Man diving in Oahu with clear water, lots of coral and fish.

22 Best Tours on Oahu You Need Book Right Now

So you finally bought a ticket and managed to get to “the Heart of Hawaii,” aka Oahu. Now what? If you’re like some of the young travelers we know, you barely had time to pack your bags and make your flight and had absolutely no time to plan any part of your trip. You’ve got anywhere from 2 to 7 days to enjoy this beautiful isolated island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, but you don’t know where to start. 

Good news: you’ve come to the right place. Whether you are on Oahu for your birthday, a romantic anniversary trip, with friends on spring break, or just traveling solo, you definitely want to make the most of your time here. And the best way to do that is via guided tours.

In this post, we have rounded up some of the most popular as well as lesser-known guided tours on Oahu to help you explore this piece of paradise. If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by the sheer amount of options, we’d highly recommend sticking to our personal favorites:

1. Oahu Helicopter Tour with Doors On or Off 

Duration: 1 hour

Several locally owned adventure tour companies offer numerous helicopter tour options, many of which are pretty unique. These tours are designed to give you a bird’s eye view of scenic Oahu from a helicopter. You can choose to fly with the doors on or off for unobstructed views of the island. Blue Hawaiian Helicopters, Rainbow Helicopters, and Mauna Loa Helicopters are the most popular companies. Our personal favorite is Rainbow Helicopters.

Why We Love This Tour: If there is one thing you just HAVE to do before you leave Oahu, it’s this (unless you really hate flying!). A helicopter tour will give you the opportunity to see the whole island and all of its beauty; you’ll get up close to the spectacular mountain ranges, waterfalls in hidden places inaccessible by foot, Pearl Harbor, Diamond Head, and even a rainbow or two. The tour guides are very accommodating and will ensure you have an unforgettable experience.

What’s Included: Taxes, gratuities, phone straps, and headsets (some packages may also include bottled water too)

Duration: 1 hour

Go ziplining over Oahu’s North Shore to see the lush mountains, farms, and beaches from 500-2400 feet above. The tour kicks off with an ATV ride to the top of the mountain, where you’ll pass the jungle and several farms on your way up to the mountain.

Why We Love This Tour: Soaring from the top of the island’s longest ziplines is an incredibly thrilling experience for rush-chasers. Along the way, enjoy a series of boardwalks, sky bridges, rappels, and a couple of other surprises.

What’s Included: Professional guide, all necessary equipment, free parking, bottled water, and all fees, taxes, and handling charges

3. Pearl Harbor, USS Arizona, and City Tour

Duration: 5 hours

Operated By:  Roberts Hawaii Tours & Activities

The Pearl Harbor, USS Arizona, and City Tour starts with an excursion of Pearl Harbor, where you get to learn about the events that unfolded on that fateful day in 1941 when it came under attack by Japan, launching the US into World War II. Next is a visit to the USS Arizona Memorial by boat to reflect on the monumental battle that took place, costing the lives of over 1,000 of the ship’s crewmen.

The tour is concluded at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, where the brave soldiers who lost their lives are buried. You will also get to visit other historical landmarks, including the Hawaii State Capitol, Kawaiahao Church, Iolani Palace, and Honolulu City Hall.

Why We Love This Tour: This is a historic place for Americans, and the excursion makes for a very emotional and surreal day. You’ll leave Pearl Harbor with a newfound knowledge and an incredible understanding of exactly what happened and what the soldiers went through during the war here.

What’s Included: Driver and guide, Arizona admission fee, gratuities, transport by coach/minivan, and hotel pick-up and drop-off (select Kahala and Waikiki hotels)

What Customers are Saying:

4. Shark Cage Dive on the North Shore

Duration: 2 hours

Operated By: North Shore Shark Adventures

As you can imagine, this Shark Cage Dive adventure is not for the faint-hearted! But if you can bring yourself to do it, swimming with sharks inside of a safety cage will be something you’ll remember for the rest of your life. A certified guide will provide you with the safety gear and a briefing before the tour begins to ensure your safety at all times. Depending on the season, you’ll also get a chance to say hello to humpback whales, dolphins, and Hawaiian green sea turtles, but don’t try to feed them any chocolate! That would be ridiculous.

Why We Love This Tour: Being only inches away from some of the most majestic – and dangerous – marine creatures has a way of filling your body with an adrenaline rush. If you’re looking to infuse some excitement into your life, get up close and personal with these curious sharks.

What’s Included: Snorkel equipment, shark cruise, and a certified guide

5. Twin Islands Guided Kailua Kayak Tour

Duration: 5 hours

Operated By: Kailua Beach Adventures

Take a kayak tour of Kailua and Mokulua Islands and spend the morning walking in tide pools, snorkeling above live coral reefs, spotting colorful marine life, and learning how to interact with the local fauna in a positive way.

Why We Love This Tour: If you love water sports, this tour has got everything for you – kayaking, snorkeling, swimming, and more. The tour guides are very knowledgeable about the island and will ensure that everyone has a good time.

What’s Included: Lunch, all kayaking gear (Life jackets, paddles, island landing permits, and drybags), snorkeling gear, a secure locker, and free beach parking

6. Turtle Canyon Snorkel Excursion

Duration: 2 hours

Operated By: Living Ocean Scuba

Cruise to the Turtle Canyon snorkeling site through the Honolulu coastline and watch the cute hawaiian green sea turtles having a jam above a reef. You will be equipped with snorkeling equipment, receive a brief lesson on safety and the marine life you’re about to encounter, and go on a guided snorkeling tour from the boat.

Why We Love This Tour: If you want to see more than 500 species of South Pacific and Hawaiian marine life, including endangered sharks and monk seals, this is the place to be. Sip on complimentary refreshments while swimming around the blue water of Waikiki or just soaking up the tropical sun. Make sure you put on some reef-safe sunscreen!

What’s Included: Use of snorkeling equipment, professional guide, and light refreshments

7. Private Romantic Flight

Duration: 1 hour

Operated By: Rainbow Helicopters

There’s a helicopter ride, and then there’s the helicopter ride. You can book a private, super romantic ride to take you and your love over Oahu’s South Shore and catch a bird’s eye view of Diamond Head and the Waikiki skyline. The pilot will then continue on to Hanauma Bay, Makapu’u Point, and Dole Pineapple Plantation, allowing you to see volcanic outcroppings and white sand beaches on the way. Leis, champagne toasts, and chocolates will add an intimate touch.

Why We Love This Tour: Nothing screams romance quite like a one-of-a-kind Hawaiian experience without other tourists crowding you and your loved one. Whether you’re on your honeymoon or want to surprise your significant other for a birthday or anniversary, this expensive but so-worth-it tour will help you score points for life.

What’s Included: Helicopter landing in a private valley, private sightseeing excursion, a tour guide, leis, champagne toast, and Wailua chocolates

8. Waikiki Sunset Cruise with Live DJ

Duration: 2 hours

Operated By: And You Creations

Ever wanted to ride off into the sunset? Well, you can sail off into a beautiful sunset from a boat at the Kewalo Basin Boat Harbor. After a group toast and a safety briefing, guests can explore the boat’s Titanic-style front bow and two decks. The view from the boat is spectacular: surfers gliding along the coastal waves, the Diamond Head State Monument, and sightings of humpback whales, dolphins, and sea turtles. Once the sun dips below the horizon, a live DJ and a neon light show will entertain you with dance-worthy beats.

Why We Love This Tour: Diamond Head, dancing, and drinks – this is one of the best party cruise experiences on Oahu

What’s Included: A local guide and a professional DJ

9. North Shore Snorkeling Tour from Haleiwa

Duration: 2 hours

Operated By: Ocean Outfitters Hawaii

This North Shore Snorkeling Tour only operates in summer and fall months, from May to October, making it a perfect opportunity to encounter the sea creatures you won’t otherwise, such as whales, turtles, rays, and dolphins. Some of the reef fish you’ll see on this tour can’t be found anywhere else in the world.

Why We Love This Tour: This is one of the smoothest and fastest rides on the North Shore to see marine wildlife from a stone’s throw away.

What’s Included: Masks and fins (while food and beverages are not included, you can bring your own)

10. Diamond Head Crater Hike and North Shore Experience

Duration: 10 hours

Operated By: Fun Group Inc

The hike begins from Diamond Head Crater overlooking the views of Honolulu and Waikiki. The sightseeing adventure starts at the Halona Blowhole on the east side of the island, then heads to the North Shore. You’ll get to visit Tropical Farms Macadamia Nuts and taste a wide variety of locally-grown macadamia nuts. On your way, you’ll also find some amazing food trucks at the Kahuku Sugar Mill; we highly recommend getting garlic shrimp plates. This is where you will find the best food trucks on the North Shore of Oahu. The pineapple garden at Dole Plantation and Haleiwa Beach Park are also on the itinerary.

Why We Love This Tour: Okay, so yes, this one involves a lot of walking – it’s a hiking tour, after all – but it’s the best way to get the taste of Hawaii in one day.

What’s Included: Diamond Head admission fee, guide, transportation by AC van, and hotel pickup and drop-off

11. Oahu Sights and Bites Island Tour

Duration: 8.5 hours

Operated By: Aloha Hawaii Tours

The Oahu Sights and Bites Island Tour is one of the top-rated sightseeing tours in Hawaii for foodies. Enjoy the local flavors and breathtaking views, beginning with a charming drive to the Diamond Head Lookout and a poi donut from the famous Kamehameha Bakery. You’ll be visiting the Halona Blowhole, Ko’olau Mountains, Tropical Macadamia Nut Farm, and the Dole Pineapple Plantation. After lunch at the North Shore Shrimp Trucks, you can go shopping in town of Haleiwa and try other bites.

Why We Love This Tour: Macadamia nuts, chocolate, and coffee at the Tropical Macadamia Nut Farm; Dole Whip (a dairy-free dessert made from pineapples) at the Dole Plantation; and handmade ice cream in Haleiwa, we can’t decide which one we love more!

What’s Included: A guide, lunch at a shrimp food truck, samples of macadamia nuts, chocolate, coffee, poi donuts, locally-grown fruit samples, AC transportation, pickup and drop-off at selected hotels, and bottled water

12. Eco-Friendly West Oahu Snorkel Sail with Dolphins

Duration: 3 hours

Operated By: Hawaii Nautical

You know what’s better than snorkeling in the pristine waters of Oahu? Snorkeling with Hawaiian spinner dolphins! The cruise sets sail for the Ko Olina Coast, which is considered a favorite spot for dolphins. On your way to your snorkeling tour, you’ll be served a fresh continental breakfast complete with a selection of beverages. The sailboat is equipped with all the modern amenities, including a freshwater shower and two large restrooms. After you’re done uncovering the hidden world of corals and fish, enjoy the complimentary lunch.

Why We Love This Tour: This is like a fun picnic but inside the water. If you or your kids have always wanted to snorkel, you couldn’t pick a better tour.

What’s Included: Round-trip sailing cruise, breakfast, lunch, two bar beverages, unlimited juices and sodas, a crew, and a captain

13. Group Surfing Lesson in Waikiki Beach

Duration: 2 hours

Operated By: Surfer Girl Academy, LLC

Want to learn surfing from the best lifeguard-certified instructors in Hawaii? Join the Surfer Girl Academy’s lessons and learn to ride the waves like a pro in no time. Each group only has 3 or 4 people, so you’ll get a lot of one-on-one time with your instructor. In addition to actual surfing, you’ll also learn the general ocean safety guidelines, directions, and how to stand up on the surfboard.

Why We Love This Tour: These group surfing lessons are amazing for two reasons: the Surfer Girl Academy has a stellar reputation when it comes to helping total beginners learn surfing FAST, and they attract students from all across the world, which means you’ll get to mingle with truly global citizens.

What’s Included: Wetsuits, reef shoes, rash guard, leash, surfboard, Surfer Girl Academy sticker, and local expert knowledge

14. Ka Moana Luau at Sea Life Park with Dinner & Show

Duration: 2.5 hours

Operated By: Ka Moana Luau

Ka Moana Luau is one of the most popular luaus in Hawaii, and this show is your ticket to enjoy the oceanfront dinner theater along with a tropical-themed buffet and live entertainment. The Celebrity package includes complimentary mai tais, access to Sea Life Park Hawaii, and hotel transfers from Waikiki. After check-in, guests can participate in a number of cultural activities, such as ukulele lessons, coconut headband weaving, hula lessons, temporary tattoos, and lei-making.  

Following a lip-smacking dinner that includes kalua pork, lomi lomi salmon, poi samples, and much more, you’ll be treated to a major production made up of fire dance, storytelling, and more.

Why We Love This Tour: This is the only luau on the eastern side of Oahu, and their shows have won multiple awards in the past for their creativity. The delicious buffet dinner deserves a mention of its own.

What’s Included: A welcome lei, complimentary beverages, and gourmet dinner; the Celebrity Package includes a lot more activities compared to Classic and Splash packages.

15. Waikiki Undersea Adventure Submarine Tour

Duration: 1 hour 45 minutes

Operated By: Atlantis Adventures

Raise your hand if you’ve ever wanted to see the ocean from a submarine! The Atlantis XIV is the most advanced passenger submarine in the world, with a capacity of 64 explorers. It has a spacious AC interior, comfortable seating, and large viewports.

The vessel takes you 100 feet below the ocean’s surface so you can see marine flora and fauna up close. It’s a pretty immersive experience that takes you beyond the classroom as you learn about sunken airplanes and shipwrecks, reef life, corals, and even artificial reefs.

Why We Love This Tour: This dive site is near Diamond Head, which is frequented by eels, yellow tangs, sharks, green sea turtles, and many other underwater species.

What’s Included: Narrations throughout the tour in multiple languages (English, Korean, Chinese, Spanish, and Japanese)

16. Full-Day Island Sightseeing Day Trip by Bus

Duration: 7 hours

Operated By: E NOA Corporation

If you are only on Oahu for a couple of days with a limited budget, this full-day sightseeing trip is the best way to make the most of your time here. And before you balk at the idea of being cooped in a bus, this one is air-conditioned with plenty of space. The bus takes you through every corner of the island and the history behind it. You’ll get to visit the Nuʻuanu Pali Lookout, Koʻolau Mountains, Byodo-In Temple, Waimea Valley and its waterfalls, the Dole Plantation, and some of the most beautiful beaches.

Why We Love This Tour: This is one of the cheapest ways to travel around Oahu’s cultural sites, natural wonders, shopping centers, and surfing spots with other adventure-seekers.

What’s Included: Admission fee to Waimea Falls and Byodo-In Temple, pickup and drop-off (at select hotels in Ala Moana, Kahala, and Waikiki), transportation via AC minibus, stops at Nu’uanu Pali Lookout and Dole Plantation, local guides, bottled water, and lunch

17. Oahu Discovery Scuba Diving for Beginners

Duration: 3 hours

Operated By: Dive Oahu Inc

The Oahu Discovery Scuba Diving For Beginners is led by a certified instructor, so you can rest assured you’ll be in capable hands. The instructor will guide you to two reef sites in Honolulu, each teeming with mesmerizing sea life. Your tour begins by climbing aboard a fully-equipped boat with restrooms, two decks, and snacks and refreshments. You’ll be fitted with scuba equipment and learn basic diving skills before getting into the water.

Why We Love This Tour: A) you’ll get to tick off scuba diving from your bucket list, B) you’ll have the opportunity to see dolphins, crabs, starfish, octopus, rays, eels, turtles, sharks, we could go on and on, and C) the instructors pick the best tropical reef sites to give you the most magical diving experience.

What’s Included: Diving gear, transportation for activity duration, instructor, access to Waikiki Beach, and snacks

18. Afternoon Glass Bottom Boat Tour in Waikiki

Duration: 1 Hour

Operated By: Hawaii Glass Bottom Boat

Description: You don’t need to spend a lot of money to have boatloads of fun, and this tour proves that. Enjoy the beauty of the South Shore as you head out on a lovely boat from the Kewalo Basin Harbor towards Lē’ahi. The glass-bottom boat allows you to get a clear view of the Pacific Ocean floor while staying dry. As you cruise over ancient shipwrecks and live tropical reefs, keep an eye out for marine life.

Why We Love This Tour: This is a unique tour to observe multiple species of marine creatures all from the deck of a glass-bottom boat. Plus, you’re free to bring your own beverages, including alcohol.

What’s Included: Guide, boat tour, and bottled water.

19. Manoa Falls Rainforest Tour with Healthy Lunch

Duration: 4 hours

Operated By: And You Creations

A local guide will take you on a nature walk in the Manoa Valley Rainforest towards Manoa Falls. You’ll follow the guide on a 1.5-mile long trail through the tropical rainforest, which – wait for it – was where the movie Jurassic Park was filmed! As you stroll through the bamboo forest and lush scenery of the island, feel free to take as many pictures as you want. The tour also takes you to the Tantalus Lookout, from where you can watch the Waikiki skyline and Diamond Head volcano.

Why We Love This Tour: Trekking through a rainforest to a stunning 150-foot waterfall is not only good for your health but also your soul. Plus, when you’ve worked an appetite from all the hiking, you’ll be treated to a scrumptious lunch at the world-famous Andy’s Sandwich Shoppe. We have hiked to Manoa Falls numerous times, and this is one of our favorite hikes on the island. It’s easy and perfect for all fitness levels. The Tantalus Lookout is even more spectacular.

What’s Included: Lunch, local guide, bottled water, poncho and walking stick, pickup and drop-off from your hotel.

20. 3-Hour Dolphin Watching and Snorkel Excursion in Waianae

Duration: 3 hours

Operated By: Dolphin Excursions Hawaii

We have talked about quite a few boating tours in this list, but if you want to sail in style, this luxury 34-foot boat is the way to do it. The state-of-the-art vessel will depart from the west side of Oahu and take you to see whales, spinner dolphins, and other colorful creatures in the Pacific Ocean. An experienced crew will ensure you have the time of your life, with marine biologists and naturalists guiding your snorkeling excursion.

Why We Love This Tour: This is one of the few snorkeling tours on Oahu that actually guarantees dolphin sightings! You’ll also get to swim with fish and turtles from the comfort of a USCG-approved vessel.

What’s Included: Whale watching (during the season), two snorkel sites, snorkeling gear, and guaranteed sightings of dolphins (your money will be refunded if there are no dolphins around).

21. Honolulu Airport Traditional Lei Greeting

Duration: 20 minutes

Operated By: Hawaii Flower Lei

Being welcomed with a beautiful, handmade lei as soon as you step off the plane is how to experience true Hawaiian hospitality. This is not a tour, but more of an experience, where a local expert will greet you at your arrival gate with a fresh-flower lei and escort you through the airport. They will also give you a map of the most popular spots on Oahu and answer any questions you may have.

Why We Love This Experience: Lei is a quintessential Hawaiian tradition that sets the tone for your entire vacation. The friendly guide who greets you will also help you get the lei…I mean lay of the land, so you can make the most out of your stay.

What’s Included: Lei greeting by local expert and a map of the local sightseeing spots

22. Waikiki Glass Bottom Boat Sunset Cruise

Duration: 1 hour 30 minutes

Operated By: Hawaii Glass Bottom Boat

This is pretty much exactly like the previous tour, except that it sets sail as the sun dips below the horizon. The boat, Haleiwa Queen, is a 50-foot catamaran with a shaded deck and onboard restroom. You can bring your own food and drinks and make it into a nice picnic out on the water. As the sun reflects off the city skyline, the Diamond Head peak looks particularly majestic.

Why We Love This Tour: This is a golden opportunity to watch a breathtaking sunset over the ocean and learn about the local marine life from knowledgeable guides.

What’s Included: Bottled water


What are some cheap Oahu excursions?

Oahu is a rather expensive destination in Hawaii, but it is possible to have a good time here without breaking the bank. As clear from some of the tours and experiences listed in this post, you can enjoy many of the historic and cultural sites like Pearl Harbor, Diamond Head Crater, and others at minimal costs.

The Afternoon Glass Bottom Boat Tour in Waikiki, Pearl Harbor, USS Arizona, and City Tour, and Royal Hawaiian Center in Waikiki (not mentioned above) cost less than $50. The Royal Hawaiian Center is a famous shopping center where they also organize free cultural shows and classes every day.

What are the best tour companies in Oahu?

If you want to get the most bang for your buck, look into excursions offered by G Adventures, Exodus Travels, Polynesian Adventure Tours, Discover Hawaii Tours, Hawaii Nautical, Tradewind Charters, Kailua Beach Adventures, Aaron’s Dive Shop, Surf ‘N’ Sea, Wild Side Specialty Tours, Blue Hawaiian Helicopters, Paradise Helicopters, Makani Kai Helicopters, and Oahu Nature Tours.

Final Thoughts

There you have it: our top recommendations for what to do and see when you stay on the island of Oahu. We hope this guide helps make your trip a little bit more fun and adventurous!