The perfect 3 day Oahu itinerary, including where to stay, where to eat and what to see in Oahu, Hawaii!
Planning a trip to Hawaii can be exciting and overwhelming. I always say – you could live in the Islands your entire life and not see it all. No trip to Hawaii is complete without visiting Oahu. If you’re planning a visit to Oahu and want to make the most of your stay, here’s my perfect 3-day itinerary that covers everything from where to stay, what to do, where to eat, and some helpful tips for an unforgettable experience.
3 Day Oahu Itinerary
Day 1: Arrival and the North Shore
Where to Stay: There are so many amazing places to stay in Honolulu, but for only three days I recommend staying in Waikiki, the bustling heart of Honolulu. There are plenty of options, from luxury resorts to cozy boutique hotels, so you’re sure to find something that suits your preferences and budget. My favorite hotel is the Royal Hawaiian.
What to Do:
Breakfast at Liliha Bakery: Fuel up with a hearty breakfast at Liliha Bakery, famous for their legendary coco puffs and loco moco.
Diamond Head Hike: Begin your day with a visit to the iconic Diamond Head State Monument. The hike to the summit offers panoramic views of Honolulu and the surrounding coastline.
Waikiki Beach: Spend your late morning and afternoon relaxing on the world-famous Waikiki Beach, sunbathing, or trying out some water sports like surfing or paddleboarding.
Matsumoto Shave Ice: A trip to Oahu wouldn’t be complete without trying shave ice, so head to Matsumoto Shave Ice in Haleiwa for a refreshing treat. Get on the road up to the North Shore by 2PM to avoid lots of traffic!
Takeout dinner from Jax Wood Fired Pizza: Grab pizza to go from Jax and you won’t be disappointed. Call ahead so pizzas are ready to go when you arrive.
Sunset at Sunset Beach: After grabbing your pizzas to go, drive up the North Shore for a breathtaking sunset at Sunset Beach. The North Shore is known for its stunning beaches, big waves, and laid-back atmosphere.
Day 2: Pearl Harbor and Cultural Exploration
Where to Eat: Begin your day with a delicious breakfast at Moke’s Bread & Breakfast, a local gem known for its delicious pancakes and loco moco.
What to Do:
Pearl Harbor: Spend your morning exploring the Pearl Harbor National Memorial. Don’t forget to book your tickets online in advance to avoid long lines.
Iolani Palace: After Pearl Harbor, visit the Iolani Palace, the only royal palace in the United States. Guided tours provide insight into Hawaii’s royal history.
Lunch at Helena’s Hawaiian Food: Enjoy authentic Hawaiian cuisine at Helena’s Hawaiian Food, renowned for their lau lau and kalua pig.
Walking Tour of Waikiki: Stroll along Waikiki on foot to get the best vantage of everything there is to see.
Dinner at Duke’s Waikiki: End your day at Duke’s Waikiki, a beachfront restaurant named after legendary surfer Duke Kahanamoku. Savor fresh seafood while enjoying live Hawaiian music and don’t forget to order a slice of Hula Pie (definitely big enough to split!)
Day 3: Island Adventures
What to Do:
Sunrise at Makapu’u Lookout or Koko Head: Rise early to catch a mesmerizing sunrise at Makapu’u Lookout or Koko Head, both offering stunning views of the coastline.
Hanauma Bay Snorkeling: After sunrise, snorkel at Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, home to a diverse marine life and vibrant coral reefs.
Lunch at Leonard’s Bakery: Satisfy your appetite with a mouthwatering malasada (Portuguese doughnut) from Leonard’s Bakery.
Lanikai Beach: Spend your afternoon at Lanikai Beach, known for its powdery white sand and crystal-clear waters.
Dinner at Istanbul: Wrap up your trip with a memorable dinner at Istanbul, a mother-daughter restaurant located in Chinatown.
Oahu Travel Tips
Traffic Alert: Avoid heavy traffic by planning your activities around Honolulu’s rush hours (7-9 AM and 4-6 PM).
Snorkel Gear: Rent snorkel gear for your entire trip. There’s no use lugging it from home.
Relaxing: While there is plenty to see and do on Oahu, I cannot speak highly enough about having a full day of relaxing on a beach or at a pool.
Respect the ‘Aina: Hawaii’s natural beauty is precious, so remember to respect the environment, follow all regulations, and take nothing but photographs.