Oahu is the BEST island to visit if you’re travelling to Hawaii for the first time. It’s the third-largest island in Hawaii and has the largest population. It’s well known for its famous Waikiki Beach and the best nightlife in Hawaii.
Below is a 5 day Oahu itinerary packed with the best places in Oahu to visit, places to eat and hidden gems. You need a minimum of 5 days to spend on this beautiful tropical island!
Airbnb is the best website to look for accommodation in Oahu. You can find places for all types of budgets.
I stayed at the Hawaiian Monarch Hotel on Airbnb at an affordable price. This Diamond Head apartment is clean, modern, and has scenic views of the ocean.
The location is convenient, it’s about a 10-15 minute walk to the beach and minutes away from Kalakaua Avenue, the main road of Waikiki. It’s close to convenience stores, restaurants and cafes. They even have a place you can rent cars from in the same building.
There are many different ways to get around the island. You can rent a car, use car rideshare companies such as Uber or Lyft, take a bus, or walk.
For day trips to the North Shore or East Honolulu, you will need to hire a car (smart cars are cheap to hire).
The bus is cheap and easy to use. It’s a beautiful island to explore on foot if places are within walking distance.
|Day 1||Day 2||Day 3||Day 4||Day 5|
|Breakfast at Island Vintage Coffee||Diamond Head Trail||Breakfast at Cheeseburger PRIME||Breakfast at Cream Pot Cafe||Breakfast at Barefoot Beach Cafe|
|Waikiki Beach||Brunch at Moena Cafe||Mokuleia Beach||Manoa Falls||Waikiki Beach|
|Lunch at Dukes||Hanauma Bay||Ka’ena Point and Tide Pools||Nu’uanu Pali Lookout||Honolulu Zoo|
|Blue Note Hawaii||Halona Blow Hole and Beach Cove||Banzai Pipeline||Byoda- In Temple||Dinner at Tiki’s Grill and Bar|
|Mai Tai Bar||Makapu’u Lighthouse and Tide Pools||Dinner at Buho Cantini||Rum Fire or The Beach Bar|
|Dinner at Azure Restuarant||Kuhio Beach|
|Dinner at Lava Tube Waikiki|
Every Friday evening there is a free firework show on Waikiki Beach. It usually begins around 7:45 pm – 8 pm and lasts for about ten minutes. You can view the fireworks anywhere along Waikiki beach.
Island Vintage Coffee is a 14-minute flat walk on Kalakaua Avenue from Hawaiian Monarch Hotel. It’s located on the second floor of the Waikiki Royal Hawaiian Center.
Their breakfast is delicious, healthy and there is a wide selection of items to choose from on the menu.
It’s a popular place for breakfast so it may be hard to find a table. I suggest sitting at a table on the balcony if you can where you will have views of the surrounding lush greenery and watch the cute little birds that wander by the cafe.
Waikiki Beach is a famous beach in Hawaii and you could easily spend the day here swimming, sun-tanning and/or surfing.
Dukes Waikiki is located along the beachfront on Kalakaua Avenue. This restaurant has a tiki surfy vibe that makes it so inviting and it’s a great place to have some lunch!
Ask for a table on the patio so you can sit and enjoy the beach views with a refreshing fruity cocktail in hand!
Blue Note Hawaii is “Hawaii’s Best Live Music Venue” and is located next to Dukes Waikiki on Kalakaua Avenue. It features live jazz, blues, and popular Hawaiian musical artists.
You can find the schedule for their performances on their website and buy tickets to the show at Blue Note Hawaii.
There are 2 performances every night seven days a week! The jazz performances generally start at 6:30 pm. Tickets cost anywhere from $35 US to $55 US.
Azure Restaurant is an upscale fancy restaurant right on the beach with views of Diamond Head and Waikiki. It’s the perfect place for a romantic candlelit dinner.
Azure Restaurant is close to Dukes Waikiki and Blue Note Hawaii. A convenient place to go for dinner before or after seeing a live show.
The restaurant is popular so there most likely will be a waitlist if you don’t make a reservation, although I still had to wait and I had made a reservation! If you’d like to make a reservation for Azure Restuarant you can do this on Open Table.
While you’re waiting for a table have a drink at Mai Tai Bar where you can enjoy live music. Mai Tai is a casual outdoor beach bar that serves tropical cocktails.
After a relaxing first day in Oahu, it’s time to see some of the most beautiful spots in East Honolulu. Diamond Head Lookout is one you don’t want to miss when visiting Oahu!
You can take a bus to the Diamond Head trail if you want to do it cheaply but you will have to walk 20 minutes from the bus stop to the start of the trail and the bus ride is pretty long! The other option is hiring a car for the day since it’s only about a 10-minute drive from Waikiki.
The entrance fee is $1 US per pedestrian or $5 US per car and they only take cash! The park is open from 6 am to 6 pm daily and the last entrance to the trail is at 4:30 pm.
The best time to do the hike is early morning or late afternoon when the temperature is cooler and the trail is quieter. It will take you around an hour to get to the viewpoint depending on how many stops you make along the way.
Diamond Head trail is a 2.5 km hike roundtrip with steep sections. It can be challenging at times especially when you reach the 99 narrow steep steps at the end through the dark tunnel.
Once you reach the viewpoint you will have gorgeous PANORAMIC views of Waikiki.
Although the hike is quite challenging it’s definitely rewarding! Even if you hate hiking just do it for the amazing view at the end. You will not be disappointed!
I read good reviews about Moena Café and they were absolutely right! The food was exceptional, especially the pancakes! It’s a popular place so the wait can be long but it’s totally worth it!
If you’re driving from Diamond Head Trail to get to Moena Café drive towards east Honolulu, it will take around 20 minutes.
Hanauma Bay is about a 10-minute drive from Moena café. The view of Hanauma Bay is AMAZING and takes your breath away! The light blue/green colour of the water is incredible.
The admission fee to enter the preserve is $7.50 US for over 12-year-olds and is free for under 12-year-olds. Parking is available for a fee of $1 US. I didn’t enter the preserve but viewed the bay from the lookout point at the car park.
Halona Blowhole and Beach Cove is a 7-minute drive from Hanauma Bay and the drive is one the most scenic on the island. Free parking is available and the parking lot is located on the ocean side of the highway.
The view of Halona Beach Cove from above is gorgeous and around the corner on the left side of the cove is the Blowhole.
Halona Beach Cove is famous for the movie that was filmed here called From Here to Eternity. This is where they filmed the love scene of the couple sharing an epic kiss while being rolled around in the surf.
Makapu’u Lighthouse and Tide Pools is the last stop before you head back to Waikiki and is 6 minutes away by car. The Makapu’u Lighthouse trail will take around 30 minutes to reach the top. Here you will have a view of Makapu’u Beach and Windward Coast.
If you don’t want to hike to the lighthouse then there are small tide pools around that you can enjoy. It’s a hidden gem so it may be a little tricky to find.
From the car park head to the right of the Lighthouse Trail descending down the dusty dirt road which will lead you to the tide pools.
Since many tourists don’t know about the tide pools you will probably be one of the few there.
It’s about a 30-minute drive back from Hanauma Bay to Kalakaua Avenue where Kuhio Beach is located. At Kuhio Beach, there’s a FREE hula dancing and torch ceremony show.
The show starts at 6:30 pm and lasts for an hour on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday weather permitting (6 pm to 7 pm November, December, and January).
Lighting the torch and the traditional blowing of the shell is what starts the show followed by Hawaiian dancers performing the hula dance to live Hawaiian music as the sun sets on the beach.
DIne at a local Hawaiian restaurant called Lava Tube. They serve Hawaiian food at an affordable price and some wicked cocktails!
This restaurant is close to the Royal Hawaiian Centre and located on Kuhio Avenue (the street next to Kalakaua Avenue).
Enjoy breakfast and a mimosa at Cheeseburger PRIME, a tropical-themed restaurant only a 2-minute walk from the Hawaiian Monarch Hotel. Their mimosas are USD 6 until 11 am!
It’s about a 50-minute drive from Waikiki to Mokuleia Beach. This quiet beach was filmed in Lost during the plane crash scene in the Pilot episode.
A 6-minute drive away from Mokuleia Beach is Ka’ena Point and Tide Pools. At the end of the dirt road is a tide pool that is so beautiful with crystal clear water.
Banzai Pipeline is rated one of the BEST beaches on the North Shore because of the amazing surf there. If you have the time it might be something you want to fit into your 5 day Oahu itinerary. Quite a few surfing movies have been filmed here including Blue Crush.
Buho Cantina is a Mexican restaurant along Kalakaua Avenue. It’s a rooftop restaurant with outside seating serving delicious Mexican food.
It’s my favourite restaurant in Oahu because of how much fun it is! At night they have a DJ and a dance floor in the middle of this open-air rooftop restaurant!
Cream Pot Café is a cute small café located in the Hawaiian Monarch Hotel building, so you don’t have to go very far to eat breakfast if you’re staying there.
They serve traditional country-style breakfasts. I love the café’s Alice in Wonderland décor.
Cream Pot Cafe opens at 6:30 am Wednesday through to Mondays.
From Waikiki, it’s a 20-minute drive to get to Manoa Falls Trail. The 150-foot waterfall is at the end of a HIKING trail. I emphasize hiking because when I went, I thought it was a really short walk to see the waterfall and I was not prepared to hike!
I wore thongs which was not the appropriate footwear for a full-on hike. It also rained that day and so the trail was super muddy. By the end of the hike, my friend and I had mud all up the back of our legs and people were laughing at us!
The hike is 2.7km roundtrip and can take up to two hours. The lush forest scenery on the way to the waterfall is beautiful! There is a part of the trail that makes me think of Jurassic Park!
The trail opens at 8 am and can get quite busy so I suggest getting here around that time if you can. It’s a fairly easy hike so you don’t have to be an experienced hiker to get to the falls.
Nu’uanu Pali’s lookout is STUNNING! It’s only a short 20-minute drive from Manoa Falls and here you will have a panoramic view of the Ko’olau cliffs and Windward Coast.
Parking costs $3 US. It does get very windy at the lookout so be prepared for that! The lookout is open from 9 am to 4 pm daily.
Byodo-In Temple a 20-minute drive away is located in the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park.
The admission fee is $5 US which is a small price to pay to admire this magnificent temple. Make sure to bring cash with you!
It’s a Hawaii State Landmark so be respectful and quiet. Remember to remove your shoes if you are entering the temple.
The Byodo-In temple was built to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaii.
Barefoot Beach Café is an outdoor breakfast place situated along Queen’s Surf Beach at the Diamond Head end of Waikiki.
This cafe is reasonably priced and its menu includes vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options.
After breakfast, enjoy a walk along the beach, swim in the ocean, or suntan on the beach for your last day on this beautiful island.
If you have children or you love checking out zoos visit Honolulu Zoo. It’s about a 10-minute walk from Barefoot Beach Café.
The general admission for adults is $19 US and $11 US for children. Visit their website for suggested viewing times for the animals.
The zoo isn’t massive but they do have their fair share of animals to see.
Tiki’s Grill and Bar is located along Kalakaua Avenue and on the Oceanside. I loved the vibe and atmosphere here especially outside on the balcony where they have live music playing.
The Rum Fire and The Beach Bar are awesome bars to visit if you have time! They are in a great location, right along the beach with the best views!
There are plenty of restaurants and bars in Waikiki and much to do during the day and at night! Make sure to include exploring the North Shore on your 5 day Oahu itinerary to discover some hidden gems.