The Best Cultural Experiences on O‘ahu
From native art to dance, delicious food to surfing, a trip to Hawai‘i offers awe-inspiring insight into its history. Here are our favorite immersive travel experiences on O‘ahu to get you started on your very own cultural trip.
Although we strive to provide the most current information, attractions mentioned may close at any time or operate with limited services or reduced hours. We recommend checking individual websites for operating hours, updates, and social distancing measures before visiting. According to the “Safe Access O‘ahu” program, all patrons must show proof of full vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result taken within the previous 48 hours in order to enter businesses, such as restaurants, bars, museums, and other similar establishments.
See an Authentic Hula Show
The indigenous dance art form of the Hawaiian people is important to the island’s culture for many reasons. It served as a way to document history and carry the Hawaiian language after it was banned in the late 1800s. Today, it is an important, beautiful expression that connects people to the past, to the islands, and to Hawaiian culture. Read more about the history of Hula here, and discover where to see an authentic Hula show during your stay on O‘ahu.
Join a Luau
Used to celebrate achievements, war victories, and life events like birthdays and weddings, the luau has been a staple in Hawaiian culture since the days of King Kamehameha II. The social gathering is also the perfect place to listen to native music, watch traditional dance (like the Hula, Samoan fire dance, Tahitian 'ote'a, and Maori haka.), and indulge in Polynesian fare. Find the best luau on the island with our guide.
View Hawai‘i’s extensive art history at the Honolulu Museum of Art
Get an idea of the magnificence of the major cultures of Hawai‘i at the Honolulu Museum of Art. Their sizable collection includes Hawaiian feather capes and quilts, Volcano School paintings, works by island favorites Jean Charlot, Madge Tennent, and Isami Doi, and visiting exhibitions from contemporary Hawai‘i artists.
Eat traditional Hawaiian fare
We believe one of the best ways to experience any culture is through its food. Luckily, traditional Hawaiian fare is delicious. Attending a luau is a wonderful way to try a variety of foods you wouldn't otherwise order (like Kalua pig, lomi salmon, poi, poke, and haupia), but you can also find all of these and more right in Waikiki. Stay up to date with our Food & Drink directory for helpful guides like 5 Açaí Bowl Spots you Need to Check Out in Waikiki, Everything You Need to Know about Hawaiian Poke, and The Top Signature Cocktails Found In Hawaiʻi.
Visit O‘ahu’s Historic Sites
Historical places make up some of the top attractions on O‘ahu. Visit fascinating sites like ʻIolani Palace (pictured above), home to Hawai‘i’s last reigning monarchs; Nuʻuanu Pali State Wayside, the battle site where Kamehameha the Great defeated O‘ahu forces and brought the island under his rule; or, Pearl Harbor, the U.S. naval base which was struck by a surprise Japanese military attack on December 7, 1941.
Hop on a Surfboard
O‘ahu is believed to be the birthplace of modern and big-wave surfing and is definitely where the sport was first observed (in the 1700s!). The island has over 200 miles of coastline, so it’s easy to observe surfers catching waves. Try your hand at Hawai‘i’s favorite pastime and check out our surf guide. We’ll direct you to the best beaches, where to spot the pros, and grab the best gear.
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