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Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve

Oahu Best Things to See

Oahu Sights Guide

To say Oahu is brimming with amazing things to see and points of interest is a massive understatement. Nearly anywhere you go on Oahu, you're bound to find something fascinating.

From the gorgeous Waimea Valley on the North Shore to world-famous Waikiki to the once battle-scarred Pearl Harbor, Oahu has something for everyone. Take the kids to the Honolulu Zoo at Kapiolani Park, snorkel the breathtaking Hanauma Bay,  and snap some photos at Chinaman's Hat.

Let GuideofUS Oahu help familiarize you with the best things to see on Oahu- peruse the information on these pages and start planning your Oahu sightseeing adventure today.

This entry includes resources for Oahu's Top Things to See, including tips, advice, rankings, maps, and more.

Top 10 Oahu Things to See

When ranking sights & things to see for visitors, we consider several variables - accessibility, scenery quality, location history, costs (if admission required), type of path (if walking/hiking is necessary), and general safety. The numbered sights listed below are our absolute favorites on the island of Oahu.

Punchbowl

Waikiki & Honolulu Region
#10 Rated in Sights to See on Oahu

The ancient Hawaiians used this bowl-shaped crater for very different purposes than it is used for today. They called it Puowaina which means the hill of human sacrifices. Today, the area is sacred for another reason. It is home to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. 

A large marble memorial is dedicated to more soldiers missing in action. The view from Punchbowl is also inspiring. When you first enter Punchbowl bear to the left and continue up the hill until you reach a lookout which offers views of Diamondhead.

Laie Falls

North Shore Oahu Region
#9 Rated in Sights to See on Oahu

La'ie is a peaceful little seaside village located on the northeastern tip of the island. It's most widely known for its large Mormon influence.

In 1865, the Mormons bought 6,000 acres of land and eventually built a temple similar to the one in Salt Lake City.

Laie Falls is a 15-foot falls on the La'ie Ridge Trail and it is the first major stop on the hike. Many hikers take a quick dip here and then head back out.

Valley of the Temples

East Windward Oahu Region
#8 Rated in Sights to See on Oahu

The Valley of the Temples Memorial Park is situated on the windward side of Oahu, in an area called Ahuimanu.  It is a favorite gathering place for people of all faiths to enjoy some peace and tranquility. 

Its gardens honor many faiths including Christianity and Buddhism.  There is also a Japanese WWII cemetery on the grounds.

The Valley of the Temples is well worth a visit, especially if you are seeking some tranquility - away from the bustle of the Honolulu city traffic. 

Chinaman's Hat - Mokolii

East Windward Oahu Region
#7 Rated in Sights to See on Oahu

This little cone-shaped lump of lava off Kualoa Point is officially called Mokoli'i but has earned the nickname Chinaman's Hat from its resemblance to the straw hats that the Chinese immigrants wore.

In the past, this little chunk of land was part of Oahu, but through years of erosion, it has separated. You can still reach it though. It is possible to walk there from Kualoa Regional Park during low tide. You can also surf or kayak there.

The island supports an interesting array of sea life and a small beach in a secluded cove.

Diamond Head State Monument

Waikiki & Honolulu Region
#6 Rated in Sights to See on Oahu

Diamond Head State Monument, also known as Le'ahi, is located just east of Waikiki, on the island of Oahu, and is the most recognized landmark in Hawaii. Le’ahi is a place that offers respite from the busy highways of Honolulu. 

The drive around Diamond Head is quite picturesque, as it winds around the crater by the ocean. Once you enter through the tunnel that bores into the side of the crater, it feels like a world away from the city.

 The monument is a very popular tourist attraction, offering informative signs, bathrooms, and a shave ice & smoothie truck during opening hours.

Nuuanu Pali Lookout

East Windward Oahu Region
#5 Rated in Sights to See on Oahu

The Nu'uanu Pali Lookout is one of the most stunning views of Oahu's Ko'olau Mountain Range. Located just a short 5-mile drive from downtown Honolulu, this lookout offers some of the best views on Oahu. From here you can spot Kailua town as well as Kaneohe Bay and, of course, the breathtaking Ko'olau Mountains.

In 1795, Kamehameha the Great's troops drove Oahu's men up the hills only to force them off these cliffs and to their deaths. Following that battle, Kamehameha was able to finish his quest and unite the islands.

Waimea Valley

North Shore Oahu Region
#4 Rated in Sights to See on Oahu

The beautiful Waimea Valley on North Shore, Oahu, attracts a couple thousand visitors per day however you wouldn’t know it, as its stunning botanical garden setting provides many spacious areas to relax under huge shady trees. 

It’s easy to find a quiet spot to rest on the grassy areas and unwind from the busy highways of Honolulu.  Most visitors flock to Waimea Falls, a 45-foot waterfall, located on the property, to swim and sunbathe.

 As well as being a popular tourist attraction, many folks also utilize the beautiful grounds for concerts, parties, weddings, special events, and even a weekly farmers market.

Honolulu

Waikiki & Honolulu Region
#3 Rated in Sights to See on Oahu

Honolulu is the capital of Hawaii and the most populous city in the state.  The city extends from Pearl Harbor in the west to Makapu’u Point on Oahu’s southeastern shore, encompassing the world-famous area of Waikiki. Today Honolulu is home to over 390,000 people and has been the capital since 1845, when King Kamehameha III officially moved the capital from Maui to Oahu.

The city is a multicultural epicenter with many historical landmarks and an array of global culinary choices, as well as a buzzing cosmopolitan city with world-class shopping and a lively arts, cultural and entertainment scene.  Honolulu has it all – from the art galleries and international cuisine of the Chinatown district to the fine dining, live music and nightlife of Waikiki.

Pearl Harbor

Central Oahu Region
#2 Rated in Sights to See on Oahu

Pearl Harbor is a lagoon harbor situated about 10 miles west of Honolulu.  It is the site of the infamous air assault by Japan in 1941, which heralded the beginning of the United States’ involvement in World War II. 

Pearl Harbor is a solemn reminder of a tragic day.  It is one of the most significant sites in the history of the United States and a National Historic Landmark. 

The area consists of a number of museums and memorials that honor those who served in World War II.

Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve

Waikiki & Honolulu Region
#1 Rated in Sights to See on Oahu

Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve is a gorgeous wineglass-shaped bay situated on the southeastern side of Oahu near Hawaii Kai, tucked into the sheltered side of Koko Head. 

Merely a 30-minute drive from Honolulu (traffic permitting), this stunning bay feels like a world away from the bustle of the city, which cannot even be seen from the beach as the large bay is surrounded by the lush green, gently fluted hills of Koko Head.

The bay is secluded and tranquil in the early morning, but during the day becomes a very popular place for locals and visitors.  Thousands of people flock to the bay each day to experience the excellent snorkeling in the area.

All Oahu Sights & Attractions

Categorized by Region

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East 'Windward' Oahu Sights

North Shore Oahu Sights

Central Oahu Sights

Recommended Oahu Tours