Explore the hidden secrets of Oahu Island. Here is a day itinerary for you to plan a perfect trip to Oahu
The vast majority of visitors to O‘ahu stay in Waikiki. It’s where you’ll find the lion’s share of all resorts. It’s on the world famous Waikiki Beach. It’s the home of a zillion restaurants. And it’s where the government originally decided they wanted visitors to stay. Yeah, there are a couple of exceptions. One resort out in Turtle Bay near the northern tip of the island. It’s a nice place on a pretty cove, but you are a captive of the resort because there are few dining options nearby (mostly in Kahuku). And east of Waikiki is the Kohala Resort. It’s also by itself and on a nice beach. It’s quiet and pricey and there are additional restaurants not too far away.
Download the App
One Day in Oahu
If you don’t want to walk great distances whenever you want to experience what Waikiki has to offer, the best location is on the ocean side of Kalakaua Avenue between Saratoga Avenue and the Waikiki Beach Center. The area around the Royal Hawaiian and the Moana Surfrider hotels is usually considered to be the center of Waikiki life.
Where to stay in Oahu
This list may assist you in planning what to bring. Obviously, you won’t bring everything on the list, but it might make you think of a few things you may otherwise overlook:
If you’re looking to spend the day at a beach, don’t feel compelled to bring everything with you from the mainland. Hawai‘i Beach Time (808-585-1474) rents everything beachy you can think of—from umbrellas to kayaks, beach chairs, surfboards, hammocks, etc. And their prices are fairly reasonable. Spend $50 or more and they’ll deliver it all to you anywhere on the island, for free.
What to Bring
Two bathing suits
Shoes—flip-flops, trashable sneakers, water shoes, hiking shoes
Shorts and other cool clothing
Camera with lots of storage
Light rain jacket and sweatshirt or light coat for some occasions.
Junk clothes for bikes, hiking, etc.
Mosquito repellent for some hikes. (Those with DEET seem to work the longest).
Hiking sticks (carbide-tipped ones work best here)
Cheap, simple backpack—handy even if you’re not backpacking
Hat or cap for sun protection
Reef-safe and water-resistant sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher)
Mask, snorkel and fins
One Day Itinerary
Now that you’re at your ideal resort and have everything you need for a day in Oahu, including the Hawaii Revealed app, it’s time to get started! Your day begins at 7am with a quick bite of breakfast, before exploring the best of what Oahu has to offer.
2. Early Morning Diamond Head Hike
Diamond Head is that iconic volcano crater that defines the Honolulu skyline. And just like the Statue of Liberty in New York, the St. Louis Arch and San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge, you’re practically required to visit it.
It’s crowded at the top—it wasn’t designed to accommodate more than 3,000 hikers per day—so you may have to wait your turn. But once you’re at the 761-foot summit, it’s all worth it.
Waikiki looks beautiful from up here. With line-of-sight stretching from Barbers Point almost 20 miles west to Koko Crater 9 miles behind you, it’s easy to see why the military bought this landmark—it’s the perfect place to watch over all of leeward O‘ahu.
3. Morning Visit to Coral Crater Adventure Park
What would you do if you owned a 35-acre hole in the ground, the result of an abandoned military quarry that’s overgrown with trees and generally unloved? Turn 10 acres of it into an adventure park and team-building location, of course.
The zombie tour is like an escape room on steroids. You have to make your way through a makeshift military outpost, search for keys and door passcodes, find an antidote and rescue someone, all while killing zombies with a laser M4 (that actually recoils) and then zip line your way back to safety—in the dark.
These are real zombies (well, during work hours—we don’t know what they do when they’re off the clock—they reportedly used Boy Scouts in the early days because they didn’t have enough employees), and when you see (and hear) them come out of the forest at night, it’ll creep you out.
4. Lunch at Hau Tree Lanai
You ain’t gonna get out of this cheap, so let’s get that out of the way. Their location is next to San Souci Beach at the extreme southeast end of Waikiki in the New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel across from Kapiolani Park. This puts them away from the more hectic part of Waikiki with beautiful views of their beach.
The lanai is dominated by enormous low-hanging local hau trees, which make beachside/railing tables very cool, but tables farther back have more telescopic views of the beach and ocean. This is an old-time restaurant, and a lot of people have eaten under these hau trees. Lunch brings the best views.
The food is simply excellent. The level of care that goes into the ingredients is obvious, and the results will not disappoint. At lunch, sandwiches are along the lines of furikake ‘ahi burgers, Reuben sandwich, grilled Portobello mushroom and burgers, as well as a tasty shrimp scampi and those delicious benedicts, are also available.
5. Afternoon at Kailua Beach
This lovely 2.5-mile stretch of delicious sandy beach fits nearly everyone’s profile of a beautiful tropical paradise. This is one of the best beaches on the island to simply stroll along as the waves splash your legs.
Four different offshore islands beckon the adventurous. And Kailua rarely gets the monstrous 30-foot surf that pounds the North Shore (see Banzai Pipeline in our app, if you’re curious about what we mean).
The swimming, boogie boarding and bodysurfing at Kailua are phenomenal when conditions cooperate—which is most of the time. Snorkeling isn’t worth your time, thanks to the runoff from Enchanted Lake and the Kawainui Canal.
6. Late Afternoon at Bishop Museum
The most comprehensive museum in the state is filled with thousands of historically and culturally significant artifacts, including the feathered cape worn by King Kamehameha the Great. There’s also a real lava demonstration two times a day in the science center.
The museum was established by the husband of Bernice Pauahi Bishop, the last descendant of King Kamehameha the Great, to preserve and perpetuate the legacy of the Hawaiian monarchy, so there’s a noticeable bent to the way some of the histories are described. But overall, the collection does a good job of showcasing the state’s heritage.
Priceless royal heirlooms sit side by side with more common items like lava poi pounders and bone fishhooks. Other items on display include carved wooden tikis and a feathered representation of the war god Kuka‘ilimoku, as well as a real grass hut, shark’s tooth-studded weapons that were used to disembowel unsuspecting enemies, jewelry, a 55-foot sperm whale skeleton, and a conch shell that’s more than 600 years old and worn from generations of Hawaiians who rubbed it while blowing through it like a bugle.
7. Dinner and a Show at Ka Moana Lu‘au at Sea Life Park
Of the Lu‘au options that require travelling, Ka Moana Lu‘au at Sea Life Park is the closest. The grassy grounds are tucked into the Ko‘olau mountain range on the east side of the island, about a 30-minute drive from Waikiki.
There’s a simple stage with a long canoe, and behind that, you’ve got a commanding view (until the sun goes down) of the ocean and two offshore islands. Great setting, but remember: this is the windward side of the island, and sometimes that breeze can get chilly in the evening, so bring a jacket.
This is a more affordable sister-program to Waikiki’s Diamond Head Lu‘au. Both shows are entertaining and feature lots of dancing and a (so-so) fire-knife display, but the menu here is standard Lu‘au fare, and it’s a little more gourmet there. But the food is decent, and the pork isn’t too salty.
They’ve also got more room here to spread out—there’s plenty of space to wander around the grounds and check out the pre-show activities like lei-making, headband weaving and learning how to play various instruments, making this Lu‘au feel less processed than most of the others.
Hawaii Revealed App
That’s a lot of activities to choose from on Oahu! But we didn’t stop at simply reviewing the resorts, restaurants and activities. We’ve organized them based on prices, regions, and loads of other unique filters in one app. If you wanted to know more information, such as which resorts have an outdoor lanai, which restaurants have live music, and which activities need half a day or more, we’ve catalogued all of that information on our app, which you can filter through.
We have the same custom maps found in the book on our app, only now you can zoom in and quickly see what’s nearby, then tap on the activity to read more. The maps will also show you the distance between a resort and an attraction, making it easy to plan your Hawaii trip.
You can also find the following in our app:
- Sights Information including their location, pricing, contact details
- Adventure activities and their reviews
- A planner to save your favourites spots
- Maps to view nearby activities, resorts, restaurants and more
Download the Hawaii Revealed app to see all the real gems and not to be missed sights on the islands.
Download the App
Plan your Oahu Vacation with our Hawaii Revealed App
Check out our new Hawaii Revealed app with everything you need to know about where to stay, including unbiased reviews, restaurants, and activities. Download the app for free on iOS to get previews of the best-selling Hawaii travel guides in the palm of your hand. Choose in-app purchases for full access to details on each island.
Download the App
Copyright © 2019 Wizard Publications INC. All rights reserved.