Hawai'i seems to be on everyone bucketlist. If you are lucky enough to visit one the islands make sure to plan your activities in advance to save you the headache of last-minute planning. I spent a short 7 days in O'ahu and didn't have enough time to do everything I planned to do. If you are visiting O'ahu, which you probably are, here are some activities you should do and some you can skip!
DAY ONE (Saturday)-- WALK AROUND WAIKIKI
Kuhio Beach-- SEE
Kuhio Beach is actually part of Waikiki Beach but it's not as packed. This beach actually has a wall that protects swimmers from the waves, so it's great for non-swimmers like me and children to frolic. This beach also has a free traditional hula show and torch lighting ceremony everyday at 6 or 6:30pm depending on the time of year.
International Market Place-- SEE
The International Marketplace is a great place to beach the heat on the Waikiki strip. It's a great place to people watch and there are lots of shops and restaurants to check out. It is actually an open air mall so there is tons of shade, water features and trees. They even have lei making classes on the first sun of every month. Morover, thee are hula shows nightly at 7pm, so make sure to watch!
Royal Hawaiian Center-- SEE
DAY TWO (Sunday)-- VISIT DOWNTOWN HONOLULU
Aloha Tower-- SKIP
The Aloha Tower was previously a lighthouse which was used to greet immigrants to Honolulu. You can actually go up 10 levels to the observation gallery for views of the harbour. There are also shops and restaurants along the base of the tower. However, there isn't much going on around there.
Magic Island-- SEE
Magic Island is a unique, quiet beach with super soft sand. It offers great views of the ocean and city scapes. There is lots of water activity like parasailing and canoeing. It's actually a popular place to watch the sunset.
Ala Moana Beach Park-- SEE
Ala Moana is a quiet beach which is great for snorkelling and swimming. There are no drop offs or major rocks so it's safe to swim. If you are lucky you might get to see some sea turtles. It's also a great place for a picnic or relax. L&L BBQ has a kiosk there with delicious Hawaiian BBQ, make sure to get some!
Bishop Museum-- SEE
Bishop Museum is the largest museum in Hawai'i which holds the largest collection of Polynesian artifacts. The museum was created by Charles Bishop to preserve royal heirlooms from his late wife, Princess Bernice Bishop who was the last descendent of the Kamehameha royal family. If you are interested in Hawai'ian history then this is a great place to visit.
DAY THREE (Monday)-- HIKING & CULTURAL ACTIVITIES
Diamond Head Hike-- DO
Diamond Head is the most popular hike in Oahu due to the fact that it is not a difficult one. The hike itself is only 1.6 miles with an elevation of 560ft. To visit the park is only $1. At the base there is a souvenir shop and a truck that sells shaved ice and ice cream which is about the only snacks you will find. Make sure to bring your own but do not little on the path. If you are looking for a challenge take the steep stairs up to the base, if not, take the opposite path. The view at the top is worth the short hike.
Attending a Luau seems to be on the topic of everyones Hawai'i bucket list and for good reason. A Luau is a traditional feast accompanied by entertainment. Depending which company you go with, your Luau may include lei making, hula dancing lesson and headband weaving before the show. During the show you will be able to wait traditional Hawai'ian dances, as well as other Polynesian islands like Samoa, Tahiti and Bora Bora whilst eating a traditional buffet dinner.
Pearl Harbour-- SEE
Even if you are not into history, visit the WWII monuments as it is a great way to learn about one of the most significant events in American history in person. There are 5 different sights to visit on Ford Island, which require a shuttle bus to get to. It truly is a humbling experience to walk around Pearl Harbour and learn about the past.
DAY FOUR (Tuesday)-- CULTURAL & WATER ACTIVITIES
Iolani Palace-- SEE
Hawai'i State Art Museum-- SEE
Hawai'i State Art Museum is free museum, so why not visit? Of course, Hawai'ian art is the permanent display. Here you can see ethnic and cultural art displayed with different artistic styles.
DAY FIVE (Wednesday)-- EXPLORE WINWARD
Makapu'u Lighthouse Trail-- DO
On the Eastern side of O'ahu is the Makapu'u Lighthouse Trail. It is a very easy hike, as the whole hike is paved. From the top you get amazing views of Makapu'u Beach, the Lighthouse and the ocean.
Ho'omaluhia Botanical Gardens-- SEE
Ho'omaluhia Botanical Gardens is a great place to get away from the crowded Waikiki street. It is a free garden with lush greenery and plants from different regions around the world.
Byodo-in is a non-denominational temple and was built to pay tribute to Japanese immigrants to Hawai'i. This temple has breathtaking scenery with the clouds and mountains in the background. There are also black swans and koi fish in the ponds.
Sealife Park-- SKIP
Sealife in Oahu's marine mammal park, aquarium and bird sanctuary. The park is quite small and doesn't have many interesting attractions. You can actually see sea turtles while actually on the beach and maybe dolphins if you go out far enough, so this park isn't worth the cost. Ordering food at the park is horrendous as well, so save yourself the trouble.
DAY SIX (Thursday)-- WATER ACTIVITIES
Obviously water activities are quite popular here. Shop around for different companies as the rates and experiences differ. However, Groupon has many 2 for 1 deals with parasailing. Parasailing offers a great birds eye view of Oahu.
Sunset Dinner Cruise-- DO
Star of Honolulu is the #1 dinner cruise in O'ahu. Prices vary depending on what type of meal you want. The 5 star cruise is the most expensive and the Pacific Star is the cheapest.No matter what star you book you can still visit the rooftop deck. There is amazing live entertainment, like music and dancing.
DAY SEVEN (Friday)-- EXPLORE NORTHSHORE
Dole Plantation-- Do
Polynesian Cultual Center-- DO
The Polynesian Cultural Center is a theme park and museum. Here you can experience hands on activities and learn more about the different cultures within Polynesia. There is so much to do here you might need at least 4 hours.
Lanikea Beach-- SEE
If you want to see sea turtles, this is a great place to visit. Sea turtles are often seen sunbathing on this beach. Make sure to keep your distance and not feed them as it is illegal.
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