🏝 5-7 Day Oahu Itinerary: Plan the Perfect Vacation in 2024

Oahu itinerary blog cover image. Text overlaying a photo of a young woman in a bikini on white sand framed by a palm tree silhouette with turquoise ocean lapping at the beach.

Having a well-prepared 5-7 day Oahu itinerary will help you make the absolute most of your time on an island so amazing that you will never want to leave!

With only a week in Oahu, every second is precious. Those are seconds you could be exploring Jurassic Park, sunbathing beside sea turtles, sipping drinks with umbrellas, and living in a real-life postcard.

The 5-7 day Oahu itinerary presented in this Hawaii travel guide is designed for flexibility of interests. In other words, it is meant to help you plan the perfect vacation no matter what your version of perfect means!

In it, you will find suggested ways to spend each day, discover the best things to do on Oahu, where to stay, and other pertinent information for planning your Hawaiian vacation.

All prices and information are accurate as of December 2023.


🍍 Quick Overview of Your 5-7 Day Oahu Itinerary

While each day of your 5-7 day Oahu itinerary has been assigned to specific regions and activities, understand that these are mostly flexible.

As unforeseen conditions such as rain or sold-out tours can affect things, we have strived to make the days interchangeable.

Before you start going through the photos and daydreaming of the wonderful places you will discover, you must first decide where you want to stay!

Establishing home base(s) affects everything from drive times to costs and potentially transportation options.

If you only have 5 days on Oahu, you should spend them all in one location. For most visitors, that location is going to be Waikiki or Honolulu.

If you have 7 days on Oahu, consider adding 1-2 nights on the North Shore to experience the unique vibes and pace both sides of the island have to offer.

More information on both of these options will be explained in the “Where to Stay” section below.

7-Day Oahu Itinerary Overview

A girl in a red dress walking up the road at the entrance to Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden in Oahu.
  • Day 1 & 2: Arrive & Explore South Shore (Waikiki / Honolulu) 
    Waikiki Beaches, Diamond Head, Pearl Harbor, Hanauma Bay, Downtown Honolulu
  • Day 3: West Side Day Trip (Leeward Side)
    Ko’olina Lagoons, Electric Beach, Makaha Beach, Keawaula Beach, Ka’ena Point
  • Day 4: Southeast Coast Day Trip (Windward Side)
    Koko Head, Southeast Coast, Kailua, Lanikai Beach, Lanikai Pillbox
  • Day 5Road Trip to North Shore
    Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens, Kualoa Ranch, Kualoa Regional Park, Kahana Bay, La’ie Point
  • Day 6: North Shore
    North Shore Beaches, Waimea Valley, Food Trucks, Shark Dive, Surfing
  • Day 7: Central Oahu & Depart
    KōHana Distillers, Coffee Farms, KΕ«kaniloko Birth Stones

With 7 days on Oahu, we recommend dividing your accommodations between Waikiki (5 nights) and the North Shore (2 nights).

Maintaining the proposed itinerary while staying in one location the entire time is absolutely possible. However, by staying in two different locations, you will reduce your drive time and experience more of Oahu.

5-Day Oahu Itinerary Overview

For 5-day Oahu itineraries, we recommend staying in Waikiki for your entire vacation.

Your itinerary will be very similar to above, but we recommend a few small changes.

The first is taking a day at the beginning and end of your trip to explore the South Shore, rather than two at the beginning. Also, condense your visit to the North Shore to just a day trip and skip Central Oahu altogether.

With this in mind, your 5 days in Oahu would look as follows:

  • Day 1: Arrive & Explore South Shore
  • Day 2: West Side Day Trip
  • Day 3: Southeast Coast Day Trip
  • Day 4: North Shore Day Trip
  • Day 5: South Shore & Depart

🌴 The Best 5 – 7 Day Oahu Itinerary

It would be impossible to see and do it all with only 5-7 days on Oahu, but this itinerary will get you close!

The island is perhaps the most diverse of the Hawaiian islands, offering city, beaches, culture, nature, and outdoor activities. It, therefore, attracts the most diverse range of travelers with unique preferences.

Rather than a rigidly structured Oahu itinerary, below is a breakdown of suggested areas to spend each day and a list of the best activities to consider nearby.

Only you know your preferred pace and interests, so it is up to you to decide which appeals most and construct your personal itinerary accordingly. Don’t worry, we’ve provided links and options to simplify things!

β˜€οΈ Day 1 & 2:
South Shore (Waikiki/Honolulu)

View over Waikiki and Honolulu from Diamond Head hike on a 5-7 day Oahu itinerary
Soaking in the views of Waikiki and Honolulu from Diamond Head.

At no cost to you, we receive a small amount for any bookings made using the links below.

We’ve combined days 1 and 2 to give you plenty of time to unpack, adjust, explore locally, and get into the aloha spirit.

As you will have just arrived and may still be adjusting to the time zone, we recommend keeping your first daylight. Head to the beach, relax with a cocktail in hand, and get into vacation mode.

With that said, we appreciate some of you may prefer to hit the ground running!

There’s plenty to do on the South Shore for everyone, from spectacular pristine beaches to high-end shops, world-class museums and art galleries, and incredible hikes.

If you have only 5 days on Oahu, we recommend exploring this area during your first and last day.

⭐️ Pro Tip: The all-inclusive Go City Pass is an excellent option for exploring Oahu. It gives you access to many popular attractions at a great price. We found it particularly useful for the Waikiki area, where we rented bikes, joined a snorkeling tour, and ended with a sunset sail, all with a one-day pass!

South Shore Suggested Things to Do

View looking over Hanauma Bay with Koko Crater in the background and the reef visible beneath the surface of the ocean.  Snorkeling here is a must on a 5-7 day Oahu itinerary.
Snorkel the best reef in Hawaii at Hanauma Bay.

Explore Waikiki’s Best Beaches

  • Kahanamoku Beach/Hilton Hawaiian Village
  • Fort Derussy Beach Park
  • Royal Hawaiian Beach
  • KΕ«hiō Beach
  • Queen’s Beach
  • Sans Souci Beach
  • Kaimana Beach

For Adventure Lovers: Best Tours and Activities

For Arts and Culture Admirers: Best Museums & Historic Sites

Aerial view of Pearl Harbor in Oahu Hawaii
Visit Pearl Harbor National Memorial and Museums.

For Shoppers: Best Malls and Centres

  • Ala Moana Center
  • Luxury Row
  • Royal Hawaiian Center
  • Kahala Mall

* Activities above with an asterisk can be done without a tour. However, pre-booked permits or tickets are required for each.

If you cannot get reservations for these activities, you may wish to consider booking a tour that will take care of all required permits and often also including transportation, a guide, and food. You can explore tour options for each below:

πŸ– Day 3:
West Coast Day Trip (Leeward Coast)

Ko'olina Lagoons on the Leeward Coast (West Coast) of Oahu on a 7 day Oahu itinerary, showing a sandy crescent beach with aqua colored water and palm trees
Make time to stop by Ko’olina Lagoons during your week on Oahu, particularly for those with kids.

Having taken some days to explore the beautiful Oahu South Shore, it’s time to venture a little further afield. The west coast (aka Leeward Coast) of Oahu provides a striking contrast from the Waikiki region.

Despite being just a short drive from Waikiki, it feels like a completely different island. Gone are the high rises and hustle and bustle of the city. Instead, you’ll discover spectacular beaches that feature the Waianae Mountains as the backdrop and far fewer people around.

Day 3 Overview

A Google Map view of the Day 3 itinerary with a drive up the west coast of Oahu.

Day 3 will be a coastal road trip focused primarily on hitting the beaches and ending with one of Oahu’s best luaus.

If you are a family with kids, this may mean packing a cooler and spending most of your time at Ko’olina Lagoon’s or Pokai Bay’s child-friendly beaches. For the adventurers, it will probably mean a dozen stops as you play west-coast beach bingo.

Keawaaula Beach is the end of the road… literally. The total drive time from Waikiki to this furthest point is about 1 hour and 15 minutes.

We recommend driving the Farrington Hwy all the way to Keawaula Beach first, then working your way back down the coast.

Finish the day at Chief’s Luau or Paradise Cove Luau, considered two of the best luaus on Oahu, on your way back to Waikiki.

West Coast Stops & Suggested Things to Do

An aerial view of Pokai Bay Beach on the Leeward Coast (West Coast) of Oahu with the Waianae Mountains in the background
Pokai Bay Beach is is the most protected beach on the leeward (west) coast of Oahu with mostly calm waters year-round.

West Coast Beaches

  • Keawaula Beach (Yokohama Beach)
  • Mākaha Beach
  • Papaoneone Beach
  • PōkaΚ»Δ« Bay Beach
  • Māʻili Beach
  • Kahe Beach (Electric Beach)
  • Ko’olina Lagoons

Tours and Activities

If you are the type of person who needs more than just beaches and want to include a bit of hiking or touring in your itinerary, the following activities are the most popular in the Oahu west coast region.

White sandy beaach in Ka'ena Point State on the leeward coast of Oahu
Hike through Ka’ena Point from Keawaula Beach.
  • Feast on local cuisine and learn more about Hawaiian culture at either Chief’s Luau or Paradise Cove Luau – two of the best luaus on Oahu!
  • Spot dolphins and whales on a cruise from Wai’anae Harbor.
  • Hike to the sacred Ka’ena Point, Oahu’s westernmost point and bird sanctuary.
  • Play a round of golf at Ko’olina Golf Club – a championship course.

🏝 Day 4:
SouthEast Coast Day Trip (Windward Coast)

The East Coast (aka Windward Coast) of Oahu is also very different from the South Shore. In fact, the diversity in landscape from one region to the next is one of the things that makes Oahu so special.

As you traverse the coast, you will notice a drastic change in scenery. Vibrant greens and lush, tropical rainforest prevail along the windward coast.

This side of the island is also home to some of the best beaches of Hawaii.

Day 4 Overview

A Google Map view of Oahu itinerary day 4 showing the loop drive along the southeast coast

We recommend driving this route as a loop. Begin by taking the Kalanianaβ€˜ole Hwy (H1) along the coast, then make your way back to Waikiki via the scenic Pali Highway.

This will be the easiest route and means the majority of our recommended stops will be easy to pull into on your right.

Alternatively, those who don’t mind moving hotels will save a lot of time and gas by booking one night’s accommodation in Kailua. This will allow you to start your road trip to the North Shore on Day 5 without having to backtrack all the way to Waikiki, and will give you more time for the stunning nearby beaches.

For those that prefer some driving guidance and narration, you may enjoy this East Oahu Audio Tour.

⭐️ Pro Tip: During the winter months, keep your eyes peeled at each of the coastal lookouts for migrating humpback whales that commonly frequent ocean channels through the region.

Southeast Coast Stops & Suggested Things to Do

Landscape photo with a tall palm over vibrant turquoise water and white sand at Lanikai Beach, the best beach in Hawaii on the island of Oahu.
Lanikai Beach is arguably the best beach in Hawaii and an essential on your Oahu itinerary.

Southeast Coast Beaches

  • Hālona Beach Cove
  • Sandy Beach
  • Makapu’u Beach
  • Sherwood Beach
  • Waimānalo Beach Park
  • Lanikai Beach
  • Kailua Beach

Scenic Viewpoints

View from the scenic Makapu'u Point during 7 days in Oahu
  • Watch plumes of water head skyward at Hālona Blowhole.
  • Marvel at the otherworldly landscape and watch for whales at Lanai Lookout.
  • Stop by Makapu’u Point for breathtaking views over the Pacific and towards Koko Head.
  • Pull off at Nu’uanu Pali Lookout for sweeping vistas over Kaneohe, Kaneohe Bay and Kailua.

Tours and Activities

Two people kayaking from the offshore Mokulua Islands in Oahu
Kayak to the offshore Mokulua Islands.

🍹 Day 5:
Road Trip to the North Shore

With a 7 day Oahu itinerary, you will have time to explore the northern part of the East Coast as you make your way up to the North Shore. Along the drive, you’ll discover epic Jurassic Park-like landscapes and breathtaking scenery.

If you have only 5 days on Oahu or are planning on staying in one hotel for the entirety of your visit, you will want to condense days 5 and 6 into a day trip to the North Shore. This will free up an extra day for whatever else appeals to you most!

Day 5 Overview

A Google Map view of Oahu itinerary day 5 showing the drive along the east coast to the North Shore

You will want to get an early start to Day 5 for a fun road trip adventure along the East Coast toward the North Shore.

The total drive time from Waikiki to the North Shore will be around 1 hour 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on where along the North Shore you end your day.

Time and interest permitting, we highly recommend spending your final two nights on the North Shore. This will allow you to become immersed in the unique experience that two very different parts of the island provide.

From Waikiki, take the H3 highway to the east shore to begin your day at Ho’omaluhia Gardens. This road is perhaps the most scenic on all of O’ahu, providing awe-inspiring views of the KoΚ»olau Range as it splices between the stunning green mountainscape.

⭐️ Pro Tip: If you want one of the iconic photos from along the entrance road into Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens (seen above), you will only be permitted to get them prior to the park opening.

North Shore Road Trip Things to Do

The incredible beauty of the Oahu east shore is on display here at Kaaawa Beach with palm trees and mountains and golden sand shoreline, a must see on a 7 day Oahu itinerary

Beaches along the Northeast Coast

  • Kualoa Beach
  • Ka’a’awa Beach
  • Kahana Bay Beach Park
  • La’ie Beach (Pounders Beach)

Tours and Activities

Visiting Jurassic Park at Kualoa Ranch is a must-see on an Oahu itinerary
  • Become immersed in tropical plants at Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens.
  • Find a moment of serenity at Byodo-in Temple.
  • Stop at HeΚ»eia State Park for a picnic with the views of Kāneβ€˜ohe Bay.
  • Take a tour of Jurassic Park at Kualoa Ranch.
  • Admire Mokoli’i Island (Chinaman’s Hat) from Kualoa Regional Park.
  • Kayak on the Kahana River and admire views of the coast.

🏝 Day 6:
Oahu North Shore

A turtle looks up at Laniakea Beach on the Oahu North Shore in front of clear water and breezy palm trees.

No Oahu itinerary would be complete without a trip to the North Shore! Whether you follow our suggested 7 day Oahu itinerary and spend a couple of nights here or just take a day trip, the North Shore is a must-see.

It is a world-renowned surfer’s paradise, famed for its laidback vibes, massive waves, and incredible beaches. In fact, there are fifty-one beaches that stretch for more than 11 miles along this incredible expanse of coastline.

The historic surf town of Haleiwa is the cultural hub of the region and a great place to spend a couple of nights. Here, you’ll find boutiques, art galleries, and restaurants housed in plantation-era buildings.

During the summer, the water is typically calm and the beaches are ideal for swimming and snorkeling. However, be aware that if you’re visiting in the winter (Nov-Apr), the waves can be extremely dangerous, even for experienced swimmers and surfers.

North Shore Suggested Things to Do

Banzai Pipeline Surfbreak (Ehukai Beach) on the North Shore of Oahu

North Shore Beaches

  • Turtle Bay
  • Kawela Bay
  • Sunset Beach
  • Banzai Pipeline (Ehukai Beach Park)
  • Shark’s Cove
  • Three Tables Beach
  • Waimea Bay Beach Park
  • Laniakea Beach
  • Haleiwa Beach Park

Water Activities

Other North Shore Tours and Activities

Waimea Falls in Waimea Valley on the North Shore of Oahu, surrounded by lush green vegetation
  • Explore the lush rainforest at Waimea Valley and swim at Waimea Falls.
  • Learn about Hawaiian culture at Toa Luau in Waimea Valley.
  • Meander through the historic town of Haleiwa.
  • Watch local ‘honu’ (green sea turtles) basking in the sun on Laniakea Beach.
    Please give them plenty of space. They don’t want to be poked or distrubed while resting any more than you do. Plus they’re legally protected.
  • In the winter months, watch a surf competition at one of the three iconic surf breaks; Sunset Beach, Banzai Pipeline (Ehukai Beach Park), or Waimea Bay.
  • See the North Shore from new heights soaring across Oahu’s longest ziplines.
  • Indulge at one of the North Shore’s abundant food trucks.
  • Go on a hike and admire the views along the β€˜Ehukai Pillbox Trail.

πŸ›« Day 7:
Central Oahu & Departure

Central Oahu is primarily agricultural, meaning very few attractions are designed for tourists.

With that said, you will have to drive back through Central Oahu from the North Shore to get to the airport anyway.  If you have the time, you may want to stop at some of the following attractions. Alternatively, don’t feel bad if you choose to simply drive through and use your free time to relax on the North Shore until departure.

For those that have opted to stay in Honolulu for all 5-7 days on Oahu, your final day is open to fill with whatever activities sound best to you!

Whether that’s collecting last-minute Hawaii souvenirs, getting one last shave ice or poke bowl, heading out on a final hike, or just relaxing on the beach with your toes in the sand, make the most of your last few precious moments on Oahu.

Central Oahu Suggested Things to Do

  • Taste rum made from native Hawaiian sugarcane at KōHana Distillers.
  • Pick up some local coffee and take a tour at Green World Coffee Farms.
  • Stroll through the quiet, tropical wilderness at the Wahiawā Botanical Gardens.
  • Take a journey back to the early 1900s at Hawaii’s Plantation Village.

πŸ₯Ύ Extra Hikes & Family Activities

There are a few other activities you may wish to consider adding to your itinerary. These have not been included within our 5-7 day Oahu itinerary as they are too much of a detour for most. However, they may appeal to your personal preferences.

For keen hikers, you may wish to consider the following hikes:

  • Waimano Falls Trail
  • Manoa Falls Trail
  • Ka’au Crater Trail

For those visiting Hawaii with kids, consider adding the following:

  • Coral Crater Adventure Park
  • Wet’n’Wild
  • Hawaiian Railway

🩴 Places to Avoid on Oahu

There are a few popular tourist attractions on Oahu that you may have noticed are missing on our itinerary. These have been intentionally avoided due to ethical reasons. Of course, we encourage you to look into each further and decide whether to visit based on your own feelings.

  • Polynesian Cultural Center – Despite touting the preservation of Polynesian culture, it is owned by the Mormon Church and we feel uncomfortable recommending it when there are clear missionary overtones.
  • Sea Life Park Hawaii (Ka Moana Luau) – Due to the Sea Life Park offering hands-on animal tourism and continued captive dolphin encounters, we cannot ethically recommend visiting.
  • Dole Plantation – The Dole Plantation profited from the destruction of the Hawaiian monarchy, which was largely tied to the Dole family. The tour today does little to acknowledge the displacement of Native Hawaiians and the darker history of the plantation.
  • Stairway to Heaven – This hike has been illegal for over 30 years, but recently it was unanimously voted by Honolulu City Council to remove the stairs entirely.

🌎 Map of Oahu Points of Interest

The interactive map of O’ahu below shows all of the points of interest that are mentioned in this itinerary, color-coded and grouped by region. 

Click here or on the image to open the Google map in a new tab.

Map of Oahu showing all the points of interest during a 5-7 day Oahu itinerary

πŸ› Where to Stay on Oahu

Choosing where to stay is perhaps the most important decision you will make when planning your Oahu itinerary.

Undeniably, Waikiki is the most popular choice. In fact, it is home to over 90% of the accommodation options on the island! However, it isn’t for everyone.

Depending on the type of Oahu vacation you want, you may wish to consider staying on the North Shore or Kaneohe/Kailua (Southeast Oahu).

View of Waikiki Beach in Honolulu and Diamond Head in the background as seen from a high rise hotel.

For 7 Day Oahu Itineraries

For those with one week on Oahu, carefully consider the option of dividing your time between South Oahu and the North Shore.

While it is possible to visit the North Shore on a day trip, spending a couple of nights here allows you to truly experience a very different part of the island with its own unique vibe.

For those who are comfortable staying in multiple locations, it’s also worth considering booking one night in Kailua (on day 4, specifically). This will allow you to spend more time in the Kailua region and to start your road trip to the North Shore immediately, rather than backtracking all the way to Waikiki only to drive back out the next day.

For 5 Day Oahu Itineraries

With just 5 days in Oahu, most visitors will want to stay in one place for the duration of their trip. If this is the case, the best place to stay will be Waikiki/Honolulu.

However, those who prefer less touristy locations may prefer Kaneohe/Kailua. This is another central option and makes for a good home base from which to explore.

As time is limited on a 5-day vacation, we typically recommend choosing to stay all 5 nights in one of these areas to avoid the hassle of having to check out, repack and settle into a second home.

Waikiki/Honolulu (South Oahu)

Waikiki is a beachside neighborhood within the broader Honolulu city in South Oahu Region.

In addition to boasting the most accommodation options for all budgets, Waikiki also caters most to tourists. You’ll find incredible dining, over 20 shopping malls, protected swimming areas, ample nightlife, frequent local shuttles and buses, and the best weather on the island. Additionally, you’ll find most tours pick-up and drop-off in Waikiki or Honolulu.

The downsides to staying here are the large crowds and the feeling of being in a city, rather than a tropical island.

Kaneohe/Kailua (Southeast Oahu)

A female swimmer plays on Lanikai Beach under a palm tree on a 14 day Hawaii itinerary in Oahu.

On the Southeast (Windward) Region of the island, Kaneohe and Kailua provide some respite from the hordes of tourists. Expect to find more vacation home rentals than hotels, however, as this is primarily a residential area.

As you might imagine. these small beach towns offer fewer dining and entertainment options than Waikiki. However, the ample amenities of Honolulu / Waikiki are only 30 minutes away so you can still enjoy a fun or romantic night out.

Besides being quiet and off the beaten path, the east shore region is also home to the best beaches on Oahu.

North Shore (North Oahu)

Aerial view of Turtle Bay on the North Shore of Oahu Hawaii

The North Shore is known as a mecca for surfers, particularly during the winter months. As such, you’ll find chill, laidback vibes here and more food trucks than restaurants.

Staying on the North Shore can be a good option in the summer when the ocean is calmer. However, the winter waves are often too big for swimming, especially for families traveling with children.

Aside from the world-famous Turtle Bay Resort, the accommodations along the coastline from Haleiwa to Turtle Bay are mainly vacation home rentals and B&Bs.

πŸš— Getting Around Oahu

Drone photo of the H3 highway of Oahu as it curves into a tunnel between lush green mountains.

Traveling Oahu by Car

To make the most of your 5-7 days on Oahu, we strongly recommend renting a car.

While it is possible to get around Oahu with a combination of public transport and tours, having a car allows you to see far more, and to do so at your own pace.

Rental cars are typically an affordable $30-$50 per day. However, it is worth keeping in mind when that most hotels in Waikiki charge $35-50 per night for parking as well.

Traveling Oahu by Public Transportation

Oahu has excellent transport within Honolulu, and an extensive network beyond.

The island’s bus system, aptly named ‘The Bus’, covers most of the island of Oahu. Some things to note are as follows:

  • Times between buses range from 6-60 minutes depending on the route.
  • The standard adult fare is $2.50, but visitor passes are also available for multi-day use. Single fares are payable in cash only.
  • Luggage is NOT PERMITTED on the bus.
  • Find more information including routes and schedules to popular attractions on The Bus website.

For transportation in Waikiki and nearby attractions, the Waikiki Trolley is also worth considering. They have only three lines but they connect with most major attractions and also offer tickets for unlimited rides over a certain number of days. Find out more and book your tickets in advance here.

If you’re comfortable cycling, another affordable option in Honolulu is Biki bike share. There are 130 stations located all over the city where you can pick up and drop off bikes. Learn more on the Biki bike share website.

While public transportation is great on the island, with only 5-7 days on Oahu, you may still want to consider renting a car or taking a tour, particularly for attractions outside of Honolulu, to avoid longer bus journeys and wait times.

Traveling Oahu by Uber/Lyft

Rideshare apps such as Uber and Lyft are also available, but these get expensive quickly, particularly if you’re looking to get further outside of Honolulu. For example, a trip to Hanauma Bay or Pearl Harbor will cost around $30 each way.

Traveling Oahu by Tour

The majestic green mountains of Oahu seen on a 7 day Oahu itinerary.

If you prefer to have all the details taken care of, or if you just enjoy tours, then there are a number of incredible day tours and multi-day tours all over the island. It is strongly encouraged to pre-book tours in advance for all the activities you want to do to avoid disappointment for sold out events.

For those who plan on booking tours, you will want to choose a hotel or resort in Waikiki or elsewhere in Honolulu as this is the primary area tour companies pick up from.

🧳 Packing for a Week In Oahu

Snorkel gear is packed for a week in Oahu

Disclosure: At no cost to you, we receive a small amount for any purchases made using the links below.

We have created this complete guide to packing for Hawaii with downloadable and printable checklists, as well as 25 inventive and helpful items to improve your time on the islands.

If you just want the essentials, here are some things that you will want to consider taking with you to Oahu:

  • Camera: O’ahu is an incredibly beautiful island and you’ll want to capture many moments. We use the Sony a7riii and love it. However, beginners may wish to consider an entry level DSLR to start with.
  • Waterproof camera: With incredible snorkeling and waterfalls to explore you may find yourself taking more photos from underwater than on the land! We recommend the GoPro or Olympus TG6, both of which we use.
  • Reef-safe sunscreen: Hawaii is the first state to require the use of reef-safe sunscreen. We use Stream 2 Sea sunscreen as it’s reef-safe and most of their bottles are made from sugarcane resin rather than plastic.
  • Beach towel: You will want to take a towel with you for use at the beach. We always have a travel towel with us as they are small, dry quickly and don’t collect sand.
  • Hiking shoes: Oahu has some amazing hikes! Hiking sandals are the ideal choice as they keep your feet cool and can also be worn in the water.
  • Reusable water bottle: We don’t travel anywhere without a reusable water bottle. Remain hydrated without wasting single-use plastic bottles! Most restaurants and hotels will refill bottles for you.
  • Snorkel gear: If you’re planning on doing a lot of snorkelling while in Hawaii, it may work out cheaper and easier to bring your own snorkel and mask and fins than renting them each day. For example, rentals at Hanauma Bay alone are $20. You can also buy these items as a snorkel set which works out cheaper still.
  • Mini first aid kit: Whether out hiking or just on the beach, we always have a mini first aid kit in our bag, just in case.

✈️ Traveling to Hawaii in 2023

Turquoise waters and white sand beach surrounded by black lava rock as sen by airplane when traveling to Hawaii

Impact of 2023 Wildfires in Maui

Much of the island of Maui was tragically impacted by wildfire in August 2023. However, the island has been completely open since October 8, 2023, with the lone exception of Lahaina which will remain closed indefinitely.

Domestic Travel to Hawaii

There are no current domestic restrictions for domestic flights to Hawaii. Additionally, the REAL ID enforcement date has been pushed back to May 7, 2025 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

International Travel to Hawaii

For those traveling from international destinations with direct flights to Hawaii, you will only need to follow federal requirements for international visitors to the USA. There are no additional State of Hawaiβ€˜i requirements.

As of May 12, 2023, visitors to the U.S. no longer need to show proof of a negative test or proof of being fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

You will need to ensure you either have a valid ESTA or visa for entry.

🌺 Oahu Itinerary FAQs

🏝 How many days should I spend in Oahu?

5 days on Oahu is enough time to see all the main highlights with a well-planned itinerary. However, we would recommend at least 7 days on Oahu is ideal, if possible, to allow some beach days between the sightseeing – you are on vacation in Hawaii after all!

🍹 Is 5 days enough for Oahu?

Oahu is a reasonably small island. The drive time between Waikiki on the South Shore and Haleiwa in the North Shore is approximately one hour. With a well-planned itinerary, 5 days on Oahu is enough time to see all the main highlights.

πŸ– Is 7 days in Oahu enough?

A 7-day Oahu itinerary is perfect for seeing all the main highlights on the island, as well as allowing time for relaxing beach days.

🌴 How can I spend a week in Oahu?
  • Day 1 & 2: Arrive & Explore South Shore (Waikiki / Honolulu) 
    Waikiki Beaches, Diamond Head, Pearl Harbor, Hanauma Bay, Downtown Honolulu
  • Day 3: West Side Day Trip (Leeward Side)
    Ko’olina Lagoons, Electric Beach, Makaha Beach, Keawaula Beach, Ka’ena Point
  • Day 4: Southeast Coast Day Trip (Windward Side)
    Koko Head, Southeast Coast, Kailua, Lanikai Beach, Lanikai Pillbox
  • Day 5Road Trip to North Shore
    Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens, Kualoa Ranch, Kuaola Regional Park, Kahana Bay, La’ie Point
  • Day 6: North Shore
    North Shore Beaches, Waimea Valley, Food Trucks, Shark Dive, Surfing
  • Day 7: Central Oahu & Depart
    KōHana Distillers, Coffee Farms, KΕ«kaniloko Birth Stones
πŸš— What is the best way to get around Oahu?

The best way to explore Oahu is by car, allowing you the flexibility to explore at your own pace. Public transport within Honolulu is good, and there is an extensive network beyond. However, you will find yourself tied to timetables and restricted to locations. For those that prefer everything to be taken care of, booking tours on Oahu is a great way to get around.

🏎 How long does it take to drive around Oahu?

It is not possible to drive a full loop around Oahu as there are no connecting roads between the west and north shores, requiring an inland commute between them. However, the drive time from Waikiki on the South Shore to Haleiwa on the North Shore is approximately one hour.

β˜€οΈ What is the best month to visit Oahu?

The best months to visit Oahu are April, May, September, and October. During these shoulder seasons, the weather is ideal and there are fewer tourists meaning a lower demand for accommodation and tours, as well as fewer crowds.

🌦 Is there a rainy side of Oahu?

The windward (north and west) side is considered the rainy side of Oahu, seeing an average rainfall of around 40 inches. The leeward (south and east) has the better year-round weather with only 17 inches of annual precipitation as it is protected from inclement weather by the Ko’olau Range.

πŸ– What is the most beautiful part of Oahu?

The entire island of Oahu is beautiful with natural wonders ranging from rugged mountains to pristine white sand beaches. Some of the most beautiful places on Oahu include:

  • Lanikai Beach
  • Kualoa Ranch
  • Koko Crater
  • Diamond Head
  • Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens
  • Makapu’u Point
  • Lanai Lookout
  • Laniakea Beach
  • Ka’a’awa Beach
  • Hanauma Bay

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Final Thoughts on the Perfect Oahu Itinerary

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The two of us work very hard to create these free travel guides to help you plan your dream vacation. If you think we’ve done a good job and would like to say thanks, please consider clicking the donate button below πŸ™‚

We truly hope you have found this Oahu itinerary useful as you plan your dream vacation to Hawaii.

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Written by
Adam Marland is a professional travel blogger and landscape photographer from Oregon. After over a decade of experience as a freelance travel photographer, Adam found national acclaim when he became the National Park Foundation's β€œChief Exploration Officer” in 2021.

12 thoughts on “🏝 5-7 Day Oahu Itinerary: Plan the Perfect Vacation in 2024”

  1. I love itineraries like this that include so many outdoor activities in nature..and with such a beautiful, it’s a must! thanks for the inspiration

  2. Such a good itinerary for Oahu, will definitely use it when I get to visit the island. I probably would opt for the 7 day itinerary, so I get to see as much as possible of the island.

  3. Wow, thank you for such a thorough guide about Oahu! I appreciate the notes on different timings, distances and types of vacation, it really helped me think about what we’d like to do. It’s pretty overwhelming knowing where to start with our planning! This guide is amazing!

  4. I love how you give plenty of activities for each day with details for each one! But the flexibility you have built-in is so helpful as well. I love to plan everything to the minute, but all the while knowing that we will have to flex or pivot at some point. With your itinerary that is super easy to do. Thanks!

    • What a lovely thing to say Meggie! We are truly grateful for the kind words and its nice to know we’ve dialed it in well. Balancing down time while not missing out on everything is so hard to do, so its nice to read things like this πŸ™‚

  5. Thank you for this itinerary! We visited Oahu in 2019 but didn’t have plans so we were all over the place. We want to visit again and now I’ll use your tips. Great post!


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