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Best Oahu Water Activities

Dive into the crystal clear waters of Oahu and discover a world of adventure! From surfing the legendary waves of Waikiki Beach to snorkeling with colorful tropical fish, Oahu’s diverse range of water activities will leave you with memories to last a lifetime. So grab your sunscreen and get ready for a splash of fun in the sun! Whether you’re a thrill seeker or just looking to relax on the beach, plenty of great water activities in Oahu will make your next Hawaiian vacation unforgettable.

Oahu an Island Getaway that’s on everyone’s bucket list

Sure, some folks might have the Maldives on their bucket list, others can’t wait to dive into the waters off Santorini, and a few dreams of going to Cuba and getting in on the fun — BUT, regardless of who you are, and your personalized preference there’s one thing we all have in common, we all fantasize with going to Hawaii before meeting the Big Kahuna in the sky. And we have Elvis, and quite possibly Lilo & Stitch to blame. Hawaii, and its many islands are the original, the classic, the big ticket bucket list item on everyone’s need-to-do, and water activities in Oahu are part of that fascination. 

Oahu is one of the most visited islands in Hawaii and a major tourist destination. In recent years, the island has seen a steady increase in the number of visitors, with millions of people journeying each year to its paradise-like embrace.

Tourism is a major contributor to the economy of Oahu and the state of Hawaii, and the industry continues to grow. In addition to attracting visitors from the mainland United States, Oahu also receives a significant number of international tourists, particularly from Asia and Australia.

Why has Oahu island become such a popular tourist destination?

  • Beautiful Beaches: Oahu is home to some of the most beautiful and iconic beaches in the world, such as Waikiki Beach, Lanikai Beach, and North Shore Beach. These beaches are perfect for sunbathing, surfing, swimming, and other water activities — as well as practicing how to hold a Tiki drink in the shade. 
  • Rich Culture: Oahu is steeped in Hawaiian culture, history, and traditions, and visitors can experience this through visiting cultural sites, attending local festivals, and taking part in traditional Hawaiian activities.
  • Outdoor Adventures: Oahu offers a range of outdoor activities, such as hiking, kayaking, snorkeling, and whale watching, which are popular among tourists — it’s one of the best places for water activities in the world. 
  • Diverse Landscape: The island of Oahu is known for its diverse landscape, which includes stunning mountain ranges, lush rainforests, and a scenic coastline. This diversity makes it a popular destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts.
  • Cosmopolitan City: Honolulu, the capital city of Oahu, is a vibrant and cosmopolitan city with a thriving arts, food, and nightlife scene. This city offers plenty of shopping, dining, and entertainment options for visitors.


Water Activities Oahu

All of these factors, combined with the island’s warm and tropical climate, have made Oahu a magnet for tourists from all over the world — Plus, as we said, there’s Lilo & Stitch. Disney and the King did all the heavy lifting as far as branding the island as a heaven-like getaway is concerned. 

Best water activities tourists you can do in Oahu

Let’s list the top ten H2O-heavy things you can do once you get off the plane and vacuum a couple of Mai-Tais.

Snorkeling with turtles

Snorkeling with turtles in Oahu is THE number one water activity for tourists on Oahu. Oahu is home to several marine turtle species, including the hawksbill turtle, green turtle, and honu – Hawaiian green turtle – which can be seen while snorkeling in certain areas. One of the best places to go snorkeling with turtles in Oahu is Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve. This protected marine park is a popular spot and is known for its clear waters and abundance of sea turtles. Visitors can rent snorkeling gear on-site and enjoy swimming and snorkeling among the turtles, as well as other marine life such as colorful tropical fish and coral. Another great place to do the mermaid shuffle in Oahu is Laniakea Beach on the North Shore. This beach is a popular spot for turtle watching, as the turtles often come up on shore to bask in the sun. 

For those looking for an unforgettable adventure, embarking on a boat trip to Oahu is the perfect way to get up close and personal with these majestic sea creatures.

Swimming with dolphins

If you have kids, or a girlfriend, heck if you have a beating heart, and even the tiniest soul in existence, you’ll want to swim with the dolphins — it’s one of the most sought-after water activities in Oahu. Swimming with dolphins in Oahu is an unforgettable experience for visitors to the island. Several tour companies offer dolphin encounters, either through snorkeling or by swimming with the Flippers in the open ocean. These encounters usually take place in the waters surrounding the island and provide visitors with the opportunity to interact with these amazing creatures in their natural habitat. The dolphins in Oahu are friendly and playful, and they often come up to interact with visitors, creating an experience that is both fun and educational — most are even on the payroll of the island’s Chamber Of Commerce. 


Surfing in Oahu is a must-do activity for any visitor to the island who loves the ocean and adventure sports. With its warm waters, consistent waves, and world-famous surf spots, Oahu is a surfer’s paradise. The island is home to some of the best hang-tight in the world, including Waikiki Beach, Sunset Beach, and Pipeline, which are popular among both local and visiting surfers. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a beginner, there’s a surf spot for everyone in Oahu, and there are several surf schools that offer lessons for all skill levels. Surfing in Oahu is not just about riding the waves, it’s also about being part of a unique and vibrant culture, where surfing is an integral part of the local way of life. So grab your board and hit the waves.

Water Activities in Oahu


Kayaking in Oahu is a fantastic way to explore the island’s stunning coastline and scenic waterways. With a kayak, you’ll be able to reach nooks other tourists can’t get to. With its calm waters, lush tropical scenery, and diverse wildlife, kayaking in Oahu offers a unique and peaceful perspective on the island. Whether you’re paddling along the shoreline, exploring sheltered bays, or venturing out to sea, kayaking in Oahu provides a chance to connect with nature and escape the hustle and bustle of the city — you’ll be able to experience some of the island’s most beautiful and secluded spots, including serene lagoons, hidden beaches, and breathtaking sea caves.

Shark cage diving

Shark cage diving in Oahu is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure — plus a great boasting opportunity. Imagine putting that pic, a selfie with a couple of apex predators, on your Instagram account. It’s the one water activity in Oahu that comes with “street cred.” This unique experience takes place off the coast of Oahu and offers an opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the ocean’s most fascinating and misunderstood creatures. With the safety of a cage, visitors can dive into the waters to observe several species of sharks, including the Galapagos, sandbar, and blacktip, in their natural habitat. The experience is both exhilarating and educational, as visitors learn about shark behavior, conservation, and the important role these animals play in the ocean ecosystem. The guides and staff are knowledgeable, friendly, and passionate about sharks, and they work to dispel the many misconceptions about these incredible animals.

Whale-watching tour

Whale-watching tours in Oahu offer visitors the chance to witness the majesty of the ocean’s largest creatures — for that matter, the world’s largest mammal. During the winter months, humpback whales migrate to the waters off the coast of Oahu to mate and calve, making it an ideal time for whale watching. 

Scuba Diving

Scuba diving in Oahu offers a chance to explore the island’s vibrant underwater world and discover its diverse marine life. It’s one of the most sold and marketed water activities in Oahu. With crystal-clear waters, colorful coral reefs, and a variety of marine creatures, including sea turtles, tropical fish, and jaw-dropping reef formations, scuba diving in Oahu is a must-do for marine life enthusiasts. There are several dive sites to choose from, ranging from beginner-friendly shallow reefs to challenging deep-water shipwrecks and walls. 

Underwater Scuba Diving


Fishing in Oahu offers anglers a chance to explore the island’s waters and reel in some of the world’s most sought-after fish species. With its warm waters, abundant marine life, and diverse fishing opportunities, from deep-sea fishing to shore fishing, Oahu is a fisherman’s paradise — catch a variety of species, including mahi mahi, ono, and yellowfin tuna.


Not so much a water activity in Oahu — but it’s close, as in if you look down, get past the vertigo, you’ll spot the salty brine of the sea. Parasailing in Oahu offers visitors the chance to soar above the island’s stunning coastline and picture-perfect, screensaver-like, waters. With its warm, steady winds and breathtaking scenery, parasailing is the cat’s meow. Participants can fly solo or with a friend, and can choose from several different heights and durations, depending on their comfort level. The views from above are truly stunning, offering a unique perspective on the island and its many landmarks, including Diamond Head, Waikiki Beach, and the Pacific Ocean. 

Paddleboard tour

Paddleboard tours are the type of water activities in Oahu that are essential to your whole vacation — if you decide to skip it, you might as well have stayed home and not come to the island at all — they offer a unique perspective on the whole enchilada that is Oahu. Paddleboard tours take participants along the coast, past iconic landmarks such as Diamond Head and Waikiki Beach, and into the lush tropical forests of the interior. 

Oahu Water Activities Paddleboard

Oahu island adventures

Oahu Island is the ultimate destination for adventure seekers looking for a wide range of water activities. With its crystal-clear waters, warm temperatures, and diverse coastline, Oahu offers a variety of exciting experiences, from snorkeling with sea turtles and surfing its famous waves to kayaking and shark cage diving. In addition to its water activities, Oahu boasts breathtaking scenery, rich culture, and a friendly local community, making it a one-of-a-kind destination for just about everyone.