While everyone loves a good vacation, almost no one likes planning it. Choosing where to eat, what to see, and when to do everything can be stressful and time-consuming. What if we told you that you don’t always have to do all of the planning? Below, we’ve created the ultimate 4-day Oahu itinerary so you don’t have to lift a finger! If you’d like even more local recommendations, be sure to check out our free Oahu Travel Guide. It’s packed with even more dining, shopping, and sightseeing recommendations!
Spend Your Days in Paradise: Your Curated Oahu Itinerary
Day One: Relaxing Beach Day
Morning: Breakfast on the Beach
Good morning and welcome to “The Gathering Place!” Whether you traveled from Los Angeles to Honolulu or flew in from Japan, we know you’ll be travel-weary and ready to relax on day one. That’s why we recommend kicking off your Hawaiian vacation with a long, lazy morning at the beach! You’ll love our island’s bright blue waters and stunning mountain scenery. The best part? When you stay at one of our beachfront vacation rentals, you’re just steps from your very own beach. Whip up some breakfast in your fully stocked kitchen and bring it down to the shore to enjoy with your loved ones.
Afternoon: Migrate to Turtle Beach
After your jet lag subsides, it’s time to see another one of Oahu’s incredible beaches. We recommend Turtle Beach, also known as Laniakea Beach. This beach is widely recognized as one of the best places on Oahu to see wild Green sea turtles in their natural habitat! Located on the North Shore in the small town of Haleiwa, Turtle Beach offers breathtaking views, plenty of sun, and once-in-a-lifetime wildlife encounters.
Evening: Catch a Jaw-Dropping Sunset
The perfect end to your beach day is, of course, catching a beautiful Oahu sunset! It’s nearly impossible to witness a “bad” sunset on Oahu, but we recommend heading to China Walls for a truly special one. It’s a stretch of lava-rock ledges and cliffs that hang above the ocean. Just off the beaten path of Koko Kai Mini Beach Park and nestled within a residential Hawaii Kai neighborhood, this spot offers panoramic views of the surrounding ocean. It involves a short, rocky hike, but it’s worth it—we promise. You might even see some cliff-jumpers along the way!
Day Two: Day (and Night) Out on the Town
Morning: Sea Life Park or Honolulu Zoo
Especially if you have kids in tow, spending a morning at Sea Life Park or Honolulu Zoo is a great way to kick off your second day on the island. Adults and children alike will love seeing exotic amphibians, birds, mammals, and reptiles from around the world. Sea Life Park opens every morning at 9:30 A.M. and the Honolulu Zoo opens at 9:00 A.M. Both are located on the “Town” side of Oahu (also known as the South Shore).
Afternoon: Stroll Through Ala Moana Shopping Center
While you’re on the South Shore, you need to make time to see the Ala Moana Shopping Center. Even if you don’t need a new designer purse, swimsuit, or timepiece, strolling through this massive mall is an experience in itself. Don’t miss the art displays, koi ponds, and fountains scattered throughout this open-air shopping space.
Evening: Waikiki Beach and Kalakaua Avenue
For most, it wouldn’t be a trip to Oahu without some time spent at Waikiki. If you’re thirsty for a night on the town, leave the kids back at the beach house (where they can play board or beach games with loved ones) and grab dinner and drinks on Kalakaua Avenue! This world-famous street runs adjacent to Waikiki Beach, so be sure to wander down for some after-dark beach fun. There are plenty of Oahu restaurants and bars here, so you’ll have plenty to nosh on.
Day Three: Go Off the Beaten Path (and Into the Ocean!)
Morning: Hike the Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail
The Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail in Waimanalo (on the East Shore) is one of the most popular Oahu lighthouse hikes. This short hike is just two miles round-trip! It’s also paved, making it more accessible for those with disabilities. The lighthouse, which was built in 1909, is still functional. Drinking water is not available on this hike and the trail is bathed in sun, so bring lots of water and sunscreen. We recommend tackling this adventure at sunrise due to cooler temperatures and a beautiful sunrise view!
Afternoon: Swim with Wild Dolphins
If you’re feeling hot and sweaty after your hike, there are plenty of ways to cool off on Oahu. We recommend taking a walk—or a swim—on the wild side by meeting some wild dolphins! Book a trip with Wild Side Specialty Tours, an environmentally friendly outfit captained by seasoned marine biologists. The best part of choosing this local company is that the captains know all of the best spots to swim with dolphins along the coast of Oahu! Six to 10 people can enjoy a dolphin-spotting charter together. Trips start at $175 per adult.
Evening: Savor a Low-Key, Local Dinner
Instead of buying into the pomp and circumstance of Waikiki restaurants every night, use day three as an opportunity to track down some delicious local eats. We highly recommend tracking down an Oahu food truck—like Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck—or a casual cafe like Haleiwa Joe’s. Try a Hawaiian delicacy you’ve never tried before!
Day Four: Experience Oahu’s Unique Culture and History
Morning: Hit the Honolulu Museum of Art
If you’d love to see some historic and truly inspiring Pacific artwork, you don’t have to travel to Asia to find it! Over 50,000 unique and valuable works of art are housed at the Honolulu Museum of Art. This constitutes the single largest collection of Asian and Pan-Pacific works in the United States!
Afternoon: See the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum
The Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum is a fantastic way for adults and children alike to learn all about how World War II shaped Hawaii. It’s located on historic Ford Island, an active military base, and can be reached via shuttle from the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center.
Evening: Attend a Luau at the Polynesian Cultural Center
When dinner time rolls around on day four, it’s time to immerse yourself in some of Oahu’s most exciting traditions. At the Polynesian Cultural Center, you’ll have the opportunity to participate in hands-on activities that represent Hawaii’s historically significant traditions. Dine like royalty at an authentic Polynesian luau and watch local performers put on an incredible show!
A private beach house is the absolute best place to stay on Oahu, especially for multigenerational families. Everyone will love having their own space to sit back, relax, and take in the beauty of the beach! At Hawaii Beach Homes, we’re committed to making your dream vacation a reality—without all of the booking fees found on travel agency sites. All of our properties on the North and SouthShores of Oahu are just steps away from the beach and offer premium amenities found nowhere else! We offer both small and large properties (up to 10 bedrooms!) perfect for everyone in your group.