The 7 Best Oahu Island Tours [2024 Reviews]

See the beauty of Oahu Island with one of these top rated private tours

From historic Chinatown, the Punchbowl, to all kinds of beautiful beaches, Oahu has a lot to offer! If you want to pack in as many experiences into one day, you have to check out one of the top rated Oahu Island tours.

We’ve done our own research to bring you the top options out there, to ensure you’re spending your time and money wisely.

These tours all include experienced, fun guides who are sure to make you fall in love with Oahu even more!

Be sure to see our other reviews of Sunset Dinner Cruises, Pearl Harbor Tours and Whale Watching Tours.

Best Tours Of Oahu Island

Oahu Grand Circle Island Day TourCustom Private Oahu Island Tour for 6 to 11 peoplePrivate Custom Oahu Tour From Waikiki

Best Value Tour

Best Private Tour

Best Customizable Tour

Oahu Grand Circle Island Day TourCustom Island Tour - for 6 to 11 people - up to 8 hours - Private tour of OahuPrivate Oahu Circle Island Tour
Departure:Pickup from select hotelsHotel pickup offeredHotel pickup is included
Start:7:00 AM 8:30 AM 9:00 AM
Duration:10-11 hours8 hours6 hours
Includes:Lunch, air-conditioned vehicle, hotel pickup and drop-off, narration by professional guideCar seats/booster seats for children, bottled water, use of snorkeling gear
Private tour of the island

Tour Information & Booking

Tour Information & Booking

Tour Information & Booking

Quick Answer: The 7 Best Rated Oahu Island Tours For 2024

  1. Best Value Tour: Oahu Grand Circle Island Day Tour
  2. Best Private Tour: Custom Private Oahu Island Tour for 6 to 11 people
  3. Best Customizable Tour: Private Oahu Circle Island Tour
  4. Best Full Day Tour: Oahu Circle Island Tour
  5. Best Guided Tour: Private Customizable Grand Circle Island Tour of Oahu
  6. Best Local’s Tour: Private Secret Oahu Circle Island Tour
  7. Best Budget Tour: Oahu Circle Island Small Group Tour

If you would like some ideas of other things to do, please see our list of the Top 15 Things To Do In Oahu and Top 10 Things For Couples.

Oahu Island Tour Reviews

1. Best Value Tour: Oahu Grand Circle Island Day Tour

Oahu Grand Circle Island Day Tour

Tour Highlights:

  • Duration: 10-11 hours
  • Departure: Traveler pickup is offered
  • Departure Time: 7 am
  • Includes: Lunch, air-conditioned vehicle, admission fees, all taxes and handling charges, hotel pickup and drop-off, tour narration by professional driver/guide

The Oahu Grand Circle Island Day Tour starts off our guide, and rightfully so, as it’s consistently one of the top-rated! Of course, we didn’t just take others’ word for it – we had to experience it ourselves too, and ours was just as much in-line with the other positive feedback received.

This 8.5-hour tour is fun, interesting, thrilling, and everything in-between! You’ll be taken to see and explore some of the top sites on Oahu in a comfy, air-conditioned coach.

No worries about arriving to a meetup point on time, as they’ll pick you up from your Waikiki hotel first thing in the morning! You’ll go straight to Diamond Head, which is a massive, 350-acre crater which is all that is left of a now-extinct volcano which existed millions of years ago!

Depending on time and traffic, you may get to check out the Amelia Earhart Lookout, where you can catch some wicked views of surfers on the beach below.

Afterward, you’ll head onto Hanauma Bay, which is a marine nature reserve and state park formed within a volcanic cone!

Known for pristine snorkeling spots and tons of sea creatures, only 1000 people are allowed in per day!

Next up is the Halona Blowhole, which is one of the top tourist sites for how the swell pushes through a narrow opening in this rock formation, creating a kind of geyser-like spray!

Next up is Nu’uanu Pali, where you’ll get fresh air and stunning panoramas of Kanehoe and Kailua Bay – two iconic Hawaiian spots. After this, it’s time to see an incredible attraction: the Byodo-In Temple.

This is a recreation of an almost 1000-year-old Buddhist Temple located in Japan. Next, head out to North Shore and Waimea Valley for even more stunning sights, stopping at the Dole Plantation before heading back to your hotel.

More Information & Tour Booking

100% refund for cancellations within 24 hours of tour experience

Other Experiences You May Enjoy:

Powered by GetYourGuide

2. Best Private Tour: Custom Private Oahu Island Tour for 6 to 11 people

Custom Island Tour - for 6 to 11 people - up to 8 hours - Private tour of Oahu

Tour Highlights:

  • Duration: 8 hours
  • Departure: Traveler pickup is offered
  • Departure Time: 8:30 am
  • Includes: Car seats/booster seats for children, bottled water, use of snorkeling gear

Next up is Custom Private Oahu Island Tour for 6 to 11 People. With small group sizes, you’ll be able to take a tour tailored to what you want to do! While making your reservation, you can state what you’d like to do and pass the ideas along to your driver upon pickup.

Just about everything is covered, depending on what you’d like to do. For example, if you’d like to go snorkeling, snorkels and fins are provided. Each van is air conditioned, including a cooler with ice and water so you’re well-hydrated along the trip.

With 8 hours included, there’s a ton of stuff you can fit in! The driver is well-educated on the island and will provide interesting commentary regarding the history and culture of Hawaii.

As the guides are so experienced, they’ll take you to the spots with the best views! Even those that aren’t typically full of tourists!

With hotel pickup at 8:30 am, all you have to do is wake up and meet them in the lobby. Make sure you bring a sense of adventure with you!

Even if you’d like a different pickup time, they are willing to work with you – something that the vast majority of tours do not offer.

More Information & Tour Booking

100% refund for cancellations within 24 hours of tour experience

Other Experiences You May Enjoy:

3. Best Customizable Tour: Private Custom Oahu Tour From Waikiki

Private Oahu Circle Island Tour

Tour Highlights:

  • Duration: 6 hours
  • Departure: Hotel pickup is included
  • Departure Time: 9:00 AM
  • Includes: Private transportation, customizable, vehicle with AC

If you want an awesome tour with a small group, an experienced guide, and tons of iconic Hawaiian sights then look no further. The Private Oahu Circle Island Tour comes with private, air-conditioned transportation to ensure you’re happy and comfy the entire time.

While the route does have a general plan, there is quite a bit of flexibility depending on the preferences of you and your group.

The first stop is Halona Blowhole, which we covered earlier, and is a stunning way to start off any tour! Afterward, you’ll head over to the Byodo-In Temple, which is an incredibly authentic replica of the original in Japan.

You’ll get to partake in various activities here, and just take in the gorgeous surroundings. Next, head to Kualoa Regional Park, where various Hollywood blockbusters were filmed, including Jurassic Park!

As you can imagine, the natural environment here is absolutely breathtaking with its lush trees and mountain views.

At this point you’re sure to work up an appetite, so you’ll head over to Fumi’s Shrimp to refuel! Renowned as some of the best eats on the island, you’re sure to feel satisfied and ready for more adventuring after this!

Meaning “sea spray” Ehukai Beach is definitely full of it! Home to the world-famous Banzai Pipeline, it has massive waves that make it popular for surfing. Even standing on the shore you can feel the power of the enormous, turquoise waves crashing in the distance!

To wrap things up, you’ll stop at the Haleiwa Town Center, where you’ll have almost an hour to browse shops, grab some souvenirs, and of course try some shave ice!

More Information & Tour Booking

100% refund for cancellations within 24 hours of tour experience

4. Best Full Day Tour: Grand Circle Island Tour with Byodo Inn Temple

Oahu Circle Island Tour

Tour Highlights:

  • Duration: 9-10 hours
  • Departure: Free hotel pick up from Waikiki
  • Departure Time: 6 am
  • Includes: Air-conditioned vehicle, friendly tour guide, well-maintained vehicle

Pack in as much as possible into one day with the Oahu Circle Island Tour. This one’s a bit longer at 9-10 hours, but you’ll see some of the best Hawaii has to offer. This way, you won’t feel like you missed out on any of the hotspots!

With a small group and air-conditioned vehicle, you’ll be traveling in comfort. Start off at the Tantalus lookout, which has some of the best panoramas, from Diamond Head to Pearl Harbor!

Every Hawaiian morning requires a delicious cup of coffee, so next up you’ll head over to the Green World Coffee Farm! The 7-acre farm has a whopping 3,000+ Arabica coffee trees and a ton of different menu items (and fun souvenirs!).

Next on the list is Dole Plantation, founded over 100 years ago and offers a bunch of fun activities, like trying their pineapple ice creams and learning about the history of the location.

You can’t miss Haleiwa Town Center, which is a legendary surf town full of cute locales, art galleries, and more.

Catch some fresh air and beautiful views of clear blue water and interesting lava rock formation at Sharks Cove. Known for its varied marine life, this is one of the top snorkel spots in the world. Then head to a renowned surf spot known for every surfer’s dream: the Banzai Pipeline.

Afterward, fuel up on some Fumi’s Kahuku Shrimp, Kahuku Fruit at their farm, and macadamia nuts at Tropical Farms!

Once you’re ready for more adventure, you’ll head to Halona Blowhole, which we’ve talked a bit about already. Then, see Makapuu Lighthouse, which is another destination that has phenomenal views and has an iconic red roof you have to see against the contrasting ocean hues.

Wrapping things up, you’ll have the chance to see dolphins up close, and check out Amelia Earhart’s Marker!

More Information & Tour Booking

100% refund for cancellations within 24 hours of tour experience

5. Best Guided Tour: Private Customizable Grand Circle Island Tour of Oahu

Private Customizable Grand Circle Island Tour of Oahu

Tour Highlights:

  • Duration: 6-8 hours
  • Departure: Traveler pickup is offered
  • Departure Time: Morning
  • Includes: Bottled water, parking fees, fuel surcharge, extra luggage fees, snacks

If you like the thought of a personalized Hawaiian tour, then sign up for the Private Customizable Grand Circle Island Tour of Oahu! No need to deal with large groups or seeing sights you aren’t interested in. You get to choose the itinerary full of your top sights!

Hop aboard a comfy, air-conditioned bus where you’ll meet your friendly, experienced driver who has all kinds of interesting anecdotes and stories about Hawaii.

They will take the most efficient route to and from all of the locations you’ve decided on, depending on if you’d like to tailor it more to tropical nature, pristine beaches, native Hawaiian culture/traditions, history, and more.

Snacks are provided, so you won’t have to worry about going hungry while you’re out adventuring. Some options that you can choose from are: Diamond Head State Monument, Halona Blowhole, Makapu’u Point, Byodo-In Temple, and Tropical Farms Macadamia Nut Farm and Farm Tour.

We loved how knowledgeable and accommodating our guide was, and seemed to be able to confidently answer just about every question we had about Oahu! If you’re looking to learn more about the area, this tour is for you!

With round-trip transportation from the location you choose ahead of time, it doesn’t get easier than this!

More Information & Tour Booking

100% refund for cancellations within 24 hours of tour experience

6. Best Local’s Tour: Private Secret Oahu Circle Island Tour

Private Secret Oahu Circle Island Tour

Tour Highlights:

  • Duration: 5.5 – 7 hours
  • Departure: Traveler pickup is offered
  • Departure Time: 9 am
  • Includes: Round trip transportation from Waikiki hotels, local guide

Clocking in at 5.5 to 7 hours, this tour is a bit shorter than the others if you don’t feel like signing up for an entire day! The Private Secret Oahu Circle Island Tour will blow you away with a wonderful mix of hot tourist sights along with spots most don’t get to see.

With hotel pickup and drop-off, it’s super convenient, too! First off, you should know that the guides are very accommodating and flexible depending on what you’re interested in seeing.

There are many spots you can include in your tour: Diamond Head State Monument, Waimea, North Shore, Nu’uanu Pali, Chinaman’s Hat, Shark’s Cove, Tropical Farms Macadamia Nut Farm and Farm Tour, Ehukai Beach Park, Aloha General Store, and Laie Point State Wayside Park.

Regardless of what exactly you choose to include, know that you should prepare to be outside as all of the activities do take place at least partially outdoors.

The guides all know the best local spots for lunch so you can rest easy knowing you’re going to eat some of the most delicious food you’ve ever had!

More Information & Tour Booking

100% refund for cancellations within 24 hours of tour experience

7. Best Budget Tour: Oahu Circle Island Small Group Tour

Oahu Circle Island Small Group Tour

Tour Highlights:

  • Duration: 9 hours
  • Departure: Traveler pickup is offered
  • Departure Time: 7:30 am
  • Includes: All taxes, fees and handling charges, live commentary on board, professional guide, hotel pickup and drop-off

This list would be lacking if we didn’t include the Oahu Circle Island Small Group Tour. They’ll pick you up from your hotel, where you’ll then set off on a 9-hour tour Taking you through some of the top spots, you’ll benefit from the convenience of a small group while your guide teaches you all about them.

The guide also drives, and knows all the best routes to take, and spots that may be missed on average Oahu tours. No trip is complete without visiting Diamond Head State Monument, which you’ll visit first. The geologic/military history commentary offered by the guide was highly informative as well as entertaining.

If you’re looking to get some incredible photographs, you’ll definitely appreciate the next 2 stops: Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve and Halona Blowhole.

Sample some raw Macadamia Nuts at the Tropical Farms Macadamia Nut Farm and Farm Tour, then stroll along the beach at Kualoa Regional Park. Follow it up at the local ranch, where you’ll get to see a petting zoo, various valleys, and a gift shop.

Fill up and take a break at Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck, which is world-famous for their shrimp dishes! Next, head to Sunset Beach Park and North Shore for incredible views of the waves and surfers.

Check out the local boutiques, get some shave ice, and other local food at the Haleiwa Store Lots, then make your way over to the Dole Plantation where you’ll learn all about pineapples, chocolate, and Dole Whip treats!

Before you are dropped off at your hotel, you’ll go to Waikiki Beach for some of the best views you can imagine.

More Information & Tour Booking

100% refund for cancellations within 24 hours of tour experience

Oahu Travel Guide

best tours of oahu island

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.

By Air

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. A great way to see the “hidden” Oahu is to do a ATV tour and see sights that very few tourists get to see.

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.

fruit market Honolulu oahu hawaii hotels world travel guides
A traditional fruit market in Honolulu

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.

Asian Food

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.

There are several venues where you can enjoy a luau, such as the Germaines Luau and the Paradise Cove Luau.

Getting Around

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.

Hotel shuttles

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 Bus

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.

Car hire

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.

Honolulu beach oahu hawaii hotels world travel guides
View across Honolulu Beach


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 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.

Leeward Waianae

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.

North Shore

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.

Windward East

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.

Honolulu oahu hawaii hotels world travel guides
View across Waikiki and Diamond Head


Oahu boasts many iconic attractions that make it the most visited of the Hawaiian Islands.

Royal Palaces

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.

Pearl Harbor

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.

Diamond Head

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.

Waimea Falls

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.

Waikiki Aquarium

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.

Sites Seen
Tour Guides

The Oahu Grand Circle Island Day Tour is our Editor's Choice for the best tour of Oahu Island

User Rating: Be the first one !

Robert Baker

Robert is a content writer and editor at World Guides to Travel where he shares his love for the great outdoors. He also writes in-depth travel blogs for other websites around the world. Robert is passionate about the environment and uses his writing to educate people about the advantages and importance of sustainable living. Robert enjoys creative writing. In 2009, his children’s novel Sally Hemings & the Good Associates won the Children’s Fiction section of the You Write On Book of the Year Award.
Back to top button