The Hawaiian island of Oahu is known for its beaches, volcanic craters, and the Pearl Harbor historic site. But as awesome as those attractions are, they’re not the only reason to spend time on the island.
Visitors who want to seek out something a bit more quirky can find an Elvis statue, a pineapple plantation, a museum dedicated to Polynesian football players, and Buddhist temples.
Several of these activities are free or low cost, so if you’re visiting Hawaii on a budget, they can easily fit into your itinerary.
Check out our guide to some of Oahu’s most offbeat attractions. If you’re from Oahu and have other quirky suggestions that we missed, leave us a comment!
RECOMMENDED OAHU TOURS:
Quirky and Unusual Things To Do in Oahu: The Complete List!
Cage Diving With Sharks (Haleiwa)
Being in the ocean just a few feet away from several large Galapagos sharks is not an everyday experience! You can have your own shark cage diving experience on the northern side of Oahu.
Don’t worry, it’s totally safe! You’ll be separated from the sharks by a steel cage. That means you can snap underwater shark selfies without having to worry about becoming a shark’s dinner.
This tour is extremely popular. It was one of my favorite activities of my visit to Oahu. You can book it here.
The Dole Pineapple Plantation (Wahiawa)
It’s the second most popular tourist attraction in Hawaii, behind only Pearl Harbor.
Visitors can take a train tour of the grounds, where you can see extensive fields of pineapples and other fruits and veggies.
Make sure to also enter the giant garden maze, or browse hundreds of oddball pineapple-flavored products (Popcorn! Pancake mix! Salad dressing!) in the gift shop.
The Elvis Statue (Honolulu)
Elvis Presley was the star of the world’s first international satellite concert broadcast in 1973, called “Aloha From Hawaii.” More than a billion people tuned in to see the King’s performance at the Neal Blaisdell Center in Honolulu.
The venue still stands today, and an intricately-detailed bronze statue of Elvis stands outside the center.
Stop by briefly to see the King up close. Visitors often toss a lei around the King’s neck.
Attend a Sunset Luau (Honolulu)
The luau, of course, is a traditional Hawaiian feast and party. Tourists can find a number of luas around the Honolulu area which aim to give visitors a taste of the traditional experience.
The Paradise Cove Sunset Luau is a 5-hour affair that includes Mai Tais and a buffet dinner featuring seafood, kalua pork, tropical fruit, and more.
Listen to Hawaiian music, watch hula dancers and fire twirlers, play Hawaiian games, and enjoy a gorgeous sunset on the coast as part of the luau.
This tour even includes hotel pickup from most Waikiki hotels. Here’s how to book it.
The Polynesian Football Hall of Fame (Laie)
Learn about the lives and careers of honorees like Junior Seau, Troy Polamalu, and Kevin Mawae at the Polynesian Football Hall of Fame.
See photos, videos, and memorabilia from these and many other former NFL players in this small facility, which opened in 2013 as part of the Polynesian Cultural Center in Laie.
The Hall continues to grow as several new players earn induction each year. Recent inductees include Haloti Ngata, Kimo von Oelhoffen, and Mike Iupati.
Take a Helicopter Tour (Honolulu)
With its rolling forests and volcanic ridges, Hawaii is one of the most scenic places to see from above. If you’ve never taken a helicopter ride, perhaps now is the time to splurge!
This One-Hour Helicopter Tour is somewhat reasonably priced, and you can even choose whether to fly with the doors on or doors off!
The chopper passes by points of interest like Waikiki Beach, Diamond Head, Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, and Pearl Harbor. In 60 minutes, you’re essentially getting a look at almost all of Oahu’s famous spots!
I marveled at the sights when I took my own helicopter ride in Hawaii. It was worth expanding my budget for such a great life experience.
Byodo-In Japanese Buddhist Temple (Kahaluu)
Constructed in 1968 in honor of the 100-year anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants coming to Hawaii, the Byodo-In Temple is a surprising find on the eastern side of Oahu.
The grounds of the “non-denominational Buddhist temple” feature the main temple with a 9-foot Amida golden Buddha statue, meditation pavilions, koi ponds, and a 3-ton sacred bon-sho bell.
The temple looks gorgeous in its location at the foot of the Ko’olau Mountains. It’s one of the best spots for photos in this area.
Hike More Than a Mile Straight Up (Honolulu)
Hiking is one of the most fun things to do in Oahu, and Koko Crater might be one of the weirdest hikes. That’s because the entire hike on the Koko Head Stairs, as they are also known, consists of more than 1000 steps straight up.
You’ll walk across wooden steps held down with railroad ties to reach the top. The views are awesome, but be prepared for the exhausting climb up, bring plenty of water, and avoid hiking during the hottest hours of the day!
If you’d rather experience something more scenic, consider instead one of these waterfall hikes on Oahu!
Shave Ice Pho and Other Unusual Foods (Honolulu)
Pho is the popular Vietnamese noodle dish that takes its flavor from the choice of meat used. People have been known to add many different kinds of garnishes to pho, but only in Hawaii can you find “shave ice pho,” which adds a cold slab of rainbow ice to the savory dish.
I can’t imagine this tastes good, but if you’re daring enough, you can find it at the Agalico Waikiki restaurant.
Update: It appears Agalico Waikiki has sadly closed. But you can still get a taste of the most unique foods Oahu has to offer on a Hawaiian Food By Bike Tour, which includes samples of fruits, veggies, fish, and much more.
Shave ice pho is just one of many unusual culinary treats I spotted in Oahu that aren’t normally found on the U.S. mainland. Others included mochi ice cream, fried fishcake balls, loco moco, spam musubi, matcha ice cream, and kulolo ice cream.
Do you have any other suggestions for unusual and unique things to do in Oahu?