Itineraries: One Day on Oahu

By Napua Heen
waikiki oahu

Canoes, Waikiki Beach. Photo: Neal Kido of Salty Glass Co..

If you only have one day to spend on the island of Oʻahu, whether it be because you’re passing through for work or stopping over on your way to another island, you’ll forever be longing to return. Here are some suggestions, however, to help you make the most of your time here.

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Take in the Early Morning Sights and Sounds

diamond head

View of Waikiki from Diamond Head. Photo: Hawaii.com member Jessica C.

Rise early and start your morning by hiking one of Hawaiʻi’s most iconic landmarks, Diamond Head. Be sure to snap some “selfies” from the summit. The bird’s-eye-view of blue Pacific waters, cloud-shrouded mountains and world-famous Waikīkī is well worth the 1.5-mile round-trip. Or, just grab a cup of coffee and enjoy a morning stroll down the beach at Waikīkī, taking in the sights and sounds of the island.

After your morning hike or walk, reward yourself with brunch on the beach at the Hau Tree Lanai. This open-air restaurant touches the sand and is known for its signature eggs benedict.

Get in Some Beach Time!

canoe surfing waikiki

Canoe Surfing in Waikiki. Photo: Neal Kido of Salty Glass Co..

Next on the agenda: beach time. Choose your ocean activity based on wind and water conditions. If the sea is calm and glassy, it’s the perfect time to go snorkeling or standup paddle boarding. If the waves are rolling in as gentle sets, you might want to try long boarding or canoe surfing. And when the waves are bigger, as they can sometimes be on the south shore during the summer, it’s best to keep to the sheltered lagoons. No matter the conditions, however, make sure you take a dip in the ocean.

Explore Honolulu’s Food and Shopping Havens

Photo: Kaimuki Superette.

Kaimuki Superette by rising star Ed Kenney. Photo: Kaimuki Superette.

If you’d like to go exploring, the nearby neighborhood of Kapahulu is a haven of local eateries and a great place to grab lunch, including authentic Hawaiian food. Travel further mauka (toward the mountain) and you’ll find yourself in eclectic Kaimukī, home to restaurants belonging to some of Hawaii’s culinary rising stars and an array of boutique shops.

Although Waikīkī is most famous for its beautiful beach, it is also a world-class shopping mecca boasting designer names you’d expect to see in New York City. If you’re looking for shopping that’s a little easier on the wallet, head west of Waikīkī. Choose from Ala Moana Center, Ward Village, and Chinatown.

Don’t Miss Sunset

waikiki sunset

Waikiki Sunset. Photo: Hawaii.com member Fahreen Kara.

As the sun begins to set, you’ll want to make your way back to Waikīkī beach where the nightly torch lighting ceremony accents the stellar sunset painted across the sky by the last rays of the day.

For dinner, you can take in a luau and show, enjoy oceanfront dining with live Hawaiian music at one of the many hotels lining Kalākaua Avenue, or head over to Chinatown which, like Kaimukī, has become an anchor of an imaginative culinary movement. If you happen to visit on the first Friday of the month, Chinatown will be buzzing with festivities as the trendy crowd heads out to enjoy food, drinks, art and late night entertainment.

Alternatives to Waikiki for One Day on Oahu

Photo: Paradise Bay Resort.

Other locations worthy of spending your single day on Oʻahu are Ko Olina Resort, Turtle Bay Resort and Paradise Bay Resort.

Ko Olina is located on Oʻahu’s sunny west side. It is home to hotels such as Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa and Four Seasons Resort Oʻahu at Ko Olina. This area is fairly isolated from the rest of the island. However, the weather and beaches are near perfect. The resort amenities will have you wanting for nothing. And, you can enjoy activities such as snorkel cruises in the island’s clearest waters.

Turtle Bay Resort is located on Oʻahu’s fabled North Shore, world-renown for its winters of big wave surf. Like Ko Olina, Turtle Bay Resort is relatively isolated. However, what it lacks in shopping and dining options it makes up for in scenery and a taste of living the coveted “beach life.”

Paradise Bay Resort is a gem of a boutique hotel nestled along Kāneʻohe Bay with views of Chinaman’s hat. The advantage of staying at Paradise Bay Resort is a quick drive to some of the best beaches in the world – Lanikai, Kailua and Waimanalo. Paradise Bay Resort is also in close proximity to the wildly popular attraction Kualoa Ranch.

Don’t forget – special rental car discounts are available for Hawaii.com members. Click here for more information.

Visit www.hawaii.com/travel for more itinerary suggestions and travel tips.

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