Hey there, fellow Oahu adventurers!
It’s no secret that I absolutely love exploring the beautiful island of Oahu with my boyfriend. We’ve been visiting this paradise for years, and I can confidently tell you that there’s so much more than meets the eye beyond those stunning beaches. From snorkeling with majestic sea creatures to taking in breathtaking aerial views, we’ve experienced some of the most unforgettable moments on our trips here.
Now, I know how overwhelming it can be trying to figure out which tours will truly make your vacation special – trust me, we’ve had our share of trial and error! But fear not, because, after all these years and countless experiences, I’m here to share my top picks for the best tours in Oahu. You’ll learn everything from where to find hidden gems on this captivating island to how you can dodge those pesky tourist crowds (we all want a little peace and quiet sometimes!).
I remember one time when my boyfriend and I decided to try swimming cage-free with sharks – talk about an adrenaline rush! As scary as it sounds though, it was actually such an incredible experience that brought us even closer together. So if you’re anything like us thrill-seekers or simply want a unique adventure on your next Oahu trip, then keep reading – you won’t be disappointed.
Warning: After diving into these amazing tour recommendations, don’t be surprised if you find yourself daydreaming about your next Hawaiian getaway (and maybe packing your bags already)!
Alright then! Let’s embark on this exciting journey through the wonders of Oahu together. Trust me; these are memories you’ll cherish forever.
Zipline Tour on the North Shore at Keana Farms
The North shore of Oahu has lush landscapes lined with forests, making it perfect for riding ziplines. You can try this thrilling sport at the Keana Farms in Kahuku, which has the longest zipline in Oahu and terrific guided ziplining tours that people of all ages can take.
Your tour begins with a short ATV ride up the mountain, passing beautiful farmlands, a jungle, the vast mountainscape, and inland sceneries along the way. Once at the top, you’ll see 8 ziplines, each stretching longer than the last, from 500 to 2400 feet in length. The on-site expert guides strap you into safety gear and set you off for the incredible adventure ahead. As you progress through the zip lines, there will be rappels, sky bridges, and scenic boardwalks to enjoy the incredible views.
In addition, the ziplines are whisper-quiet, allowing you to take in the lovely North shore landscape and beaches below without excessive noise from the lines.
My boyfriend and I loved this exciting adventure at Keana Farms, and it’s one of the best tours in Oahu. Here’s why you’ll agree:
- The ziplines are side-by-side, so you can ride with a guide or a friend.
- You’ll be at an incredible height on the ziplines, with the lowest one being 400 feet above sea level.
- The guides tell you about the farm’s rich history and give samples of fresh fruit from their trees.
Sunset Cruise With Dinner in Oahu
A trip to Oahu is incomplete without watching its stunning sunset, and the best place to see it is directly from the coast. You can take a sunset cruise tour from the Honolulu shoreline, which sails to the famous Diamond Head volcano for unmatched sunset views and provides a gourmet meal and entertainment.
You’ll board a luxury catamaran on the pier for this 2-hour tour and receive a warm welcome from hula dancers onboard. From there, enjoy tableside service as a professional waitstaff serves you a three-course meal with crab and steak, followed by tropical cocktails. Enjoy the delicious dinner as the largest cast in Oahu’s waters performs an entertaining live show called ’60 Years of Aloha.’
As the sunset approaches, you’ll climb the ship’s 60-foot wraparound deck to appreciate the views and take in the blazing island sun as it changes colors and sets behind the volcanic crater.
My boyfriend and I loved this intimate sunset cruise with the best seaside views, and it’s undoubtedly one of the best tours in Oahu. Here’s why you have to take it:
- The spacious cruise ensures each guest finds a private spot for sunset viewing.
- The crew is friendly and efficient, ensuring guests have a great time.
- You can enjoy the tour for an hour longer on Fridays.
Horseback Riding on the North Shore
Hawaii has a long-standing history of cattle farming and horse riding, as Hawaiian cowboys (called paniolos) have been running ranches on the islands for more than a century. This means you’ll find gorgeous ranches in Oahu, run by authentic paniolos and offering horseback riding tours on their vast lands.
The Gunstock Ranch in Kahuku offers a great tour for walking horses on their grounds and up the North shore mountainscape. You’ll travel in small groups with experienced guides for the tour, who point out scenic lookout points and share the ranch’s history along the ride. Plus, there are great photo ops on the way, and guides will snap pictures of you next to them on horseback.
In addition, riders will experience fantastic views of the Pacific Ocean from their mountain riding trails and pass through open pastures and shaded forests on this 1.5-hour-long tour.
This trip is the best way to enjoy the North shore’s sprawling landscape at a leisurely pace and is one of the best tours in Oahu. Here’s why you’ll agree:
- The guides match horses to riders based on their skill level and experience.
- This tour is ideal for beginners and experienced riders both.
- The guides teach you how to ride like an authentic paniolo on the tour.
Swim with Sharks (cage-free) on the North Shore
There are many ways to hang out with the incredible marine life in Oahu, but swimming with sharks without a cage between you is definitely one of the coolest. You can enjoy this experience in Haleiwa on the North shore, where a tour with sharks allows you to swim close to these creatures safely and clear any preconceptions about the dangers of sharks.
Your 40-minute tour starts three miles from the coast of Haleiwa to a maritime zone 250 feet deep in the North shore waters. The trip is led by trained guides who take you to the areas underwater with the most sharks swimming about and ease you into watching and swimming alongside them. In addition, these pelagic zones have dolphins, whales, and other native marine animals accompanying you on this adventure.
As there are nearly forty species of sharks in the Hawaiian waters, this tour ensures you snorkel with a variety of them, and if you want to see more, the guides take you to a different spot.
My boyfriend and I really enjoyed swimming with the sharks in Oahu, and we recommend this tour to everyone looking for some thrill on their trip. Here’s why it’s one of the best tours in Oahu:
- They only take small groups at a time to give everyone a personalized experience.
- The tour is led by a local family that’s been taking people snorkeling with sharks for years.
- There’s only basic snorkeling equipment on the trip to keep it light and natural.
Turtle Canyons Snorkel Tour from Waikiki
You can’t come to Oahu and miss a chance to spot the native Hawaiian green sea turtles, also called honu, found all over the island. So take a snorkeling trip to Turtle Canyons, a marine life hotspot off the Waikiki shore that attracts hundreds of sea turtles and other sea life year-round.
The 2-hour long tour takes guests from Waikiki to the best snorkeling spot in the Canyon with experienced guides. You’ll get to swim beside the beautiful turtles, as well as colorful species of tropical fish, eels, and even the occasional octopus. The marine life is attracted here because of the huge coral reef below Turtle Canyons, which spreads into stunning valleys and hills, resembling an underwater city.
In addition, you’ll spot some creatures above the water, such as spinner dolphins, flying fish, and humpback whales during the winter months, making this tour unmissable.
My boyfriend and I loved seeing the turtles up close and swimming next to them on this trip, as it’s one of the best tours in Oahu. Here’s why you have to take it:
- The guides make sure everyone swims comfortably with the marine life while keeping a safe distance.
- The tour provides guests with complimentary snacks and refreshments at their base.
- You’ll get high-quality snorkeling equipment fitted to each person.
Dolphin Watching & Snorkeling Activity at Waianae
Oahu has an abundant population of spinner dolphins residing on its shores, which you can view up close to guided tours year-round. So take this tour to Waianae, a 45-minute sail from the Waikiki coast, which brings passengers on eye-level with dolphins and also provides snorkeling opportunities with the native marine life in Oahu.
The tour is aboard a motorboat with expert guides and marine naturalists who brief you on the dolphins’ habitat and behaviors and take you to the best spots in Waianae to see them. You can marvel at these incredible creatures breaking the shore and performing acrobatic feats natural to them for onlookers.
In addition, the tour sails to snorkeling hotspots where you can swim alongside turtles and many fish species and explore the breathtaking ecosystem of Hawaii’s coral reefs.
We loved taking this trip to see dolphins roaming freely on the coast, as it’s one of the best tours in Oahu. Here’s why you should take it:
- The tour guarantees dolphin sightings, or else your next trip is free!
- In winter, you’ll enjoy the added bonus of sighting humpback whales.
- The tour takes small groups at a time to keep the activity intimate.
Helicopter Tour of Oahu’s Best Sights
Some of Oahu’s most beautiful sights lie in its lush valleys and mountainscapes outside the main city, and the best way to see them is via a helicopter tour. So take this tour with Rainbow Helicopters, which goes over the stunning Oahu landscape on a 45-minute aerial trip.
Passengers will board the private helicopters from Honolulu Airport, where the trained crew provides safety instructions and prepares them for the flight ahead. Once in the air, you’ll take a slow loop over the Diamond Head State Monument, a historical island landmark, and towards the stunning reefs of Hanauma Bay and Maunalua Bay.
Some other incredible sights you’ll pass are the vast Ko’olau Mountain range, the longest stretch of shore at Lanikai Beach, the jagged cliffs of the Ka’a’awa Valley, and the Dole pineapple plantation. Finally, the helicopter goes over the USS Arizona Memorial before coming back to base.
There’s no better way to take in Oahu’s natural beauty than from a helicopter, which is what makes this the best tour in Oahu. Here’s why you have to try it:
- The tour has options to keep the helicopter doors on or off.
- You’ll fly over the valley where Jurassic Park was filmed.
- The captain shares insights about Oahu’s best sights as you pass them.
Oahu Sights and Bites Island Tour
Your trip to Oahu will get a massive upgrade with this circle island tour which passes by incredible places in Oahu, all while sampling the best local cuisine. On this full-day trip, the sights and bites tour guarantees you’ll see unmatched views of the North shore mountains and savor fresh island flavors prepared by local eateries.
You’ll set off with a scenic drive to the Diamond Head lookout point, followed by trying poi-filled donuts from the fantastic Kamehameha Bakery. Then continue down the coast to Halona Point and its natural blowhole, followed by a drive to the Ko’olau Mountains to take in breathtaking views from the Pali Lookout.
The foodie in you will love a tour of the Tropical Macadamia Nut Farms with a chance to try the locally-grown nut, a stop at the North Shore Shrimp Trucks for a delicious lunch, and finally, at Haleiwa for shopping and desserts.
My boyfriend and I had the most fun time sightseeing and trying local food, as this is one of the best tours in Oahu. Here’s why you’ll love it:
- You’ll taste coffee and chocolate produced locally at the Macadamia Nut Farm.
- The tour includes trying Dole Whip, a dairy-free pineapple dessert famous in Oahu.
- You’ll be led by an expert tour guide who narrates Oahu’s history on the trip.
Pearl Harbor USS Arizona Memorial Tour
The Pearl Harbor National Monument is one of Oahu’s most important historical landmarks, commemorating a pivotal moment in US history during the second World War. You can take a guided tour of this site, including a boat ride to the USS Arizona, a stop at the visitor center, and learning about history throughout the trip.
You’ll see a short film and explore exhibits at the visitor center that relive the morning of the attack on December 7, 1941. Next, you’ll ride a boat to the USS Arizona Memorial, explore the well-detailed galleries’ Road to War’ and ‘Attack,’ and see the Pacific Historic Parks Souvenirs Shop, where you can purchase themed books and gifts.
In addition, the tour passes by the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, where the Punchbowl Crater honors the men and women who served in the US Armed Forces and those who gave their lives in doing so.
We were in awe of the incredible display at Pearl Harbor and considered it one of the best tours in Oahu. Here’s why you’ll agree:
- You’ll hear the detailed history of the war events from your guides on the tour.
- The tour provides pickup and drop-off facilities from your hotels.
- The tour goes to downtown Honolulu’s past landmarks like the Iolani Palace, King Kamehameha’s statue, and the Aloha Tower.
Circle Island Tour of Oahu with Waimea Waterfall
Experience a local’s guide to Oahu on a circle island tour featuring hidden gems, breathtaking natural sights, and historical landmarks with Go Tours Hawaii. Your tour includes a special stop at the gorgeous Waimea Botanical Gardens and waterfall, or at the historic Byodo-In Temple, which each group can choose between.
The tour picks up guests from their hotels early in the morning and drives to the Diamond Head Monument, where its lookout point gives views of the Hanauma Bay. Next, you’ll see incredible sights at the Halona Blowhole, the Makapu’u Point with views of Waimanalo’s sea cliffs, and make a stop at the Tropical Farms for coffee, chocolate, and macadamia nut tastings.
Once at the Waimea Botanical Gardens, you’ll see dozens of native and exotic species of plants and flowers and stop at the nearby waterfall for a relaxing swim.
My boyfriend and I enjoyed this extensive trip around the island and consider it one of the best tours in Oahu. Here’s why you have to take it:
- On the tour, you’ll sample freshly grown local fruits from the Kahuku Farms.
- The guides narrate Oahu’s history and give information on the sites you visit.
- A stop at the Dole Plantation will allow visitors to get souvenirs and local desserts.
Paradise Cove Luau
Nothing highlights a Hawaiian vacation more than a traditional luau, and you can find the best one at Paradise Cove. The Cove’s location transforms nightly into a beautiful site to watch the luau, where guests eat a delicious buffet dinner and engage in exciting island activities. Of course, the best way to see the luau is by booking a tour which adds some perks to elevate your experience.
The tour begins with guests receiving a Hawaiian lei and Mai Tai cocktail on arrival. Some exciting activities include the Shower of Flowers and the Hukilau on the beach, which teaches guests the fishing techniques of old Hawaii, followed by the Royal Court Procession and a buffet dinner.
For the meal, you’ll enjoy traditional Hawaiian dishes roasted in an underground oven called an imu. After dinner, there’s live music, songs, and dancing from across Polynesia as you see the incredible Paradise Cove Extravaganza.
My boyfriend and I loved this authentic luau experience at Paradise Cove and consider it one of the best tours in Oahu. Here’s why you will too:
- You can visit the Hawaiian Village to see traditional arts and crafts and play games.
- Guests can choose between three dinner menus according to their dietary preferences.
- Paradise Cove gives views of downtown Honolulu, Pearl Harbor, Waikiki, and Diamond Head.
Sunset Cocktail Cruise from Waikiki
End your trip with a final sunset viewing from Waikiki beach, and the various tours aboard cruises are the perfect way to see it. Take this laid-back sunset and cocktail cruise from Waikiki that sails aboard a 53-foot luxury catamaran, providing guests a secluded trip and the chance to enjoy the sunset views without interruption.
The cruise sails far from the city towards the Diamond Head volcano for the best sunset views. Guests can enjoy two complimentary alcoholic drinks during the trip, with more available for purchase from the bar. In addition, a pupu (appetizer) platter of cheese plates, Kalua pork wontons, and meatballs with sauces makes for a delicious side to the drinks.
As the sunset nears, you’ll climb the ship’s deck and find a private spot, then marvel at the fiery island sun changing hues from oranges to pinks as it begins to fade behind the volcano.
We loved taking this cruise for unmatched sunset views in Waikiki, and it’s undoubtedly one of the best tours in Oahu. Here’s why you’ll agree:
- Spinner dolphins and sea turtles swim past the catamaran on your tour.
- The captain and crew are terrific and keep guests entertained with stories of the island throughout the trip.
- You can see humpback whales on this cruise from December to April.
Winding Up The Best Tours in Oahu
Oahu welcomes people worldwide to its gorgeous shores each year, aptly called the Gathering Place, and offers tons of fun activities and adventures. So you can find many tours going around the island offering services from locals to see the top island sights like waterfalls, snorkeling spots, ranches, and rainforests.
My boyfriend and I have been taking local-led tours in Oahu for years now and can testify that you’ll come across the best ones here.
Looking for a thrilling adventure in Oahu? Take the Keana Farms Zipline tour, and swim cage-free with sharks in Haleiwa.
Want to see marine life up close in Oahu? Go snorkeling to Turtle Canyons and watch dolphins up close at Waianae.
Need to know Oahu’s history and local sites better? Take a circle island tour with local food stops, and tour the Pearl Harbor Monument and USS Arizona.
Want a family-friendly activity in Oahu? Try horseback riding at Gunstock Ranch and enjoy a luau at Paradise Cove.
The best tours in Oahu have something fun for everyone!
Last Updated on March 29, 2023 by Brigitte