A Smart Oahu 4-Day Itinerary

Take advantage of the best Oahu has to offer without sacrificing too much of your aloha along the way.
Carissa Rawson
By Carissa Rawson 
Honolulu hawaii resort waikiki beach in afternoon sun.

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Heading to Hawaii is a dream for many, whether you’re looking to island hop or spend your days lounging on the beach.

If you have limited time for an Oahu vacation itinerary, look no further. We’ve crafted the best four days so you can make the most of your visit here.

Day 1: Enjoy a luau

We’re assuming you’ve just arrived for day one, and since Hawaii is far-flung, you’re probably not arriving in the morning (unless you caught the redeye). This means your first day on Oahu is going to be short.

Factor in transportation from the airport, checking in to your accommodations and unpacking for your stay, and you’ll likely only want to have evening scheduled activities — if any.

Happily, Hawaii is renowned for one evening activity in particular: the luau. These not-to-be-missed shows often include big dinner spreads, dancers and cultural performances. Even if you’ve seen one before, each luau experience is unique.

If you’re staying at a larger hotel, odds are that they’ll have their own specialized luaus for you to attend. Otherwise, you can check out Hawaii’s tourism website to find one near you.

🤓Nerdy Tip

Hotel chains such as Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott and IHG all have hotels on Oahu. Redeeming your hotel points for a stay here can save you a bundle of cash on your stay.

Day 2: Visit museums and memorials

Oahu is the island where the Pearl Harbor attack took place and where many remains of the event are located.

A visit to the memorials is a must-do, including the Pearl Harbor National Memorial museum, Battleship Missouri Memorial and the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial. At each one, you’ll be able to learn about what took place and how it spurred the U.S. into entering World War II.

The U.S.S. Oklahoma and the U.S.S. Utah Memorials are also available for a visit. However, they’re located on an active-duty military base and thus require advanced reservations.

Visiting the Pearl Harbor National Memorial is free for all visitors, but on busy days it's recommended to make a reservation to ensure entry.

Day 3: Hike Diamond Head State Monument

If you’ve spent any time looking at photos of Hawaii, you’ve probably seen an image of Diamond Head State Monument. This iconic crater is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Hawaii and can be visited by the public daily.

The monument is administered by Hawaii’s Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of State Parks. Comprising 475 acres, most visitors take advantage of the 0.8-mile historic hiking trail leading to the summit. Although it isn’t long, the trek involves 560 feet of elevation gain over a short distance, making it very steep.

Non-residents need to make both parking and entry reservations if they’d like to visit. Last entry to the trail is at 4 p.m.

Day 4: Tour the island by car

Oahu is home to Hawaii’s state capital, Honolulu, and is one of its busiest islands. With a total population of nearly 900,000 residents, much of the island feels more cosmopolitan than others nearby. Don’t let the numbers fool you, however. Oahu is still a great mix of beaches and shops.

Renting a car is one of the best ways to tour Oahu, since you’ll be free to move around on your own. Depending on how you do it, a round-trip drive around the island of Oahu can take anywhere from four to eight hours, though you’ll want to budget extra time for spontaneous stops, too.

If you don’t have a car, it’s still possible to tour the island, though you may not be able to visit everything in a single day. Check out Hawaii’s tourism website or inquire at your hotel to find out what types of tours are available and plan from there.

🤓Nerdy Tip

Confirming that any tours you book can pick you up from your accommodations will help make the excursion much less stressful.

If your flight leaves on the fourth day, you may not have much time to dedicate to touring the island. If this is the case, you may want to consider swapping your tour to day three instead.

It’ll be a busy day, but you’ll be able to spend time visiting everything you’d like to see. This leaves day four to grabbing a bite, packing, picking up souvenirs and catching your flight at the airport.

Four days in Oahu, recapped

There’s no such thing as spending too much time in Oahu. If we had the opportunity, we’d be embracing island life full-time. Alas, most of us aren’t that lucky. While four days may seem short, it’s still more than enough time to take advantage of the best Oahu has to offer.

Our four-day Oahu itinerary is designed to get you out and exploring the top experiences in Hawaii’s capital island — without sacrificing too much of your aloha in the process.

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