The island of Oahu is one of the most popular vacation destinations in the country. With warm temps, serene waters, and white sandy beaches available year-round, there are so many reasons to head to Oahu that you’d be hard pressed to explain why you aren’t going to this amazing Hawaiian island. That said, when you do make it to Oahu, you’ll find that it’s a bigger island than you might have expected. So how to narrow down what you want to do in a specific region like the North Shore? If you’re looking for things to do on the North Shore of Oahu or just nearby, check out our list of the best local activities and attractions, including...
- Polynesian Cultural Center & Luau
- Kualoa Ranch
- Waimea Valley
- Semi-Private Surf Lessons
- Kayak and SUP Rentals
- And more!
Save on North Shore Oahu Activity Admission
Admission to many of these top Oahu attractions and activities and more are included on the Go Oahu® Card. Choose as you go from many top attractions and save up to 55% on combined admission vs. paying at the gate. See all available passes, attractions & prices – Learn more. Planning to spend some time on other parts of the island? Then check out our post on things to do in Honolulu for more fun ideas. Looking for things to do in Haleiwa? There are so many fun things, we created a whole separate blog post for it. Check it out.
Things to Do on the North Shore of Oahu & Nearby
Alii Luau & Dinner Show
Those looking for an extra special Oahu experience won’t want to miss out on the Alii Luau and Dinner Show at the Polynesian Cultural Center. Marvel at dozens of talented native dancers performing an inspiring and moving show. Their passion and dedication to their craft makes the show that much more moving. Then, dig into a feast of authentic Hawaiian cuisine -- be sure to wear loose clothing! A visit here is a good opportunity to enjoy real Hawaiian food, not just the touristy stuff. The entire luau experience is on many bucket lists, and this particular offering is a great option. Getting In: Polynesian Cultural Center Luau tickets are included as an option with the 3, 5, and 7-Day Go Oahu® Cards.
Polynesian Cultural Center
Everybody’s favorite cultural attraction on Oahu is the PCC. Explore their 42 acres of amazing cultural activities, from canoe rides to spear throwing to coconut husking. Roam through different themed areas to learn all about the diverse cultures that make up Polynesia, and participate in hands-on demonstrations to really let it all sink in. The different regions represent the seven distinct Polynesian cultures: Aotearoa (New Zealand), Hawaii, Tahiti, Fiji, Samoa, and Tonga. In each area, you'll find cultural and culinary demonstrations, including things like spear-throwing, coconut husking, lei-making, and much more. The Polynesian Cultural Center is the best place on all of Oahu to immerse yourself in ancient cultures of Polynesia and to see how these cultures thrive today. Getting In: Polynesian Cultural Center tickets are included with the Go Oahu® Card.
Voyaging Catamaran Tour
Explore the lush landscapes of Oahu with this Voyaging Catamaran Tour by Kualoa Ranch. You'll board a 49-passenger Catamaran, which provides an ideal combination of speed and sightseeing. Tour the waters immediately around the ranch with a chance to see amazing views like Kāneohe Bay, Mokolii Island (also known as Chinaman’s Hat), and Hokalua Beach. This is a perfect Instagram opportunity! Getting In: Kualoa Ranch Catamaran Tour tickets are included with the Go Oahu® Card.
Secret Island Beach
Another offering from Kualoa Ranch, this private oceanfront expanse is aptly named Secret Island Beach. Sunbathe in this secluded spot while enjoying the peaceful waves and serene skies. Or, if you’re looking to be a little more active, enjoy three hours of popular beach activities like beach volleyball, badminton, kayaking, and much more. The kids will especially love a trip to Secret Island Beach, and you'll appreciate the smaller crowds on this private beach. Getting In: Oahu Secret Island Beach activities are included with the Go Oahu® Card.
Movie Sites Tour
Oodles of your favorite movies and TV shows have been filmed on Oahu. Here’s your chance to see the real scenes behind the camera for shows like Lost and Hawaii 5-0. Or, if you prefer movies, why not check out sites from Pearl Harbor and Jurassic Park? Rated among America’s top movie sites tours, this is an attraction not to miss for movie buffs. The land itself is also historically significant, having been part of the Kualoa Airfield during WWII. So, military buffs will also get a lot out of a visit here. Getting In: Kualoa Ranch Movie Site Tours are included with the Go Oahu® Card.
If you just can’t get enough of exploring Oahu’s natural beauty, then the Jungle Tour at Kualoa Ranch is for you. Trek through their impressive backcountry on a rugged Jeep and soak up the sights and sounds of natural springs, eclectic jungle trails, and priceless coastline. This tour is a fun option for active travelers. Be prepared for a bit of a rough ride and a lot of fun! Getting In: Kualoa Ranch Jungle Tour tickets are included with the Go Oahu® Card.
At over 1,800 acres, the magnificent Waimea Valley is one of the last bastions of unspoiled natural beauty on the entire island. Stroll through 35 different (yet equally lovely) botanical gardens to admire the diversity of Hawaiian plant life. Or, get up close to a 45-foot waterfall. Don’t forget about the lei-making! Getting In: Waimea Valley tickets are included with the Go Oahu® Card.
Semi-Private Oahu Surf Lessons
Always wanted to learn how to surf, but never found the time or opportunity? Now’s your chance! Take advantage of this semi-private, 2-hour surf lesson with Sea & Board Sports Hawaii to pursue your dreams of becoming the next surf star. You’ll be out catching waves in no time! Getting In: Semi-Private Oahu Surf Lessons for Beginners are included as an option on the 3, 5, and 7-Day Go Oahu® Cards.
Stand Up Paddle Board Rental
Get out and be active with a Stand Up Paddle Board Rental. This 3-hour rental gives you plenty of time to paddle around on Oahu’s strikingly clear waters, with the chance to catch glimpses of the lush coral reefs below the surface. SUPers in the past have also seen sea turtles, fish, dolphins, and even whales! Getting In: Oahu Stand Up Paddle Board Rentals are included with the Go Oahu® Card.
Another great way to get out on the water. This 3-hour kayak rental is the perfect family or couples activity, giving you the opportunity to paddle at your own pace and to explore Oahu’s teeming waters at your leisure. Getting In: Oahu Kayak Rentals are included with the Go Oahu® Card.
Sunset Beach Park
One of the most popular public beaches in all of Oahu, Sunset Beach Park is delightful year-round. Snorkel or swim in the calmer summer months, or get your surf on in the move active and challenging winter waters. With bathrooms and showers nearby, this is a convenient beach experience, too. Just be aware of strong currents! Getting In: Admission to Sunset Beach Park is free.
This beach is a hotspot for snorkeling and swimming. The abundance of sea life and the clarity of the water also makes it perfect for underwater photography. Do be aware that sharp rocks on the ocean floor necessitate water shoes of some kind, but it’s totally worth the extra effort. Getting In: Admission to Sharks Cove is free.
CLIMB Works – Keana Farms
If you’ve ever wanted to try zip lining (or, if you’re already a zip line pro), then CLIMB Works is a can’t miss activity for you. Oahu is such a gorgeous place to explore, and zip lining is a great way to make a real adventure out of immersing yourself in nature. Getting In: Admission to CLIMB Works is separately ticketed and is not included with the Go Oahu® Card. To purchase tickets and for more information about this attraction, visit the attraction website.
Remember to Save on Attraction Admission
These are our top recommendations for things to do on the North Shore during your trip to Oahu Don’t forget – many of these great attraction options and more are included on the Go Oahu® Card where you can save up to 55% on combined admission vs. paying at the gate. We hope you consider adding a few of these fun options to your Oahu vacation plans.