10 Free Things to Do on O'ahu

6:33 PM

Besides your typical luaus and incredible beaches, O'ahu has so much more to offer. These are some ways to enjoy the island, just like the locals do. 

1. Meet a Sea Turtle 

As a Honu Guardian with the Malama Na Honu organization based out of the North Shore, and as an avid snorkeler, I know how awesome our Green Sea Turtles are. The best spot to get a glimpse of these precious creatures is on North Shore's Laniakea Beach. There, the honus (sea turtles) come up to rest on the sand and are protected by the Honu Guardians who are there to answer any question you have and are happy to snap a photo of you with the sea turtles. Of course, you may get lucky and see a turtle while swimming, but you have a great chance of spotting one on this beach.

2. Go Hiking

There are so many wonderful hikes on this island, it would be hard to choose a single one that is a "must do". Asking around and researching online will give you a good idea of what kind of hike you may want to try. The flora on O'ahu is eye-catching and the numerous trails can take you anywhere, from the top of a mountain ridge ,through a bamboo forest, or to a waterfall. We have hikes for all skill levels and I have posted about several of them here on my blog.

3. Watch the Sunrise or Sunset

Watching the sunrise or sunset from the beach is one of my favorite things to do. The colors are just unreal and it is a great way to end or start a day at the beach. The best sunrises can be caught anywhere on the East side, especially at Makapu'u Lookout or at Lanikai Beach. The sunset is spectacular on the West side, my favorite spot on the whole island is at Yokohama Beach with the gorgeous mountains as a backdrop.

4. Visit the Pear Harbor Memorial Sites

The World War II Valor in the Pacific national monument is a part of our great system of national parks. Visiting the USS Arizona memorial and walking through the small museum brings you back in time to that solemn day. The opportunity to pay your respects and keep the memory alive cannot be passed up. You will find yourself surrounded by people from all over the world who are just as eager to learn about the event, and if you're lucky, there may just be a survivor speaking that day.

5. Stroll Through Historic Hale'iwa

North Shore is considered the surf capitol of the world and while those legendary waves have brought many visitors, Hale'iwa Town seems to retain its picturesque standards of a typical surf town. The many shops and delicious food trucks make for a great place to stop on your way to and from North Shore. The acai bowls and shave ice that Hawai'i is famous for can be found here, among the surf shops and friendly locals.

6. Snorkel/Dive

You can snorkel pretty much anywhere here, it's an island! Our reefs and colorful fish need to be seen in the wild to be truly enjoyed, so forget the aquarium. Hanauma Bay is one of my favorites because it is a protected marine environment  by the state parks service. While it costs to get in, the money goes to conservation of the reef and you have plenty of educational opportunities at your finger tips here. Another favorite is Shark's Cove in North Shore because the cove is protected by rocks and reef and is shallow enough for new swimmers to enjoy.

7. See a Volcano

While O'ahu has no active volcanoes, the ones we do have are beautiful. Diamond Head, our most famous one, provides the perfect background from the beaches of Waikiki and the top gives you a good spot to view the city and surrounding areas. Koko Head requires quite a hike to get to the top, but the views are spectacular, check out my blog post on it to learn more about that hike.

8. Swim in a Waterfall

Nothing beats a hike out to a cool waterfall, especially after it has been raining. There are several, easy, waterfall hikes that the whole family can enjoy, like Manoa Falls, Waimea Falls, and Maunawili Falls. You really cannot go wrong with whichever waterfall you choose to visit. Always remember, Leptospirosis is something to be careful of when playing in Hawaii's fresh water.

9. Watch Fireworks in Waikiki

Every Friday night, the Hilton puts on an awesome fireworks display in Waikiki. Watching the fireworks from the beach is the best way to kick off the weekend or finish a day of shopping and eating downtown.

10.  Drive around the Island

The island is not very big, but just big enough to spend a day driving around viewing the scenery. I have found some of the best food and coolest, little, shops by simply driving and stopping when I feel like it. Some places are off the beaten path and require you to do a little discovery of your own. Pause at all the scenic lookouts labeled on the side of the road to get a true glimpse of the different parts of the island.

11. Visit the Valley of the Temples

The Byodo-In Temple requires a small admission fee, which is why I did not include it in the list of 10. The Buddhist temple is home to wild peacocks and it's lush gardens hide several koi ponds. The temple and cemetery are so peaceful, I cannot help but just walk around or sit on a bench to take it all in.

Alecia <3

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