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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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3 Days in Oahu for First Timers

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

A full Hawaiian experience can be yours even with just a 3-day trip thanks to our activity-filled itinerary that combines Oahu’s sights, culture, and adventures—and even two Hawaiian islands. Here are some top ways to maximize your 72 hours in Honolulu, Waikiki, and beyond.

Day 1

Spend the morning taking part in outdoor activities—you won’t get too hot as you climb up Diamond Head State Monument on a guided walking tour or see the sights of Honolulu on a bike tour. Then, maximize your time at Pearl Harbor by taking a half-day tour that starts at the monument. If you’re a serious history buff, however, you’ll want to opt for a private Pearl Harbor day tour for a longer in-depth experience. In the afternoon, a snorkeling catamaran cruise is an ideal way to cool off and enjoy the water, while a Waikiki hop-on hop-off trolley experience offers the opportunity for some independent sightseeing. End the day with a sunset dinner cruise or the Rock-a-Hula show, a Hawaiian take on Las Vegas–style entertainment.

Day 2

To see as much of Oahu as you can in one day with the least amount of hassle, take a full-day circle island tour. You’ll get out of the city for an overview of the island with visits to top attractions such as the Dole Plantation, North Shore beaches, and Hanauma Bay. Alternatively, marvel at Oahu from above on a helicopter tour, or check out Kualoa Ranch, one of the island’s most scenic locations, to zipline, ride ATVs, or see filming locations from movies such as Jurassic Park. Then, head to the Polynesian Cultural Center, on Oahu’s northeast coast, for a traditional luau and a captivating music and dance performance.

Day 3

Hawaii’s islands are diverse and unique, each boasting its own natural environment, whether lush or covered in lava. Once you’ve explored Waikiki and the rest of Oahu, you can take an easy day trip via a short interisland flight to find out how the isles compare. On the Garden Isle of Kauai, see the stunning Na Pali Coast and Waimea Canyon by helicopter; on Maui, journey along the Road to Hana and go swimming in tropical waters; on the Big Island, explore Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and hike to thundering waterfalls. No matter which island you choose to explore, end your long but adventurous day with a brief return flight to Oahu.

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