Take These Oahu Tours for the Ultimate Hawaii Adventure
8 Adventurous Oahu Tours and Excursions that Will Give You a Complete Hawaiian Experience
Oahu is a big place with an almost overwhelming collection of incredible things to do and places to see. There’s so much to do that it’s almost impossible to get a complete Hawaiian experience in just one visit to the island. The keyword there is “almost” though, as there are a handful of Oahu tours that can grant you a complete and unforgettable adventure here.
So, if you’re looking to maximize your vacation itinerary, then be sure to sign up for these incredible Oahu tours. Also, be sure to book a luxurious home base in one of our vacation rentals here in Waikiki.
1) Oahu Circle Island Driving Tour
A staple tour on Oahu that’s offered by several outfitters is a driving excursion around the island – well, half of it. These kinds of tours are perfect for kicking off your vacation since they literally take you to all the major highlights across Oahu. It’s a full day of sightseeing and learning about Oahu from exceptional driving tour guides that will leave you excited to explore more of the island’s scenery, history and culture in depth.
As mentioned, there are many tour outfitters that offer circle island tours. Most tours are 7+ hours long, follow the same driving route, hit many similar spots, and include stops for lunch. One highly rated outfitter that we’d recommend is Go Tours Hawaii. They have two 8-hour options for Circle Island tours that each cost $140 per person, but feature slightly different stops. One option stops at the Waimea Botanical Gardens & Waterfall, and the other stops at the Byodo-In Temple.
2) Oahu Horseback Riding Tour
A horseback ride may not be the first thing you think of when considering tours in Oahu, but trust us when we say horseback tours are some of the most fun activities on the island. There’s nothing quite like saddling up and heading out to explore the majestic tropical mountain trails on Oahu. Not only is riding a horse just fun in general, but it’s even more of a thrill when you have Oahu’s breathtaking scenery to admire from atop your noble steed.
There are exceptional horseback-riding areas across the island, and any one of them will leave you with big smiles and a camera packed to the brim with great photos. Among our favorite riding spots is the famous Kualoa Ranch near Oahu’s eastern shore. Here you’ll ride through beautiful forests and the incredible Ka’a’awa Valley, where much of Jurassic Park was shot.
You can find a couple more of our recommended tour outfitters as well as tips for your ride on our Oahu Horseback Riding blog.
3) Oahu Zipline Tour
After the relaxed days of driving and horseback tours, you’ll need something to get your adrenaline up and blood pumping. Enter Oahu’s thrilling zipline tours, where you can soar across towering mountains and over lush tropical canopies like a bird in the sky.
Of Oahu’s several ziplining courses, the most popular tour is with CLIMB Works in Keana Farms on the North Shore. This tour is 3-hours long and includes 8 side-by-side zipline runs, including Oahu’s longest zipline that’s nearly half a mile long. But that’s not all! In addition to the ziplines you’ll get an ATV ride to the top of the course, take on 2 rappels, and cross 3 sky bridges. All this while soaking in panoramic views and learning Hawaiian history from your guides.
Alternatively, you can head over to Kualoa Ranch (same place as the horseback tours) for their thrilling Jurassic Valley Zipline tour. Although some of the runs here are a little shorter than those at CLIMB Works, they still offer fast rides with great views across the 3-hour tour.
4) Oahu Snorkel or Scuba Diving Tours
Half of the magic at Oahu lies under the ocean surface. If you’ve never tried snorkeling or scuba diving before, then Oahu is an excellent place to try it out. The waters here host abundant marine life, colorful coral reefs, and some fascinating wrecks to explore. Visibility underwater is also superb, and the water temperature hovers in the pleasant upper 70s to mid-80s range.
One of the most popular sites for diving and snorkeling is Shark’s Cove on the North Shore. Shark’s Cove is a shore-entry dive that features enchanting volcanic topography as well as plenty of exciting marine life. Despite its name, there aren’t often sharks here, but you can see plenty of colorful reef fish, eels, rays, and octopuses.
Another great site that doubles well for both snorkeling and scuba diving is Turtle Canyon. Unlike with Shark’s Cove, this site does live up to its turtle-y name, and you’re likely to see more sharks here too! In addition to sea turtles, you can also find octopuses, eels, dolphins, and whitetip reef sharks. All that, plus Turtle Canyon is just a short boat ride from our vacation rentals in Waikiki!
We recommend Rainbow Scuba Hawaii for booking dive/snorkel tours or taking scuba lessons in Oahu. You can find more information regarding local dive sites on their website, or on this PADI article of the 9 best dive sites in Oahu.
5) Oahu Boat Cruise Tours
The adventure doesn’t stop once you’re back above water. There are a ton of non-snorkel or dive boat cruise tours around Oahu that are well worth your time too. You’ll definitely want to hop aboard at least one boating excursion during your stay.
If you’ve never gone whale-watching before, then Oahu is a fabulous place to try it for the first time. From December to May, humpback whales come to Hawaii to breed and give birth to their calves. Unforgettable moments like the one pictured above will feel absolutely… well, unforgettable! Two great outfitters near Waikiki that offer whale-watching tours are And You Creations and Captain Max Boat Tours.
Another type of boat excursion that’s worth considering is an Oahu sunset cruise. It’s even more majestic than it sounds to take in a glorious Oahu sunset from the open-air deck of a luxurious vessel. And there’s often more than just the beautiful scenery to enjoy as many of these Oahu sunset cruises include either cocktails, a fine dinner or both. Majestic by Atlantic Cruises offers a wonderful cocktail sunset cruise, and Star of Honolulu provides a selection of great sunset dinner cruise options.
6) Oahu Helicopter Tours
Once you’ve earned your sea legs out on a snorkel trip and boating excursion, it’s time to take to the skies to earn your wings on a helicopter tour. Now, we’ve mentioned how every view on Oahu is straight-up magnificent, but the island’s scenery viewed from the air is utterly breathtaking in its beauty.
When it comes to helicopter tours on Oahu, the go-to outfitters are Rainbow Helicopters and Blue Hawaiian Helicopters. Both tour companies provide unparalleled air tours across vast stretches of Oahu. Tours with both companies last between 30 minutes and just over an hour depending on the package you purchase.
If we had to pick favorites, we’d go with Rainbow Helicopters since they specialize in Oahu tours exclusively. They also offer a few more options, including a spectacular Waikiki Sunset tour.
7) Oahu History Tours
In addition to it’s outstanding natural beauty, Oahu is rich in both US and Native Hawaiian history. After the thrills of soaring through the clouds above incredibly lush mountains and valleys, it’s a great change of pace to slow down and soak in the island’s history.
Of course, one of the most (in)famous historic sites on Oahu is Pearl Harbor. On December 7, 1941, the Empire of Japan bombed the US Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor. The attack resulted in the deaths of 2,403 personnel and left 19 US Navy ships damaged or destroyed. Today you can explore the Pearl Harbor National Memorial on your own or on a guided tour with outfitters like Pearl Harbor Tours and E Noa Tours.
Another iconic historic site on Oahu with even more rich history is the ‘Iolani Palace in downtown Honolulu. Completed in 1872, the ‘Iolani Palace housed the final two Native Hawaiian monarchs. King Kalākaua and his sister and successor, Queen Liliʻuokalani, ruled from this palace until their monarchy was overthrown by the Committee of Safety in 1893. Now, the palace has been restored to its original grandeur, and the palace offers a variety of fascinating historic tours on the grounds.
8) Oahu Luau Experiences
Last but not least on the list of must-do tours and excursions on Oahu is to experience a Hawaiian luau. In case you’re unfamiliar, a luau is a traditional Hawaiian festivity that includes a feast, traditional music and dancing, and cultural performances from Hawaii and greater Polynesia. In other words, you can’t get a more authentically Hawaiian experience than attending a luau on Oahu.
If you’re looking for the absolute best of the best luau experiences, then you have to go to the Polynesian Cultural Center on the North Shore of Oahu. Consistently ranked as one of the top attractions in Hawaii on TripAdvisor, a luau at the Polynesian Cultural Center offers everything one could ask for in an authentic and thrilling Hawaiian experience.
Alternatively, you can find other exceptional and more low-key luaus closer to Honolulu at Paradise Cove and Ka Moana Luau. Whichever option you go with, you’ll experience one of the most fun and enchanting traditional parties in all of the world. A perfect end for your complete Oahu vacation.
Those are the 8 tours you need to take to fulfill the ultimate Hawaiian adventure on Oahu. To find even more fantastic things to do during your Oahu vacation, check out our other blogs and our Nearby Attractions page.
Finally, make sure you have the best accommodations for your visit by booking a Waikiki vacation rental with us at Marina Hawaii Vacations!