I spent one week in Oahu, so of course I had to share my Oahu itinerary with y’all in case you’re planning a trip to island.
The Ultimate 7 Day Oahu Itinerary
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Oahu Itinerary Overview
Day 6 – Boat Day | Day 7 – Kualoa Ranch
Best Time to Visit Oahu
Oahu, like a lot of destinations, is popular during break periods. So, summer, spring break, and around Christmas time. If you’re looking to avoid hordes of tourists, try visiting in the shoulder seasons, April – early June and September – December.
I went in July and there were definitely lots of people. However, it wasn’t as crowded as I imagined it would be. If you have to travel during break periods, make sure to book early as the affordable hotels and rental cars book up quickly.
Where to Stay in Oahu
This Oahu itinerary is created around being based in Waikiki. During my trip, I stayed at the Hyatt Centric Waikiki in a double suite. The rooms were super spacious, and close to lots of coffee shops, restaurants, and points of interest. Also, Waikiki Beach is only an 8 minute walk away. The hotel was well maintained and the pool area was also very nice.
Stay at the Hyatt Centric Waikiki
More Hotels in Oahu
Budget Option: Shoreline Hotel | Mid-Level Option: Waikiki Beachcomber by Outrigger | Luxury Option: The Royal Hawaiian
More Posts to Help you Plan your Trip to Oahu:
- Ultimate Hawaii Packing List – What to Pack for Hawaii
- Oahu Food Guide – The Best Restaurants in Oahu
- The Most Amazing Things to do in Oahu – Tours & Attractions
Getting Around Oahu
Renting a Car on Oahu
I would highly, highly, HIGHLY recommend renting a car while in Oahu. If you want to make the most of your time, and be able to get up and go whenever you want, having a car is the way to go. Also, this Oahu itinerary works best with a car. I will say that driving in Hawaii is a little bit stressful with the traffic and parking, but just plan accordingly and you’ll be alright. Another thing to note is that hotel parking in Honolulu is NOT free in most cases. You’d actually be hard pressed to find a hotel that does offer free parking. And no, it is not included in the room rate. It will be a separate charge on top of that.
All that said, you may not want to drive in Oahu, in which case here are some more transportation options.
There is Uber and Lyft in Oahu. Which is a good option if you’re just looking to catch a ride to dinner or a nearby spot.
TheBus is Oahu’s public bus system. You can catch a ride for $3.00 to pretty much anywhere on the island. You can also pick up a HOLO card which costs $2, and works similarly to an Oyster Card. To use the HOLO card, you just need to add money to it, and then tap into the bus. After paying for two rides, you’ll then be eligible for a day pass and the rest of your trips will be free for the day.
There is also a hop-on hop-off trolley in Waikiki. At the time of writing, you can get a 1-day pass for $45, a 4-day pass for $65, or a 7-day pass for $75. The trolley has over 40 stops including Diamond Head, Sea Life Park, and Chinatown.
Book Your Waikiki Trolley Ticket
A lot of the tours in Oahu offer round-trip transportation with hotel pickup (sometimes for free, sometimes for an extra fee). So, if you don’t have a car while in Oahu, you’ll still be able to get to different parts of the island and take tours like the Kualoa Ranch 2 Hour UTV Raptor Tour.
One Week in Oahu Itinerary
Day 1 – Arrival
No matter what time you get into the island, I recommend taking your first day in Oahu easy. Check into your hotel, or drop off your bags to the front desk if you arrive before check in time. Grab a bite to eat, and then head to Waikiki Beach. Enjoy some sun and lounge around or rent a paddle board and spend some time on the water.
If you arrive on a Friday, or have a Friday in Oahu, try finding a good spot to watch the fireworks that take place at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikīkī Beach Resort at 8 PM.
Day 2 – Honolulu
Start the day off by grabbing yourself a cup of coffee and a couple of pastries at Kona Coffee Purveyors. There will more than likely be a line so get there early on.
Coffee and pastry in hand, hop in the car and make your way to the Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail. This is a relatively short and easy hike in Oahu with some beautiful coastal views. I recommend hiking earlier in the day because it’s cooler than hiking midday when the sun and heat are at their peak. Also, don’t forget to bring water with you.
If you’re interested in visiting the Makapu’u Tidepools, they are also in this area and can be seen from the trail. A couple of people were hiking up from the tidepools as we were making our way to the lighthouse.
After the hike, you could check out the Chinaman Walls and the Spitting Cave, which are also in the area. Or, if you’re interested in dining at Haleiwa Joe’s, this is a good day to do so.
In order to secure a spot by the rail overlooking the gazebo and koi pond, you need to get to Haleiwa Joe’s early; otherwise, you could have a pretty sizable wait. Even if you don’t want one of those tables, the wait still gets pretty long. We arrived 30 minutes after they opened and had to wait 1.5 hours for a table. A lot of people recommend getting there 15/20 minutes before they open to secure a table and lower your wait time.
Day 3 – Kailua & Kaneohe
For us, Day 3 didn’t go according to plan, but here’s how it was originally supposed to go vs what we did.
Wake up early, grab a coffee and donut from Holey Grail, and make the drive to the Lanikai Pillbox Hike. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find parking anywhere near the trailhead so we had to forego this hike. There are signs everywhere telling you where you can and can not park, and if they aren’t obeyed you can be fined, or more likely, towed. We tried going on a Sunday, but we may have had better luck going on a weekday when locals are working.
Whether you manage to do the hike or not, while you’re in the area grab yourself something to eat. There’s a Kono’s North Shore if you want something quick that you can take to the beach with you, or check out Over Easy for a sit-down breakfast/brunch.
After fueling up, check out the Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden and Byod-in Temple. We unfortunately didn’t get a chance to visit these but they were a part of our original plan followed by spending some time on Kailua Beach or Lanikai Beach.
Later that day, check out a luau. We went to the Ka Moana Luau at Sea Life Park. I enjoyed the entertainment portion of this luau; however, the food wasn’t great. This seems to be a common denominator for Oahu luaus based on the reviews I’ve read. No matter which one you pick, I would go for the show, but plan on eating dinner elsewhere beforehand or afterwards.
Day 4 – Diamond Head and Pearl Harbor
If you aren’t a local, you now have to pay and make a reservation to do the Diamond Head Hike. The fee is $5 per person plus $10 to park. As of now, reservations can be made up to 2 weeks in advance via the Hawaii State Park website, but they will be opening it up to 30 days in the future.
Reservations begin at 6:00 AM and the last entry is 4:00 PM. I recommend booking the 6:00 AM – 8:00 AM slot to beat the heat, and the crowds. Afterwards, stop by Ars Cafe for some coffee and a light breakfast. Then, make your way back to your hotel to freshen up after your hike.
Next, head over to Pearl Harbor. Visiting the USS Arizona is technically free, but you have to book a ticket online and pay the $1 processing fee. If you’re really into history, you can book a more in-depth Pearl Harbor Tour.
Note: Your tour time is a hard start time. If you’re not there at your scheduled time you will miss your tour, and have to wait in the stand by line to get on another tour. I learned this the hard way, and actually missed out on this experience.
After your tour, head to Sky Waikiki for Happy Hour for $2 oysters and cocktail specials. Happy Hour is daily from 4:00 PM to 5:00 PM, and they do take reservations!
Day 5 – North Shore
Rise early, grab some coffee, and make your way to the North Shore. Once you arrive, stop by Sunrise Shake to snap that famous instagram shot and pick up a delicious smoothie or bowl. I recommend the Tropical Bowl.
While visiting the North Shore, check out a couple of beaches. Sunrise Beach is across the street from Sunrise Shack. Laniakea Beach, Pūpūkea Beach Park, and Waimea Bay Beach Park are some other popular beaches on the north shore.
After spending some time laying on the sand and in the water, head to Oahu’s famous food truck, Giovanni’s. I recommend getting the classic, as the lemon butter is a bit bland in comparison. Next, stop by Matsumoto’s Shave Ice, one of the best places to get shave ice in Oahu.
If you have time, make a pit stop and check out the Dole Pineapple Plantation on your way back to Waikiki.
Spend the night wandering Waikiki. Grab a bite somewhere and then head to Hideout at The Laylow for drinks with a view.
Day 6 – Boat Day
You have to spend some time in/on the water while visiting Oahu. We did Captain Bob’s Picnic Sail and had an incredible time. What’s really cool about this tour is that you get to go out to the Kaneohe Sandbar, and then also spend some time snorkeling.
At the sandbar, you could practice snorkeling, play beach volleyball, or just walk around enjoying the views. The crew told us to be on the lookout for jellyfish as they do hang around the sandbar.
I technically can’t swim, but with a life vest on I felt safe and secure enough to participate in the snorkeling portion of our tour.
Once we were finished snorkeling, we were treated to a delicious cup of hot cocoa. I don’t know if it was just being in the cool water or what, but that hot chocolate was everything and then some.
Book Captain Bob’s Picnic Sail
After the tour, clean up and relax back in your room for a little. Then, head to Marugame Udon for some hand-stretched, fresh udon for dinner. It’s a super popular place to eat in Oahu, and there’s almost always a line, but it’s definitely worth it.
Day 7 – Kualoa Ranch
On your last day in Oahu, make your way to Kualoa Ranch, a must on any Oahu itinerary. Kualoa Ranch is known as Jurassic Park Hawaii, and rightfully so. Many of the Jurassic Park films have been shot at the ranch as well as several other movies and shows.
We booked the Secret Island Tour and the UTV Tour. If you only have the time or resources to do one tour at Kualoa Ranch, definitely make it the UTV tour. You’ll enjoy picturesque scenery and get to visit filming locations for Jurassic World, Kong Skull Island, and more!
For your last night in Hawaii, grab dinner at Duke’s or check out Paia Fish Market for some great seafood options. Oh, and don’t forget to grab some malasadas from Leonard’s!
Need more Oahu inspiration? Check out these posts:
- Oahu Coffee Guide – The Best Cafes & Coffee Shops in Oahu
- Easy Hikes in Oahu: The Best Oahu Hikes for Beginners
Is Oahu the same as Honolulu?
Honolulu is the capital of the state of Hawaii, and it’s located on the island of Oahu. Waikiki is a neighborhood in Honolulu located on the southern shore of Oahu. Hope that helps!
How many days should you spend in Oahu?
I would recommend spending at least 5 days in Oahu, but a week would be best. With a week in Oahu, you’ll have plenty of time for tours and exploring as well as relaxing.
What part of Oahu should you stay in?
If you’re looking to stay in a resort or hotel, Waikiki has the most options. There’s a couple different resorts littered around the island, but they tend to come at a premium price. Plus, there’s not much to do outside of them. By staying in Waikiki, you’ll be surrounded by plenty of bars, restaurants, and things to do.
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