Oahu in 4 Days: everything you need to know

Hawaii is a dream destination for many. Here is a 4-day itinerary to enjoy this wonderful island to the fullest.

Carmen Navarro

Carmen Navarro

7 min read

Oahu in 4 Days: everything you need to know

Oahu, Hawaii | © Samantha Sophia

If you are planning what to see and do in Oahu, here I propose a 4-day itinerary where you will enjoy the main attractions that the island has to offer, including from the most paradisiacal beaches to the most stunning viewpoints. From north to south, the island of Oahu is a breathtaking destination.

Day 1: Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden, Byodo-In Temple & Lanikai Beach

Lanikai Beach| ©Jon Parise
Lanikai Beach| ©Jon Parise

On this first day you will see the western part of the island of Oahu. These three sites are only a half hour drive from each other, so you have ample time to enjoy each of them and feel the Hawaiian energy that inhabits every part of Oahu.

Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden

The first stop of this 4-day itinerary on Oahu will be the Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden, a natural space where you can get the best views from the viewpoint located inside the park: the Pali Lookout.

The Botanical Garden is located just 20 minutes drive from Honolulu, but you can also easily reach it by public transport from the city.

This site is very popular, as it is a panoramic point where you will appreciate the steep cliffs of Koolau and all its lush coastline. I recommend you take a walk along the large trees that form the park and the dense forests to reach the viewpoint.

  • Hours: daily from 9am to 5pm.
  • Price: free of charge

Byodo-In Temple

After marveling at nature in the Botanical Garden, it is time to visit Byodo-In Temple, so you will have to drive about 12 minutes more. There is also public transportation between these two points.

It was built to commemorate 100 years since the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaii and you can discover:

  • Beautiful bridges that cross its pond
  • The sound of the huge sacred bell located at the top of the Temple. It is said that all visitors who ring it before entering the temple will obtain happiness and longevity.
  • The figure of a 5-meter Buddha covered in gold.

This site is a scale replica of the Uji Temple in Japan and is located in the impressive Valley of the Temples.

  • Hours: daily from 8.30 am to 5.30 pm.
  • Price: from 6€.

Lanikai Beach

After visiting temples and mountains, it is finally time to relax by the sea. Just a 20-minute drive from Byodo-in Temple, Lanikai Beach is one of the best beaches on Oahu and a perfect place to spend the afternoon.

What makes this place unique on the island of Oahu, and in the world, are the endless miles of completely turquoise waters that surround the beach. You will also find huge palm trees that will make you feel like you are on a real vacation, while watching the scenery.

I recommend going early, especially on weekends, so you can get a good spot to enjoy this wonderful natural environment in peace and quiet. And if you are thinking of snorkeling in Oahu, its waters are home to many marine species, including huge turtles resting on the shore.

Book a snorkeling tour in Oahu

Day 2: Hanauma Bay and Pearl Harbor

Hanauma Bay| ©Daniel Ramirez
Hanauma Bay| ©Daniel Ramirez

Day 2 of this Oahu itinerary is a day where you'll delve into Hawaii's toughest history, but also enjoy the marine life and the beach.

Pearl Harbor

From Honolulu, you will have to drive only 12 minutes to get there, but you can also book one of the tours that exist to visit Pearl Harbor

This is a historic site where the tragic attack by Japan in World War II took place. This naval port received a bomb and its explosion caused a warship that was stranded there to catch fire. It took only 9 minutes to generate a huge explosion that killed many people.

It is a very interesting and complete visit for those who wish to know in detail this key event in the history of mankind, as you will see:

  • The Visitor Center
  • A documentary video
  • The commemorative plaques
  • The USS Arizona Memorial
  • The various exhibits
  • One of the most famous submarines in the United States, since it was built with the purpose of avenging the Japanese attack, but was never used.
  • The Museum where different types of objects related to the war are exhibited, such as missiles and other vessels.

As you will see, this park offers many different activities, which makes it a good option if you are visiting Oahu with children. Keep in mind that it is a very busy place, so I recommend you book in advance.

Book a Pearl Harbor tour on Oahu

Hanauma Bay

From there to Hanauma Bay you will have to drive 25 minutes to finish the whole southern part of this wonderful island.

I recommend you to spend the afternoon snorkeling and enjoying the beaches of Hanauma Bay. This site is one of the most visited of all Hawaii thanks to its wealth of marine fauna.

But what makes it so special is that this nature reserve is an extinct volcano that with the erosion of the sea has given way to the entrance of the sea. This has allowed the creation of a perfect ecosystem, which includes perfectly preserved coral formations and infinite species of fish and sea turtles.

  • Hours: from 6 am to 6 pm. Tuesdays closed.
  • Activity price: from 87€.

Book a snorkeling tour with turtles

Day 3: Getting to know the North Shore (Waimea Valley, Mokuleia Beach, Haleiwa)

Waimea Bay| ©Alan & Flora Botting
Waimea Bay| ©Alan & Flora Botting

This third day will be devoted entirely to getting to know the North Shore of Oahu, which contains some of the most precious jewels of a Hawaii vacation.

Waimea Valley

From Honolulu, you will have to drive about 45 minutes. If you don't have a car, you can also get there by public transportation, but it will take about 2 hours.

Waimea Valley is a natural park located in an area of historical and cultural significance on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii. The park is the island's premier destination for those who love hiking and overlooks with breathtaking views. You have **various options depending on the difficulty.

You can surely find some mountain goats and beautiful birds or wild Hawaiian chickens. Definitely a wild experience.

  • Hours: from 9am to 5pm.
  • Price: from 15€.


After visiting this charming valley, it is time to visit the small town of Haleiwa, which is characterized by its bohemian spirit, its artistic community and its great surfing culture.

Many people who want to take surfing lessons or watch the international tournaments that take place here, use this town as a base to move around the area.

It is a charming town that will allow you to relax and immerse yourself in the essence of Hawaii. In addition, you can take some nice pictures of its colorful wooden houses.

Mokuleia Beach

Mokuleia Beach is the main beach on the North Shore of Oahu, and where 80% of Hawaii's population is concentrated. This place of great tourist interest was even the filming set of television series or important movies such as Lost and Jurassic Park.

This beach of fine white sand is the place where you can see the best sunsets on the island, so it is the best plan to crown this third day on Oahu. In winter it has a strong swell and even international surfing competitions are organized.

In summer, you can swim safely and watch the sky turn orange. In addition, it is a famous site to be visited by turtles resting on the shore.

Day 4: Diamond Head, Honolulu and Waikiki Beach

Waikiki Beach| ©Images Alight
Waikiki Beach| ©Images Alight

Finally, this fourth day offers us the possibility to enjoy Hawaii's most famous urban beach, the most representative city and a viewpoint that will leave you speechless.

Diamond Head

Climbing up to the Diamond Head lookout is a must on any visit to the island of Oahu and one of the favorite things to do in Honolulu for all travelers visiting the city.

Diamond Head is a volcano 232 meters high, which makes it a perfect viewpoint to see the entire city of Honolulu from above. It is so called because those who discovered this site, found small crystals embedded in the rocks with diamonds.

The journey up to the top is not at all difficult to achieve, which attracts people of different ages and physical abilities to venture among the trees of Hawaii. I recommend you to bring liquids to constantly hydrate yourself as the weather is quite humid and hot, and to wear light clothing and comfortable shoes.

  • Schedule: from 6 am to 6 pm.
  • Price: from 5€.


Honolulu is the largest city in Hawaii and its capital. It is located in the south of the island, surrounded by huge and beautiful beaches and cliffs in the middle of the Pacific Ocean.

With so much scenery around the island, you probably won't feel like staying in the city, but I recommend spending at least a few hours touring its historic buildings, shopping or playing outdoor sports. You can even ride a tourist streetcar if you are too tired from all the jogging of the previous days.

I also recommend you try a Halo Halo, traditional ice cream of Hawaiian culture, and a Kalua Pig, pork cooked in an oven on the floor.

Book the Honolulu Sightseeing Tram

Waikiki Beach

Finally, Waikiki Beach is one of the most famous beaches in the world and the most touristy beach in Hawaii.

While it is not the most beautiful beach on the island, many tourists head there to enjoy the best Hawaiian shows on Oahu. If you want to end this trip with a typical and fun activity, don't hesitate to attend one of these music and dance numbers.

Book your Hawaiian show in Oahu