Oahu, known as "the gathering place," is the third largest of the Hawaiian Islands and home to about two-thirds of the state's population. It's here that you'll find the capital of Honolulu, a buzzing city with loads of great food, shopping, and nightlife. But beyond this lies some of the most beautiful and famous beaches in the world, including the North Shore, a favorite among surfers worldwide. Here are four must-do water adventures while visiting Oahu.
1. Surf (and Actually Ride a Wave)
Hawaii is the birthplace of surfing, so it only fitting to ride the famous waves of Waikiki on your vacation. The Hot Spot Surf School at the Hilton Hawaiian Village, has tapped professional surfer Errol Kane and his team of surf instructors to offer surfing lessons to the beginner, intermediate, or advanced. Backed by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Kane takes pride in getting 100% of his students to ride a wave —and we were among the stats. Group lesson are $95 and includes the use of board, leash, and rash guard.
2. Snorkel Among Sea Turtles
Geared more for those with a curiosity of Hawaii’s ocean and marine environment, the team at Wild Side Specialty Tours is a woman-owned and operated company that hires marine professionals who are passionate about the studies of behavior, ecology, and natural history of whales, dolphins, turtles, coral reefs, and other marine life in Hawaii. The best part: Guests are often treated to multiple sightings on the tour (we spotted many dolphins, a whale, and snorkeled with sea turtles). Everyone is made to feel comfortable, whether you want to nap on the boat’s trampolines or explore in the water among the marine life. Tours start at $145 and include all gear along with lunch.
3. Paddleboard With a Pup
Hawaii Surf Dogs is owned by former professional surfer Rocky Canon, the lead ocean guide at Turtle Bay Resort, and the only property in the world to feature a dog surfing program. Canon started the program while working with a five-year-old boy who was too timid to surf. After placing his dog upon the board, all fear was lost. This tactic seems to work with anyone. Canon brings along his pups, Kahuna and Hina, who ride on the front of each guest’s paddleboard while they glide (or surf) along the warm waters. A 30-minute surf session is $80; and it's $150 for 60 minutes for the SUP with a pup.
4. Freedive with Sharks
If swimming with sharks seems terrifying then this tour is for you. Ocean Ramsey and her team at One Ocean Diving first teach everyone on board about the biology, physiology, and behavior of sharks and how to safely interact with them; the company has a 100% safety record. You'll then slip on snorkel gear (provided) and "freedive" among the marine creatures (no cages here), which is surprisingly meditative and peaceful. While on board, guests will also learn about the team's current research efforts to help save these misunderstood animals.