When you come to Hawaii, finding things to do is never a problem. The only challenge is finding enough hours in the day to fit everything in! There are plenty of organized tours and activities, and even more free ways to take advantage of our natural beauty.
Hawaii has some of the best weather in the world, all year round, so it’s no surprise that people here spend a lot of their free time enjoying outdoor fun. We asked our co-workers—real people who live and work here—for some of the things they most enjoy doing when they have some free time, and it came as no surprise that the #1 favorite activity on Oahu is…
There’s just something about being out in the sunshine, away from the crowds of Waikiki. Many of Oahu’s popular hiking trails are free, or have only a very small fee to help with maintenance and upkeep. The hike mentioned most frequently is Diamond Head Summit Trail. This is considered a moderate-to-strenuous hike, 0.8-mile in length and rising about 560 feet from the crater floor to the summit. Take your time on the way up. You’re on vacation! The views from the summit are glorious, and well worth the effort.
Other favorite hikes include the Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail—a favorite of both Michael and Jerry. Many of our favorite trails lead to stunning waterfalls. These include Maunawili Falls Trail (Jen’s go-to hike) on Oahu’s Windward side and Aloha’s favorite Manoa Falls, not far from the main campus of the University of Hawaii. Another hike that rewards you with a refreshing waterfall at the end is the Waimea Valley on the North Shore. Everybody loves that one.
Of course, if you’re looking for a more leisurely outdoor stroll, you can always head toward the ocean for a relaxing walk along the beach!
If we’re not out hiking one of the gorgeous trails that are seemingly everywhere, we’re likely taking advantage of our other spectacular natural resource: the magnificent
Whether it’s in the water or on it, we never get tired of the ocean and everything it offers.
Tops on many of our lists are all the different kinds of cruises. Regardless of where the boat departs from, seeing Oahu from the unique perspective of out on the water is always breathtaking, no matter how many times we experience it.
Just about all of us enjoy a sunset sail, known fondly as a “booze cruise.” On Friday evenings, there’s even a fireworks show off Waikiki Beach. These are relatively inexpensive and usually last a couple of hours. And as Jason points out, “the drinks are pretty stiff!” Jason is a bit of a party boy, and we love him.
For special occasions, a dinner cruise is a real treat.
In the winter months, the waters surrounding the islands are visited by the magnificent humpback whales. This is the best time to enjoy a daytime cruise. Many include time for snorkeling and provide all the equipment you need to get up close with the dolphins, turtles, and other marine life that call our islands home.
For a jolt of pure adrenaline, head to the North Shore, jump into a (sturdy) cage in the clear blue water, and wait for a visit from everyone’s favorite ocean predators: sharks. It’s as amazing as it sounds. Hauoli, Steve, and Michael all consider this one of their favorite activities.
There’s plenty to do in the warm ocean water besides snorkeling. For example, Jim and Jerry both like body-surfing, and Michael can often be found just basking in the sun like a Hawaiian monk seal.
But Wait, There’s More!
Some of our favorite things to do on Oahu don’t fall into either of the above categories. In addition to hiking all over the island, Johann, who is kind of a jock, likes kayaking, especially to Moko Nui off Lanikai Beach.
Several of our colleagues enjoy bicycling, and Honolulu offers a bikesharing program called Biki.
Most of us love ziplining, especially at Coral Crater Adventure Park on Oahu’s Leeward side. Steve isn’t so sure. Kualoa Ranch offers ziplines, ATV and UTV tours, and even horseback riding through a lush valley that you might recognize from some major Hollywood blockbusters like Jurassic Park and Lost.
We love getting outside and exploring our island home, and we’re sure you’ll find some new favorites of your own in this destination of a lifetime!
List of Our hiking trails on Oahu:
- Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail
- Maunawili Falls Trail
- Manoa Falls
- Waimea Valley
- Na Mokulua
- Coral Crater Adventure Park
- Kualoa Ranch
- North Shore