Oahu is the perfect island for first-timers looking for a taste of Hawaii’s highlights – a verdant interior, vibrant city life and one of the most famous surfing spots. It’s Hawaii’s most popular and most developed island, blending modern life with ancient Hawaiian traditions.
- Honolulu’s famed beachfront neighbourhood of Waikiki is where you'll find the state’s best nightlife and shopping
- The North Shore is one of the best spots to watch some of the world’s best surfers take on the waves
- Visit Pearl Harbour to gain an understanding of what happened during the 1941 World War II attack
- Oahu is the main gateway to Hawaii’s other islands and with frequent flights it's easy to combine with another island or two
- Active visitors should hike to the peak of Leahi (Diamond Head) for views over Honolulu and the Pacific Ocean
Best time to visit Oahu
• Hawaii enjoys a good climate all year, especially in coastal areas with warm seas.
• Summer (April to November) is warmer and drier while winter (December to March) is a bit cooler.
• Whale-watching season is from late December to early May.
Oahu holiday highlights
Honolulu is by far Hawaii’s largest city. Birthplace of Barack Obama, it’s home to attractions including Pearl Harbour's historic Arizona War Memorial. On the south shore of Honolulu, the urban neighbourhood of Waikiki is world-famous for its long sandy beach, big-name high-rise hotels, shops, eateries and buzzing nightlife. Its South Beach Miami vibe is popular with visitors looking to sunbathe by day and wine and dine by night.
Waikiki is also a great base for exploring the rest of Oahu. Head to the North Shore to discover a quieter pace of life, with miles of white-sand beaches dotted with picturesque harbours and big waves. This is a surfer’s paradise with some of the biggest annual surf competitions held here. Go snorkelling at Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, gliding through a clear underwater paradise of colourful fish and pristine reefs, and journey to Nuuanu Pali Lookout to take in spectacular views of the dramatic Koolau Cliffs and Windward Coast. Shop till you drop in Oahu's open-air malls and boutiques, and watch divers leap off the cliffs in Waimea Valley National Park. For an insight into the spirit, culture and people of Polynesia, visit the Polynesian Cultural Centre, where you can see authentic island villages and join in with traditional activities.