8 awesome adventures on Oahu for non-surfers

Indeed, the Hawaiian winter surf season is starting to light up, but Oahu isn’t just for learning to surf or watching the Pipe Masters go down from the beach.

This beautiful place has activities-galore and adventures for all types.

Not strictly for surfers, Oahu's got a slice of paradise for everyone. Photo: Kalen Emsley

Not strictly for surfers, Oahu’s got a slice of adventure for anyone. Photo: Courtesy of Kalen Emsley

Into paddling out with your lady on a sea kayak to a deserted island with a bottle of red? That could happen (but clean up your trash). So could your first taste of cliff-jumping. Or a good ole-fashioned mystical waterfall trek.

Here are eight adventurous options for activities on Oahu that nearly anyone can get into. Except for maybe the skateboard parks … skating’s kind of hard.

Ocean Kayaking

A truly amazing way to see the coastline of Oahu is by kayak.

On the eastside, where the shoreline is protected by an outer reef, it’s fairly smooth sailing. I mean paddling.

And with idyllic outer islands half a mile offshore to picnic at (like the Mokulua twin islands), anyone with a little arm strength could have an unforgettable experience out there.

Sea Cliff Jumping

A photo posted by Tyler Costa (@__babyt__) on

So we’re not telling you to find a rock and jump to your death by any means, but we’d be lying if we said there aren’t epic cliff-jumps on Oahu.

On the North Shore at Waimea Bay, there’s a pretty popular rock (that would be all to yourself on a weekday morning) to leap from.

Then, a bunch of jumps into deep water off the cliffs at China Walls in the South Shore neighborhood of Portlock. Always ask a local if it’s safe before you hop in.

Day Treks

There’s a ton of them in Hawaii, let alone Oahu. Most of which don’t even require proper hiking boots, and all of which lead to a spectacular view.

From the Lanikai Pillbox hike to Pali trails to Kokohead to Mt. Olomana … a simple peruse through “Best Hikes on Oahu” will point ya in the right direction.

Waterfall Hikes

Yep, Oahu’s got a few of them too. One of the most rewarding being the Maunawili Falls trail on the eastside of the island, which after a rad 90-minute long hike, you arrive at a pool with various falls and, yes, waterfall jumps.

Look before you leap, of course, and be aware that after heavy rains, the water can be dirty. Manoa and secret falls around the Pali Lookout have some gorgeous hidden ones.


A photo posted by Magali Côté (@misssnorris) on

Sure, snorkeling with the other throngs and bus-loads of tourists at Hanauma Bay is nice … but maybe you’re after something a little more thrilling than viewing underwater pasty white bums.

Grab a mask, fins, a snorkel and a three-prong spear and try your luck off the reefs on the westside or surf-less days on the North Shore. You might even glimpse a pod of dolphins. But don’t hold your breath. No, wait … do hold your breath.

Skateboard Parks

A photo posted by Mala'e McElheny (@banzaigrom) on

Not only beaches and jungle hikes, Oahu actually has over 10 different public (free) skateparks around the island.

That means you could bring a board and knock off each spot (while seeing the whole island) on your list. My favorite is Hawaii Kai’s concrete flow.

Mountain Biking

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As Oahu has two giant mountain ranges (Koolau and Waianae) that divide the island into four sides of the compass, yeah, there’s trails. Both for serious mountain biking and motocross.

While there’s various crews that have their routes and ride on a weekly basis, there are also tours you can do to less reachable corners with guides (and bikes to rent of course).

Riding ATVs

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Remember that pivotal scene in Jurassic Park where the guys got their first glimpse of the dinosaurs running through that huge lush valley? That was on Oahu. And there are actually ATV tours you can do through that same valley (Kualoa). T-Rex’s not included.

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