With outdoor adventures in Oahu including everything from surfing to snorkeling to hiking and biking, there’s truly something for everyone to do on this magnificent island. Take to both land and sea to explore all the possibilities.
Surfing was born in Oahu, with the North Shore famous for its epic swells. The best of the best compete there annually during the prestigious Vans Triple Crown of Surfing. If you’re more of a novice than a pro you can easily ride the waves of Waikiki Beach, the same waters Hawaiian royalty once ruled and rode. Another option becoming increasingly popular is Stand up paddle boarding. Waikiki’s soft sands and protected cove make trying this sport less intimidating. Plus, there are numerous Oahu surf schools around this area so you can rent a board or take a quick lesson.
Another water-based Oahu activity is with a proud legacy are outrigger canoe adventures. The sport began with the Polynesians, who crossed the waters of the pacific nearly 2,000 years ago in outrigger canoes. Racing these unique canoes is now Hawaii’s most popular sport. If you’d like to try it, join Waikiki Beach Services or Hawaiian Ocean Adventures aboard an authentic handcrafted canoe for guided sails. Sail the Windward or Leeward Coasts as you learn about the natural and cultural history of this splendid island.
Looking to snorkel on Oahu’s shores? I recommend visiting Shark’s Cove at Pupukea Beach Park. Don’t let the name scare you away! The location has a break in the shoreline, opening into a large, calm tide pool. The floor is created by smooth boulders and coral heads, creating small caves and ledges ideal for marine life. Sometimes this area can be a bit crowded, but you’ll barely notice with your head in the water.
Hiking is one of the best Oahu activities to experience the natural side of the island. Convenient and iconic, a hike to Diamond Head should be on any outdoor enthusiast’s list of things to do. The steep .8 mile hike up the volcanic crater can be strenuous but once you arrive at the top, the view you’re rewarded with is well worth the climb. Take in the breathtaking panoramas of the ocean and Waikiki, and take plenty of photos to capture the moment. Manoa Falls is another popular Oahu hike. At only two miles roundtrip, it’s a fairly easy trek through bamboo jungle and rainforests. Plus, a 200-foot waterfall adds to the allure of this hike. To visit a more remote stretch of Oahu, head to the wild coastline of Kaena Point State Park. Located on the western tip of Oahu, the lava shoreline, ride pools, natural stone arches and excellent views of the Makua Coastline are highlights of this hike. Start your hike early and you may be treated to dolphin sightings.
Saddle up and hit the trails via horseback for a different way to see the sights of Oahu. I highly recommend horseback riding at Kualoa Ranch. The family-owned, 4,000 acre ranch spans mountains, valleys and the shoreline of northeast Oahu creating a spectacular setting for visitors to explore. Their guided two-hour horseback tour takes you through the gorgeous Kaaawa Valley, which you might recognize as it is a popular location for television shows and movie sets. A one-hour tour is available as well, which highlights the southern end of Kualoa and features views of Mokolii Island.
Two more ways to tour Oahu is by running and cycling. If you’re an avid runner, head to Kapiloani Park in Waikiki or Ala Moana Beach Park in Honolulu. Both of these locations have paved flat surfaces and ocean views, which certainly helps my motivation levels. Staying on the Windward Coast? The sands of one of the world’s most beautiful beaches – Kailua Beach Park – offers a sweat-inducing workout. If cycling is more your thing, your can rent a bike at various locations throughout Oahu including the North Shore and Waikiki. Stop by North Shore Bike Rentals, The Bike Shop or Hawaiian Style Bicycle Rentals for all your cycling needs.