Most visitors to Hawaiʻi are drawn here by our abundant natural beauty, not to mention the great weather. You already know you don’t want to spend all your time here indoors! So what’s there to enjoy, besides the beach? Read on to learn about these awesome O’ahu tourist attractions.
Lēʻahi (Diamond Head)
This crater is the defining feature of Honolulu’s skyline, and every visitor must hike it at least once! But go very early in the day, as the trail fills up with busloads of people by mid-morning. It’s a steep, sunny hike, though not particularly long, taking most climbers less than an hour to reach the top. Pass through some fascinating old fire bunkers, and emerge at the top to a breathtaking view of the city below.
Nuʻuanu Pali Lookout
This incredible lookout, facing the island’s windward side, was the site of an epic battle during Kamehameha’s successful invasion of Oʻahu in 1795. The Oʻahu warriors were slowly forced off the cliff during the battle, and when you look over the side, you’ll see just how steep it truly is. Come to this O’ahu, Hawaii attraction and marvel at the monumental feat of engineering it took to construct a highway over and through these rugged mountains, and the jaw-dropping view toward the windward coast.
North Shore Surf
It’s world-famous for a reason: surfers from all over the globe come here every winter to ride these remarkable waves. Make a day of it, but don’t be in a hurry, because the narrow highways do get crowded with visitors gawking at the surf. Cap off your day of surf viewing with a browse in the art galleries and shops of Haleʻiwa town.
Puʻu Ualakaʻa (Tantalus Lookout)
Just above the city of Honolulu, lush green mountains rise in a seemingly endless ridge. If you’re looking up from Waikīkī, wondering what the view’s like from up there, look no further than Puʻu Ualakaʻa State Park. The park itself is nothing fancy, but the views are unparalleled: you’ll not only look directly down into Mānoa Valley and Punchbowl, but also all the way to the airport and Pearl Harbor. Bring a picnic lunch, or come up in the evening to enjoy the city lights. Drive slowly, as the road is long and winding.
Waimea Bay and Valley
No trip to the North Shore would be complete without a visit to Waimea, one of the few fully intact ahupuaʻa (ancient mountains-to-sea land divisions) on Oʻahu. Waimea Valley is a botanical garden, where visitors can stroll through and learn about tropical plants from around the world, as well as traditional Hawaiian cultural practices, then end up at a great waterfall on O’ahu that offers a great swimming hole. The mouth of the valley, famous Waimea Bay, is where the Quiksilver Eddie Aikau Invitational big-wave surfing championship takes place (though only when the waves are huge enough!) Swimming here is NOT RECOMMENDED in the winter if you are not a big-wave surfer, though in the summer it can be calm enough. Either way, the white-sand beach is one of the most gorgeous to be found anywhere making it an amazing O’ahu, Hawaii attraction.