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Oahu Botanical Garden and mountains on a rainy day, Hawaii

Itineraries for Your Trip to Oahu

Oahu locals share their perfect days.
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1 Day on Oahu for First Timers

Curated by Leah Still Jolla freelancer with a specialty in travel writing.

With one day on Oahu, you might want to spend all your time on the beach and in the water. But if the history, culture, and natural attractions in and around Honolulu also appeal, there are several ways to explore—and still have some time for fun in the Hawaiian sun. Here are our favorite options for one day in Oahu.


During the cooler morning hours, head up to the top of Diamond Head crater on a guided tour for prime views of Waikiki and the Pacific from this state monument on Oahu’s southern tip. Alternatively, join a leisurely bike tour of Honolulu that includes stops in Chinatown and at Aloha Tower. Both are morning tours, allowing you to enjoy the rest of the day how you wish. If you’re set on visiting Pearl Harbor as quickly as possible during your one day, take a half-day tour that starts at the monument.


After lunch, when you’re ready to relax and cool off, Oahu’s white sands and blue waters beckon. Waikiki and other island beaches offer a variety of water activities that will keep you and the family entertained. Fly high above the ocean on a parasailing ride, try out a submarine scooter, experience a water-powered jetpack, or take a snorkeling catamaran cruise to look for Hawaiian marine life. If you’d rather skip the beach, book a ticket on the Waikiki hop-on hop-off trolley to do some sightseeing at your own pace with easy transportation.


Take advantage of the idyllic tropical island setting on a dinner cruise. You’ll have a prime location to watch the sunset, sip a beverage on the boat deck, and enjoy a unique perspective on Oahu: from the water. Alternatively, for something specifically Hawaiian, opt for a luau experience, where you can watch the sunset from the beach; dine on local fare like kalua pig, poi, and pineapple slaw; and enjoy Polynesian-style cultural performances by hula and fire-knife dancers. Convenient pickup and drop-off in Waikiki make it easy to attend a luau.

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