Best Spots for Oahu Activities

When in Hawaii, exploring the gorgeous waters surrounding the islands is a must do. Oahu is known as the gathering place, because the island was formed by two volcanoes that “gathered” or overlapped. This happy coincidence formed Oahu as it looks today – a tropical paradise!

A mountainous coastline gives way to soft sand and turquoise blue waters, and it is impossible to resist their call. However, it can be difficult to decide where to paddle. The whole island is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean!

Luckily, we can help you spend less time planning and more time doing! We put together a list of the best spots to explore the pristine waters of Oahu.  Adventure abounds with so many Oahu activities!

snorkeling honolulu

Honolulu Activities

Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP)

Featuring calm water and beautiful, classic Hawaiian scenery, Ala Moana Beach Park is a picture perfect place to paddleboard. It can be more crowded than other parts of Oahu due to its proximity to Honolulu, but for good reason – it’s gorgeous!  If you are able to drive up to the North Shore for paddleboarding, we recommend paddling at Sunset Beach. You can even paddle there from Waimea bay if you are up for the 8-mile round trip paddle!

There are dozens of great paddleboard rental shops in Waikiki, so it can be hard to figure out who to rent from.  We’ve done the hard work and found the best, highest rated paddleboard rental shops that are licensed, permitted and insured. Rentals start from $25 an hour to $70 for the whole day.

New to stand up paddleboarding? You can also take lessons from the same pros! Lessons start at around $50. Want to also try surfing while you are there? Faith Surf School also offers surfing – and lessons begin at $75.

oahu snorkel rental

Snorkeling and Stand up Paddleboarding

There is nothing like the view under the ocean in Oahu. Coral reefs, sea turtles, fish, and other fantastic ocean life abound under this sea. This scene is even better in the waters off Hanauma Bay in the South, Sharks Cove in the North, and Kaena in the West.

Did you know you can actually rent snorkeling equipment by the day for just $20? Or you may want to choose to join a guided snorkeling tour starting at just $75.  Explore various reefs, watch colorful fish and sea turtles or you may be lucky to see a sea lion!  Snorkeling in Oahu can’t be missed.

If you are new to stand up paddling, or just want a refresher, you will love these stand up paddleboard lessons!  Join a guided paddleboard tour to explore the island – whether you want to explore the famous North Shore, or check out the beaches of Waikiki, we have it all!

sup rental honolulu


When you think of Hawaii, surfing is one of the first things that comes to mind. The waves in Hawaii are world renowned for surfing.  In fact, Oahu is one of the best places to learn this exhilarating art of riding the waves. You’re in luck! Surfing lessons from the best local surf experts in Oahu begin at only $8o. Already know how to surf?  You can also rent a surfboard to get out on your own and ride the famous waves of Oahu.

For surfing, we recommend visiting Sandy Beach in Honolulu (advanced), Yokohama Bay on the West Side (intermediate), and Diamond Head Beach in Honolulu (beginners). Where you go also depends on how long you want to rent your board and whether you have transportation.  Waikiki is also a great place to ride the waves.

honolulu surfing lessons

Kailua Activities

Ocean Kayaking and Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP)

Ocean kayaking is an excellent way to explore the waters of Oahu. But which waters should you visit? One of our favorite places to go ocean kayaking is near Kailua, on the southeast side of Oahu, at the Mokulua Islands. These islands are off the coast of Lanikai Beach and are known for their sea turtles and Hawaiian monk seals.  The launch point is Kailua Beach Park, a gorgeous location to watch the sunset.

To explore the beautiful beaches of Kailua, you can rent both single and tandem ocean kayaks as well as SUPs.  Or leave the navigating to the experts and join a guided kayak or SUP tour to ensure you see the local gems like the Mokulua Islands.

honolulu kayaking rental

Haleiwa Activities

Kayaking, Surfing, Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP)

The North Shore of Oahu is famous for their killer beaches, food, and waves. It can be difficult to choose just one location here, and we couldn’t!

If you are looking for a quick paddle, short climb, and gorgeous views, go to the famous Chinaman’s Hat. Named after its shape, this is one of the most recognizable rock formations around the island. With more time, we recommend you paddle on over to the Kaneohe Bay Sand Bar for your own private beach. One of the most pristine, unspoiled places to take your SUP is Pua’ena Point Beach Park on the Northwest side of the island. Finally, for a different experience, explore the Anahulu River. This watercourse begins at the confluences of two streams, and then cascades 7 miles to empty into the ocean at Waialua Bay, Haleiwa.

haleiwa sup rental

Haleiwa is the heart of this region and a convenient place to rent gear for your Pacific Ocean adventure! Luckily, Sea & Board Sports Hawaii offers every piece of equipment you need to get to your happy place on the water.

Whether that means renting a kayak or SUP, taking surfing lessons, or going on a nature-inspired paddleboarding tour, you can visit this friendly shop for all of your needs on the North Shore!

No matter where you choose to explore outdoors on Oahu, make sure you follow Leave No Trace principles, and recreate responsibly outdoors to ensure our wilderness areas stay pristine for generations to come.

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