Oahu is a booming and bustling island in Hawaii that is bursting with places to see and things to do. Though it isn’t my favorite Hawaiian Island, I do think it is a must visit! It is a great island to start with for a long Hawaiian vacation, and is a great transition from the bustling life on the mainland to life on an island. Start your Hawaiian vacation here then end it on a slower moving island like Maui or Kauai. 4 or 5 days is all it takes at most to see the highlights on Oahu, making it the perfect stop on the way to another island.
Making it the star of your Hawaii vacation? Just know, though beautiful, Waikiki is likely not what you imagine a Hawaiian paradise to be. Don’t say I didn’t warn you. But like I said, there are so many beautiful things to see and do on Oahu, and I’ve compiled them into a handy itinerary for help planning your Hawaiian vacation.
Check In to Hotel
After a long flight from the mainland, you likely won’t want to do much other than check-in to your hotel. Though for traffic reasons I recommend staying away from Waikiki, it is a hot spot for popular hotels.
If you’re staying near Waikiki, or if you aren’t, go ahead and knock out seeing this famous beach. Enjoy views of Diamond Head Crater and catch the sunset.
Start your first full day early, and head to the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument to see all of the sites at Pearl Harbor. I recommend getting there first thing, as it will be bustling with tourists very quickly. Visit the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial, U.S.S. Missouri Battleship, U.S.S. Bowfin, Pacific Aviation Museum, and more.
National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl Crater
Continue with remembering and honoring the fallen and our veterans with a visit to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. Located at Punchbowl Crater, an extinct volcano, the location is called Puowaina in Hawaiian, meaning “hill of sacrifice.”
Sunrise hike, day long hike, however you do it, enjoy a morning hiking Diamond Head State Monument. Hike the 300,000 year old crater for incredible views of Honolulu and the Pacific.
After your long hike, enjoy a relaxing evening catching a luau on the island. Enjoy roasted pig, pineapple, and spiked punch while watching and learning about the Polynesian culture.
After your long morning at Pearl Harbor, head north to admire the pineapple fields, and make a stop at the Dole Plantation. Enjoy pineapples galore at Dole. From trinkets to treats, pineapples are king here. P.S. It will be THE BEST pineapple you’ve ever had! So go ahead, have a bite!
From Dole, continue north to catch a wave on the Banzai Pipeline. Not into surfing yourself? That’s okay! There will be plenty of surfers for your own entertainment. Get lucky, and you may catch a surfing contest.
Polynesian Cultural Center
Enjoy a drive, and take the long way around to the Polynesian Cultural Center. Enjoy learning about various Polynesian cultures and watch a luau.
Wake up early to catch your last sunrise on Oahu.
Head Home or to a Neighboring Island
I personally hope you’re headed onward to another Hawaiian Island, but, if not, I hope you enjoyed your stay on Oahu.