Top Things to Do on Oahu: Historical Attractions

More than just beautiful beaches and warm surf, Oahu is grounded in rich history with sacred landmarks available for visitors to explore. 

Start your stay with a room in Waikiki's oldest hotel, the Moana Surfrider, once a vacation retreat to famous guests such as the Prince of Wales, Amelia Earhart, Frank Sinatra and Lucille Ball. Then, venture into downtown Honolulu and visit Iolani Palace, the only royal palace on United States soil. Home to the royal Hawaiian family for a short 11 years, visitors can tour the grounds where the government forced Queen Liliuokalani, Hawaii's last reigning monarch, to abdicate her throne. Nearby, stop at Kawaiahao Church, Oahu's first Christian church, where services are still conducted in Hawaiian. 

A few miles away, take in panoramic views at the Nuuanu Pali Wayside, the site of the bloody battle where King Kamehameha I conquered Oahu, eventually uniting the Hawaiian Islands. Then stop by the Royal Mausoleum, where many Hawaiian dynasties are laid to rest. 

To pay your respects at the island's largest heiau, or Hawaiian temple, head to the North Shore. On your way back to Honolulu, stop at Hawaii's Plantation Village for a glimpse into the makings of the island's modern history. On the leeward side, salute fallen crewmen at the USS Arizona Memorial, where the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor incited the U.S. entry into World War II. Museum buffs can explore restored Hawaiian and Polynesian artifacts at Bishop Museum or take a guided two-and-a-half hour tour of tobacco heiress Doris Duke's Shangri La.

The island is filled with amazing historic sites. These 10 iconic wonders centuries or decades past tell Oahu's turbulent yet story, while keeping the island's history alive.