7 Day Oahu Itinerary: Best Way to Spend One Week in Oahu

Table of Contents

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.

7-Day Oahu Itinerary at a Glance

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.

Enjoy two of Oahu’s favorite activities: snorkeling at Hanauma Bay and meeting some friendly sea turtles.
Wind up Windward Coast with some paddling at Kailua and Lanikai Beach, then go film set hunting with Kualoa Ranch. Don’t forget to brush up on your cultural lessons at the Polynesian Cultural Center.
North Shore covets the beaches and hikes, but the highlight is by far the shark dive experience.
You’re turning Westward today for a step back into the wild. Leeward Coast’s birdwatch sanctuary, pristine beaches and legendary Paradise Cove Luau is the pinnacle of your one week in Oahu.

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.

Map of the Itinerary for Oahu

map of 7 day oahu itinerary
(Click Map to Interact)

Day 1 - Arrive in Honolulu

Diamond Head Hike

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.

Visit the Museums

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.

Shopping in Honolulu

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.

Diamond Head

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!”

people at waikiki beach oahu sp
people at waikiki beach

Waikiki Beach

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:

  • Kalakaua Avenue – for boutique shops, cocktail bars and fine dining.
  • Honolulu Zoo – home to peacocks and Komodo dragons.
  • Waikiki Aquarium – exhibits reefs and energetic marine life.
  • Fancy hotels with splendid sea views – consider booking one!

Kuhio Beach

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.

Day 2 - Fun in the Sun

Hanauma Bay

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!

Snorkeling at Hanauma Bay

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.

Catamaran Cruise

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.

Souvenir Shopping & Dinner

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.

Day 3 - Windward Coast

Polynesian cultural center

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.

Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden

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.

Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens Oahu Hawaii sp
Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden

Kailua Beach

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

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.

Kualoa Ranch entrance sign hawaii
Entrance to Kualoa Ranch

Kualoa Ranch

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!

Polynesian Cultural Center

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.

DAY 4 - Oahu’s North Shore

North Shore, Oahu

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.

Sunset Beach

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.

Ehukai Pillbox Hike

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

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.

Waimea Falls

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.

Waimea Falls tropical waterfall in Waimea Valley park on Oahu
Waimea Falls

Laniakea Beach

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.

tip

Shark Diving

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:

  • Depart from Haleiwa on a scenic ride.
  • Gear up with masks and snorkels.
  • Your guide will give you a safety briefing – don’t stick your limbs out!
  • For 20 minutes, you get to admire these beautiful sharks (possibly dolphins and Humpback whales too) from inside the dive cage.
  • Come back up and admire them a bit longer from the boat.

Day 5 - Leeward Coast

Keawaula Beach

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!

Ka’ena Point State Park

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.

Keawaula Beach

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.

Grab Something to Eat

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.

Paradise Cove Luau oahu nl
Paradise Cove Luau

Paradise Cove Luau

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.

Day 6 - Central Oahu

Tourist train at dole plantation

Rise with the sun and head straight to the most northern attraction in Central Oahu, slowly making your way back towards Honolulu.

Dole Plantation

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.

Kukaniloko Birthstones

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.

Kukaniloko Royal Birthstones oahu
Kukaniloko Royal Birthstones

Wahiawa Botanical Gardens

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.

Tropic Lightning Museum

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.

Pearl Harbor

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:

  • Pearl Harbor National Memorial pays tribute to one of the most tragic losses in US history. It’s the resting place of 1,102 sailors after the Pearl Harbor attack in 1941.
  • Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum is a non-profit exhibition founded in 1999, mostly showcasing aviation used in WWII.
  • USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park commemorates lives lost in the war. It’s also one of the submarines open to public tours; drop by the visitor center for more information.
  • Ford Island (or Rabbit Island, coined for its shape) was once an ancient ritual site, then private estate, sugarcane plantation, and an army base – it has also been featured in some films!
  • Iolani Palace isn’t quite as involved in tragedy. It is, however, a symbol of Hawaiian independence, being the sole royal palace in the US that housed Hawaii’s last ruling monarchs.

Soak in Some Natural History

Alternatively, if you lean towards natural history and not war history:

  • Hike up Manana Ridge Trail or Waimano Valley Ridge Trail for the rock-fringed Waimano Falls. It’s a 3-mile walk, extremely popular, and your reward = a refreshing pool to swim in and a dramatic cascade for photos.
  • After cooling your feet, make your way to Hawaii’s Plantation Village for a taste of 1900s life. 25 buildings and homes have been recreated to model a day-to-day on sugar plantations – it’s an amazing classroom outside of history books.
  • Your smooth transportation back in time doesn’t end there; sign up for a 90-minute tour on the old Hawaiian Railway. The slow chug of this open train takes your pace down; if you doze off, the occasional bump will wake you up for those ocean views. Even if you pass up the narrative ride, the model tracks in the small museum are quite impressive!

Day 7 - Round Off the Bucket List

Manoa falls trail

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.

  • Among the most iconic craters in Hawaii is Punchbowl Crater. There are many tours on this long-extinct volcano, which houses a cemetery for war heroes.
  • Lyon Arboretum boasts 200 acres of tropical plants, water features and walking trails. The Cycad Forest showing-off ancestry that dates back to the dinosaur era. Other key points include the Ginger Collection, Vanilla Valley, Royal Palms and Haukulu Restoration Forest.
  • The Manoa Falls Trail is much loved, the one-hour trek leading you to a 150-foot waterfall. It connects to other trails in the Honolulu Makau Trail System.
  • Ka’au Crater Trail challenges you with a steep, jungle incline that circles around a crater. 3 waterfalls along the way will rejuvenate you enough to enjoy the ocean views.
  • Nu’uanu Pali Lookout is a historical landmark and a scenic spot that’s further out but extremely worth the journey! You’re hemmed in with coastal views on one side, mountain peaks on another, and Waikiki in the distance.
Nuuanu Pali Lookout View Oahu
Nuuanu Pali Lookout

OR, families with kids may want to spend the afternoon in adventurous bliss instead.

  • Hit up Coral Crater Adventure Park. This massive outdoor playground will have your inner Tarzan howling with glee! Imagine clambering up nets, swinging on knotted ropes, crossing floating platforms and zip lining among forestry. Don’t worry; there are plenty of attentive guides to lead you.
  • You could also splash around in Wet ‘n’ Wild Hawaii instead, where 29-acres of waterslides will ward off that Hawaiian heat. Chill away on your floats along the lazy river or be carried away by the wave pool. Concession stands are available for fuel-ups between all that screaming.

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.

  • Climb aboard the graciously named Haleiwa Queen catamaran.
  • Listen to stories about royalty, thriving agriculture and Waikiki as you cross Kewalo Basin Harbor.
  • Peer through the glass bottom for final underwater peeks.
  • Admire the golden rays that reflect off the Pacific Ocean and city skyline; framed by the majestic peak of Diamond Head.

IDEA

Return to Waikiki speechless, in awe, and dream about re-doing your one week in Oahu all over again.

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