With so many things to see and do on Oahu, the costs can really pile up. One option to Save and keep the budget under control is to invest in a Pass, allowing you to visit multiple attractions and activities for one fixed price. Our Go Oahu Card Review Takes a look at Smart Destinations offering for Oahu. While passes are a great option they can have some drawbacks and do get some stick from some holiday message boards. So we aim to take an in-depth look at the pass and ask is the Go Oahu Pass Worth it? After all these passes can run into hundreds of dollars especially if you have a family.
Worried about the Volcano?
Don’t be! The Eruptive event at the Kilauea Volcano is on a completely different Island hundreds of miles away from Oahu. Oahu is completely unaffected by the eruption. Read our full guide here for more peace of mind but rest assured that it is business as usual in Oahu and most of Hawaii in general!
- Product: GO Oahu Card – All Inclusive
- Price: $74- $319
- Price Child: $69 – $269 (Child 3-12yrs)
- Where to Buy: smartdestinations.com
- Number Of Attractions: 32+ Top Attractions + 1 Premium from all over the Island
- Time Limit: 1,2,3,5 or 7 days unlimited over a 2-week period
- Rating: 4.7/5
Attractions Included – 32 + 1 Premium Attraction Per Card (3,5 and 7-day Cards only)
Premium Attractions: Choice of 1 per Pass
- Ka Moana Luau @ Sea Life Park
- Dolphin Encounter by Sea Life Park
- Alii Luau & Dinner Show at The Polynesian Cultural Center
- Sunset Dinner Sail on Makani Catamaran
- Oahu Hidden Gems Tour and Snorkelling with Turtles
- Semi-Private Oahu Surf Lesson (for 2+) by Sea & Board Sports Hawaii
Unlimited All-Inclusive Attractions:
- Makani Catamaran Sail
- All of Oahu in One Day Tour
- Polynesian Cultural Center
- Hanauma Bay Snorkel
- Pacific Aviation Museum
- USS Bowfin Submarine
- Battleship Missouri
- Kualoa Ranch Movie Site Tour (Jurassic Park)
- and Many more…
What is the GO Oahu Card?
The GO Oahu Card is an attraction pass from Smart destinations allowing the user to visit as many attractions as they like from the list available on a given number of days. On top of this If you purchase a 3,5, or 7 days pass you can also choose one of 6 Premium attractions per card.
How does it Work?
The GO Oahu Card is a digital pass. It is emailed to you after ordering and you then either use the pass directly from your phone or you can print it out and use it that way. Either way, it’s is a QR Barcode that is scanned at the attractions allowing you entry to the attractions.
The Pass is activated on the first day you use it and you then have that calendar day to visit as many attractions as you please. It is important to remember it is a calendar day, not a 24 hour period. So if you activate it late afternoon It will only be active until midnight that day. Multi-Day cards can be used ANY day afterward for a two week period.
So if you are in Oahu for a 2-week trip, and purchase a 7-day card, for example, you have your entire two weeks to space out the attraction days. This is a fantastic feature of the pass. On Vacations to Hawaii people are unlikely to want to spend the entire trip running around doing activities. Some days will be Beach days where you simply kick back with a Mai Tai. With the GO Oahu card, you are not losing a day of your pass by doing this. The card is simply activated the first time you use it each day.
Is the Pass Right for me?
City Passes do not suit everyone. We all have our own habits and ways of traveling. The Go Oahu Pass can suit a wide range of travelers though. Due to its feature of non-consecutive days, most travelers can benefit from the pass in some way. Even if it’s just to use the add-ons for pearl Habour. although in that case, you may be better off with the Passport to Pearl Habour.
Obviously, anyone with no intention of seeing or doing any attractions while in Oahu would not benefit from a pass, If all you plan to do is sit on a beach and sip cocktails there is no point in buying a pass. If however plan on mixing a few attraction days in with your relaxing then an Oahu GO Card is perfect. Likewise, if you like you trips all singing all dancing a GO Card is a fantastic way of getting the max out of your trip without breaking the bank.
The pass suits people who will not have a car as a lot of the tours and trips include hotel pick-up from Honolulu, although not all of them do so check if your desired attractions do before basing your decision on that. If they don’t then it is normally available for a fee, which you would have to pay with or without a pass.
When Deciding if a pass is a good option for you the main point to consider is do you REALLY want to do the attractions on the list, there is so much to see and do on Oahu are the options on the Pass really the things you and your family want to do? You can take a look at our Oahu Must See list to see the best the Island has to offer. Then have a look below as we take a look at what the PASS has to offer to see if it fits with your wish list.
When Buying a 3-Day, 5-Day or 7-Day Pass You are able to choose one Premium attraction from the following but Remember it’s ONE premium Attraction per PASS which makes choosing the right Premium attraction very important.
Remember your premium attraction will need to be booked after purchasing your pass. Check the details for how to book your chosen attraction. Normally only a reservation Phone number is given to book with. This can be an issue for visitors from outside the UK. But you can normally find a reservations Email address who should be able to help you with your reservation, No Guarantees though.
Ka Moana Luau ($125.60)
A Luau is one of Oahu’s must do attractions. Every time we visit Hawaii we make sure we attend a Luau. The Go Oahu Card offers a choice of two Luaus as a Premium Attraction.
The Ka Moana is a Great Luau located at the Sea Life Park on Oahu’s Winward coast. It isn’t particularly convenient but transportation from Waikiki is included with the Pass, along with FREE entry to the Sea Park (but then this is included on the card anyway). It offers pretty good value for a Luau.
In all honesty, it’s not as good as the Luau at the Polynesian Cultural Center which is the other Premium Attraction Luau. But really that is one of the best on all the Islands of Hawaii. But this is still a Solid Luau that is more convenient than trekking all the way across the island to the PCC.
This Premium attraction Luau also includes Transportation from the Waikiki area, which makes this a very convenient option! Entry to the Park is also included but then this is included on the pass anyway.
Read more about which Luau is Best HERE.
Dolphin Encounter by Sea Life Park ($136.12)
Unfortunately, this one is not for us. While we adore dolphins we have very little interest in watching or interacting with them in captivity. We are not here to judge though and if a Dolphin encounter is high on your must-do lists then this is a great value attraction. The Sea Life Park is a great place to visit but you do get entry included as part of the passes regular attractions anyway. Great if you have kids who want to do the Dolphin experience but the adults don’t so you can still accompany them to the part but save your Premium attraction for some grown-up time at a Luau or Dinner Cruise?
Alii Luau & Dinner Show at The Polynesian Cultural Center ($114.95)
Simply put the Alii Luau & Dinner Show at The Polynesian Cultural Center is probably the best Luau anywhere in Hawaii. It’s a fantastic authentic show with a huge delicious feast and while some other luau’s give it a run for its money very few beat it conclusively. The only downside to the Luau is the Location. It’s a good trek from Oahu. This means you will either need a Designated Driver or book some form of Transportation (you can add this at the time of booking for a Fee) Included with the Luau (and the Go Card) is the entry to the Cultural Center to experience all that has to offer as well. It can be a fantastic day out with a magnificent ending at the Luau.
It’s worth Remembering you can Enjoy a visit to the fantastic Cultural Center as part of the Standard attractions the Premium is only so you can enjoy the Luau Feast and Show on top of the rest the Cultural Centre has to offer. So you can make your choice between the more local Ka Moana Luau at the Sea Life Park and enjoy the Cultural Centre on a different day.
Read more about which Luau is Best HERE.
Sunset Dinner Sail on Makani Catamaran ($120.68)
If you are looking for a spot of romance when in Oahu it doesn’t get much more romantic than a dinner cruise on a catamaran at sunset on one of the most beautiful ocean coastline in the world. While some dinner cruises can be overcrowded cattle markets where any hint of romance is lost. The Makani Catamaran is a smaller vessel that is not too overcrowded even when full. The dinner is an Island style Buffet Menu. Not the most Gourmet offering but perfectly delicious and fitting with the cruise. An excellent choice of a premium Attraction for a couple looking to get away from it all.
Oahu Hidden Gems Tour and Snorkelling with Turtles ($125.65)
This Island tour provided by Go Hawaii Tours is a great chance to get out and see some of the less well-known sights of the island as well as some more popular tourist attraction. The Tour guides work really hard to make sure you have a fantastic tour and get to see some Real Hawaii that most tourists miss. Turtle Snorkelling is an added bonus to the interesting itinerary. It is pretty unlikely the tour won’t find your turtles as thanks to conservation efforts turtles are now abundant on the Islands. However, they do offer free tours until you do sea turtles.
A great tour for people who are not driving as the tour offers pick-ups from your hotel so you can get out of Honolulu and see the island.
Semi-Private Oahu Surf Lesson (for 2+) by Sea & Board Sports Hawaii ($130.89)
Many people coming to Hawaii want to learn how to surf and this Semi-Private Surf lesson for two is a perfect way to introduce yourself to the sport. The Semi-Private nature is basically private as if two people book that’s the entire group. The will even accommodate solo surfers for a small upgrade fee (in the range of $30). Great for couples or parent and child groups looking to get a taste of Hawaii’s oldest sport.
The location isn’t the best, however, a good hour+ from Waikiki with complex public transport links. Not so good for those without a car. That said it’s a fantastic location if you can get to it and has fantastic beginner surf conditions without the overcrowding of Waikiki Beach.
With all the passes you can visit as many of the following attractions within the set number of days you have purchased. The List of available attractions is far larger than we could ever feature in this post but these are a selection of our favorites and that we feel are the best value.
Makani Catamaran Sail
Similar to the Premium attraction but in the afternoon not at sunset, less romantic but every bit as breathtaking. a Great option if you didn’t take the sunset cruise but still want to get out on the ocean waves.
All of Oahu in One Day Tour
A fantastic comprehensive tour of the island taking in all the best sights on offer while taking out the stress of driving and navigating yourself. A great option to see the island for those who don’t drive.
Polynesian Cultural Center
The Polynesian Cultural Center is a must see in our opinion and as one of the most visited attractions on the island most people seem to agree. The pass allows you to visit the Center even if you don’t take up the option of the Luau Feast and Show. It’s a big place with so much to see so get there for noon to get the best of the Center.
Hanauma Bay Snorkel
With abundant Wildlife and nearly year-round perfect snorkeling conditions, Hanauma Bay is a must-see for every snorkeling or nature lover. The Pass offers two way to experience the Bay Either with a tour including pickup from your hotel, Or you can rent Snorkelling gear for the day and head to the bay yourself ($7.50 entrance fee). We find the bay a useful stop on the way to/from Kualoa Ranch.
Either way, don’t miss Hanauma Bay if you want to witness the best of Hawaii’s Sealife
Pearl Habour Add-Ons
A visit to Pearl Harbor is on most peoples lists and we really feel it is the number one must not miss sight in all of Hawaii. But Such an important attraction is rightfully FREE to all. No pass needed tp Visit Pearl Habour or the USS Arizona Memorial. However, there are a number of exhibits and museums there that do require a fee to visit.
- USS Battleship Missouri ($27)
- USS Bowfin Museum ($25)
- Pacific Aviation Museum ($12)
- USS Arizona Narrated Tour($7.50)
- Total ($71.50)
All of the Above is included on the Go Oahu Pass, meaning your trip to Pearl Habour will be incredibly memorable. While you could just purchase a one day pass just for the pearl harbor add-ons and save a few $$$ that way really the Passport to Pearl Habour. Is cheaper and includes a timed ticket to the Arizona Memorial. These are only good value options if you plan on doing other attractions on the one day pass (but that a VERY busy day) or are buying a multi-day pass.
It is important to remember that you are advised to book a timed ticket to the Arizona memorial as early as possible (tickets go on sale 2 months in advance) to secure your place. These tickets are very popular and sell out fast. They are free apart from a $1.50 booking fee and can be booked here.
We have more detailed info on Pearl Harbour trips here
Kualoa Ranch Tours
The Kualoa Ranch is a very popular location on Oahu. The Ranch offers many tours of popular areas contained within its 4000 acres of land 5 different tours are included on the Oahu Go Card. Unfortunate these are limited to one Tour per day. This is a bit of a shame as you will need to travel multiple times to the ranch (40-50mins drive from Honolulu) to experience multiple tours. This is a shame but it’s clearly imposed on the Go Card by the ranch themselves. And as long as you are aware of this restriction you can deal with it and maybe combine stops with the ranch with other excursions if there are multiple tours you really want to do.
The five available tours are as follows:
Movie Sites Tour – the Most popular of Kualoa’s tours. Oahu is one of Hollywoods most used filming locations. Whenever a tropical jungle setting is needed Oahu is the Default location. Many of these movies are shot on the Kualoa Ranch and the Movie sites tour takes you to all the best locations. Most notable is the Jurrasic Park Valley complete with the tree used to hide from a T-Rex, along with many other great sights. Really if are only doing one tour this is THE one.
Jungle Tour – A fun 90 min tour taking you out into some of the more remote parts of Oahu’s jungle wilderness. Riding aboard a safari-style truck you head off through some great Jurrasic park movie sets and out into the jungle. This tour is offroad and can be pretty rough and bumpy which is something to keep in mind.
Voyaging Catamaran – Enjoy a fantastic sail along Oahu’s north shore for some spectacular sights including the Chinaman’s hat. The Catamaran is fairly small seating only 49 people, however, this can be seen as a positive being a little more intimate than others.
Secret Beach Tour – One look at Waikiki beach and the crowds that frequent it will have you yearning for a little bit of seclusion. The Secret beach tour gives you just that. A private beach for just you and your fellow tour guests. And it’s one incredible beach with stunning views of the coast and Chinaman’s Hat Island.
While this remote Picture perfect beach is a relaxation paradise some people get pretty bored doing nothing, even in paradise. Children and significant others complaining they are bored can really ruin your sun-kissed relaxation! Fortunately, the Secret Beach Tour offers a multitude of included activities to keep them occupied. Send them off Kayaking, Canoeing, Paddleboarding or playing Volleyball while you kick back with a book under a palm tree. Utter Bliss.
Ancient Fishpond and Garden Tour – This Tour takes you on first around the lush tropical gardens, complete with Fruit trees. Before heading out into an ancient Hawaiian l=fiashpod to learn how the Hawaiian manipulated Nature to feed their culture while remaining in balance. A fantastic tour to learn more about the Hawaiian culture and way of life.
More Information on the Kualoa Ranch Tours can be found here.
As you can see a lot of these tours are very attractive and it is a big shame you need multiple visits on multiple days to enjoy more than one. As a day spent doing all five would be an unforgettable experience. But we guess that’s exactly what they are trying to stop!
It is definitely advisable to book these tours beforehand as they can be incredibly popular, turning up at the ranch hoping to get on your desired tour is a risky game liable to disappointment especially at busy times. Call (808) 237-7321 to make a reservation. For visitors from outside the US not wanting to rack up international phone calls you can try emailing Kualoa Ranch (email@example.com) or wait until you are at your hotel and use the phone there most hotels offer free (included) Local phone calls. Remember to mention you are using an Oahu Go Card.
With Attractions spaced across the Island, it can be hard to get the best out of the pass. it is very important to ensure you plan your itinerary to get the most out of your pass. With attractions all over the island without proper planning, you could find yourself covering many miles and wasting time traveling between attractions.
When Planning our days we base it on our priority attractions and then try and find other things we want to do near that attraction. For instance, when planning the below itinerary we used a trip based in Waikiki. We decided Day one would be the Kauloa Ranch Movie Sites tour. So we looked at what was nearby and realized the trip would there and back would take us past Hanauma Bay. So we planned to pick up Snorkel Gear before leaving Waikiki so we could visit the bay After the tour, before heading back to Waikiki to get changed before an evening at the Ka Moana Luau.
Same with the Pearl Habour Add-ons. We knew we would be in the leeward area so decided to head to Wet And wild Afterwards, as a great way to cool down and refresh as pearl harbor can be a hot tiring experience.
Hopefully, you get the point. Pick what you want to do most then see what can be added on to make that day better. The more days you have the less you need to do each day to get the best value from your pass.
Is it Good Value?
It would be very easy to go through the list of attractions pick out the most expensive, add them up and see the cost is way higher than the Pass price, but that’s not how you will use the pass, and would not answer the question of is it good value. Instead, we picked an example itinerary that is both appealing and realistic in terms of time, Based on using a 3-day Pass.
- All Day Snorkel Hire – $20.94
- Kauloa Ranch – Movie Tour – $48.12
- Stop at Hanauma Bay on the way back to use Snorkel Gear (N\A)
- Ka Moana Luau at the Sea Life Park- $125.60
- Pearl Habour – USS Arizona Memorial (N\A)
- Pearl Habour – Pacific Aviation Museum – $27.00
- Pearl Habour – USS Bowfin Submarine – $12.00
- Pearl Habour – Battleship Missouri – $25.00
- Wet and Wild Hawaii $62.35
Total – $126.35
- Diamond Head Hike $18.27
- Polynesian Cultural Centre $59.95
Total – $ 78.22
- Full Price $399+
- Pass Price $199
- Saving $200+
That’s a saving of 47% Saving over paying full price on the gate. The above itinerary would be quite hectic on Activity days but would allow plenty of time for down days on the beach. Adding extra days is a fairly modest outlay and would allow you to experience even more while reducing the busyness of the schedule somewhat.
On Top of the Above savings there a few material advantages to having a Pass in Oahu. These advantages probably don’t add up to enough to really make the pass worthwhile on their own, and may even be offset by the negatives, however when combined with the above financial benefits it can make the Oahu Go Card a very attractive proposition.
A pass can add real structure to your trip planning. Instead of simply arriving at the destination with very little plan of what to do having a Go Card and knowing which days you want to do which attractions give you the structure to build the rest of your itinerary around. Busy activity day one day, then you know to plan a relaxed beach day the day after! Hitting the Luau, you know not to plan early morning activities.
The price of attractions, along with everything else can really add up. Especially in a world of easy plastic transactions. Those credit card bills when you get home can really jolt the heart! At least with a Go Card, you know upfront how much you will be spending in Attractions. So along with the savings, you can rest assured any large bills will be down to your overindulgence on the Mai Tais.
You can purchase the passes ahead of time also making it easier to spread the costs. We find budgeting on of the passes strongest appeals, along with the substantial savings.
A lot of people don’t always know what is available when they visit a new location or what prices they should be paying. They rely on Overpriced hotel or tour operator tours to offer trips and excursions. A pass can show what is available and what is important to you. Simply reading this article may have alerted you to things you may want to do that you were previously unaware of.
The Nature of the pass allows for a lot of flexibility in your planning. While it’s important to plan days quite precisely to get the most of them as per our strategy section, it’s less important which days you actually do the attractions on. This means there is some flexibility on what days you do what based on the weather or how you feel. While a lot of attractions do require prior booking Such as tours and Cruises along with ALL the Premium attractions, some are just turn up and enjoy.
What We don’t like!
The pass is of course not perfect. As we have pointed out some attractions really require you to have a car. You can get to all attractions by public transport, but some journeys would be long and complex and a very poor way to spend your Trip. We would prefer to see a lot more options for hotel pick-up.
Also, the one Kauloa Ranch Tour per day is unfortunate. If you could spend a day at the ranch doing 2-3 tours it would represent phenomenal value. as it is you could miss out on quite a bit unless very determined to experience all the Ranch has to offer.
Some of the attractions cannot be fully experienced without further spendings, such as the sea life park. Most are inclusive but there are some hidden extras. And most activities that offer drinks only give you one or 2 whereas we would much prefer open bars. This is, however, a problem with the attractions themselves, not the pass.
As with all passes, one big downside can be the temptation to try and cram too much in as an effort to get the most value. We call this chasing the pass. it is important to plan sensibly and only aim to do attractions you really want to do and not try and cram in attractions you don’t really want to do but cram it in just because it’s on the pass. It’s better to skip something you are not sure about to do something you really want to do. Even if that’s not included, even if that’s just sitting on the beach.
We really feel for a lot of people traveling to Oahu the Go Oahu Pass offers not only exceptional value but also a fantastic way off adding real structure to your trip to get the most out of your time on the island. Apart from a few Niche activities, there is very little we would want to do on Oahu that isn’t included.
The non-consecutive nature of the pass fits perfectly with the type of trips most people have on Oahu. We all want down days where the focus is on rest and relaxation and other days where exploration and activities are the order of the day.
The downsides are quite few and far between and really are outweighed by the positives, not to mention the large cost savings. The money saved really can go along way towards other things…such as more Mai Tais!
Have Your Say?
Let us know if you have had an experience either with the Go Oahu Pass or any of the included attractions. What were your favorite attractions? Did you feel you got good value from the pass? Let us know if you bought a pass after reading this? Or if you just have any questions about the pass or Oahu in general, just drop us a comment below, We would love to hear from you.