Ready for a sun-kissed tan? To break the waves and do nothing on strips of sand?
This Hawaii holiday is bringing you a wholesome 7-day Oahu itinerary of sun and fun.
While you’re at it, make sure to discover royal birth sites, explore plantation farms and learn about how the wider world edged the way onto this peaceful island.
You can opt to loop the island – it takes around 4 hours of flat driving, which easily turns into a meandering one-week road trip in Oahu.
Or, simply take day trips out to each district from Waikiki! It’s only a 35-minute drive from Honolulu to North Shore if you cut right down the middle.
Aloha Honolulu! From Bishop Museum’s historical mutterings to being starry-eyed on Diamond Head, today’s about that crucial first impression. Waikiki Beach cinches the deal with soft sand, superb surfs and scrumptious seaside eats.
It’s time to steep in history with Central Oahu. Start sweet with the Dove Pineapple Plantation and work your way towards the more somber Pearl Harbor memorials.
It’s either more unwinding in nature or energy up at amusement parks! Whatever you choose, don’t forget to step on a final sunset cruise.
One week in Oahu seems hardly enough when all you want to do is live the slow life.
Still, from the moment you land at Daniel K. Inouye International Airport to the moment you bid Honolulu farewell, your Oahu stay will be fantastic.
Park your luggage at downtown Waikiki – every 7 day Oahu itinerary begins in the city of Honolulu.
The first thing to do is educate yourselves on the city you’re in. The brown bricked façade of Bishop Museum sure is pretty, but nothing beats an actual tour inside.
This place has been lecturing visitors about Hawaiian history and traditions since 1889, with live lava demonstrations and a celestial planetarium show.
Be sure to grab prepaid admission tickets or risk long lines!
If you prefer to learn through art, the Hawaii State Art Museum is just a short walk away. The pieces are about Hawaii by Hawaiians – local stories told with an aesthetic eye.
Honolulu Museum of Art (HoMA) is a 50,000 art piece alternative.
Ready for early refreshments? Ala Moana Center treats you to four levels of upscale shopping and dining, all within a stunning white building.
Before you’re swept away by the high-end brands at Luxury Row mall, stop by Fort DeRussy Beach Park for the first of many oceanfront dwellings.
People watch from the picnic tables and grills, or join the masses along Fort DeRussy Beach.
From there, take a bus or cab up to the Diamond Head Trailhead. Since the gates close at 4:30 (last entry), you’ll want to save sunset watching on the beaches instead.
The hike up this iconic crater isn’t long at all.
All the huffing and puffing is worth it the moment you get to the summit – the panoramic views will have you shouting “Woah!”
Waikiki Beach, the indisputable icon of Hawaii, is backed by a row of luxury resorts.
The gently curving bay is a surfing mecca, but you’ll be blasted with a myriad of sights – outdoor music events, hula dancing, and a lot of camera posing.
Just steps away are:
For a slightly more low-key sunning sesh, walk past the 9-foot tall Duke Paoa Kahanamoku Statue to reach Kuhio Beach.
The water here is more shallow and family-friendly; scattered statues and public art keep things lively.
To look back onto Waikiki Beach, stroll to the tip of the ‘Walkway into the Ocean’ – it’s a beautiful sunset and fireworks watching spot.
Treat yourself to ocean view dining; it’s your first night after all.
You can’t go one week (maybe not even a day) in Oahu without snorkeling at least once. Today’s a day trip out of downtown Waikiki so you can enjoy coral reef access!
Start off with a Hanauma Bay snorkeling tour – you can either make your own way there or enjoy round-trip transportation with hotel pick-up.
While most volcanic craters can look devastating, this Oahu landmark has opened up a stunning underwater world.
Tropical fish dart in and out of vibrant coral reefs; experienced scuba divers can further explore its depths.
To enjoy lunch and sights, hop aboard a catamaran to fulfill those romantic dreams… of turtle spotting.
One of Oahu’s most popular activities is a Turtle Canyon Cruise, where you can snorkel alongside green sea turtles – maybe even spot migrating whales and jumpy dolphins!
When you’re done wining and dining with your new turtle friends, return to Waikiki in time for sunset.
Hit up Chinatown and browse Oahu Market. Trinket shops and tea shops are plenty; there’s also an Art Walk every month.
If you’re in town the first Friday of every month, special exhibits and open houses are the name of the game.
Finish off your day with dinner at the Royal Hawaiian Center. With any luck, you’ll catch a cultural performance (like hula dancing) while eating at one of the 100 restaurants on-site.
Cruising down the Windward Coast is on any itinerary for Oahu – who wouldn’t dream of quiet towns nestled between mammoth mountains, just steps away from the beach?
Those road-tripping the coast will have the dreamiest stay, waking up to the hushing draw of the ocean.
As you leave Honolulu, make a stop at Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden. Aptly named “a peaceful refuge”, it spans 400 acres of verdant estate.
A melting pot of plants, you’ll see Melanesian, African, Polynesian, Hawaiian, Malaysian and more botanical collections.
It’s literally a breath of fresh air.
Departing the scenic Pali Highway, Kailua Beach opens up into 2.5 miles of white sand.
The warmer temperatures of the Eastern shores and protective reef make it a great spot for windsurfing and paddleboarding.
Try to spot Moku Nui, Moku Iki and Flat Island!
Lanikai Beach has a distinct family vibe – it’s the classic sunny strip, calm waters and palm trees combo. Come here for more beach photo ops or for a quieter space to rest. It’s an idyllic picnic spot.
While you’re in the Kaneohe Bay area, ready your heart for some lights, camera, action!
The 1-hour Kualoa Ranch movie tour is highly recommended.
Totter onto the vintage school bus (which amps up high school nostalgia) for a riveting ride past the island’s most stunning locations.
Mokoli’i Island, Ko’olau Range, and Kaneohe Bay are just some of the many film locations – see if you can make out the sets for Pearl Harbor, Lost, Hawaii Five-O, and the Pirates of the Caribbean!
Much further down the coast is your final and most culturally important attraction of the day: the Polynesian Cultural Center.
It’s a theme park and living museum combined, the property separated into various recreated villages.
You can witness wedding ceremonies, spear throwing, sample traditional cuisine, and even learn to fish with bamboo poles. There’s plenty of hands-on learning involved!
Either hunt down a nearby eatery or enjoy a traditional luau at the cultural center.
Dedicate the day to exploring the North Shore, known for its range of mountainous and water activities. Make sure to pack lunch with you since you’ll be out on beaches all day.
For irony’s sake, make Sunset Beach your first destination of the day!
Color bleeds into day in reverse as you push off into the waves for a refreshing morning surf.
This 2-mile stretch is famous for its big waves – surfers flock here during winter season to catch those curls.
Dust your feet well before embarking on the Ehukai Pillbox Hike. Short but steep, this hike is best done in comfort.
Keep an eye out for WWII “pillbox” bunkers along the way to the summit, which gave this hike its name.
Shark’s Cove, doesn’t in fact, house sharks. What it’s home to is tidal pools, darting fish shoals, and one of the top shore dives in the world. The way the blue fades into green in this protected cove is just lovely.
Not too far away is Waimea Valley, the portal to the famous Waimea Falls. The hike is paved and mostly flat, winding through gardens and historical sites.
As the tallest waterfall in Oahu, this foliage-surrounded pool is not to be missed!
Adjacent is the Haleiwa Farmers Market in case you get in a nibble-y mood.
Laniakea Beach might as well be officially branded Turtle Beach – you’ll see these green-shell loungers plodding across the sand during the summer. Spend an hour or two making some new friends in shallow waters.
If you’d rather have someone else take care of all the details for you, you can also sign up for an all-inclusive, full-day tour of the North Shore.
70% of your time will be allocated to snorkeling, kayaking and swimming at North Shore beaches, as well as a short hike to a waterfall.
The remaining 30% is dedicated to sightseeing the cool sites where Jurassic Park, Jumanji and 50 First Dates were filmed.
Speaking of new friends, you can meet the more ferocious types too. Bet you didn’t expect to see some sharks in your itinerary for Oahu, huh?
This incredible 2-hour shark dive experience plays out like this:
Leeward Coast, also known as Waianae, is mostly untouched by tourism thanks to its isolated nature and dead-end road. Yet – the sparkling coast has plenty for you to enjoy!
Start your day where Leeward meets the North Shore: Ka’ena Point State Park.
A seabird sanctuary lined with a rocky coast, it’s not just a birdwatcher’s paradise but a prospective whale spotting spot too!
If you’re visiting from November to March, take the walking trail out for a glimpse of these gentle giants.
The rocky ocean floor extends towards Keawaula “Yokohama” Beach to spoil you with snorkeling ops. The beach itself is also expansive, so prop your umbrellas up for a morning snooze if you’d like.
The west side isn’t just blessed with white-sand beaches; it also serves world-class surf pumps at Makaha. Combined with the backdrop of mountains? Instant hangout favorite.
By lunch, you’re probably slightly tuckered out.
Enjoy fresh produce at the Makeke Wai’anae Farmer’s Market for some Hawaiian classics or dine at the Kahumana Farm Café instead.
Either way, lunch is farm fresh and organic.
When you’re ready for calm waters and lazy beach lounging, lay down your beach towel at Nanakuli Beach.
The highlight of the day actually takes place when light fades.
The Paradise Cove Luau is an experience – a welcome Mai Tai leads into succulent kalua pork, daily seafood catches, and fresh greens. The extensive menu blends Hawaiian cuisine with continental influences.
Traditional dancers take to the stage; hula dancers shimmying to the beat before professionals twirl fire to up the heat.
Pad it with the warm sunset glow and the magical 5.5-hour luau flies by.
Return to your hotel, well-fed and well-entertained.
Rise with the sun and head straight to the most northern attraction in Central Oahu, slowly making your way back towards Honolulu.
First up is the Dole Pineapple Plantation. Plantations were once the heart of Hawaiian trade; a key historical figure!
As you’re digesting the history of Dole Plantation, wander through the world’s largest pineapple garden maze (Guinness Book of World Records approved).
Coffee lovers will want to check out the coffee fields north of here to purchase some premium quality roasts as well.
Nearby Kukaniloko Birthstones State Monument is a historical facet no one expects to see – a royal birth site back in the days.
It’s hard to imagine giving birth anywhere but hospitals or cozy rooms; 180 stone pieces arranged within the growth of eucalyptus and coconut trees prove that safety and tradition can look very different in the past.
Continue your worship of nature with the Wahiawa Botanical Gardens.
Tropical flora flourishes among lush ferns. Cradled by a 25-acre ravine with Wai’anae and Ko’olau mountains towering above, this rainforest garden is literally a hidden gem.
After a quick bite in Wahiawa, cross Lake Wilson and head to the Tropic Lightning Museum.
We’re entering the war-themed portion of the day; this museum showcases artillery guns, vehicles, and other wartime artifacts.
Either join a guided Pearl Harbor tour that brings you to every major war memorial and touchstone, or check off the Pearl City attractions on your own time:
Alternatively, if you lean towards natural history and not war history:
Just a few ticks left and your 7-day Oahu itinerary is coming to a close. Choose between basking in Hawaii’s natural riches or enjoy its lively, manmade fun zones.
OR, families with kids may want to spend the afternoon in adventurous bliss instead.
Round off your trip with the sweetest treat – a sunset cruise offshore from Honolulu. Since it is only 1.5 hours (sadly), you have plenty of time after to grab an early dinner and pick up last-minute souvenirs.
Return to Waikiki speechless, in awe, and dream about re-doing your one week in Oahu all over again.