Oahu is a tropical paradise year-round, but its no surprise that it’s still a popular destination in the summertime.
From sunny beaches with gentle waves to exotic ocean life, the great outdoors in Hawaii is a thing of beauty.
This year, there are plenty of festivals, summer events, attractions, tours, and more to enjoy in addition to your quality beach time.
If you’re planning a visit and looking for things to do in Oahu in the summer 2018, check out our list of the top attractions and activities going on this year, including…
- Sunset Dinner Sail on Makani Catamaran
- Picnic on the Pier at the Mighty Mo
- Snorkeling in Hanauma Bay
- Hike Diamond Head Crater
- Polynesian Cultural Center
- and more…
Heading to the area to celebrate Independence Day? Then check out our post on things to do in Oahu 4th of July Weekend.
Coming to the island over Labor Day weekend? Here are a few fun things to do in Oahu Labor Day Weekend – enjoy!
Save on Summertime Activities
Regular admission to a number of these attractions are available on the Go Oahu Card.
Choose as you go from popular attractions and save up to 55% on combined admission vs paying at the gate.
Please note, some of these special Summer events may be separately ticketed and not available on the Go Oahu Card.
Sunset Dinner Sail on Makani Catamaran
Experience one of the most quintessential Hawaiian vacation activities and set sail on the Pacific Ocean for an island-style dinner with a complimentary drink and an unforgettable view of the Hawaiian sunset.
You’ll get to see the sun set over the azure coastal waters with the picturesque landscape of the Hawaiian Islands in the backdrop.
This is perfect for those romantic getaways or relaxing summer vacations.
Getting In: Sunset Dinner Sail tickets are available as a premium attraction option with the 3-, 5-, and 7-Day Go Oahu Cards.
Snorkeling in Hanauma Bay
Snorkel the bright coral reef of Hanauma Bay and have the time of your life this summer. It’s one of the most popular things to do on many bucket lists, and is also just a really cool summer activity!
Meet turtles, rays, and tropical fish, and observe stunning coral and water plants through pristine waters.
This gorgeous nature preserve is the perfect place to snorkel, whether you’re new to the game or an experienced pro.
You could also opt for a more involved snorkeling adventure, which escorts you along a delightful hidden gems tour of Oahu, then lets you lose to snorkel the North Shore alongside magnificent sea turtles.
Getting In: Hanauma Bay Snorkeling tickets are included with the Go Oahu Card. Oahu Hidden Gems Tour + Snorkeling with Turtles tickets are available as a premium attraction option with the 3-, 5-, and 7-Day Go Oahu Cards.
Polynesian Cultural Center
A visit to the Polynesian Cultural Center is the perfect Oahu destination for those of you looking to immerse yourselves in Hawaiian culture and heritage.
Explore historic and modern Polynesia as you journey through six separate regions, witnessing demonstrations, performances, craftwork, dancing, spear-throwing, and more.
Stick around later for an authentic luau, if you’d really like a taste of traditional Hawaiian culture. This particular luau includes a beautiful song and dance performance that you’ll never forget, so it’s definitely worth sticking around for.
Getting In: Polynesian Cultural Center tickets are included with the Go Oahu Card. Polynesian Cultural Center Dinner Show & Luau tickets are available as a premium attraction option with the 3-, 5-, and 7-Day Go Oahu Cards.
Hike Diamond Head Crater
If you’re looking for an enjoyable hike that’s not too challenging but still provides an interesting payoff, consider a hike to Diamond Head.
Choose an option that provides a shuttle to the starting point to avoid the stress of Oahu traffic and parking.
This volcanic crater is so named because its glittering façade looked like diamonds to early explorers. Today, it’s one of the most photographed sites in Oahu and is arguably the most famous volcanic crater on earth.
Another fun hiking option is the Makapu’u Point Hike, which allows you to trek out to this historic lighthouse with its distinctive hyper-radiant lens.
Explore Waimea Valley
If you’re looking for paradise, you’ll find it in Waimea Valley (probably one of my favorite things to do in Oahu in the summer season).
Nearly 2,000 acres of lush wilderness, parks, hiking trails, waterfalls, botanical gardens, and more await at this popular tropical destination.
You’ll even get the chance to explore several archaeological sites. Go swimming, hiking, or just stroll around to enjoy the scenery.
Getting In: Waimea Valley tickets are included with the Go Oahu Card.
Secret Island Beach
If sun and sand is really what you’re after, then you want to hit up Secret Island Beach.
Located at Kualoa Ranch on the Kaneohe Bay, this stunning beach is the perfect place to just sit back and enjoy the summer weather.
Or, you can choose to be active and do anything from canoeing and kayaking to volleyball and Ping-Pong. It’s the perfect way to spend a luxurious beachy afternoon!
Keep in mind that because this beach is so popular, visitors are limited to three hour sessions.
Getting In: Secret Beach tickets are included with the Go Oahu Card.
Pearl Harbor Historic Sites & Picnic on the Pier
The Pearl Harbor Historic Sites is arguably the most popular collection of attractions in all of Oahu because of their significant historical value.
Visit the USS Bowfin Submarine, one of the few surviving combat submarines from WWII.
Take a stroll on the deck of the Battleship Missouri, or “Mighty Mo,” where the Surrender Deck marks the official end of WWII. If you’re around on June 15, 2018, head to the “Picnic on the Pier” (right by Mighty Mo), featuring lives music, fun activities, and prizes. Bring a picnic and blanket and chairs, or purchase food and drink on site!
Finally, tour the amazing USS Arizona Memorial, which commemorates the lives lost on that fateful day in December of 1941.
Home to the Hawaiian kingdom’s last two monarchs, Iolani Palace is a beautiful example of ornate “American Florentine” architecture.
It’s filled with artifacts, furniture, and décor from the late nineteenth century and showcases the last days of the Hawaiian monarchy in exquisite detail. A great find for history buffs!
This year, they’re also hosting the Prince Lot Hula Festival in July (see more on that below).
Getting In: Iolani Palace tickets are included with the Go Oahu Card.
Honolulu Museum of Art
Paradise inspires a lot of great art (just ask Georgia O’Keeffe), and the Honolulu Museum of Art sure has a lot to show for it.
Featuring one of the best collections of Asian art and artifacts in the country, this museum includes over 16,000 pieces from China, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, and India.
A visit here is another way to immerse yourself in local heritage and to expand your horizons.
Some special exhibitions opening up this summer include: “Word and Image: Textual References in Japanese Abstract Prints” (July 12 – August 26, 2018); “Making Waves” (opening June 14, 2018); and “Islanding: Reuben Tam” (opening July 12, 2018).
Getting In: Honolulu Museum of Art tickets are included with the Go Oahu Card.
King Kamehameha Floral Parade
June 11, 2018
This year marks the 102nd anniversary of this favorite local parade. It celebrates the reign of King Kamehameha, who united the Hawaiian Islands in the late eighteenth century.
Enjoy vibrant floats, talented performers, amazing musical groups, and more. Stick around for the festival afterwards!
Getting In: The King Kamehameha Floral Celebration is free to attend.
Prince Lot Hula Festival
July 21 – 22, 2018
As you may have guessed, this delightful festival is dedicated to the fine Hawaiian art of hula dancing. This is the largest non-competitive hula event in the state, and is an excellent opportunity to see both modern and traditional iterations of this amazing artform.
As with last year, the event is being held on the grounds of the historic Iolani Palace. Troupes of hula dancers will perform for spectators, showcasing their talents in this traditional dance.
You’ll enjoy get to enjoy spotlights on Native Hawaiian culture through crafts, games, and more. A great family event.
Getting In: The Prince Lot Hula Festival is free to attend.
Haleiwa Arts Festival Summer ArtFest
Haleiwa Beach Park
July 21 – 22, 2018
If you love art, then this is the event for you. It’s filled with locals artists, musicians, dancers, storytellers, artisans, and much more.
Artists hail from Oahu, the other Hawaiian islands, the mainland, and beyond. You’ll be able to observe their works and even purchase unique pieces for your home or as gifts.
Getting In: The Haleiwa Arts Festival is free to attend.
August 18 – 26, 2018
Duke’s is truly a summer event, dedicated to exciting watersports from around the globe, including the quintessentially Hawaiian art of surfing.
This lengthy festival features a variety of exhilarating competitions, from surfing and swimming to standup paddling and beach volleyball.
This festival is held in honor of the Olympian Duke Paoa Kahanamoku, called the greatest Hawaiian waterman who ever lived.
Getting In: Duke’s OceanFest is free to attend, although registration is required to participate in certain sporting events.
So there you have it. Our picks for some of the top things to do in Oahu in the summer.
Please note, the summer events taking place at some of these attractions may be separately ticketed and not included with the Go Oahu Card.
Plan to visit some of these top attractions during your trip. Whether you are traveling with your family or a couple of friends, we’re sure you will have a great time.