Oahu is one of the most famous Hawaiian Islands and a perfect place for a fun vacation! What to do in Oahu? This is the perfect Oahu Itinerary for one week.
Clear turquoise waters, amazing sandy beaches, colorful flowers, waterfalls in the jungle, vibrant cities, and cozy villages: Oahu is a perfect destination for a fun vacation!
The island of Oahu (or O’ahu in Hawaiian) is home to two-thirds of the population of the Hawaiian Islands. It’s the third-largest island in the state. The largest city on the island is Honolulu, which is also the capital of the state of Hawaii. Like most of the Hawaiian Islands, Oahu also has a nickname: The Gathering Place.
Oahu is home to some of the most famous places in Hawaii, like Pearl Harbor, Waikiki, Diamond Head, and Kailua Bay.
How many days in Oahu is enough?
You can stay in Oahu for 3 days or for 3 weeks, there’s plenty to see and to do. Personally, I think that 7 days in Oahu is the sweet spot. 1 week is perfect if you want to visit the highlights and want to learn more about life in Hawaii.
That’s why I’m sharing a 7-day Oahu Itinerary in this blog post.
7-day Oahu Itinerary
This 7-day Oahu Itinerary makes sure that you’ll visit some of the best places in Oahu while learning more about the Hawaiian culture in just one week. Let’s go!
Day 1 and 2: Honolulu & Waikiki
It’s the first day of your amazing Oahu road trip and it starts in the capital of Honolulu and the famous district of Waikiki. There’s so much to see and to do, that you can easily spend two days here.
Honolulu is a large city with many skyscrapers. It has some really interesting sights. These are fun things to do and the best places to visit in Honolulu.
- Iolani Palace: a beautiful palace that was built in 1882 for the last Hawaiian monarchs. Fun fact: this is the only royal palace in the United States of America. It is now a museum that you can visit.
- Aliiolani Hale: the home of the Hawaiʻi State Supreme Court and located right across from the Iolani Palace. In front of Aliiolani Hale is the beautiful statue of King Kamehameha.
- Aloha Tower: this tower was built in 1926 and is one of Honolulu’s icons. You can visit the Aloha Tower for free to enjoy the beautiful view.
- Hike one of the beautiful trails: right outside the city, there are several beautiful hiking trails to discover. If you are a nature lover, you’ll absolutely love exploring these. I myself hiked the Mānoa Falls Trail, a short hike through the jungle to a beautiful waterfall.
- Magic Island: a beautiful park with a beach. From here, you have a great view of downtown Honolulu and the Honolulu skyline.
Waikiki is a district of Honolulu, but it’s often mentioned separately. It’s home to some of the best beaches in Hawaii and has an enjoyable vibe. There are many beautiful things to see and fun things to do in Waikiki.
- Waikiki Beach: one of the most famous beaches in the world. There are several beaches for you to enjoy, with many palm trees and beautiful Hawaiian statues. This is also a great place to go surfing.
- Kalākaua Ave: this street follows the beach and has many fun boutique shops and restaurants.
- Turtle Canyons Cruise and Snorkel Excursion: from Waikiki, it’s really easy to hop on a boat for a snorkeling excursion. During this trip, you’ll see some beautiful marine life up close and you might even see some Hawaiian green sea turtles!
- Kūhiō Beach Hula Show: enjoy a Hawaiian hula performance for free. Depending on the weather, there are shows on Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
- Diamond Head: a large volcanic crater, and a great place for hiking. From here, you have a gorgeous view of Waikiki and Honolulu.
Tip! You don’t need a rental car in Honolulu and Waikiki. You can use the public bus, but it’s easier to get a pass for the Waikiki Trolley. With this trolly, you can just hop on or hop off at all the important sights in Honolulu and Waikiki. Get your Waikiki Trolley Pass here.
Where to stay in Waikiki?
I would suggest staying in Waikiki for the first two or three nights of your trip. These are some of the best hotels in Waikiki:
- VIVE Hotel Waikiki (3⭐) – Centrally located in Oahu, with nicely decorated modern rooms.
- Halepuna Waikiki by Halekulani (4⭐) – An amazing hotel, only a 2-minute walk to the beach. On the 8th floor, there’s a fun Urban Oasis with a bar and an infinity pool.
- ESPACIO THE JEWEL OF WAIKIKI (5⭐) – The best hotel in Waikiki! It only has suites and it is very luxurious. Each of the suites has a sauna and a hot tub. There’s also a rooftop infinity pool and a spa.
Day 3: Hanauma Bay
If you haven’t done it already on day 1, it’s now time to pick up your rental car and explore the east side of Oahu.
- Hanauma Bay: a state park with a beach and one of the best places for snorkeling in Oahu. To go here, you need to make a reservation, this is possible two days in advance.
- Koko Crater Stairs: do you like hiking and are you in for a challenge? Then you will absolutely love hiking the Koko Crater Stairs. In WWII, this used to be a railroad to bunkers at the top of the crater. Now it’s one of the most famous hiking trails in Hawaii. Make sure to get an early start when you want to climb the stairs. Then it’s cooler and less crowded which is nice since this is one of Oahu’s most popular hikes. The view from the top is majestic.
- Sandy Beach: one of the most beautiful beaches in Oahu. Golden sand and big waves. This beach is very popular with surfers. You’ll often find food trucks in the parking lot.
Since this is a residential area, there are hardly any hotels or other holiday accommodations on this side of the island. It’s therefore smart to stay in your hotel in Waikiki and visit this area on a day trip. Another alternative is to make your way to Kailua on day 3 and stay there for two nights.
Day 4: Kailua
It’s time for another day filled with fun attractions! There are a lot of things to do today, so make sure to start early. What is there to see and do on the road to Kailua?
- Makapu’u Point: the easternmost point of Oahu. There are some great hiking trails in this area and you definitely want to take a look at the Makapu’u Point Lighthouse
- Lanikai Beach: a beautiful sand beach in the eastern part of Kailua. From here, you have a beautiful view of the two little islands just outside the coast. This is also the place to be if you want to see an epic sunrise.
- Kailua: one the best beach towns in Oahu. On Sundays, there is a great farmers’ market.
- Guided Kayak Excursion in Kailua Bay is one of the best things to do when you’re in Kailua. Hop in a kayak and explore the crystal clear waters for 2 hours. During this trip, you’ll learn more about Hawaii’s geological history, see many bird species at Popoia Island, and maybe even some sea turtles! Lunch is included.
- Nu‘uanu Pali Lookout: there’s a mountain ridge that sort of divides the island into two sections. This is one of the best viewpoints where you can see the steep (green!) cliffs.
Where to stay in Kailua
Although Kailua is a beach town, it does not have a lot of hotel rooms or other places to stay. However, there are some really cute cottages and cozy B&Bs. Make sure to book your stay as early as possible. These are some great places to stay in (or in the vicinity of) Kailua:
- Waimanalo Beach Cottages: cute cottages on the beach with amazing views.
- Papaya Paradise Bed & Breakfast: cozy B&B with a pool.
- Pillows in Paradise Bed & Breakfast: great location, close to restaurants and the beach.
Day 5: Kualoa Ranch
Before reaching Kualoa Ranch, the next big Oahu attraction, there are two fun stops:
- Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden: part of Honolulu Botanical Gardens and it’s a rainforest garden. It has a large pond and many hiking trails. A great place to explore for an hour or two. It’s free to visit.
- Byodo-In Temple: a little further, you can visit Valley of the Temples Memorial Park. Many Hawaiian residents are buried here. The memorial park is home to several interesting buildings, but the Japanese Byodo-In Buddhist Temple is definitely a must-see.
And then it’s time to visit the Kualoa Ranch. Never heard of this place? I can imagine. But I’m guessing you’ve seen it multiple times on tv or in the movies! This nature preserve was used as a backdrop in countless tv series and movies. You might recognize it from Jurassic Park (it’s also known as Jurassic Valley), Lost, and Godzilla.
There are countless tours and expeditions you can do at Kualoa Ranch. I myself did the Hollywood Movie Sites Tour and I absolutely loved it. Check the Kualoa Ranch website for all options.
Where to stay near Kualoa Ranch
Since Kualoa Ranch is a big nature reserve, this is also not the place to find a hotel. However, just before and after Kualoa Ranch there are definitely some great options when it comes to places to stay.
- Paradise Bay Resort (4⭐): a very nice resort with suites and cottages, located 6 miles south of the Kualoa Ranch. It also has a lush garden with an outdoor pool.
- Tiki Moon Villas (4⭐): right across the street from the Polynesian Cultural Center (see day 6). It has studios and apartments, a lot of them are beachfront or have an ocean view.
- Courtyard by Marriott Oahu North Shore (3⭐) – Right next to the Polynesian Cultural Center. Nicely decorated rooms and a garden with an outdoor pool.
Day 6: Oahu’s North Shore
Today is a somewhat long drive compared to the previous days. This is the day you’ll visit the more quiet north shore of Oahu. You’ll definitely see fewer residential areas than before, but there’s still plenty to see on the road to Haleiwa.
- Polynesian Cultural Center: the place to go if you’d like to learn more about the history and culture of the islands in the Pacific Ocean. In the center, there are 8 simulated villages that you can visit. Each village represents a culture, like Hawaii, Fiji, or Tonga.
- Food trucks: it’s impossible to get hungry during your road trip today because there are countless food trucks along the road. Especially in the town of Kahuku, there are a dozen food trucks just on the right side of the road near the Kahuku Sugar Mill.
- Go ziplining! Kahuku is a great place for some fun outdoor activities. One of them is this fun Zipline Tour, with zip lines ranging from 500 to 2400 feet. The tour takes about 4 hours.
- Horseback riding from Gunstock Ranch. The best way to see the beauty of Oahu’s north shore.
- Sunset Beach: this side of Oahu has some beautiful beaches and Sunset Beach (where you can see the best sunsets in Oahu) is one of the prettiest beaches. Just sit down and enjoy the golden sand and the turquoise waters. It’s never a bad idea to take a break in Hawaii.
- Shark’s Cove: bring your snorkel gear, because this is one of the best Oahu snorkeling spots! It’s rocky and shallow, so also suitable for kids.
- Waimea Bay: beautiful beach and another great place for snorkeling. There is also a rock you can jump off. Right next to Waimea Beach, you’ll also find Waimea Valley. This is a nature reserve with a pretty waterfall.
- Haleiwa is a great spot to end your day. This small beach town has beautiful beach parks and a fun street full of art galleries and restaurants. One of the best things to do in Haleiwa is to go to Matsumoto Shave Ice for a real Hawaiian treat! There can be long lines, but it’s well worth it.
Where to stay on Oahu’s North Shore
It would be great to stay in Haleiwa, but unfortunately, Haleiwa is again not a big resort town, so there are not a lot of places to stay. There are a few good options on the road from Kualoa Ranch to Haleiwa:
- Turtle Bay Resort (5⭐) – If you want to treat yourself well during your Oahu road trip, then this is the place to go. This resort is located on a peninsula right next to Turtle Beach. And yes, you will see some turtles! It’s luxurious and the rooms have breathtaking ocean views.
- Ke Iki Beach Bungalows (2⭐) – If you’re looking for a little less luxury, then you might like to stay in one of these beautiful oceanfront bungalows.
- Backpackers Vacation Inn and Plantation Village (1⭐) – This is one of the few low-budget options on the island of Oahu. You can sleep in a dorm, book a private room, a studio, or a cottage. It’s only a 5-minute walk to Shark’s Cove.
Day 7: Pearl Harbor
On the last day of this one-week Oahu itinerary, you’ll drive back to Honolulu. During this trip, you’ll visit one the most famous places in Hawaii and a great place to learn more about the history: Pearl Harbor.
Before you get there, you can visit the Dole Plantation, where you can take a train through the pineapple fields.
Then it’s time to visit one of the most impressive historic sites of your Oahu trip: Pearl Harbor National Memorial. Here you’ll learn all about the devastating events on December 7, 1941, when more than 2300 people were killed when Japan attacked the Pearl Harbor naval base.
You can visit Pearl Harbor for free. If you also want to visit the USS Arizona Memorial, then you have to make a reservation in advance. This is highly recommended.
If you have some time left after your Pearl Harbor visit, then it’s nice to go to Hickam Beach to finish with a beach day. It is located right next to the airport and it’s really fun to watch the airplanes.
Where to stay in Honolulu
And then you’re back in Honolulu! Here you can have one last fun night out. These are some great hotels to stay in.
- Aston at the Executive Centre Hotel (4⭐) – Condo hotel in downtown Honolulu. It has suites and 1-bedroom apartments.
- Residence Inn by Marriott Oahu Kapolei (3⭐) – If you don’t feel like going back to the big city of Honolulu, this hotel in the town of Kapolei is a great option. It has beautiful suites and there are free bikes available, so it’s easy to get around.
- Prince Waikiki (4⭐) – Amazing hotel if you want to stay one more night in Waikiki. It has beautiful views of the harbor and a large outdoor swimming pool. The rooms are very modern and beautifully decorated.
Day 7 marks the end of this Oahu Itinerary. I hope you enjoyed it!
About this Oahu Itinerary
As you can see, there’s so much to do in each place, that you still have to make choices if you only have one week in Oahu. But with this Oahu itinerary, you’ll definitely visit some of the best Oahu attractions and sights. Driving distances are really short, so you have a lot of time to explore.
And of course, adjusting this itinerary just the way you like is easy. You don’t have to do everything on this list, it is your vacation!
What if you don’t have a full week to explore Oahu?
You can still see Oahu in just a couple of days, but you have to make choices. If you don’t have a week or longer and still want to discover some of the best sights in Oahu, I’ll share some additional itineraries.
3-day Oahu itinerary
3 days on Oahu is not much, but you can still travel around the island to see the most beautiful spots. It will be difficult to do tours or excursions.
This is a nice 3-day Oahu itinerary:
- Day 1: Honolulu & Waikiki
- Day 2: Kailua & Kualoa Ranch
- Day 3: North shore with Haleiwa
Another good option for three days in Oahu is just to stay in one hotel in Waikiki Beach and book a full-day trip around the island. This way, you’ll see a lot of the island’s highlights and you get information from a local guide.
5-day Oahu itinerary
5 days in Oahu is great, this way you have a little more time to do some (longer excursions) or go on a hike or two.
- Day 1&2: Honolulu & Waikiki (with a half-day trip to Pearl Harbor)
- Day 3: Hanauma Bay & Kailua
- Day 4: Kualoa Ranch & Polynesian Cultural Center
- Day 5: Oahu’s North Shore
The best way to follow this 5-day itinerary is to get up early every morning to get the most out of your day.
Get the most of your Oahu trip with the Oahu Go City Pass
If you plan on visiting multiple Oahu attractions during your Oahu road trip, it is smart to purchase an Oahu: Go City All-Inclusive Pass. With this pass, you can visit over 40 attractions and tours in Oahu, including USS Arizona Memorial Narrated Tour at Pearl Harbor, a tour at Kualoa Ranch, and Waikiki Surfboard Rental.
Best time to visit Oahu
Although you can visit Oahu all year round, the best months to visit the island are April, May, and September.
June, July, and August are the best (driest) months when it comes to weather, but this is also peak season with prices going sky-high. During winter months it can rain quite a bit.
When it comes to temperature, you never have to worry. Temperatures are usually between 80 and 90 degrees Fahrenheit (26 and 32 degrees Celcius).
Book a trip to Oahu
Are you ready for this amazing Oahu adventure? Go and book your trip!
Flights to Oahu
Honolulu International Airport (or Daniel K. Inouye International Airport) is the main airport in Honolulu. It has good connections with many cities within the United States and other Hawaiian Islands. In addition, there are also some international connections with cities in Canada, Japan, and Australia. Check WayAway to find the best deals on plane tickets to Honolulu airport.
Renting a car in Oahu
To follow this one-week Oahu itinerary, you need a rental car. You can rent a car at Honolulu airport, but you can also pick one up in Waikiki which saves you money for parking on the first days. That’s what I did myself during my week on Oahu and it was very convenient. Check Rental Cars or Discover Cars to find the best deals on rental cars in Oahu.
Parking is free in most places, except for Honolulu or Waikiki. Here you’ll either have street parking or parking garages.
The roads in Oahu are usually very good and there’s not too much traffic. However, there can be some big traffic jams around Honolulu Airport, Downtown Honolulu, and Waikiki.
It’s really easy to find accommodation in Honolulu and Waikiki, there are hundreds of hotels, apartments, and also some hostels. However, accommodation is sparse in the other places on the island, so if you plan to make a road trip, it’s very smart to book all of your stays in advance. These are good websites to book your stay in Oahu:
- Booking.com: lots of options, and usually with free cancellation.
- Agoda.com: similar to Booking, and sometimes has special discounts.
- Hostelworld.com: a great option for the budget traveler.
Before you travel to Oahu, it’s smart to get travel insurance. This way, you don’t have to worry about unexpected events during your trip. Check Insubuy to find the perfect travel insurance that fits your needs.
Tours & activities
Read more about Hawaii
Did you like this Oahu itinerary and would you like to learn more about Oahu and the other Hawaiian Islands? These are some great travel guides that are very useful to plan your trip to Hawaii:
One of the best Oahu travel guides out there! It’s written by locals that know the best places on the island.
A great and practical travel guide with detailed maps, itineraries, and beautiful photos.
In addition, you can also read more about a trip to Hawaii on this website. You might like to read these articles as well:
- Visiting Hawaii for the first time: tips & tricks
- How much does a trip to Hawaii cost?
- Big Island Hawaii: 7 awesome things to do
Subscribe to my newsletter to read about fun travel adventures and beautiful travel destinations.
Hi, thank you for reading this disclaimer! As you may understand, maintaining a website costs money. Therefore, this website contains affiliate links. If you use them to buy a product or book your next trip, I will get a small commission which I can use to maintain this website. At no additional cost to you. Thank You! Check this page for more information and opportunities to support this website.