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The Best Oahu Experiences Every Island Visitor Needs To Try

a large air plane on a boat

Take A Pearl Harbor Warbirds Ride

If you’re headed to Hawaii and aren’t sure what your Oahu itinerary entails yet, don’t worry! We’ve compiled a list of the best Oahu experiences every visitor should try before heading home. From flying in a vintage WWII plane over Pearl Harbor to hiking up Diamond Head State Monument, there’s an exciting adventure for everyone.

Admiral’s Warbird Adventure

best Oahu experiencesExperience an immersive two hour adventure that allows you to relive history as a Naval Aviator. You’ll suit up in authentic WWII-era flight gear, receive aviation equipment issue, survival training, and a pre-flight briefing. Then, hop into the cockpit of an SNJ-5C for a one-hour flight around Oahu that follows some of the same flight routes of the Japanese attackers. Fly over genuine battlefields as the thrill of flight melds with history in this unique return to WWII. This intense immersion into Naval Aviation will enhance even the most avid history enthusiast’s appreciation for this tumultuous period of the 20th century. You will savor the entire 45-50 minutes on board while soaring over the sites at Pearl Harbor; the Oahu coasts; and Wheeler, Kaneohe and Bellows airfields. Get tickets here.

Ensign’s Warbird Experience

One of the best Oahu experiences you can enjoy is taking flight in a SNJ-5C. This authentic Warbird aircraft is the only one of its kind in use for air tours over Oahu. The thirty minute Ensign’s Sortie Flight is intended to familiarize you with the aircraft itself. Experience the mighty roar of the Warbird’s big radial engine mixed with the unique smell of Avgas and oil. This is a must-do for aviation enthusiasts and anyone looking for a unique way to view the beauty of Oahu from the air. You’ll enjoy about 30 minutes of flight time, soaring over Pearl Harbor, Wheeler Air Force Base, Kahuku and Waikiki. Find tickets here.

Pearl Harbor Memorial

A solemn reminder and touching tribute to the 2,335 U.S. servicemen who were killed when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, the historic World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument is a must-visit. At World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument, learn about one of the most pivotal moments in US history: the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the subsequent entry of the U.S. into World War II.

The monument preserves as well as interprets the stories of the Pacific War, from the internment of Japanese Americans to the battles in the Aleutians. There, you will also visit the USS Arizona Memorial.

Stroll Through The Iolani Palace

The Iolani Palace, the official residence of Hawaii’s monarchy, is a marvel of opulence, innovation as well as political intrigue. Meticulously restored to its former grandeur, this National Historic Landmark in downtown Honolulu tells of a time when their Majesties King Kalakaua (who constructed the palace in 1882) and his sister/successor, Queen Liliuokalani, walked its halls.

Today, visitors can enjoy one of the most incredible living restorations in all of Polynesia. You can also swing by the palace (rather than tour the inside) by purchasing a package that takes you to Pearl Harbor (including the USS Bowfin, USS Missouri, and USS Oklahoma Memorials; and also drive past the Kamehameha statue, Iolani Palace and Hawaii State Capitol in Honolulu).

Hike at Diamond Head State Monument (Lēʻahi)

The one-of-a-kind Diamond Head (Lē‘ahi) sits majestically near the eastern side of Waikiki’s coastline. It is one of Hawaii’s most recognized landmarks — known for its famous hiking trail, stunning coastal views and rich military history. Diamond Head State Monument contains more than 475 acres, including the interior and outer slopes of the crater. It’s a can’t-miss item on your list of the best Oahu experiences.

The crater formed about 300,000 years ago during an eruption that propelled ash and fine particles into the air. As these materials settled, they stuck together into a rock called tuff, which then formed the crater. Most of the vegetation and birds were introduced in the late 1800s to the early 1900s.

What other activities would you add to this list of best Oahu experiences? Let us know on our social media channels — Facebook, Twitter and Instagram!