The Best of Oahu – Hawaii in 7 Days | A Travel Itinerary
Oahu | Hawaii – A 7 Day Travel Itinerary
Hawaii brings to mind beautiful beaches, brightly coloured fish, surfing and luaus. Although all of those things are true, there is so much more to this beautiful island nation, and there is a reason so many people visit again and again.
Oahu is the third largest island in Hawaii, as well as the most popular for visitors. It is currently home to over a million people, and gets many visitors from across the world, especially from the mainland U.S, Australia, Japan and Korea. Hawaii has its own airline, a full service provider called ‘Hawaiian Airlines’, which flies between Hawaii and North America, Asia and the South Pacific. There are also many other airlines that fly direct to Honolulu from across the world, giving you plenty of options to find cheap flights to Hawaii and start planning your own dream vacation in Hawaii.
We recommend staying in Waikiki so you can be where all the action is, though if you want a more relaxing vibe, head up to the North Shore. We also suggest hiring a car, which makes it much easier to get to all the best places, and there are plenty of cheap and convenient options both at the airport and in Honolulu.
PS – Be Smart and make sure to check out this Hawaii Packing List as well, when you are planning your epic trip to Oahu in Hawaii.
Here are some suggestions for spending a week in the Hawaiian island of Oahu!
Day 1 – Waikiki
Open up your eyes on your first day in paradise, and get ready to ease into island life with a relaxing wander around beautiful Waikiki. Depending on where you are staying, make your way down to the waterfront and walk along the famous beach, have a swim, or take advantage of one of the many kiosks that offer beach lounges, stand up paddle boards or surf boards for hire. Also, consider getting a portable inflatable dock to increase the fun quotient. Make sure you keep an eye out for fish, turtles and even seals, who are known to frequent the beach (apparently they don’t mind the crowds!).
Once you’re full of sun and sea (never!), venture one street in to Kalakaua Avenue, which has all the shopping, markets, bars and restaurants anyone could need. This bustling street is the hub of Waikiki, and is often busy even late at night. Take your time exploring, visit one of the famous ‘ABC Stores’, say hello to the statue of Duke Paoa Kahanamoku (the man responsible for bringing surfing to the world) and enjoy the relaxed vibes of the open shopping centres, markets, restaurants and bars dotted along the main strip.
At the end of a long day exploring, relax with a drink under the big banyan tree at the iconic Moana Surfrider hotel (we recommend the ‘Lava Flow’).
Day 2 – Day trip to Kualoa Ranch
Time for some adventure! Head off in your car across the island to Kualoa Ranch (if you don’t have a car, they also offer hotel pick-up), a family owned ranch that offers a range of amazing and fun activities for kids, grown-ups and everyone in between. Visitors can opt for a movie-sites tour (the ranch has been the setting for many Hollywood films including Jumanji, Jurassic Park, King Kong and 50 First Dates), an ATV tour, horse riding, a beach cruise or an adventure jeep tour.
There are several packages that combine different tours and activities, and it is best to book early to get the best availability. Most packages also include a buffet lunch, and there is a great gift shop on site too, as well as several small exhibitions to peruse while you wait for your next activity.
If you’re not too exhausted after all the fun, have dinner at the amazing Duke’s restaurant (named after the man himself, Duke Paoa Kahanamoku) in Waikiki – make sure you book in advance for this one. There is often live music, and an incredible menu featuring the most delicious ‘surf n’ turf’ around.
Day 3 – North Shore
Get away from the bustle of Waikiki and head north…to the North Shore! Known for it’s incredible surf break, the beautiful North Shore is laid back and comprises a bunch of towns spread along the coast, with Haleiwa being the main hub for tourists. Along the way, stop in at the Dole Pineapple Plantation which – along with many, many pineapple plants – features a fun maze, and is also a great place to try delicious ‘Dole Whip’; the dairy-free pineapple gelato (which is so yummy, Disneyland have it at their parks!).
Haleiwa itself is full of cool stores and quirky cafes, and don’t forget to try the infamous shaved ice at Matsumoto’s (they have around 40 different flavours). If you want to check out the biggest waves, venture to the nearby Waimea Bay or Sunset Beach, home to the famous ‘Pipeline’ surfing competitions – though we recommend getting lessons before trying them yourself.
While you’re up that way, you can also visit the Turtle Bay Luxury Resort, which features in the film ‘Forgetting Sarah Marshall’ and has a much calmer beach to swim at, if you feel like a dip.
And don’t forget to try the famous garlic shrimp! Found only at the food trucks scattered throughout the North Shore, these delicious morsels are sought after by locals and tourists alike.
Day 4 – Get cultural at the Polynesian Cultural Centre
Time to get cultural! Rated as the number one tourist attraction on Oahu, the Polynesian Cultural Centre is about an hours drive from Waikiki (though they also provide hotel pick-ups, if you don’t have a car), but an absolute must-visit. Visitors can explore the culture, history and lifestyle of six Pacific Island nations, with each represented by their own ‘island’, where visitors can meet locals, see shows and engage in cultural activities – even paddle a canoe! There is plenty of fun to be had by everyone, and once all the different islands have been explored, grab a seat, relax and enjoy the evening shows, or get involved in a traditional luau.
If you choose to do your Luau elsewhere, there are many options for you to choose from – just make sure you choose one! A luau is a really fun and entertaining way to have a traditional Hawaiian experience…and we haven’t even mentioned the amazing food! Definitely an event for your stretchy pants.
Day 5 – Hanunama Bay
Up early today for a visit to beautiful Hanauma Bay, where you are surrounded by vibrant ocean life as soon as you enter the water.
The beach isn’t far from Waikiki (only around 15 minutes by car), and visitors can easily get a bus or even an Uber to the entrance if you don’t have a car. There are also tours that offer hotel pick-up and include snorkel equipment, if you don’t want to buy or hire your own. We recommend getting there around 8am, when it opens, as it can get very busy later in the day.
Upon arrival, you will be asked to watch a reef safety video before entering the beach, which takes roughly 10 minutes and teaches visitors about how to keep themselves and the reef safe while snorkelling. Once that is done, head down the hill to the sand, pick a spot and get your snorkel gear ready (you can bring your own, or hire it at the beach). There is an incredible display of brightly coloured fish, turtles, octopus and even seals in the bay, and it is easy to spend hours with your head under the water. Make sure you wear (reef-safe) sunscreen! Also, don’t forget to check out these Hanauma Bay Snorkelling Tips, to make the most of your Snorkelling Experience in Hanauma Bay.
Once you’re done making friends with the fishies, stop by the nearby Hālona Blowhole, where a natural formation causes sea water to blow metres into the air; check out the beautiful Waimānalo Beach, with its pristine sand and turquoise water; and continue on to the Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden. Many visitors will know it from it’s ‘insta-famous’ entrance, with it’s long driveway and mountain backdrop, but it is also full of gorgeous native trees, flowers and plants and well worth a visit. It’s a perfect way to relax after all that swimming, and it’s a great idea to bring a picnic (or grab snacks on the way) and eat amongst the banyans.
Day 6 – Pearl Harbour
No visit to Honolulu would be complete without stopping by Pearl Harbour. Only around 20 minutes drive from Waikiki (parking is free), there are also several tours available which offer hotel pick-up and include a guide for the day. The site became famous in 1941, when the naval base was subjected to a surprise bomb attack by the Japanese, which was the catalyst for the U.S to enter World War 2. The remnants of several ships, submarines and aircraft set the backdrop for visitors to absorb the events and history of the site and the military operations undertaken there.
There are five main historic sites to visit, including the U.S.S Arizona Memorial, the Aviation Museum, the Battleship Missouri, the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park and more. Visitors can choose to visit one, a few or all (totally up to you) of the sites, and there are plenty of interactive activities, films, exhibits and and actual battleships, planes and submarines to experience.
If you’re not exhausted by your jaunt into history, once you’re finished at Pearl Harbour head over to the nearby Ala Moana Centre, Waikiki’s premier, open-air shopping centre. With all the major department stores and brands as well as smaller boutique stores, this beautiful centre also has plenty of restaurants, entertainment venues and even a cinema.
Don’t miss a visit to the quirky, underground Japanese section, with a hawker-style food court, market-style stores, karaoke and arcade games, making you feel like you have somehow stepped straight into Tokyo.
Day 7 – Hike up Diamond Head
Start your final day off with a visit to an iconic Honolulu landmark – Diamond Head. An extinct volcanic crater that looms over Waikiki, visitors can hike up the side of the cone and are rewarded with breathtaking 360-degree views at the top. The hike can be reached from Waikiki either by walking (its around a 2.5 mile walk from the main street), or you can drive there and park at the entrance. It can be difficult in parts, but the entire path is paved and it is quite an easy – and very doable – hike, even with kids.
At the top, visitors can see all across Waikiki beach, as well as inside the crater itself. Take a moment to catch your breath, grab a photo and admire the amazing views before heading back down (don’t worry, the walk down is much easier). At the bottom, if you didn’t get a chance earlier, you can try ‘Dole Whip’ from one of the food trucks, and there are also several other options for hungry and thirsty hikers, like fresh pineapple juice or ice cream.
However, we recommend skipping the food trucks and heading straight to Leonards Bakery (you’ve earned it) only a few miles away, to try the famous ‘Malasadas’ which are traditional Portugese doughnuts (without a hole), filled with a range of delicious flavours which change weekly. The store (which retains its vintage fifties charm) has been an institution in Honolulu since 1953, and now people are known to queue down the street for these delicious puffs of pastry.
Once you’ve eaten your fill, we recommend doing some last-minute shopping at the Waikele Premium Outlets, which offer a bunch of top fashion, homewares and beauty brands at significantly discounted prices. And we mean significantly discounted – sometimes up to 90% off. It’s a great place to pick up some last minute gifts, or treats for yourself (go on, you’re still on holiday).
Where to stay in Oahu – Hawaii ?
Hawaii is an incredible destination, and if you’re lucky enough to visit we hope you enjoy every second! It is hard not to, in this magical place, and we bet you’ll be itching to go back as soon as you leave.
We hope you found this 7 Day Oahu – Hawaii Travel Itinerary, to be of help to you, as a reliable Travel Resource for planning your Trip to Oahu in Hawaii. Don’t forget to Pin these images, and save this One Week Hawaii Travel Itinerary, for future travel planning.
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