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2-Day Oahu Itinerary
If you’re planning to spend a few days on Maui, Big Island, or Kauai but want a short Oahu itinerary, this is for you! This 2-day Oahu itinerary will help you make the most of your short time on Oahu.
Oahu is the most populated of the Hawaiian islands and also the most popular for tourism. There is an upside to this, meaning Oahu offers things that the other islands don’t, high-end shopping, nightlife, etc. However. Oahu is also notorious for terrible traffic and can be very crowded.
If you don’t want to spend a lot of time in Oahu for these reasons but perhaps want to explore Pearl Harbor, the beautiful North Shore of Oahu, The Dole Plantation, or Waikiki, this 2-day Oahu itinerary is for you!
There are a few instances where you will not need a rental car for a vacation in Oahu. However, if you want to make the most of this 2-day Oahu itinerary, I recommend having a car to get around. I recommend one because Oahu is so much more than Waikiki and Honolulu!
I recommend Discount Hawaii Car Rental. You’ll find the best deals and don’t have to pay for your rental until arrival.
2-Day Oahu Itinerary
How to spend 2 days on Oahu and make the most of your time with this 2-day Oahu itinerary.
I recommend a helicopter tour if you truly want to see all that Oahu has to offer! You should schedule this on day one just in case of a weather delay. Here are some of my favorite Oahu helicopter tours:
If you’re like 99% of other Oahu visitors, Pearl Harbor is probably #1 on your list of things to do in Oahu.
I recommend starting your time in Oahu with a trip out to Pearl Harbor if you can. You need reservations to see Pearl Harbor, the USS Missouri, and the USS Arizona. It is best to reserve your tickets well in advance as they do sell out.
You have a few options, but you can either book directly, which involves a bit of perfect timing. Or, you can book a tour.
You should also check out the Pacific Aviation Museum during your Pearl Harbor visit. Hangar 37 survived the bombing of Pearl Harbor. It currently serves as one of the display areas for the museum.
Another thing to do if you have the time is to check out the USS Bowfin. This is one of the only surviving combat submarines from the Second World War. It is now a museum that features the history of submarines and their roles during the war.
Again, if you’re like 99% of Oahu travelers, you’ll want to add exploring Waikiki to your 2-day Oahu itinerary.
After spending a couple of hours in Pearl Harbor, you can head to Waikiki for some shopping. Or you can relax on this popular beach and go for a swim. As famous as Waikiki Beach is (and yes, grab a photo), other Oahu beaches are much less crowded and, honestly, nicer! I’ll list those below!
If you choose to go shopping, the International Market Place should be at the top of your list. There are more than 70 shops in this open-air shopping plaza. The shops are spread out between the three floors. So, be prepared to do a lot of walking if you want to visit them all.
During your shopping adventures, you will want to take the time to grab pictures of the old banyan tree. This famous tree has been around for more than a century. It is the most popular attraction at this shopping plaza!
Dine at Duke’s Waikiki
You will be tempted to dine at one of the restaurants at the International Market Place. But hold off because you won’t want to miss the atmosphere at Duke’s Waikiki. Yes, this is a “touristy” place, but it’s famous for a reason! It’s one of the best restaurants in Waikiki.
This restaurant was named after Duke Kahanamoku, who was a native Hawaiian. He was known for winning Olympic medals in swimming and water polo. Duke was also considered the father of modern-day surfing. He rode a wave at Waikiki for one and 1/8th of a mile back in 1929.
Your time at Duke’s must begin with a tropical cocktail. The menu is full of fresh seafood and juicy steaks.
Reservations are strongly recommended unless you want to wait for hours. If you arrive early for your reservation, you can always go to the water for a swim. If you cannot snag a reservation, you can also check out the best restaurants in Oahu for more options.
You will likely spend most of the first day of your 2-day Oahu itinerary in the Honolulu/Waikiki area. Although this is the most popular area for tourism, Oahu is so much more than just Waikiki! Explore Diamond Head in the morning and venture to other parts of the island after.
Diamond Head should be at the top of your list for day two in Oahu. This Hawaiian landmark opens early each morning at 6 am. Of course, you won’t need to arrive that early if you don’t want to, but it will give you time to see more of what Oahu offers later in the day.
You must have reservations to enter Diamond Head. Hiking the Diamond Head Trail is the most popular activity. The trail is only 0.8 of a mile. However, it is a steep and strenuous hike.
If you tackle this hike, you will find yourself at the volcano’s edge. You will also see the Fire Control Station, bunkers, and a lighthouse at the summit.
Views of Molokai can be seen from Diamond Head on a clear day. It is best to plan for this hike to take approximately 2 hours and maybe a little longer if you spend extra time at the top.
If you are not too tired from your hike at Diamond Head, you may want to drive to the Dole Plantation. A dole whip might be just what you need to recharge from a busy morning. I recommend eating yours out on the patio.
Afterward, you can wander around the plantation to learn about the different types of pineapples. Of course, you can always hop on the Pineapple Express train if you don’t want to walk anymore.
I do have to say that I find the Dole Plantation to be a bit overrated, but I included it since I know it’s a must for some during a 2-day itinerary.
The North Shore
The North Shore offers a little more relaxation, which might win out over the Dole Plantation. Kualoa Regional Park is another area where you can swim, and it won’t be as crowded as the beaches.
Although Sunset Beach is a favorite of many, you may want to head there if you have the time. It’s one of the best beaches in Oahu. One section has very calm water. Another area of the beach has plenty of waves if you’re going to try to surf.
Even if you don’t go in the water, check out the Banzai Pipeline. You can watch plenty of people surfing at this iconic surf spot.
For more ideas, you can also check out my post with things to do in Haleiwa!
Enjoy a luau
Unless you’re visiting Maui, I recommend enjoying a luau on Oahu. I think the luaus on Maui and Oahu are the best! In fact, I have an entire blog post about the best luau in Oahu.
Here are some of my favorites. Make sure to book this popular thing to do on Oahu in advance because they sell out weeks ahead of time!
I recommend either Chief’s Luau, Toa Luau at Waimea Valley, or Paradise Cove Luau, depending on your schedule.
more Beaches on Oahu
Maybe you don’t want to go to Waikiki Beach. Maybe you want to spend more time at the beaches of Oahu.
If that’s the case, check out these fantastic beaches on Oahu:
- Lanikai Beach – This white sandy beach is perfect for snorkeling, sailing, and windsurfing.
- Kailua Beach Park – A fantastic beach for long sandy walks and swimming.
- Waimanalo Beach – This spectacular beach is best for families.
- Waimea Bay Beach Park – Perfect for surfing due to the massive waves.
- Kahana Bay Beach Park – A less crowded beach when you want to relax in a tranquil area.
- Ala Moana Beach – The calm waters are perfect for swimming. In addition, the sand boasts beach volleyball and yoga classes.
- Makapu’u Beach Park – The riptides at this Oahu beach is perfect for bodyboarding and surfing.
Best Hikes in Oahu
Hiking is one of the best ways to see most of the gorgeous island of Oahu. However, if you love to spend time outdoors and are active, you can do more than just hike to Diamond Head. So put these hikes near the top of your to-do list!
- Pu’u Ma’eli’eli Trail – This easy hike is 2.2 miles long. Amazing views of the windward side of the island and K-Bay.
- Aiea Loop Trail – Flat pathways make up most of this almost 5-mile trail. An excellent way to see the different trees Oahu is known for. Views include Diamond Head, Pearl Harbor, and the Ko’olau Mountains.
- Ehukai Pillbox Hike – A 3-mile round trip hike that offers views of the North Shore and Seven Mile Miracle. This is a strenuous hike that is best done by those who are physically fit.
- Manoa Falls Trail – This hiking trail is more of a walk than a hike. The round trip total is 1.6 miles. During your walk, you will see stunning views of the Manoa Valley.
- Makapu’u Point and Lighthouse Trail – Head to the lookout on this trail to see views of Black Rock Island and Manana Island. Clear days sometimes offer views of Lanai and Molokai. This is a perfect place to watch the whales during the season.
Check out the best hikes in Oahu for even more ideas.
2-day Oahu itinerary
This is what you can accomplish with a 2-day Oahu itinerary. Of course, you can easily substitute other activities for some of these. I used some of the more popular things to do in Oahu. This shows it is possible to do quite a bit with only two days on this Hawaiian Island.
For even more Oahu travel tips, check out the best Oahu Golf Courses, 16 easy hikes in Oahu, the best Oahu snorkeling, the 10 Best Oahu Tours, how to be a better tourist in Hawaii, and the ten best things to do in Waikiki.
What do you think? Is there anything I should add to this two-day Oahu itinerary? I also have plenty of other sample itineraries, including:
I create custom itineraries for all my clients that they can access via an app. If you’d like a custom itinerary and need help planning your Hawaii vacation, reach out! I am a Hawaii Travel Agent, and that is what I do. I am selective about how many clients I work with, so reach out as soon as possible for the best availability. You can contact me to learn more.
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