Wondering what activities on Oahu are worth seeing? Check out our list of some of our favorite Oahu Activities and how to save money on them!
This summer my husband and I made our first trip to the islands of Hawaii. Thanks to the generosity of friends allowing us to stay at their home and drive their car plus a few frequent flier miles, we spent 10 days relaxing and enjoying Oahu.
When I started planning our trip to Oahu, I realized that we could keep busy every single day, if we wanted to. We could also easily bust our budget with all the entrance fees. So I asked our partner, Smart Destinations if we could try out their Go Oahu Card. The Go Oahu Card provides entry in to the most popular destinations on Oahu for one flat rate. Smart Destinations provided us with two, 3 day Go Oahu cards to try out.
Most, but not all, of the activities I've shared below are included with the Go Oahu Card.
6 Fun and Romantic Activities on Oahu
The Polynesian Cultural Center: The Polynesian Cultural Center is 42 acres full of information about 6 different islands of the Pacific. While here you can get hands on information about Tonga, Samoa, Tahiti, Aotearoa, Fiji, Marquesas, and of course Hawaii.
We took the canoe tour from the entrance to the very back of the center and then worked our way back to the entrance. Make sure to note the time for the canoe pageant as it only happens once a day and is very cool! We almost missed it!
We also attended a luau at the center as well as the Ha, Breath of Life show. The luau includes an all you can eat buffet and a small show. Entrance to the Center is included with the Go Oahu card and the luau can be included as a premium event for the 3, 5, or 7 day Go Oahu Card.
I should note that the cultural center is run by the Mormon church. I had assumed that it was run by the state or city. I was not a fan of the link between the center and the church not being very publicly displayed so I thought I'd make sure to mention it.
Kualoa Ranch: Kualoa Ranch is one of the most spectacular places on Oahu. There are tons of different activities available on the ranch from horseback riding to ATV tours to a movie tour. Many TV shows and movies have been filmed on the ranch including Jurassic Park!
We took the Ocean Voyage Tour at the ranch, which took us out on the ocean towards China Man's hat. Honestly, I wish we had chosen a different activity to do at the ranch. The boat was fun, but nothing spectacular. You can see China Man's hat from a public park and beach. I'd choose the ATV tour or Movie Tour next time.
Many, but not all, activities at Kualoa Ranch are included with the Go Oahu Card!
The Dole Plantation: We drove up to the Dole Plantation the same day that we visited Pearl Harbor. It's a pretty easy drive up the middle of the island. Unfortunately, we got to the plantation when all the pineapples had been harvested and there was a very long line for the train tour. Make sure to make reservations ahead of time! That line was quick and short.
I wish we had planned ahead better so we could've seen more of the plantation. But we did manage to eat the largest Dole Whip we've ever seen!
Entrance in to the plantation is free and the Go Oahu Card includes both the Train Ride through the plantation as well as entrance to the maze.
Pearl Harbor & World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument: Visiting Pearl Harbor is a very sobering experience, but it's an absolute must see when on Oahu. At Pearl Harbor, which is now called the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, you can visit the USS Arizona Memorial, the Battleship Missouri Memorial, the USS Bowfin Submarine Memorial, and Pacific Aviation Museum. We only visited the USS Arizona Memorial, but you can easily spend an entire day here.
It is free to visit the USS Arizona Memorial. There are approximately 1300 tickets handed out each day on a first come first served basis. But you can plan ahead and reserve tickets online starting 2 months before the visit date.
There are fees to visit the rest of the Monument. The Missouri, Bowfin, and Aviation Museum are available at a discount with the Go Oahu Card.
Bishop Museum: We were on Oahu during a tropical storm. We decided to check out the Bishop Museum on a rainy day when the storm was heading in. I was surprised at how much we learned at the museum! We learned a lot about the island nations that are scattered throughout the Pacific. The museum has a fun exhibit about volcanoes including real lava. It also has a planetarium with shows throughout the day.
Entrance to The Bishop Museum is included in the Go Oahu Card, but there is a charge for parking.
Blue Note Jazz Club: My husband is a jazz musician so we obviously loved this fun spot! The Blue Note features all kinds of artists from local talent to world renowned jazzists. We went to a concert mid-week and the club was almost empty. So even if you don't plan ahead, go to the box office to see what's playing while you're in Honolulu.
Atlantis Sunset Dinner Cruise: Our last night on Oahu, we took a dinner sunset dinner cruise. The cruise begins with dinner, which was fine, but don't expect too much. You don't go on the cruise for the food. Once we were finished with dinner, we headed up a few decks to enjoy the sunset and the view of Honolulu.
We loved being outside on the ship, but there was also a lounge area with live entertainment to sit inside and enjoy the sunset.
There was another company offering a dinner cruise and from afar, it looked and sounded like a club. Definitely not our style! We loved the Atlantis Dinner Cruise for it's laid back and quiet atmosphere.
Smart Destinations offers Go Cards for many other destinations! Make sure to check them out before heading on your next vacation.