Best 20 Oahu Tourist Attractions to Check Out

Best 20 Oahu Tourist Attractions to Check Out

best oahu tourist attractions

(Updated August 2019)

So, you’re heading to Hawaii (Oahu, specifically) and are looking for things to do. What are the best Oahu tourist attractions to see while you’re there?

You’re in luck because we have a great list of Oahu tourist attractions for you! Plus, you can see these attractions not only from the ground but from the best seat in the house: doors-off helicopter ride!

No matter if you get a thrill from a bird’s eye view or prefer to stick close to land, check out our list below for 20 of the best Oahu tourist attractions.

Oahu Tourist Attractions to See on the Ground

oahu tourist attractionsWaikiki Beach: The Trolley

The Waikiki Trolley is a great way to see the sights of Honolulu from the ground while saving your feet at the same time. The trolley has several lines, so you can travel throughout the many tourist attractions that Oahu has to offer in Honolulu. Shopping? That is just one easy trolley ride away! Another benefit to this hop on and off trolley ride is that many of the on-the-ground attracts listed below are on one of the lines offered by the trolley. With this flexible ride that is in itself an attraction, you can’t go wrong with your on the ground excursions.


Waikiki Beach: Learn to Surf

Have you always wanted to surf, but never learned? Well then, head to Waikiki beach and rent a board. They’ve even got lessons for you to take! You can go from falling off your surfboard with every wave to hanging 10 soon enough. After all, one of the best ways to experience the gorgeous water of Oahu is to get into it and ride it! It truly isn’t a trip to Oahu if you haven’t given surfing a try.


oahu tourist attractionsByodo-In Temple

First established in 1968, the Byodo-In Temple is a scale replica of an almost Millenium-year-old temple in Uji, Japan. This temple was established for the 100-year anniversary of Japanese immigrants coming to Hawaii.

While it is made in the same style, the Byodo-in Temple is a non-practicing Buddhist Temple and welcomes all travelers of any faith or background to enter their doors. Seeing this monument in Hawaii’s history is a must to have on your to-do list when coming to Oahu.


oahu tourist attractionsOahu: Underwater Tours

There is more than one way to experience the waters of Oahu. One way is through the provided tours that are plentiful across the island. Meet your new aquatic best friend by taking part in these tours. Some of them put you in wetsuits so that you can submerge in parts of the water that would be hard to reach otherwise, so these tours are an interesting perspective on what the waters have to offer.


oahu tourist attractionsHistoric Waikiki Aquarium

Another way to experience the underwater world of Oahu is with the Waikiki Aquarium. First founded in 1904, this is the second oldest still operating aquarium in the United States, right after the New York Aquarium. If the weather has you down, spend a calm and cool day in the Waikiki Aquarium and see some sea creatures you wouldn’t meet anywhere else.


oahu tourist attractionsOahu’s Macadamia Nut Farm and Tour

Tropical Farms is family-owned, having started as a self-described ‘roadside operation’ back in the late 80s. Tropical Farms is nestled in the scenic mountainside, so the nature around it is just as breathtaking as the farm itself. There is plenty to do here and lots of history to learn from the staff as well. With tours and free samples galore, this is a stop you should really consider when exploring Oahu from the ground.


oahu tourist attractionsWaimea Valley

Waimea Valley is likely one of the most gorgeous places on all of Oahu. This is why it was given to Kahuna Nui, or high priests, in perpetuity. It is thus considered a very sacred place for Hawaiin culture and history.

Throughout the valley, the land is divided into different sites of worship for the polytheistic religion still practiced by many in Hawaii today. Thankfully, in 2003, Waimea Valley is back in the hands of a Native Hawaiian governing entity, who are dedicated to preserving this treasure to Hawaii’s history.

If you visit, please be respectful of the rules they have in place and don’t disturb the beautiful environment around you.


Diamond Head Hike

Diamond Head is one of the main trademarks that you can see from the air thanks to its telltale shape. Before, or even after, your doors off helicopter tour, you should get to see Diamond Head from the ground as well.

You can get a second perspective on this work of natural beauty and appreciate the nature from the ground as well as from the air. This is not a chance many visitors to Oahu get, so explore Diamond Head by hiking it and then, you can take a helicopter tour to really see the bigger picture-literally!


oahu tourist attractionsUp Close: Makapu’u Lighthouse

Another landmark you get to see from the air and the ground is the Makapu’u Lighthouse. From the air, you can take in how small the lighthouse seems compared to the land around it, but from the ground, you can see it on a larger scale too.

With a paved trail that looks over the lighthouse, you can see some of the smaller details and come to appreciate the craftsmanship of the lighthouse in a new way alongside the magnificent view you got of it from the air.


Kamehameha’s Statue

oahu tourist attractionsThis statue of King Kamehameha I stands in front of Aliʻiōlani Hale in Honolulu. Known as one of Hawaii’s most important historical figures, this statue, as well as the land behind it, is a must-see. There is so much to learn about Hawaii’s history, such as the feat of conquering and uniting the Hawaiin islands in 1810 by King Kamehameha I. This formed the Kingdom of Hawaii.

One of the many things that is remembered about King Kamehameha I is Kānāwai Māmalahoe, which means the ‘Law of the Splintered Paddle/Oar,’ meant to protect any civilians during a peaceful assembly, for example. This law has become a model for human rights, so it’s still an important piece of history today. Your trip will really be missing out if you don’t give this historic landmark a visit during your time on Oahu.


Tourist Attractions in Oahu to See From the Air

Diamond Head

diamond head

Diamond Head State Monument offers incredible views overlooking the Pacific Ocean and Honolulu. The scenery is so lovely, in fact, that it was used by the U.S. military as a post for preventing attacks on Honolulu. The hiking trail there takes you to the edge of a 300,000-year-old crater. Another great way to see it is from the inside of a helicopter. Tropical Helicopters offers DISCOUNTED tours, and both the Oahu Island Adventure and the Ko Olina Resort tours will take you over this can’t-miss landmark.


Pearl Harbor

oahu tourist attractionsOne of the best Oahu tourist attractions is certainly a somber one—but Pearl Harbor is also a reminder to never forget the tragedy that took place there on December 7, 1941. You can pay a visit to the Pearl Harbor Memorial, and then book a last-minute flight on either the Ko Olina Resort tour or the Oahu Island Adventure. These fly you over the sights of Pearl Harbor. Then, you can catch a glimpse of the oil still resting atop the

water from the USS Arizona.

Currently, walk-on tours at Pearl Harbor aren’t available as it remains closed for repairs. The memorial is expected to re-open in the fall of 2019.


Hanauma Bay

oahu tourist attractionsHanauma Bay was declared a protected marine life conservation area and underwater park in 1967. Formed within a volcanic cone, Hanauma Bay offers a pristine marine ecosystem after Honolulu laid out a plan in 1990 to restore the “curved bay.” This followed years of neglect and abuse from the millions of visitors who visit and love to snorkel Hanauma Bay. Part of this requires first-time visitors to watch a video before entering the park so they can learn about marine life, preservation, conservation as well as safety rules regarding the park.

Hanauma Bay sees an average of 3,000 visitors per day, or around a million visitors annually. The vast majority are tourists, so if you want to escape the beach bustle, take a flight over the gorgeous Hanauma Bay!


Kaliuwa’a (Sacred Falls)

oahu tourist attractionsThere’s a reason this is one of the best Oahu tourist attractions to see from the air: you can’t even access it unless you fly over it! Sacred Falls State Park is located near Hau’ula on the North Shore of Oahu. The park encompasses Kaluanui gulch and the waterfalls at its end. The park was closed after a fatal rockfall on May 9, 1999, in the canyon where the waterfall is located, killing eight hikers.

A discounted Tropical Helicopters tour will open your eyes to the rare beauty of Sacred Falls—so book your flight now and SAVE!

Both the Ko Olina Resort flight and the Oahu Island Adventure tour will take you over this jaw-dropping 1,000-foot waterfall!



oahu tourist attractionsWaikīkī is a beachfront neighborhood of Honolulu, on the south shore of Oahu. Waikiki is most famous for Waikīkī Beach, but this is just one of five beaches in the district. A great way to see this is on a Tropical Helicopters tour.

(Booking with Tropical Helicopters is the best bet on your next Hawaiian vacation. You’ll pay less but get the same quality of experience as any other helicopter tours in Oahu!)


Makapu’u Lighthouse

oahu tourist attractionsOn the easternmost point of Oahu sits the Makapu’u Point Lighthouse, a shining beacon built-in 1909 on a 600-foot sea cliff overlooking Makapu’u Beach — a stretch of sand known as one of Oahu’s best bodysurfing beaches — and family-friendly Sea Life Park.

Just 15 minutes past Hanauma Bay, you’ll find the big parking lot that leads to the two-mile, paved trail overlooking the lighthouse. For an even better view? Take a helicopter!


Kāne’ohe Bay

oahu tourist attractionsKāneʻohe Bay makes up the largest sheltered body of water in the main Hawaiian Islands. This reef-dominated area comprises a significant scenic and recreational feature along the southeast coast of Oahu.

There’s kayaking, snorkeling, hiking, catamaran cruises and more—but one popular way to see the bay’s beauty is from a helicopter!


Chinaman’s Hat

oahu tourist attractionsKnown among locals as Chinaman’s Hat, Mokoli’i is a popular spot for taking pictures on Oahu’s coast. The small island is located at the north end of Kaneohe Bay, offshore of Kualoa Regional Beach Park. Called Chinaman’s Hat due to its cone shape, it looks like a peasant’s hat worn in rural China. Besides a few straggler palm trees and two little beaches, there isn’t much else here. But it’s a gorgeous place to fly over—and if you go, you can pocket some extra money on a Tropical Helicopters Ko Olina Resort tour!


Ka’a’awa Valley

oahu tourist attractionsKa’a’awa Valley is one of the most gorgeous locations in Oahu. It also receives mention in many ancient legends. Ka’a’awa Valley, also known as Kualoa Valley, was the residence of kings. In ancient Hawaii, newborns of Hawaiian chiefs were brought here and trained in ancient traditions, history, and war. As fishermen passed this valley, they had to lower their sails. Dozens of movies have used this valley as a backdrop, too. The Ka’a’awa Valley is a true landmark on Oahu, making it one of the best Oahu tourist attractions. Particularly when seen from a helicopter, you’ll never forget this view.


Ka’ena Point

oahu tourist attractionsOn the western tip of Oahu lies Ka’ena Point. This dramatic lava shoreline is said to be where souls of ancient Hawaiians would jump off into the spirit world and meet the souls of their ancestors. With scenic views of the Wai’anae coast to the south, Mokuleia to the north, and the vast Pacific, it’s not hard to see why this point was considered so sacred. Hiking offers one of the best ways to reach it, but if you’re itching to see the full scope of the coastline, take a helicopter. You’ll enjoy a discount and a breathtaking view if you book today!



The Best of Both Worlds

Now that you know 20 of the best tourist attractions to see from above and from the ground, you are well prepared for an adventure of a lifetime when you visit Oahu! There really is nothing like seeing the world from the seat of a Doors-Off helicopter ride, so don’t hesitate when it comes to making plans. You want to get the most out of your trip, after all. See you soon, and have a beautiful vacation. Mahalo!

What are the best Oahu tourist attractions in your opinion, or based on your past vacations to the Aloha State? Let us know.

Tropical Helicopters is a reseller of Discount Helicopter Tours across Hawaii. We presently sell helicopters tours that depart out of these areas: Ko Olina (Oahu), North Shore (Oahu), Hilo (Hawaii Island), Kona (Hawaii Island). Please visit us from time to time as we grow our offerings.

Contact us at (866) 961-6810 to book your reservations with Tropical Helicopters today.