Oahu is a tropical paradise year-round, but its no surprise that it’s still a popular destination in the summertime.
From sunny beaches with gentle waves to exotic ocean life, the great outdoors in Hawaii is a thing of beauty.
This year, there are plenty of festivals, summer events, attractions, tours, and more to enjoy in addition to your quality beach time.
If you’re planning a visit and looking for things to do in Oahu in the summer, check out our list of the top attractions and activities going on this year, including…
- Sunset Dinner Sail on Makani Catamaran
- Snorkeling in Hanauma Bay
- Hike Diamond Head Crater
- Polynesian Cultural Center
- and more…
Heading to the area to celebrate Independence Day? Then check out our post on things to do in Oahu 4th of July Weekend.
Coming to the island over Labor Day weekend? Here are a few fun things to do in Oahu Labor Day Weekend – enjoy!
Save on Attraction Admission
Regular admission to a number of of these popular Oahu activities are included on the Go Oahu® Card.
Choose as you go from dozens of top attractions and save up to 55% on combined admission vs paying at the gate.
See all available passes, attractions & prices – Learn more.
Please note, the special summer events taking place at these attractions may be separately ticketed and not included on the Go Oahu Card.
Sunset Dinner Sail on Makani Catamaran
Experience one of the most quintessential Hawaiian vacation activities and set sail on the Pacific Ocean for an island-style dinner with a complimentary drink and an unforgettable view of the Hawaiian sunset.
You’ll get to see the sun set over the azure coastal waters with the picturesque landscape of the Hawaiian Islands in the backdrop.
The Makani Catamaran is available a premium attraction choice on 3,5,and 7-Day Go Oahu Cards.
Snorkeling in Hanauma Bay
Snorkel the bright coral reef of Hanauma Bay and have the time of your life this summer.
Meet turtles, rays, and tropical fish. Observe stunning coral and water plants through pristine waters.
This gorgeous nature preserve is the perfect place to snorkel, whether you’re new to the game or an old expert.
Hike Diamond Head Crater
If you’re looking for an enjoyable hike that’s not too challenging but still provides an interesting payoff, consider a hike to Diamond Head (shuttle service to the starting point is included on the Go Oahu Card)
This volcanic crater is so named because its glittering façade looked like diamonds to early explorers.
Today, it’s one of the most photographed sites in Oahu and is arguably the most famous volcanic crater on earth.
Explore Waimea Valley
If you’re looking for paradise, you’ll find it in Waimea Valley (probably one of my favorite things to do in Oahu in the summer season).
Nearly 2,000 acres of lush wilderness, parks, hiking trails, waterfalls, botanical gardens, and more await at this popular tropical destination.
You’ll even get the chance to explore several archaeological sites. Go swimming, hiking, or just stroll around to enjoy the scenery.
Secret Island Beach
If sun and sand is really what you’re after, then you want to hit up Secret Island Beach.
Located at Kualoa Ranch on the Kaneohe Bay, this stunning beach is the perfect place to just sit back and enjoy the summer weather. Or, you can choose to be active and do anything from canoeing and kayaking to volleyball and Ping-Pong.
Pearl Harbor Historic Sites
This is actually a collection of excellent attractions, including…
- Pacific Aviation Museum
- Battleship Missouri Memorial
- USS Bowfin Submarine
- USS Arizona Memorial.
Visit them all in one day for the full experience. Admission to each of these attractions is included on the Go Oahu® Card.
Polynesian Cultural Center
This unparalleled cultural institution, a visit to the Polynesian Cultural Center, is the perfect Oahu destination for those of you looking to immerse yourselves in Hawaiian culture and heritage.
Explore historic and modern Polynesia as you journey through six separate regions, witnessing demonstrations, performances, craftwork, dancing, spear-throwing, and more.
Stick around later for an authentic luau!
Home to the Hawaiian kingdom’s last two monarchs, Iolani Palace is a beautiful example of ornate “American Florentine” architecture.
It’s filled with artifacts, furniture, and décor from the late nineteenth century and showcases the last days of the Hawaiian monarchy in exquisite detail. A great find for history buffs!
Honolulu Museum of Art
Paradise inspires a lot of great art (just ask Georgia O’Keeffe), and the Honolulu Museum of Art sure has a lot to show for it.
Featuring one of the best collections of Asian art and artifacts in the country, this museum includes over 16,000 pieces from China, Japan, Korea, Southeast Asia, and India.
A visit here is another way to immerse yourself in local heritage and to expand your horizons.
Festivals & Free Events
King Kamehameha Floral Parade – Waikiki
June 11, 2016
This year marks the 100th anniversary of this favorite local parade. It celebrates the reign of King Kamehameha, who united the Hawaiian Islands in the late eighteenth century.
Enjoy vibrant floats, talented performers, amazing musical groups, and more. Stick around for the festival afterwards!
Prince Lot Hula Festival – Moanalua Gardens
July 16 – 17, 2016
As you may have guessed, this delightful festival is dedicated to the fine Hawaiian art of hula dancing.
Troupes of hula dancers will perform for spectators, showcasing their talents in this traditional dance.
You’ll enjoy get to enjoy spotlights on Native Hawaiian culture through crafts, games, and more. A great family event.
Haleiwa Arts Festival Summer ArtFest
July 16 – 17, 2016
If you love art, then this is the event for you. It’s filled with locals artists, musicians, dancers, storytellers, artisans, and much more.
You’ll be able to observe their works and even purchase unique pieces for your home or as gifts.
Duke’s OceanFest – Waikiki
August 20 – 28, 2016
Duke’s is truly a summer event, dedicated to exciting watersports from around the globe, including the quintessentially Hawaiian art of surfing.
This week-long festival features a variety of exhilarating competitions, from surfing and swimming to standup paddling and beach volleyball.
This festival is held in honor of the Olympian Duke Paoa Kahanamoku, called the greatest Hawaiian waterman who ever lived.
So there you have it. Our picks for some of the top things to do in Oahu in the summer.
Please note, the summer events taking place at some of these attractions may be separately ticketed and not included with the Go Oahu Card.
Plan to visit some of these top attractions during your trip. Whether you are traveling with your family or a couple of friends, we’re sure you will have a great time.