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  • Writer's pictureMFail

Oahu's Best-Kept Secrets: Local Tips for a Memorable Visit

Updated: Dec 28, 2023

Oahu, Hawaii - Diamond Head (Leahi) volcanic crater towering over the suburbs of Honolulu
Oahu, Hawaii - Diamond Head (Leahi) volcanic crater towering over the suburbs of Honolulu

Many people connect the island of Oahu with Waikiki Beach, but truthfully, there is so much more on this island to be explored.

For history buffs, Pearl Harbor National Memorial, USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum, and Punchbowl Cemetery should not be missed. Visit the Hawaiian treasure and only royal palace in the United States, ‘Iolani Palace. The palace was the official residence of the Hawaiian Kingdom's last two monarchs and serves as a symbol of Hawaiian excellence and innovation as well as honors the multifaceted and significant history of Hawaiʻi. Those visiting the palace on any second Saturday of the month can attend the "Hear Hawaiʻi" Workshops, which bring Hawaiian voices, culture and stories to life.

Another place for unparalleled Hawaiian cultural learning is Bishop Museum which houses the largest collection of Hawaiian and Pacific cultural artifacts and natural history specimens in the world. Looking for fun hands-on activities? In the heart of Waikīkī, head to the Royal Hawaiian Center which offers an array of free cultural activities and classes from stargazing, ʻukulele, lei-making to hula.

A visit to Kualoa Ranch takes you into the Pali Mountain area. Board a bus to visit movie filming sites, reserve an ATV or ride a horse... there is so much to do! The Polynesian Culture Center is an educational facility that helps visitors learn more about the Polynesian people from Hawaii, Tahiti, New Zealand, Fiji, Samoa and more. This is a full day event because guests are able to experience each island and see presentations.

Not to be missed is the North Shore area town of Haleiwa. Visit a food truck, be impressed by the surfers, and enjoy the low-key atmosphere and scenery. Plan a stop at Waimea Bay. Next, swing by the Dole Plantation on your island tour.

Looking for a great place to shop for t-shirts, trinkets, and island crafts? Visit Hawaii's largest open air market - Aloha Stadium Swap Meet and Marketplace. It usually open on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. I shopped here at least once a month to grab clothes for my children, Christmas gifts to send the mainland, and food, food, food. Yes, I loved the food!

Need more ideas of activities for the island of Oahu? I lived there for 6 years and am happy to share!


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