Drive around the island of Oahu
January 3, 2020
| by
Jana Free

Oahu Things to do: Guide to the 5 Regions of Oahu

See this latest Oahu Travel Blog article, ‘Oahu Things to do: Guide to the 5 Regions of Oahu,’ to uncover the best activities and attractions on our island. From beaches and hiking trails to restaurants and historic sites, there is so much to discover throughout Oahu.

Oahu is beautiful and dynamic no matter where you go on the island, but to get a true picture of the paradise that we call home, it helps to know what makes each of the areas of our oasis unique. Tropi-cal Oahu is carved into 5 regions, each with its own hidden treasures and exciting things to do.

Honolulu, the Leeward Coast, the North Shore, Central Oahu and the Windward Coast together feature a wealth of attractions and activities worth exploring. Depending on how much time you have on Oahu, you may choose to uncover all that awaits in every region or simply dive into one area’s past and present.

In this Oahu Travel Blog article, Oahu Things to do: Guide to Visiting the 5 Regions of Oahu, we introduce you to the 5 regions of Oahu, and to the top attractions and activities on our island. Enjoy the tour and have fun discovering all that awaits on in our Hawaiian paradise.

Most visitors to Oahu spend their time in Honolulu, sunning on the beaches of Waikiki and hiking on winding trails like the one that leads to Diamond Head, a 300,000-year-old volcanic crater. But there is so much to do away from Honolulu, such as experiencing the laid-back North Shore surfer culture and admiring the scenic panoramas that can only be found on Oahu’s Windward Coast.

If you have more than a day to spend on Oahu, we recommend you take a drive or tour from Waikiki to other parts of the island to become acquainted with several of our gems including Haleiwa Town and Waimea Bay on the North Shore, or the Dole Pineapple Plantation in Central Oahu.


Honolulu is to Oahu what Oahu is to Hawaii. It is the beating heart that drives the excitement. Honolulu is everything you would expect from Hawaii and more; a cosmopolitan city and world-class capital filled with an awe-inspiring combination of historic landmarks, expansive beaches, bustling streets and photograph-worthy volcanos and hiking trails.

You will find fine dining, spectacular shopping, unique art and much more in downtown Honolulu, Waikiki and the coastal areas surrounding Honolulu. Some of the top places to visit and things to do in Honolulu include:

  • The Bishop Museum - The largest Hawaiian museum dedicated to preserving and studying the history of Hawaii and the Pacific.
  • Diamond Head - Also known as Mount Leahi, the perfect picture spot on Oahu.
  • Waikiki Beaches - Once a playground for royalty and today a place for surfing and sunning.

Leeward Coast

The Leeward Coast of Oahu is sunny and dry, similar in many ways to Honolulu including the opportunities it affords for enjoying water sports. But the contrast in the regions is some-what striking when experienced in person. Away from the bustle of Waikiki and downtown Honolulu, the Leeward Coast offers smaller picturesque towns and villages as well as off-the-beaten-path secluded beaches.

Championship golf, family-friendly activities and fantastic views await on the Leeward Coast. During your visit, make sure you check out:

  • Makaha Beach - One of the first places for big-wave surfing on Oahu.
  • Kaena Point - A postcard-perfect setting at the end of a long road on the western-most point of Oahu.

The North Shore

Looking for the perfect wave? Chances are you will find it on the North Shore. Make famous in many movies and by the biggest surfing contest in the world, the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing (November - December), the North Shore is where you can test your skills on the massive swells of Waimea Bay, Sunset Beach and Ehukai Beach (Banzai Pipeline).

Anyone visiting the North Shore for surfing should take note that many of the region’s beaches have winter waves that are so huge they should only be tackled by the pros. Ama-teur surfers and casual swimmers may want to take a dip in these challenging waters during the calmer summer months. Between November and February, the towering glassy waves can swell up to 30 feet or more.

  • Haleiwa Town - Not a surfer? Visit Haleiwa Town on the North Shore to shop, eat local food and just enjoy relaxing scenery.

Central Oahu

Pearl Harbor is the most important and frequented attraction in Central Oahu. Set in Hawaii’s largest natural harbor, Pearl Harbor is an active naval base and home to several historic sites: the USS Arizona Memorial, the USS Battleship Missouri Memorial, the Pacific Historic Parks, the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park and the USS Oklahoma Memorial. Vis-it these special sites to learn about the historic events that wrote the history of World War II.

In Central Oahu, you can explore a rich agriculture region that boomed in the late 19th century. At the Leilehua Plateau in Wahiawa, sprawling pineapple fields present the quintessential Hawaiian scene. Stop by the Dole Plantation to learn about the history of pineapple growing on Oahu. Run through a 3-acre maze at the Dole Plantation, and then visit Hawaii Plantation Village to discover sugar cane production - an industry that peaked on Oahu roughly 100 years ago.

The Windward Coast

Drive out of Honolulu, and its skyscrapers and busy city streets, into another world on Oahu’s Windward Coast. Here, a slower pace gently guides you to tranquility as the breezes turn your attention to the striking natural beauty all around. From Kailua on the Windward Coast, head to Sea Life Park or Makapuu Point Lighthouse. Stop at Nuuanu Pali Lookout, one of Oahu’s top scenic spots, to enjoy a view of the Windward Coast and Koolau Mountains. 


This Oahu Travel Blog article: Oahu Things to do: Guide to the 5 Regions of Oahu features just some of the amazing reasons to discover the areas of our island beyond Honolulu and Waikiki.

If you have any questions about visiting any of the beaches, activities or attractions on Oahu, please feel free to ask our Concierge for more information. 

Visit our Oahu Visitors Guide for more recommendations for all there is to do, see and experience when visiting Oahu.

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