This beautiful Hawaiian island has so much to offer including mountains, waterfalls and beaches. So here’s my perfect 5 day Oahu itinerary.
How To Get Around Oahu
Oahu is the third largest of the group of Hawaiian islands, measuring roughly 44 miles by 30 miles. So, depending on what you want to see whilst you are there, there are a few of the options –
If you want to explore the whole island at you own pace, then the easiest way is to rent a car.
The two main rental locations are Honolulu Airport and Waikiki where you will find plenty of rental car companies to choose from.
If you are not intending on travelling too far or there is a group of you to share the expense, a taxi is a good option.
Used in most larger towns in Hawaii, Uber, Lyft and Holoholo are ride-sharing apps that enable you to hail on-demand private drivers and may be a little cheaper than taxis.
The cheapest way to get around the island is by bus and Oahu has a good public bus service. It may take you a little longer but you can get to most locations on the island by bus. An adult day pass is approximately $5.50.
A bit more expensive than a bus, the Waikiki Hop-on Hop-off Trolleys are a fun way to get around. They cover three different areas –
Takes you through various stops in Waikiki and to the Ala Moana shopping centre.
Takes you to the city arts district with stops at Iolani Palace, the Honolulu Museum of Art and the King Kamehameha statue.
Takes you along the coast, with stops at Diamond Head, the Sea Life Park and Halona Blowhole.
If you are planning a few trips by trolley, the Waikiki Trolley Hop-on Hop-off 1, 4 or 7-Day All-Line Pass is good option to save some money.
For those short on time, or that prefer everything to be organised for them, there are some awesome tours on Get Your Guide available to book in advance.
For all tourists in Oahu the Oahu: Go City All-Inclusive Pass with 40+ Experiences is as a great way of saving money.
Best Time To Visit Oahu
Oahu is beautifully warm all year round, however it does have a winter and summer season.
Summer runs from May to October, with temperatures usually peaking in August and averaging at around 30°C.
So the perfect time to visit the Waikiki beaches to catch some sun as well as do some surfing. With swells sometimes reaching up to 5 feet along this stretch of coast at this time of year.
Having said that, winter, which runs from November and lasts until April, is still really warm with temperatures staying in the mid 20°s. You will get some rain but it’s still pretty dry compared to a lot of places.
Just for you information, Hawaii’s hurricane season also falls in the summer. BUT the last hurricane to hit Hawaii was back in the early 1990s, so it is a rare occurrence.
Remember, this is just a guide, so you may want to mix it up and add/subtract different attractions.
What To Pack
5 Days In Oahu Itinerary
Explore Waikiki Beach
Waikiki Beach is one of the most famous beaches in Hawaii and is the perfect place to start your 5 day Oahu itinerary.
Stretching over 3km, the soft honey coloured sand is backed by palm trees and boasts beautiful, turquoise blue water. This is surely as close to paradise as it gets!
Apart from the famed surfing, you can enjoy a variety of water activities including swimming, snorkelling and the increasingly popular, paddle boarding.
Rated one of the top things to do in Waikiki. A mixture of surfing and paddling, paddle boarding is a great activity for all ages.
And with Waikiki said to be the place where paddle boarding originated, where better to give it a go?
Or, if you would prefer a more relaxing way to enjoy the water there are plenty of boat trips like the Afternoon Glass Bottom Boat Tour in Waikiki. With lots of colourful fish and magnificent sea turtles to look out for this is great tour.
Of course, plenty of people just enjoy relaxing on the beach and soaking up some sunshine. Sun beds and umbrellas are available to rent for this chilled activity!
In addition, when you are ready for a break from the beach, you can wander the short distance into Waikiki and explore everything that is on offer there. Including some great eateries and plenty of trendy shops.
Two very different hikes that are equally awesome and short enough to fit into one day –
Manoa Falls Hike
Located about 11km north of Honolulu, this 45m waterfall is one of the most stunning on the Island of Oahu.
If you fancy a guided tour, Manoa Falls Waterfall Hike with Lunch and Transfers will give you all the info as well as lunch!
Once you get to the start of the trail, you follow a mostly shaded path up the rainforest valley. It takes about 30/40 minutes of steady climbing to reach the base of the waterfall.
The views are amazing as you climb up through the ‘jungle’ path. You are surrounded by banyan, eucalyptus and guava trees, along with plenty of bamboo and pretty tropical flowers.
The flow of water is not massive but it is, nevertheless, a beautiful waterfall that cascades down 45m through its lush jungle surroundings, into a static pool at the base.
By the way, if you feel like you could be in a Jurassic Park Movie, you’re not wrong. Some of the jungle scenes for the famous 1993 movie were shot in this area!
Diamond Head Hike
Sitting prominently on the edge of Waikiki’s coastline, Diamond Head is the most iconic volcanic formation in Hawaii. Formerly used as a military reservation it is now a State National Park.
The Diamond Head Hike is one of the most popular hikes in Hawaii due to its uniqueness and stunning 360 degree views once you reach the summit.
Although it can be quite challenging, the actual hike is only about 1.3km to the summit at 171m. Taking about 30-60 minutes, depending on your levels of fitness.
With paths, a long tunnel and lots of stairs, this hike has varied terrain with plenty of amazing views along the way. (You will find some benches along the route to catch your breath if needed.)
When you finally reach the viewing deck, the panoramic views are breathtaking. From Waikiki to Waianae, the Pacific Ocean and the Ko’olau Mountains, you can see for miles!
If you prefer everything to be arranged for you Diamond Head Hike with Roundtrip Transportation is perfect.
Located just over 32km from Waikiki, a day trip to the popular Kualoa Ranch is a perfect activity for day 3 of your Oahu itinerary.
This private nature reserve and working cattle ranch stretches over 4000 acres. It’s home to secret beaches, secluded gardens, hidden valleys and majestic mountains.
With its dramatic vistas, Kualoa Ranch is probably most famous for being the location for a multitude of films and TV series. Including, Jurassic Park, Lost, Hawaii Five-0 and many more.
There’s a large selection of activities available each day at Kualoa Ranch including, film location tours, farm tours, sailing and horse riding. As well as zip lining, Secret Island Adventures and much more.
This is a very popular tourist destination, so make sure you book in advance for your visit. (The Go City All-Inclusive Pass with 40+ Experiences includes 1 Kualoa Ranch activity per day.)
Explore The North Shore
Hiring a car and taking a road trip to the amazing Oahu North Shore is a great option for day 4 of your 5 day Oahu itinerary. This is the perfect trip to escape the hustle and bustle and relax for a while.
Located approximately 48km from Waikiki, it’s an easy drive up through the centre of the island. With plenty of pretty spots and food stands to stop at along the way.
North Shore encompasses a 27km coastal area. It’s famous for surfing, snorkelling and 51 beaches that stretch over 17km along this stunning coastline.
With its towering 12m waves in the winter months, it’s a firm favourite with professional surfers. With many world class surfing competitions take place here during this season.
Stop off at a few beaches along the way and make sure to grab the famous North Shore shrimp at some point.
During the summer months, when the waters are a lot calmer, it is a great spot for gentle surfing. As well as snorkelling, swimming and relaxing beach days.
Also, this is another location that you might recognise from films such as Lost and TV series Hawaii Five-0 and Baywatch!
If you prefer not to drive, you can visit the North Shore and other iconic spots in Oahu with the Full-Day Island Sightseeing Day Trip by Bus.
Visit A Luau
Finally, on day 5 of your itinerary I recommend immersing yourself in the truly authentic Hawaiian experience of a Luau. A Hawaiian celebration dating back hundreds of years.
These traditional parties or feasts are held daily throughout the islands as a way to bring both visitors and residents together, to enjoy true Hawaiian hospitality.
They usually set up next to the beach around sunset and generally go on for about 3-4 hours. Daytime Luaus are also available if preferred.
You will be served a delicious buffet selection of local dishes such as kalua pork, poi, laulau, lomilomi salmon and haupia. As well as a variety of tropical cocktails to enjoy.
In addition to the the delicious food, there will also be some traditional Hawaiian entertainment usually in the form of story telling, hula dancing, lei making or Samoan fire knife dancing. As well as live music.
There are a variety of Luaus to choose from like Waikiki Sunset Luau. So have a look and get your ticket booked!
Where To Stay In Oahu
Just 4 miles from the Diamond Head Crater Park, the Sheraton Waikiki features two oceanfront pools, an adult-only infinity pool and Helumoa Playground featuring two fresh water swimming pools, and a 70 foot long water slide
Modern rooms feature a flat-screen TV and video games at Sheraton Waikiki. Rooms come with a private balcony, some with mountain or ocean views. In-room coffee and a work desk are also provided.
The Sheraton offers 4 on-site dining options, including Pacific Rim inspired RumFire, the Edge of Waikiki bar situated just above the ocean, a breakfast and dinner buffet featuring Hawaii’s locally grown products at Kai Market and Hapa’s Pizza.
Featuring an outdoor pool, free WiFi and all guest rooms include a refrigerator.
Guest rooms include a microwave, a TV with cable channels and pay-per-view movies, and air-conditioning.
An on-site restaurant is available at the Best Western The Plaza Hotel.
The hotel also provides a 24-hour front desk and a business center and is completely non-smoking.
The Pearl Harbor USS Arizona Memorial and the Missouri Center are 3.7 miles away from this hotel. Downtown Honolulu is 9.9 miles from the Best Western The Plaza Hotel.
Located on the southern coast of Honolulu Island, this hostel is one block from Kuhio Beach and the Honolulu Zoo. The Polynesian Hostel offers comfortable accommodations.
Polynesian Hostel Beach Club offers dormitory rooms where guests can meet other travelers. Private studios feature en suite bathrooms and kitchens.
The common room at Polynesian Beach Club provides a TV for entertainment. The hostel has Wi-Fi, barbecue equipment and laundry facilities.
Kapiolani Park, which provides tennis courts and soccer fields, is less than one mile from the Polynesian Hostel. Waikiki Aquarium is a 5-minute drive from the hostel.
For more places to stay in Oahu, you can check the latest prices on Booking.com.