Snorkelling Hanauma Bay – Image courtesy of mshawaiitours.com
Things to do in Oahu
Oahu offers a range of outdoor activities for active couples celebrating a honeymoon or enjoying a romantic getaway.
Snorkelling – Explore the reef and calm, turquoise waters of Hanauma Bay, part of the Koko Head Regional Park and considered the best snorkeling spot on O’ahu.
Sheltered beneath the volcanic Ko’olau range in the stunning south-eastern corner of O’ahu, Hanauma ‘Curved’ Bay is bisected by a beautiful coral reef, teeming with all manner of fish. Great for beginners, as even in waist deep water you can expect to see dozens of species of reef fish.
Or head to Makaha Beach for clear water, underwater caverns, arches and tunnels. Expect to see schools of taape, octopuses, eels, green sea turtles, dolphins and occasionally manta and eagle rays. Another good spot for snorkelling is Kapiolani Beach near Diamond Head.
Scuba diving – Oahu offers several great dive spots. On the east side of Oahu, the reefs around Maunalua Bay, Hawaii Kai and Hanauma Bay are popular dive spots.
Check out Anglers Reef (more a wall) for slipper lobsters, octopus and a variety of eels; the Koko Craters, a chain of rounded ledges about 10m deep, for a variety of reef fish and green sea turtles; and for a wreck dive head to Corsair Wreck, the only genuine of its kind on the east shore.
On the North Shore explore the Three Tables, a popular site that offers interesting boulders, lava tubes, a plunging wall and some coral. Expect to see parrotfish, tropicals, octopus, eels and occasionally rays, turtles and sharks.
The West Shore offers the calmest water and the most consistent clear visibility making it the most popular for boat dives. Check out Makua Valley Ridge, Black Rock Arches and the Makaha Caverns, a great spot for beginners.
For those who love wreck diving, head to the wreck of the Mahi, south of Waianae and one of the most well-known wrecks in Oahu. The Mahi, an old minesweeper, spans more then 50m and attracts manta and eagle rays, green sea turtles, schools of vibrant fish, eels and the occasional white tipped shark.
Surfing – For a perfect wave, head to Oahu’s North Shore – a legendary surfing mecca that attracts the best surfers in the world. These beaches stretch for more than 10km along the coast and play host to the world’s premier surfing competitions including the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing.
Three of the North Shore’s most famous surf spots include Waimea Bay, birthplace of big wave surfing; Banzai Pipeline (Ehukai Beach), a break just 50m to 100m off the beach over a shallow reef making this one of the most dangerous surf spots in the world and home to the Rip Curl Pro Pipeline Masters; and Sunset Beach – the long wave-breaks here are the setting for the O’Neill World Cup of Surfing, the second contest in the Vans Triple Crown of surfing.
The winter months between November and February are the best times for surfing with massive waves up to 10m. For body surfing head to Sandy Beach, one of the best body surfing beaches on O’ahu, less than two kilometres north of Hanauma Bay.
Read more about surfing the North Shore of Oahu . . .
Hiking – Hike the steep track up to the summit of Diamond Head (228m), an extinct volcanic cone, for a magnificent 360-degree view that takes in the south-eastern coast to Koko Head and the leeward coast to Barbers Point. Located in a volcanic crater above Kapi'olani Park and Waikiki Beach, the distinctive Diamond Head is one of the best-known landmarks in the Pacific.
Try also to visit the ridge-top Nu’uanu Pali lookout (366m) with its sweeping vista of windward O’ahu. From the lookout you can see Kane’ohe straight ahead, Kailua to the right and Mokoli’i Island and the coastal fishpond at Kualoa Regional Park to the far left. It’s fairly bracing: at times the winds are so strong you can sometimes lean against them!
Golfing – For golf lovers don’t miss the Ko’olau Golf Club, a Dick Nugent-designed 18-hole, par 72 course and known as one of the world’s most challenging and spectacular golf course.
Situated on eastern Oahu and carved out of a magnificent tropical rainforest on the windward side of the Ko’olau Ridge mountain range, Ko’olau encompasses three distinct climate zones and features winding ravines, extreme elevation changes, huge sand bunkers and breathtaking views of cascading waterfalls. Considered the toughest course in Hawaii, Ko’olau’s spectacular setting will inspire you from beginning to end.
Driving – Rent a car and take a leisurely coastal drive around the island. Oahu is rimmed with sandy shores perfect for a refreshing swim or secluded picnic. Some to check out include: Sandy Beach, with its huge waves for super body surfing; Makapu'u, its black-cliff backdrop famous for a cameo in the film From Here to Eternity; Kailua Beach, located in a pretty residential area; and Chinaman's Hat, an islet off of Kualoa Beach near the village of Kaawa.
Shopping – Best buys include Kona coffee, colourful Hawaiian sarongs, shell leis, kukui nut items, jewellery and handicrafts will all help to bring back the memories of your Hawaiian holiday once you’ve returned home.