed the fact that you led your readers on a counterclockwise tour of the island, beginning and ending in Honolulu!

    (I completely forgot about visiting the “Punchbowl”, but I’m glad you covered it on your tour.)

    Thanks, Amanda!

      Glad you liked this, Henry! I tried to think of another way to do my photo tour, but this just seemed the most logical! I should perhaps photoshop a map with all of these spots on it… ah, if only I had more hours in the day!

      And yes, the Punchbowl was actually one of my favorite stops! Very beautiful place.

    Thanks for the photo tour of Oahu. It made the dreary day a little brighter.

      Thank YOU for the kind words, Ted. It was quite a dreary day here in Ohio, too.

    What a fantastic overview of Oahu! When I lived there for my first year of teaching, I often walked to Sandy Beach. I never even put my toe I the water! I saw some nasty crashes there!

      Thanks! Yeah, I was warned not to get anywhere near the water at Sandy Beach. Though, apparently it’s one of Oahu’s top body boarding spots! Crazy.

      Went to Bob’s Big Boy…..good if you are going to be on the inalsd for a while and miss some of the plainer mainland food.Pretty sure I went to Canoe’s and liked the atmosphere….don’t remember the food.If you don’t have a JACK in THE BOX in yuor state, you should try one here. Cheap, fast, fun.Also stop at a convenience store and get some rice and spam wrapped together…..just for the experience….it’s really big there.

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