Waterfalls in Oahu: Introduction
Waterfalls in Oahu are simply amazing!
Oahu, the third-biggest of the eight main Hawaiian islands, is an incredibly beautiful tropical island with mountains, valleys, forests, beaches, and of course, the most beautiful waterfalls!
Waterfalls are one of my favorite things to see on Oahu: a fitting reward after a hike through the jungle. They are also great places to cool off, swim, or even jump into from cliffs.
There are hundreds of waterfalls on Oahu, but only a few are easy to access or open to the public. Some of them require a long hike, a permit, or a guide to reach them.
Others are on private property or sacred land that you need to respect. That’s why I have selected the 10 best waterfalls on Oahu that you can see or hike to without too much hassle.
While some of these are waterfalls from majestic heights, others are much smaller but with beautiful natural pools that you can swim in or stunning hikes through lush, tropical jungles and dense bamboo forests!
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In this blog post, I will tell you more about each waterfall, how to get there, what to expect, and what to bring. I will also share some of my personal memories and recommendations from my visits to these waterfalls.
Waterfalls are my favorite topic, I hope you enjoy reading this post as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Geological Forces Shaping Oahu’s Waterfalls
Oahu was formed by two volcanoes (Waiʻanae and Koʻolau) that erupted millions of years ago. They are not active anymore, but they created the steep mountains, reaching up to 4,000 feet, and the beautiful valleys that you see today.
Waterfalls in Oahu are mostly found in the wet forests on the windward side of the island.
The windward zone is the side of the island that faces the northeast trade winds. This side of the island receives plenty of rain and has many valleys and streams that feed into waterfalls.
The windward waterfalls are usually more lush and green, surrounded by tropical plants and flowers. They are also more likely to have clear and fresh water, since they are fed by rainwater.
The leeward zone is the side of the island of Oahu that is sheltered from the trade winds, and receives less rainfall.
The leeward waterfalls are usually more dry and brown, surrounded by rocks and cacti, and often completely dry up! They are also more likely to have murky and brackish water, since they are fed by groundwater.
The peak flow of the waterfalls on Oahu depends on the rainfall and the season. Generally, the waterfalls are more full and powerful during the winter months (November to March), when there is more rain and storms.
If you want to see the waterfalls at their most spectacular, you should visit them during or after a rain, when they are more swollen and roaring. Be careful of flash floods, landslides, and slippery trails.
If you want to swim or jump in the waterfalls, you should visit them during a dry spell, when they are more calm and clear. But you should also be aware of bacteria, algae, and leeches in the water.
Note that some of the below waterfalls can be reduced to a trickle or even completely dry, depending on the recent weather.
Never mind, the hike through Oahu’s rainforests is always fabulous!
>> Book an exciting, 5-star rated, highly popular, Oahu tour now!
Map of the Best Waterfalls in Oahu
The below map shows the locations of the 10 best waterfalls in Oahu.
The 5 Must-Visit Waterfalls in Oahu, Hawaii
If you are visiting Oahu for the first time or have limited time during your visit, you don’t want a laundry list of all the waterfalls in Oahu, you want to see only the best waterfalls the island has to offer.
The 5 best waterfalls in Oahu to see are 1) Manoa Falls, 2) Waimea Falls, 3) Maunawili Falls, 4) Waimano Falls, and 5) Lulumahu Falls.
Either the falls themselves are spectacular, like Manoa Falls, or they are in stunning settings, like Waimea Falls, or both!
Be warned, these are the most popular waterfalls, so pick a time to visit when crowds are less likely, like early morning!
The most popular and easy waterfall to visit in Oahu is Manoa Falls. This waterfall is located in Manoa Valley, a beautiful, green valley, about 5 miles from downtown Honolulu.
Manoa Falls is one of the tallest waterfalls in Hawaii at 150 feet high and falls into a small pool of water, and is especially impressive to see after rain.
The waterfall was featured in movies and TV shows such as Jurassic Park and Lost. Some of the scenes filmed here include the dinosaur chase, the plane crash, and the hatch.
Hike on Manoa Falls Trail
To get to Manoa Falls, you need to drive or take a bus to the end of Manoa Road, where you will find a parking lot and a trailhead. The parking lot charges $5 per car, but you can also park for free on the street if you find a spot.
The trailhead has a sign with information and maps of the area.
The hike to Manoa Falls is about 0.8 miles one way, or 1.6 miles round trip. It takes about 30 minutes to an hour to complete, depending on your pace and how long you stay at the waterfall.
The hike is easy and family-friendly, but it can be muddy and slippery, so wear good shoes and be careful.
The hike starts on a gravel road that leads you through a eucalyptus forest. You will smell the fresh and minty scent of the trees as you walk.
Then, the trail becomes a dirt path that goes uphill through a lush rainforest with ferns, bamboo trees, ginger plants, and guava trees.
You will also hear and see many birds, such as cardinals, doves, and honeycreepers.
The highlight of the hike is the waterfall itself. When you reach the end of the trail, you will see Manoa Falls in front of you, cascading down a rocky cliff into a clear pool.
The waterfall is very beautiful and photogenic, especially when the sun shines through the mist and creates rainbows. You can get close to the waterfall and feel its spray on your face, but you cannot swim in the pool because it is dangerous and prohibited.
Manoa Falls can also be accessed via the Aihualama Trail, a more difficult but less crowded hike!
While visiting Manoa Falls, you can also see Lyon Arboretum, a botanical garden, and Paradise Park, ruins of a former amusement park.
Treetops Restaurant located near the trailhead, with a view of the valley, offers a buffet lunch.
I visited Manoa Falls with my family when we went to Oahu for our last vacation. We had a great time hiking through the forest and admiring the waterfall.
I thought the hike on Manoa Falls Trail was one of the best waterfall hikes I’ve been on, an easy hike, but very beautiful!
It was very cool to see the locations where scenes from Jurassic Park and Lost were filmed.
Manoa Falls is one of the best waterfalls on Oahu, easy to access, beautiful to see, and fun to explore!
>> Book an exciting, 5-star rated, highly popular, Oahu tour now!
I love Waimea Falls because of the unique triple combination of a beautiful waterfall with a pool you can swim in, set in an amazing botanical garden and with one of the best luaus in Oahu!
Waimea Falls is a beautiful waterfall located in Waimea Valley, a botanical garden and cultural site that showcases the natural and historical richness of Hawaii, on the North Shore of Oahu.
The botanical garden has a visitor center where you need to pay a small fee to enter the valley. The fee is $25 for adults, $12 for seniors, $12 for children 4-12, and free for children under 4.
You have three options for saving money on the entrance fee:
- A Go City pass gives you access to 40+ Oahu attractions and tours including Waimea Valley.
- The Toa Luau at Waimea Valley includes the admission fee and is one of the best luaus in Oahu. The Toa Luau is a luau dinner with cultural demonstrations and Hawaiian entertainment held on selected days from 5 pm to 8 pm at the valley visitor center.
- We took this highly popular, five-star rated island tour Majestic Circle Island Eco Tour from Waikiki which included the admission fee in their tour fare, and loved having an experienced driver relate the history of the island!
Waimea Falls is 45 feet high and falls into a large pool of water.
Waimea Falls is one of the few waterfalls in Oahu that you can swim in safely and legally, and an excellent choice for families with small kids. It is very refreshing and fun to swim in, especially on a hot day.
The waterfall was used as a location for movies and TV shows such as Lost in Paradise and Hawaii Five-O.
Hike on Waimea Falls Trail
To get to Waimea Falls, you need to drive or take a bus to the entrance of Waimea Valley, which is on Kamehameha Highway across from Waimea Bay.
There is a parking lot and a visitor center near the entrance.
The hike to Waimea Falls is about 0.75 miles one way, or 1.5 miles round trip. It takes about 15 to 30 minutes to walk, depending on your pace and how much you stop to see the sights.
The hike is very easy and family-friendly, as it is mostly along a flat, paved road that goes through a picturesque botanical garden.
While the hike is easy, there is an optional shuttle service ($8 round trip) for the very young or elderly who may not be able to walk the whole distance.
The hike starts at the visitor center where you can get a map and learn more about the valley. Then, you follow the road that takes you through different sections of the botanical garden, where you can see over 5,000 species of plants from Hawaii and other tropical regions.
You will also see some cultural and archaeological sites, such as ancient temples, shrines, and houses.
Along the way, you will have some nice views of the valley and the mountains. You will also hear and see many birds, such as peacocks, ducks, geese, and nene (the Hawaiian goose). You might also spot some other animals, such as pigs, lizards, and frogs.
The highlight of the hike is the waterfall itself. When you reach the end of the road, you will see Waimea Falls in front of you, flowing down a green cliff into a clear pool.
The waterfall is very beautiful and inviting, especially when the sun shines through the water and creates rainbows. You can swim in the pool with a life vest that is provided for free by a lifeguard who watches over the area.
You can also relax on the rocks or grass around the pool.
Maunawili Falls is located in Maunawili Valley, a wild and scenic area at the foot of the Pali Cliffs on the windward side of Oahu, near Pali Highway on the Kailua side of the Ko’olau Mountains.
Maunawili Falls is about 20 feet high and falls into a large pool of water that is fun and exciting to swim and jump in, especially on a hot day. We saw a few kids cliff jumping into the pool!
The waterfall was used as a location for movies such as Along Came Polly and Forgetting Sarah Marshall.
If you have extra time after your visit to Maunawili Falls, consider visiting Pali Lookout, a scenic viewpoint with panoramic views of the windward coast of Oahu, Kailu Beach known for its white sand and turquoise waters, and Lanikai Pillbox Hike, a short hike with stunning views of Lanikai Beach and Mokula Islands.
The Lanikai Pillbox Hike is one of the best sunrise hikes in Oahu!
>> Book an exciting, 5-star rated, highly popular, Oahu tour now!
Hike to Maunawili Falls on Maunawili Falls Trail
Note: The Maunawili Falls Trail is expected to be closed until 2024 for re-alignment. You can get to Maunawili Falls via the Maunawili Trail (also known as the Maunawili Demonstration Trail), which is accessed from the scenic overlook just beyond the hairpin turn on the Pali Highway.
To get to Maunawili Falls, you need to drive or take a bus to the end of Maunawili Road, where you will find a residential neighborhood and a trailhead (at the intersection of Maunawili Road and Kelewina Street).
There is no parking lot, but you can park for free on the street if you find a spot. The trailhead has a sign with information and maps of the area.
The hike to Maunawili Falls is about 1.5 miles one way, or 3 miles round trip. It takes about 2 to 3 hours to complete, depending on your pace and how long you stay at the waterfall.
The hike is moderate and not very family-friendly, as it can be very muddy, slippery, steep, and rocky. You need to wear good hiking shoes and be careful.
The hike starts on a dirt road that leads you through a eucalyptus forest with the fresh and woody scent of the trees as you walk. Then, the trail becomes a narrow path that goes uphill and downhill through a lush rainforest with ferns, bamboo, ginger, and guava.
Along the way, you will have to cross several streams that flow from the mountains to the ocean. You will have to hop on some rocks or walk through the water to get to the other side. The water can be cold and deep, so be prepared to get wet and dirty.
When you reach the end of the trail, you will see Maunawili Falls in front of you, flowing down a green cliff into a clear pool. The waterfall is very beautiful and inviting, especially when the sun shines through the water and creates rainbows.
You can also climb up the rocks / nearby cliffs or trees and jump into the pool (at your own risk) if you are feeling adventurous.
Waimano Falls is a smaller (about 40 feet) waterfall in the lush Waimano Valley of Oahu near Pearl City, Hawaii. The name Waimano means “dark water” in Hawaiian and refers to the color of the water that comes from the stream.
The waterfall, its rainforest surroundings and the trail are beautiful, and were featured in several movies and TV shows, such as Lost, Hawaii Five-0, and Magnum P.I.
Waimano Falls is one of the most challenging waterfalls to hike to in Oahu, but the views are definitely worth it!
There are two pools at the bottom of the waterfall, and the second, deeper pool has rope swings to jump into the water, but only if you feel like Tarzan!
Pearl Harbor, Aiea Loop Trail and Waikele Premium Outlets are in the neighborhood, in case you have additional time in the area.
Hike to Waimano Falls on Manana Ridge Trail
The trail to Waimano Falls is called Manana Ridge Trail or simply, Manana Trail, and sometimes, Waimano Falls Trail.
The hike is located in Pearl City in Oahu . You can park your car in a residential neighborhood near the end of Komo Mai Drive.
The hike starts from the cul-de-sac at the end of Komo Mai Drive. You go past a green gate and follow a paved road to a water tank, and then you turn left and follow a dirt trail through the forest to the waterfall.
The hike is about 2.9 miles round trip and it is rated as hard in difficulty with an elevation gain of about 810 feet. It is good for pets on leash, but not for small children or people with mobility issues.
The trail can get very muddy, especially after rainy days, and slippery in many places.
On the way, you get amazing views of the valley and the ocean. You can also see some native plants and fruit trees, such as guava, strawberry guava, and ferns and you might also spot cardinals, mynahs, and doves.
There are multiple points (marked with white spray paint) and small cliffs from where you can jump into the pool if you are feeling brave! I would not advise diving in head-first.
Lulumahu Falls is a beautiful waterfall in Oahu, Hawaii, about 25 minutes from Waikiki Beach. The name Lulumahu means “peaceful rain” in Hawaiian and refers to the gentle rain that falls in the valley.
The waterfall is about 100 feet high and fed from the Nu’uanu Stream. You can swim in the pool at the base of the waterfall, but be careful of the rocks and the current.
The lush vegetation and dense bamboo forest setting for the waterfall is picturesque and was featured in several movies and TV shows, such as Lost, Hawaii Five-0, and Jurassic Park III.
Kaniakapupu Ruins, Pali Lookout and Lanikai Pillbox Hike (one of the best sunrise hikes in Oahu) are nearby.
Hike to Lulumahu Falls on Lulumahu Falls Trail
The hike is located near the Pali Highway in Nu’uanu Valley. You can park your car near the trail entrance on Nu’uanu Pali Drive.
The hike is on private property owned by the Honolulu Board of Water Supply. You need to get a free permit before you go (print two copies, one for your vehicle and one to keep with you at all times on the trail).
The hike is about 2 miles round trip, intermediate in difficulty with an elevation gain of about 300 feet. Pets on leash are ok, but not for small children or people with mobility issues.
The hike starts from the car pullout off the Pali Highway. You follow a muddy path to the reservoir, then continue down the road until you see some stairs surrounded by a chain-link fence.
The trail continues through a dense forest with bamboo, ginger and ferns all the way to the waterfall.
On the way, you can see some amazing views of the Koolau Mountains and the valley.
The waterfall drops over a cliff into a pool surrounded by greenery.
5 Other Falls Worth Seeing
The 5 best waterfalls in Oahu described above should be on the top of most visitors list of things to see in Oahu. If you are a regular visitor or a native of Hawaii, and want to venture beyond these, there are many beautiful waterfalls worth viewing.
Be warned though, these waterfalls are much smaller, and often may have little or no water if it hasn’t rained recently. But hikes to many of these are always fun, and very beautiful!
Waikahalulu Falls is a small (10 feet high) but pretty waterfall in the Lili’uokalani Botanical Garden in Oahu. The name Waikahalulu means “water of thunder” in Hawaiian and refers to the sound of the waterfall when it is full.
The garden is located on North Kuakini Street in Honolulu. You can park your car in the small parking lot near the garden entrance. The garden is free to enter and open daily from 9 am to 4 pm.
You can not swim in the pool because it is too shallow and rocky.
You have an easy hike to the waterfall, only about 0.2 miles round trip. You don’t need to climb or cross any streams – an excellent choice for families with smaller kids and pets.
The hike starts from the garden entrance. You follow a paved path along the stream until you see a sign for Waikahalulu Falls.
Then you turn left and walk on a dirt trail for a few minutes until you reach the waterfall.
On the way, you can see some beautiful native plants, such as hibiscus, ginger, ti, and taro.
The waterfall is one of the few urban waterfalls in Oahu that you can easily access. It was part of the property of Queen Lili’uokalani, the last monarch of Hawaii, who donated it to the city for public use.
Laie Falls is a small (15 feet height), lovely waterfall near Laie on the northeastern shore of Oahu, Hawaii. The name Laie means “wreath of leaves” in Hawaiian and refers to the lei that were made from plants in this area.
The waterfall is one of the most secluded waterfalls in Oahu and located near Laie Point, where ancient Hawaiians used to fish and worship.
The waterfall was featured in several movies and TV shows, such as Lost, Hawaii Five-0, and Magnum P.I.
You can park your car at Laie Park near the end of Poohaili Street.
The hike is on private property owned by Hawaii Reserves Inc. You need to get a free permit before you go (do this a few days in advance).
The hike is about 7 miles round trip, moderate in difficulty, with an elevation gain of about 1200 feet. It is good for pets on leash, but not for small children or people with mobility issues.
The hike starts from the cul-de-sac at the end of Poohaili Street. You go past a green gate and follow a paved road to a water tank and then you turn left and follow a dirt trail along the ridge to the waterfall.
You can swim in the pool at the bottom of the waterfall, but be careful of the depth and the current.
The Polynesian Cultural Center and Hukilau Beach are close by and worth visiting.
Likeke Falls (also known as the Old Pali Highway Falls) is a cute, two-tiered (35 feet high) waterfall near the town of Kaneohe on the windward side of Oahu, Hawaii.
Like other Oahu waterfalls, due to its beautiful setting, Likeke Falls has been featured in several movies and TV shows, such as Lost, Hawaii Five-0, and Magnum P.I.
The preferred trail to the Likeke Falls is the Likeke Falls Trail that starts from the parking lot of the Ko’olau Ballrooms. You can park your car at the Ko’olau Ballrooms near the end of Kionaole Road.
Don’t go down the Pali Lookout off Old Pali Highway, this trail is dangerous.
The hike is about 0.8 miles round trip, moderate in difficulty, with an elevation gain of about 200 feet. It is ok for kids and pets on leash, but not for people with mobility issues.
The trail winds through the tropical forest to the waterfall, and includes beautiful views of the valley and the ocean. Keep an eye out for native birds, this trail is a popular hike for birdwatchers!
The water falls over a cliff into a pool surrounded by rocks and trees.
If you have time after the hike, don’t miss the Pali Lookout, Byodo-In Temple and Kualoa Ranch – all worth spending some time!
If you want to avoid the hassle of driving or don’t have a rental car, check out this convenient tour: Ko’olau Waterfall Hike, a guided, private hiking tour.
Jackass Ginger Pool Waterfall on the Judd Trail
Jackass Ginger Pool is a small, charming-looking waterfall and swimming hole in the Nuuanu neighborhood of Honolulu. The waterfall is about 10 feet high and falls into a pool that’s about 10 feet deep.
While neither the waterfall nor the pond is majestic, the Judd Trail is beautiful, and very popular!
Jackass Ginger Pool is surrounded by lush greenery and tropical plants. You’ll feel like you’re in a jungle as you hike through the forest.
The trailhead is on Nuuanu Pali Road, just south of the Nuuanu Reservoir. You can park on the street, but be respectful of the residents and don’t block driveways or mailboxes.
The trail is about 1 mile round trip, moderate difficulty, with an elevation gain of 250 feet.
You’ll need good hiking shoes, water, and snacks. The trail starts on a paved road, then turns into a dirt path that follows the stream.
You’ll cross the stream several times and see some smaller waterfalls along the way. The trail loops around and leads you back to the main waterfall and pool.
There are also rope swings that you can use to jump into the water. The pool is usually clear and refreshing, but it can get murky or contaminated after heavy rain.
Koloa Gulch Waterfall
Koloa Gulch, in the Laie Point State Wayside, on the north-east side of Oahu, offers a challenging but rewarding hike to a spectacular waterfall and swimming hole.
Koloa Gulch is one of the few pristine streams left on Oahu where the stream is able to reach the sea unhindered.
The hike is on private property owned by Hawaii Reserves Inc. You need to get a free permit before you go (do this a few days in advance).
The trailhead is on Aakahi Gulch Road, in a residential neighborhood near Kokololio Beach Park. You can park at the beach park, but be respectful of the residents and don’t block driveways or mailboxes.
The Koloa Gulch trail is about 6.9 miles, with an elevation gain of 2000 feet and is rated hard because it’s steep, rocky, muddy, and slippery. Be warned, the hike will take the bulk of the day!
The waterfall is about 100 feet high and falls into a pool that’s about 20 feet deep.
The pool is usually clear and refreshing with rope swings that you can use to jump into the water.
Avoid going after heavy rain, as the trail can get flooded and dangerous.
Koloa Gulch is surrounded by lush greenery and tropical plants. You’ll feel like you’re in a jungle as you hike through the forest.
4 Oahu Waterfalls to Avoid: Off-limits to the Public
Several waterfalls that used to be popular and touted on the social media are now off-limits to the public for various reasons.
Please note that police will often issue citations, and some violations require court appearance, fines upto $2000, and / or imprisonment upto 6 months.
With so many other amazing waterfalls to admire as described above, visitors to Oahu should not be misguided by social media to visit any of the below.
Waipuhia Falls (Upside-down waterfall) (Closed, Private property)
On windy days, this waterfall provides the illusion of water flowing upwards instead of downwards. The hike to this waterfall is on private property and is not open to the public.
Hamama Falls (Closed, Private property)
As of March 2021, this trail is closed indefinitely, the land is managed by the Honolulu Board of Water Supply. Police will issue tickets to hikers trespassing on the land.
Sacred Falls (Closed, Dangerous)
The trail to Sacred Falls, a beautiful and popular waterfall, was closed after a rockfall-related tragedy that occurred on Mother’s Day, May 9, 1999. The trail and Sacred Falls State Park were deemed too dangerous and closed.
Kaua Crater Trail and Waterfalls (Closed, Private property)
The trail and waterfalls are on private property, Restricted Watershed, managed by the Board of Water Supply. The trail is not open to the public.
Tips for Visitors to Oahu’s Best Waterfalls
Oahu is home to many beautiful waterfalls that you can hike to and enjoy. However, there are also some risks and challenges that you should be aware of before you go.
Bacteria in the pools
Many of the waterfalls in Oahu have pools that you can swim in, but be careful of leptospirosis, a bacterial infection that can be contracted from contaminated water. If you have any open wounds or cuts, avoid swimming or jumping in the water.
Do not drink the water or let it get into your eyes, nose, or mouth. If you develop any symptoms such as fever, headache, muscle pain, or rash, seek medical attention immediately.
Rock falls and the Sacred Falls tragedy
Some of the waterfalls in Oahu are located in areas that are prone to rock falls, especially after heavy rain. This can be very dangerous and even fatal, as it was in 1999 when eight people were killed and dozens injured by a massive rock slide at Sacred Falls.
Heed the signs and warnings and stay on the designated trails.
Trail conditions, especially after rain
Many of the trails to Oahu waterfalls are steep, rocky, muddy, and slippery, especially after rain. You’ll need good hiking shoes, water, and snacks.
Be prepared to cross streams and climb over rocks and roots. Use caution and common sense when hiking and do not go beyond your abilities.
Avoid hiking after heavy rain, as the trails can get flooded and dangerous. Check the weather forecast and trail conditions before you go.
Some of the above waterfalls and trails are on private property, and require a permit (usually free). Make sure you apply for the permit well in advance, and print copies of the permit to carry with you and display on your vehicle.
The best waterfalls in Oahu are also the most popular, and crowded on holidays and peak times. The best time to visit these waterfalls are early morning and weekdays.
Here are some other tips:
- Carry a charged cell phone with you.
- Wear sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, and insect repellent. Mosquitoes and bugs are rampant on some hikes.
- Bring a swimsuit, towel, change of clothes, and plastic bag for wet items.
- Bring a camera or phone to capture the beauty of the waterfall and pool.
- Bring a trash bag and leave no trace. Don’t litter or damage the environment.
- Be respectful of other hikers and swimmers. Don’t hog the rope swings or jump when someone else is in the water.
- Don’t drink or smoke on the trail or at the waterfall.
Enjoy the hike
While the waterfall is the main focus at the end of the hike, don’t forget, enjoy the hike! Hawaii’s forests and native plants are stunning!
Best Oahu Waterfalls: FAQ
What are the best Oahu North Shore waterfalls?
Are there waterfalls in Oahu without hiking?
For waterfalls in Oahu without hiking, your best option is the Waimea Falls in Waimea Valley. You can take a shuttle to the Waimea waterfalls. The shuttle is currently $10 / person, but mobility-challenged guests are free.
What are the best Oahu waterfall hikes?
What are the best kid-friendly Oahu waterfall hikes?
Book a Guided Oahu Hiking Adventure!
Excited about hiking in Oahu but haven’t hiked in Hawaii before? This guided hiking adventure is a great way to get started.
It’s customizable to your interests and abilities and a local guide that’s familiar with the terrain will accompany you. Plus, round-trip transport is included.
You can pick two short hikes or a longer hike, and your guide can suggest specific hikes if you don’t know which ones you want to try.
Best Oahu Tours
Have you booked these popular Oahu tours and excursions yet?
Love snorkeling? This Turtle Canyon snorkeling excursion from Waikiki lets you frolic with colorful fish and Hawaiian green sea turtles. Hands down the MOST BOOKED Oahu snorkeling tour: turtle sightings are guaranteed!
The most popular luau in Oahu, Paradise Cove Luau has a 4.5 rating on Viator with over 3.5K reviews. The tour includes pick-up from your Waikiki hotel, pre-dinner games, arts, and crafts, a delicious meal, and an award-winning show.
Based in Waikiki but want to see more of the island? This full-day Oahu Circle Island Tour includes Diamond Head, Hanauma Bay, Haleiwa, the Dole Plantation, and more!
Pay your respects at the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor! This popular Pearl Harbor tour includes boat tickets and round-trip transport from Waikiki.
A super popular Oahu North Shore excursion, this Oahu shark cage dive allows you to observe wild sharks in the open ocean from the safety of a cage! It’s a THRILLING Oahu advennture for your bucket list.
We have a detailed guide to the top Oahu tours and excursions if you are in the midst of planning your itinerary for the island.
Renting a Car in Oahu
If you want to explore more of the island of Oahu on your vacation, you should get a rental car.
Oahu’s popular attractions are spread over the island: the windward coast, the North Shore, and Ko Olina are great places to explore beyond Waikiki (or the greater Honolulu area).
While Oahu does have public transport options that are better than the other islands, a car offers a lot more flexibility and time savings.
We always use Discover Cars to book Oahu car rentals. They search across a variety of rental car companies, both budget and brand, to offer you the best deals, AND they offer free cancellations. Plus, there are no hidden fees.
Honolulu Airport-Hotel Shuttle
If you are not planning to get a rental car at Honolulu Airport, consider booking shuttle transport in advance!
This shared shuttle can be canceled up to 24 hours from the date of service. It serves hotels in Waikiki and Honolulu and then back again to the airport the day you leave. It’s convenient and inexpensive, and saves time and hassle!
Staying in Ko Olina? Consider this round-trip airport transfer instead!
Where to Stay in Oahu
Honolulu (Waikiki in particular) offers a large number of hotels and resorts, along with shopping and dining options. Most visitors to Oahu choose to base in Honolulu at least for a part of their stay.
While many of the large chains have a presence if you are looking to use your memberships, Honolulu also has several unique boutiques to consider.
Want more room to spread out or looking to stay elsewhere on Oahu? You will find VRBO listings all over the island!
On previous trips to Oahu, we have stayed in VRBO rentals in Waikiki as well as on the North Shore and the east coast and we’ve found the choice and quality great.
More Oahu Travel Inspiration
Planning a trip to Oahu? Check out our other in-depth Oahu travel guides for help finalizing your Oahu itinerary!
Start by discovering the best things to do in Oahu. We also have a detailed guide to Oahu’s North Shore, a round-up of things to do on the east side of Oahu, and the best things to do in Ko Olina, on the west coast of the island.
Want to enjoy the thrill of observing sharks in the wild? Check out our article on shark cage diving on Oahu’s North Shore!
More advanced hikers will want to read up on the Koko Head Hike, a long set of stairs leading to expansive views.
Learn where to go for the best sunsets in Oahu, whether you want to hike or enjoy watching a colorful Hawaiian sunset without working up a sweat.
We also have a guide to the best sunrise hikes in Oahu, one of which is the spectacular Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail in the southeastern part of the island. The Lanikai Pillbox Hike is another wonderful sunrise hike on Oahu!
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