Oahu is one of the most beautiful locations not only in Hawaii, but in the entire world. With top-notch white beaches, world-class surfing, abundance of flora and fauna, and turquoise waters, it’s no wonder why.
However, if you want the best way to really get to know Oahu, we highly recommend an ATV tour. There are a ton of different tours available, which can make it harder to narrow down the highest-quality ones.
Not to worry, however, as we have the top ATV tours in Oahu available, that’ll be worth your time and money!
Best ATV Tours in Oahu
|Private Off-Road ATV Adventure Tour in Oahu||Kualoa Ranch - UTV Raptor Jurassic Park Tour||Oahu ATV Adventure & Farm Tour|
|Departure:||Gunstock Ranch, 56-250 Kamehameha Hwy, Kahuku||Kualoa Ranch, 49-560 Kamehameha Hwy, Kaneohe||North Shore Stables, 67-221 Waialua Beach Rd, Waialua|
|Departure Time:||Variety available||Variety available||Variety available|
|Duration:||1.5 hours||2 hours||45 mins|
|Includes:||Tour wrangler/ guide, free parking, lunch||Use of UTV, helmet||Use of ATVs, helmets|
Quick Answer: The 3 Best Rated Oahu ATV Tours For 2022
- Private Off-Road ATV Adventure Tour in Oahu
- Kualoa Ranch – UTV Raptor Jurassic Park Tour
- Oahu ATV Adventure & Farm Tour
Oahu ATV Tour Reviews
- Duration: 1.5 hours
- Departure: Gunstock Ranch, 56-250 Kamehameha Hwy, Kahuku
- Departure Time: Variety available
- Includes: Tour wrangler/ guide, free parking, lunch
First up, is one of the most popular in all of Oahu. The Private Off-Road Adventure Tour is really one of those that offer the best bang for your buck.
Lasting 1.5 hours and with various start times available throughout the day, it’s super easy to work into even the busiest of schedules!
You’ll meet your guides at Gunstock Ranch, located just 2 miles from the world-famous Polynesian Cultural Center and 10 minutes from Turtle Bay Resort.
If you don’t feel comfortable driving on your own, or have younger children with you, this is the perfect tour for you. Your guide is going to be heading the tour instead, driving the 4-wheel-drive vehicle all over the place!
The vehicles are great for small groups! They are spacious enough, with a nice amount of leg room and back support. The roofs protect from any falling debris, branches, UV rays, or rain, too!
Expand To See More
You’ll get to see all kinds of natural beauty, from hidden caves, various filming locations of Hollywood blockbuster films, ranch animals, and even notable historic spots from World War II! You’ll even get to see incredible views of Oahu’s famous North Shore!
As you ride, your guide will tell you all about the history of the locations and their importance throughout the years.
After some zooming around, your guide will pick a beautiful lookout spot over the rolling hills. Here, you’ll have some time to rest and take in the wonderful views while enjoying a picnic lunch! The guides do a great job at including traditional ingredients that are part of local culture, so you’ll surely try something new.
If you’re looking to see the “real” Hawaii, look no further because this tour will take you there!
100% refund for cancellations within 24 hours of tour experience
- Duration: 2 hours
- Departure: Kualoa Ranch, 49-560 Kamehameha Hwy, Kaneohe
- Departure Time: Variety available
- Includes: Use of UTV, helmet
This next tour is just a bit longer than the other, clocking in at 2 hours long which makes it easy to fit into your schedule. If you saw Jurassic Park and thought “wow, I’d love to ride around that beautiful landscape”, here’s your chance! On The Kualoa Ranch – UTV Raptor Tour, you may not encounter the reptilian kind but you’re sure to have a roaring good time!
Meet up with your tour guide at Kualoa Ranch, where you’ll be given a safety briefing and given your safety equipment. The cool thing with this tour, is that you get to choose to either drive your own UTV or sit back and enjoy the ride while your guide drives.
Each UTV holds anywhere from 2 to 6 people, depending on how many children are coming along for the adventure. However, the vehicle is very comfortable, has a nice amount of leg room, padded seats, and overhead protection.
Expand To See More
Another aspect we really liked about the UTVs were that they let you talk to each other and take pictures, which realistically can’t be done with single-person ATV tours.
As you head out, your guide will tell you all about the sites that you pass. One of the most notable is the filming site(s) of the infamous “Jurassic Park” movie! Head over bubbling streams, through mud, and over hills to see remote areas that are difficult to access otherwise! You’ll see parts of Oahu the vast majority of visitors never encounter.
Another nice thing is that it’s one of those tours that never cancels. No matter what the weather is like (and you know Hawaii gets some unpredictable weather!), they’re heading out! In fact, when it’s rainy it tends to be even more fun splashing around the mud!
100% refund for cancellations within 24 hours of tour experience
- Duration: 45 mins
- Departure: North Shore Stables, 67-221 Waialua Beach Rd, Waialua
- Departure Time: Variety available
- Includes: Use of ATVs, helmets
If you have a really packed schedule and need something much more compact in time, then we have just the thing for you. The ATV Adventure & Farm Tour lasts just 45 minutes, but they sure do pack a lot into that time!
You’ll see beautiful sights, learn about the history and culture of the area, and be able to speed around on high-quality vehicles made for this kind of terrain!
Once you arrive to North Shore Stables, you’ll meet up with your guide who will give everyone a safety briefing and fit you with a protective helmet.
Unlike the other tours in our guide, this one really is with an ATV. You can ride solo or with a partner, which is great if you’re going with your significant other or want to drive yourself. Even if this is your first time driving an ATV, you’ll do just find with instruction from your guide!
Expand To See More
Keep in mind that the terrain can get pretty muddy or dirty, so dress accordingly! We recommend wearing shoes and clothing that you can get dirty.
Your guide will take you to some of the most beautiful spots in all of Oahu. You’ll get to see vast panoramas of Waialua’s oceanfront coastline contrasted with the immense mountain ranges. On this beachfront active farm operation, you’ll have a ton of open land to ride around on.
Take a stroll alongside the coastline if you feel like really taking in these gorgeous places. Make sure to bring your camera as well, so you can take some fantastic snapshots.
100% refund for cancellations within 24 hours of tour experience
Oahu Travel Guide
Although Hawaii has been a US State since 1959, it still feels like another country. Oahu is the most popular of the Hawaiian islands, hosting many of its iconic attractions.
Where else in the US can you visit not just one but two genuine royal palaces?
Whether you’re most fascinated by volcanic features like Diamond Head, the abundance of marine life in the surrounding ocean, or local traditions like lei greetings and luaus, you’ll find something amazing to see and do in Oahu.
Airports & Entry
For most visitors, the only practical means to get to Oahu is by air. There are no ferries from the continental US to Hawaii.
However, you can opt to join a cruise to Hawaii from Vancouver, San Francisco, or Los Angeles.
Hawaii’s main airport is Honolulu International Airport in Oahu, which is also known as Daniel K. Inouye International Airport.
Most visitors to Hawaii arrive here, and the airport handles over 21 million passengers a year. By air, you can reach Oahu from almost anywhere in the world.
If you compare the price of flights on a ticket site like Skyscanner, you’ll find one-way flights from LA for as little as $232, from NYC for $367, and from London for $484.
As one of the 30 busiest airports in the US, Honolulu offers all the facilities you’d expect inside a large airport.
International flights land at Terminal 2, which is the main terminal sometimes referred to as the Overseas Terminal.
You’ll find most of the food outlets, stores, and other services in Terminal 2. All 3 terminals of the airport are linked by the Wiki-Wiki shuttle bus service.
You can reach central Honolulu or Waikiki from the airport by shuttle bus, public bus, taxi, or hire car. Some hotels offer a free shuttle bus service.
Shuttles are the easiest economical option, costing around $16 one way. The public buses are cheaper, but they’re slow and don’t allow luggage. Taxis usually charge between $40 and $45.
Cruises from the continental US depart from Los Angeles and San Francisco, and Canadian cruises depart from Vancouver.
The shortest duration of such a tour is 11 days from Vancouver, but that would involve 5 days at sea and 5 in port.
A 14-day cruise from LA consists of 9 days at sea and 4 in port. If you want to reach Oahu by cruise liner, you’ll sacrifice half your vacation to just getting there.
But the biggest disadvantage of taking a cruise over flying is that a cruise will typically only spend one day in each port.
You won’t have enough time to adequately explore Oahu or any other Hawaiian island.
Traveling in the time of Covid
Like many other destinations worldwide, tours and visitor attractions in Oahu have adopted special procedures.
Wearing a mask in mandatory in many locations. You will be expected to supply your own mask and wear it when you enter public buildings.
Keep your distance from other visitors who are not in your family group or bubble. You will be expected to keep your distance inside minibuses and other vehicles and when seated in restaurants.
At the time of writing, the State of Hawaii welcomes visitors but requires pre-travel testing for Covid-19. You can obtain the most up-to-date information directly from the State of Hawaii Portal.
Eco-Tourism and Sustainability in Oahu
The Hawaiian Archipelago offers many areas of outstanding natural beauty and protected wildlife areas you can explore. In order to maintain this wonderful place for future generations, many of the local tour companies operate eco-friendly tours.
When considering the tours we review on the World Travel Guides website, note that there are often eco-friendly options that empower you to become a more sustainable traveler. This is especially true around the islands of Hawaii. Take care of our world and it will take care of our children.
Whale Watching in Oahu
Humpback whales are migratory animals. In the North Pacific, they spend the summer off the coast of Alaska and the winter in Hawaii. During spring and the fall, they are on the move. If you want to see the whales during your visit to Oahu, it is best to visit between December and April.
Oahu is a fantastic destination for whale watching. The shallow water around the coastline means that the whales swim close to the surface. Also, the weather is perfect for lounging on a boat’s deck and sipping cool drinks while you’re searching for the whales.
The tropical waters also offer the opportunity to spot other fascinating marine animals. You might see dolphins or green turtles.
Whether or not you see any marine creatures, the breathtaking views of the Waikiki skyline from the ocean make any cruise worthwhile. If you want to make the most of your visit to Oahu, a boat trip is essential.
General Planning Tips
Oahu is arguably the most interesting of the Hawaiian Islands to visit, boasting many of the top attractions in the state. Here are 5 tips to help you plan your visit.
Tip #1: If you love whales, go in winter
Every winter, humpback whales migrate from Alaska to the waters around Hawaii to mate and calve.
If you want to see whales breaching the surface, come to Oahu between December and April.
Between 10 and 12 thousand whales gather in the nearby ocean. You can often see them from the beaches, and they are known to circle small boats that approach their pods.
If you’re not interested in whales, the best time to visit Oahu is between September and November.
There are fewer crowds in the shoulder season, and accommodation prices can be cheaper. The fall isn’t as hot as summer but not as busy as winter.
Tip #2: Explore beyond Honolulu and Waikiki Beach
Many visitors to Oahu don’t travel far from their hotel in Honolulu, but many of the island’s more interesting attractions are further afield.
During your stay, make sure you explore some of the more unusual and remote attractions Oahu has to offer.
Tip #3: Book Oahu accommodation and tours in advance, especially during winter
Oahu is a popular destination, so accommodation and tours are sometimes fully booked well months ahead.
To ensure you get the room you want and tickets for the tours you’re interested in, book in advance.
Tip #4: Pack smart clothes and raincoats
Because Oahu has a tropical climate, you’ll spend a lot of time in shorts and T-shirts. However, occasional heavy rainstorms do occur, especially during the summer months.
For that reason, you might want to pack a light raincoat.
And, if you plan to attend any special events in the evenings, such as a traditional luau, or you want to visit a plush cocktail lounge for a romantic evening, then ensure you pack some more formal clothes for such occasions.
Tip #5: Buy traditional local craft souvenirs
You’ll see “authentic Hawaiian crafts” in gift shops around the island, but many of the carvings and traditional clothes are actually “made in China”.
However, there are several arts and crafts stores around the island that specialize in locally produced goods.
For example, check out Na Mea Hawaii, 1200 Ala Moana Boulevard, Honolulu.
Na Mea Hawaii is a store where you can buy books written by and about Hawaiian people, original art, crafts, and cultural products.
Restaurants & Eating Out
Oahu is an island where the indigenous Polynesian inhabitants boast an uninterrupted cultural history. This means it’s a great place to sample authentic Polynesian food.
But the vast numbers of immigrants who have settled here from Asia, Puerto Rico, and Mexico add to the rich cultural mix.
Oahu is also a great place to eat traditional Korean, Japanese, and Mexican dishes.
Because it’s an island, you’ll find lots of seafood dishes in Oahu. Poke is a popular traditional delicacy. Poke is similar to sashimi but the fish is presented in chunks instead of slices.
Monchong is marinated and grilled, deep-water fish. And opakapaka is baked, grilled, or steamed crimson snapper.
If you want to sample traditional poke, check out the Highway Inn in Waipahu. This renowned, award-winning restaurant has served authentic Hawaiian food since 1947.
The Highway Inn also has branches in Kaka’ako and inside the Bishop Museum in Honolulu.
A popular Polynesian cooking technique is using an earth oven called an imu. Any dishes cooked this way are described as luau.
Luau parties are actually named after this kind of food because it is often served at Hawaiian parties.
A popular luau dish is laulau, which features fish, chicken, or pork wrapped in taro leaves.
These wraps are slow-cooked for hours until the meat grows tender. The resulting delicacy has a smoky taste.
For hand-wrapped laulau, again head over to the Highway Inn in Waipahu. While there, also check out the smoked meat loco moco with mushrooms over brown rice. Delicious!
In Oahu, taro is the staple food source. This versatile root crop is often found crushed down into poi, a steamed or baked paste.
Poi is thick and tastes a little sour because of the fermentation that occurs during preparation.
For the best hand-pounded poi, check out the Waiahole Poi Factory on the Kamehameha Highway north of Kahaluu.
Here you can not only eat delicious poi in their restaurant, but you can also attend Hawaiian traditional food demonstrations and tastings. You can also enjoy laulau here.
Honolulu Kitchen in Waipahu, despite its name, is a great place to taste traditional Asian dishes, such as Sichuan pork eggplant, furikake garlic chicken, and kung pao chicken.
Manapua (cha shao bao) are popular all over the island, and Honolulu Kitchen serves a broad variety from spicy, deep-fried Korean style to traditional steamed manapua.
If you enjoy Korean dishes, Sara’s Café (Jun Café) on Beretania Street in Honolulu is popular with the locals. It has a reputation for good-quality, affordable Korean meals.
But if it’s authentic sushi you desire, check out Sushi Sasabune on South King Street in Honolulu. It’s highly rated on both TripAdvisor and Google.
Kulolo is a traditional pudding made from steamed taro, sugar, and coconut milk. You won’t be surprised to hear that you can taste it at the Highway Inn.
Breadfruit is often eaten as a dessert, served steamed, baked, deep-fried, or boiled.
You’ll also love Haupia, a delicious pudding made from coconuts. You can sample haupia, fresh apple bananas, pineapples, and kulolo at Haili’s Hawaiian Food in Honolulu.
Nightlife & Entertainment
Nightlife on Oahu is focused around Honolulu and Waikiki. Typically, the night doesn’t get started until sunset.
With so many tourists here ready to have a good time, Hawaii’s capital is blessed with lots of great bars.
Check out Buho Cantina, a swanky rooftop bar and Mexican restaurant in the Waikiki Shopping Plaza that features panoramic views of Waikiki.
It’s a great place to watch the sunset and start the night. Or if you’re looking for something more upscale, head over to the Halekulani Hotel.
Inside, you’ll find Lewers Lounge, where you can sip cocktails in a plush environment while listening to live jazz.
This is one of those places where they won’t let you in wearing flip-flops and T-shirts.
If you’re looking for a lively nightclub where you can dance to live music and enjoy a relaxed atmosphere, you’ll love The Republic.
This popular club is centrally located opposite the famous Ala Moana Shopping Center. They feature regular concerts and special events.
Nearby is the more upmarket The District. You must be 23 to get inside. They feature a broad dance floor, a VIP section, 3 bars, and live DJs.
Alternatively, check out Addiction Nightclub inside the Modern Honolulu Hotel. Addiction features a stunning light show, with 40,000 lights to light up your dance moves.
Luau and hula hoops
While you’re in Hawaii, it would be a shame not to experience some of the traditional evening entertainments.
You can enjoy a FREE traditional torch lighting, Hawaiian hula show, and blowing of the conch shell at around sunset on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays.
Go to the Kuhio Beach Hula Mound near the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Hotel.
The show starts at 6 pm November through January, 6:30 pm February through October, and lasts for an hour.
If you want a fun-packed evening of laulau food, drinks, traditional songs, and epic stories, go to a traditional luau.
At a luau, you can experience a lei greeting and eat traditional cuisine cooked in an imu while watching indigenous performers perform traditional acts.
At the best luaus, you’ll see locals dressed in authentic Hawaiian clothing and performing Ha: Breath of Life, one of the most famous traditional epic sagas.
There might even be brave fire-knife dancers and fire walkers. Just don’t stand too close.
If you’re staying around Waikiki, many great attractions, bars, entertainment venues, and restaurants are within easy walking distance.
However, if you’re staying elsewhere on the island, or want to explore the island, you probably ought to hire a car.
The major urban area around Honolulu and Waikiki features pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods. You’ll also want to explore the beaches in this area on foot.
When walking any great distance, remember to take a light raincoat. Rain showers are always a possibility, especially during summer.
Cycling is a great, eco-friendly way to cover longer distances. It’s faster than walking but still provides you with the freedom to stop wherever you want and explore.
Bicycles and mopeds are easy to hire around the island.
However, if you’re headed anywhere hilly, or you want to visit other towns, you must make sure everyone in your group is fit enough to go the distance.
Many of the larger resorts and hotels provide shuttles to help you reach the beach and major attractions around the island. These are often complimentary.
However, some hotels charge for their shuttle services, and often those services are limited. Before you set off for the day, ensure you know what your hotel shuttle is going to cost and the timetable.
The public bus service in Oahu is literally called The Bus.
There are mixed opinions about The Bus, with some travelers finding the service great for getting around the island, but others complaining about crowding and slow services.
The Bus does provide 93 routes around the island with an astounding 4,200 stops. You can go anywhere on The Bus!
You pay cash on the bus or purchase a bus pass. You can buy a 1-day pass on the bus for $5.50.
When traveling, keep an eye out for your destination. To stop The Bus, you must pull the cord in advance.
For information about ticket prices, concessions, maps, and schedules, visit The Bus website.
Waikiki also has a trolleybus service with stops along Waikiki Beach. Trolleybuses are great fun for short journeys in the immediate area but useless for really exploring the whole island.
If you want the freedom to travel anywhere whenever you want, you can always hire a car. It’s a lot more expensive than purchasing a 1-day bus pass, but you will get places quicker.
You can easily hire a car at the airport, though some rental companies require drivers to be over 25.
However, note that parking in Honolulu and Waikiki is difficult.
Traffic all around the island gets congested during the busy winter months. And speed limits are lower than in the continental US and strictly enforced.
Because of the problems with parking, congestion, and navigation, you’ll find it easiest to explore the island on a tour where the tour operator provides the transport.
You won’t have the same flexibility as when you rent a car, but you’ll get where you need to go with less hassle.
Taxis and Uber
Taxis in Oahu can be expensive, and they’re difficult to find outside of the main urban area. Hailing taxis isn’t common practice in Hawaii.
However, Uber and Lyft can often offer more affordable solutions to your travel problems.
Most accommodations for tourists in Oahu are found in Waikiki. But you can also find a range of accommodations in Leeward Waianae, along North Shore, and Windward East.
Premier hotel brands, such as Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, and Sheraton, are found around Waikiki.
Business-class hotels are clustered around the downtown and airport areas of Honolulu.
Prince Waikiki is the top-rated hotel in Honolulu on TripAdvisor and is also highly rated on Booking.com and Google.
Prince Waikiki is a modern and stylish luxury hotel with an infinity pool, wall-to-ceiling windows, and a popular rooftop bar.
If you’re working to a tight budget, you can also find cheaper hotels in this area.
The Inn On The Park in Waikiki offers low rates and free parking, which is useful if you intend to rent a car.
And the Ambassador Hotel is also affordable, though it does have relatively low ratings on both Google and TripAdvisor.
The Makana Valley area contains a luxury resort, championship golf course, and a few vacation rentals.
The Hawaiian Princess Resort is highly rated and offers great surfing conditions in a much quieter setting than Waikiki.
This area mainly offers B&Bs and vacation homes, though there is a major resort at Turtle Bay.
The Turtle Bay Resort is situated in a stunning location on a peninsula overlooking the bay. If you love snorkeling and turtles, it’s a great place to stay.
This is a residential area, and the accommodations in this area are mainly vacation homes.
The weather in Oahu doesn’t fluctuate much over the year. There are really only two seasons: winter and summer. Most of the rain falls during the summer.
And there is only around an hour’s difference in sunrise and sunset times between midsummer and midwinter.
Generally, the leeward (west) side of the island is drier than the windward (east) side. This is why the eastern coast is greener than the west.
The hurricane season is from June to November, though bad hurricanes are rare.
The coldest winter month is February, with an average daily high of 780F and a low of 630F. By May, temperatures have risen to an average high of 810F and low of 670F.
August is the hottest month of the summer, with an average high of 850F and a low of 710F. By November, the average high drops to 810F and the low to 680F.
Oahu boasts many iconic attractions that make it the most visited of the Hawaiian Islands.
Honolulu boasts 2 authentic royal palaces!
The more sumptuous of the 2 is the Iolani Palace. It was built in 1882 for King Kalakaua and became the official residence of the Hawaiian Royal Family.
In recent years, the palace has been lovingly restored. Docent-led tours of the grand halls and opulent rooms are available.
Queen Emma Summer Palace (Hanaiakamalama) was built as a summer retreat in 1857.
This house is a museum filled with displays of the personal possessions of Queen Emma, her husband King Kamehameha, and their son Prince Albert Edward.
You can enjoy a self-guided or docent-guided tour of this royal residence.
While you’re in Oahu, it’s only polite to pay your respects to the servicemen who lost their lives to defend your freedom here during WWII. The Arizona Memorial draws 1.8 million visitors each year.
The USS Missouri (WWII battleship) and USS Bowfin (WWII submarine) are permanently anchored in the harbor.
You can explore these nautical relics and learn about sailors’ lives during the war. You can also visit the Pacific Aviation Museum.
You can’t not notice Diamond Head while you’re strolling along Waikiki Beach. The Diamond Head Trail is a great way to explore the volcanic cone that dominates the Honolulu skyline.
Although there are some steep sections, and it looks daunting, the hike to the summit is easier than it looks. It only takes between 40 to 60 minutes for the average hiker.
From the top, you can enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of Waikiki and the Pacific Ocean.
This waterfall at the back of the Waimea Valley is relatively easy to reach. The 15-feet waterfall is surrounded by botanical gardens, and you’re allowed to swim in its plunge pool.
The Waimea Falls trail is only ¾ miles long. Your whole family can follow the paved path that passes important archaeological sites to reach the waterfall.
And if your walk leaves you hungry, you can find the Na Mea Ono Snack Bar at the visitors center.
Your whole family will love the Waikiki Aquarium. Inside you’ll find 3,500 species of marine life native to Hawaii, including crabs, jellyfish, sea horses, octopus, squid, sharks, and seals.
You’ll find the aquarium across from Kapiolani Park near San Souci Beach. It’s a great place to see all of Hawaii’s marine life in one place.
Polynesian Cultural Center
This is a great attraction for anyone fascinated by Hawaiian culture.
The center demonstrates traditional music, dances, food, and other traditions. But it’s not only limited to Hawaiian culture.
The center features 7 separate villages each representing a different region of the South Pacific. You can learn about all Polynesian cultures at the Polynesian Cultural Center.