We’ve put together the best Oahu itinerary for families that you can follow to make your planning as stress-free as possible.
Vacationing in Hawaii is a bucket list for many people and rightly so since it’s such an amazing place! There is so much to do there that unless you’re staying for months, you simply won’t be able to fit it all in.
Why am I stressing “for families” with this itinerary?
There are a lot of options that are popular outings for adults but aren’t suitable for kids.
If you’re planning a trip to Hawaii with younger children in your family, you want to make sure they can participate in as much as possible.
We used this 7 day Oahu itinerary with our seven and 12-year-old daughters and had such a great time together.
Everyone was happy with the agenda and we all got to do things we really enjoyed.
Of course, you don’t have to have kids to follow this itinerary!
Whether you’re looking for a 5 day Oahu itinerary or a 7 day Oahu itinerary, you can use this as a guide to get a great idea of what you could plan each day.
Table of Contents
- Go Oahu Pass
- Oahu Itinerary for Families Day 1 – Waikiki Beach
- Itinerary for Oahu Day 2 – Diamond Head Hike & Island Tour
- Day 3 itinerary for Oahu – Beach time, sailing, and touring
- Oahu Itinerary Day 4 – Swap Meet, snorkeling, and luau
- Day 5 in Oahu – Pearl Harbor, botanical garden, and PCC
- Oahu itinerary Day 6 – snorkeling, hiking, and beach time
- Day 7 – Wrapping up your Oahu itinerary
- More fun for your Oahu itinerary
- Go Kayaking or Stand-up paddleboarding
- Where to eat in Oahu
- Where to stay in Oahu
- Commonly asked questions about Oahu
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Go Oahu Pass
The first thing we did when planning our 7 day Oahu itinerary was to purchase the 3 day Go Oahu Pass.
We definitely got our money’s worth out of it and I’ll explain why.
Most Oahu itineraries include attending a luau while in Hawaii, especially for people visiting the island for the first time.
There are quite a few luaus in Oahu to choose from, but for the most part, you really can’t go wrong picking between any of the most popular options.
➡️ Here’s where the value of the Go Oahu Pass comes in. If you purchase the 3, 5, or 7-day pass, you’ll get to pick one of their four premium attractions.
The Ka Moana Luau is one of the options, so for the price of not much more than you would pay for just the luau, you get quite a few more attractions included in the pass.
We did that and were able to take advantage of several other attractions that definitely made buying the Go Oahu Pass worthwhile.
I’ll highlight those options in this 7 Day Oahu itinerary so you’ll know what they were.
You can personalize your Oahu itinerary to include any of those you’d like. You may also want to consider getting the 5-day pass to have time to do more outings that are also included with the Go Oahu Pass.
Oahu Itinerary for Families Day 1 – Waikiki Beach
Finally! After all the planning, packing, and traveling, you’re here for the next 7 days in Oahu! Or 5 days in Oahu.
Even if you only have 3 days in Oahu, you can tailor this itinerary to fit your needs and pick the days that work best for you.
After a long day of travel, you may want to rest for a bit in your hotel room. Take a bit of time to unpack a few things and change clothes before you head out for the evening. Pack your beach bag before you go and plan on having some fun in the water.
This is the first place most people head to and for good reason. It’s a world-famous beach with beautiful white sand and gorgeous blue waters.
You can easily spend the rest of your evening playing here, watching the beautiful sunset and relaxing on the beach!
Itinerary for Oahu Day 2 – Diamond Head Hike & Island Tour
Diamond Head Hike
Most people will be coming from a time zone that’s ahead of island time, so this is a great morning to get up and take a hike. One of the most popular hikes in Oahu is Diamond Head Crater.
You’ll want to get an early start to beat the crowds, but also because the later in the day it is, the hotter it gets.
There’s a cost of $5 per vehicle to park and $1 per person to hike. It’s a mile and a half round-trip hike and most families can do it in an hour, but be sure to count travel time there and back.
The gates close at 6:00 pm, with the last visitors allowed in around 4:30 pm. If you do plan to come later in the afternoon, keep that in mind.
Take a drive with the Shaka App
The Shaka app is a fantastic way to get to know the island better. We downloaded the Legendary North Shore Loop and started in Waikiki.
Currently, it’s $14.99 and well worth it. Plan for this to take the rest of your day and be sure to pack your things for swimming if the mood strikes you.
You’ll be driving by some gorgeous beaches on your way around the island!
You can download the Shaka app to your iOS or Android device.
Greenwood Coffee Farm
This was a fun little stop along the way where we got a coffee (of course) and learned more about how coffee beans are grown.
We didn’t stay long, but it was worth getting out and stretching out legs, plus…coffee!
Next up is the Dole Plantation. This is a very popular tourist attraction that many families plan time for. It can also be very busy with long lines to ride the train.
We opted to skip the tour and instead, treated ourselves to a delicious Dole Whip. We took some pictures around the area we could access without buying tickets and went happily on our way.
Turtle Beach and Shark’s Cove
As you continue on your road trip, you’ll head toward North Shore. Plan to at least stop at Turtle Beach (also known as Laniakea Beach) to see the sea turtles.
They’re almost always visible from the beach and so fun to get to see. If you brought your snorkeling equipment, this is a good place to spend a little time.
Shark’s Cove is also a great place for snorkeling as there’s quite a bit of coral and sea life close to the shore.
There are also a lot of rocks though, so this may not be a suitable beach for young swimmers to get in. Be sure to bring water shoes to protect your feet.
Enjoy the rest of the trip around the island and plan on stopping at Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck as you make your way around.
Be prepared to pay cash, since they don’t take credit cards. It’s worth it and you’ll be licking your fingers by the time you’re done!
Day 3 itinerary for Oahu – Beach time, sailing, and touring
If you’re following our guide and using the 3 day Go Oahu Pass, today is the first day you’ll activate it.
Of course, you can rearrange any of these days to fit your needs, but having an idea of what’s possible to fit into each day is what’s most important for planning.
Secret Island Beach at Kualoa Ranch
Start your day by spending a few hours at Kualoa Ranch. Your Go Oahu Pass includes access to all of their beach and water toys.
However, many people prefer to skip the beach, since frankly, you can find better beaches for free elsewhere.
However, you can upgrade your Go Oahu Pass to include either the Hollywood Movie Sites Tour or Jungle Expedition Tour for $10.00 per person and those tours get great reviews!
Be sure to book the earliest tour available that morning to give yourself time to get back to Waikiki by 1:30.
Makani Catamaran Sail
This is another outing you can use your Go Oahu Pass for at no additional cost. Book the 2:00 pm sailing so you’ll have time to do other things in the morning and you’ll be able to sit back and relax while you’re cruising the Oahu coastline.
It’s only a two-hour sail, which is a perfect way to spend the afternoon enjoying the water.
Punch Bowl National Memorial Cemetery
Now is a great time to navigate your way to Punch Bowl National Memorial Cemetery.
You may be wondering why a cemetery is on this Oahu itinerary, but Punch Bowl Crater is actually one of the most visited sites on the island.
Not only is it a beautifully landscaped memorial for many veterans who died during World War II, but its location also offers an amazing view of downtown Honolulu and the ocean.
It’s well worth your time and will only take about an hour to tour.
Magic Island Beach Park
Skip the lines at the restaurants and grab some take-out from one of the popular food trucks instead.
Head to Magic Island Beach between Honolulu and Waikiki and spend your evening playing at the park, dipping your toes in the water (or your whole body if you’d like), and taking in the gorgeous sunset!
After a busy day of exploring, this is a great way to wind down the evening!
Oahu Itinerary Day 4 – Swap Meet, snorkeling, and luau
Aloha Stadium Swap Meet
The Aloha Stadium Swap Meet is the best place to buy your souvenirs from Hawaii, plus it’s a fun place to get to shop.
It’s only open on Wednesdays and Sundays though, so it’s important that you plan your Honolulu itinerary around this.
A good plan is to get there early, not only to beat the heat (it’s located in the stadium parking lot and gets hot!), but so you can get on with the rest of your fun day.
The cost is $1 per person to get in and bring cash since many vendors don’t take cards.
If you’ve been researching how to plan the perfect Ohau itinerary, you’ve no doubt heard about Leonard’s Bakery and their famous hot malasadas.
Let me just tell you right now, this is a must! Their storefront bakery often has a very long wait, but you can skip that line and head straight to their food truck instead!
Luckily, there’s one on the way to the Ko Olina Lagoons, so you can quickly exit the highway, grab the goods and get back on your way.
TIP: Only get what you can eat hot though because they’re not nearly as good cold!
You might also notice the shave ice truck located right next to Leonard’s.
If you happen to swing back by here for another treat on your way back into town, we certainly aren’t going to tell on you! (What happens in Oahu, stays in Oahu, right?)
Ko Olina Lagoon
For families traveling with young children, spending time at the Ko Olina lagoons will be one of the highlights of your trip to Oahu!
We enjoyed it so much we spent a couple of mornings there. If you have beginner swimmers who want to snorkel, this is the perfect location to do it.
Because the rock levies break the ocean waves before they enter the lagoon, the water is much calmer than it is at other beaches.
There are plenty of fish to see and snorkeling at any of the four Ko Olina lagoons is like being in an aquarium.
Ka Moana Luau
It’s time to get ready to head to the other side of the island to enjoy the Ka Moana Luau.
Your Go Oahu Pass also includes entrance to Sea Life, however, they aren’t always open on the same days.
If visiting Sea Life is important to you, you can always rearrange the itinerary to fit it in another day.
The drive getting to the Luau is spectacular with several places to pull over and take pictures.
Save yourself enough time to do this on the way since it’ll be too dark after the luau.
We’ve been to other luaus and while they all have their own flair, they’re also all pretty similar. This was the first one our kids had been to and they really had a great time.
It wasn’t too fancy, the show was entertaining, the food was good and we all enjoyed our time together.
Also, the fire dancer at the end of the show was fantastic!
Day 5 in Oahu – Pearl Harbor, botanical garden, and PCC
No visit to Oahu would be complete without touring the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor.
It’s free to tour, but during busy times you may have to wait in the stand-by line to get on the boat to the memorial.
You can reserve your spot ahead of time by booking tickets through their website. It costs $1 per ticket and is worth it to be assured of your tour time.
Your Go Oahu Pass covers the audio tour which adds so much value to your time there.
Spend as much time as you’d like exploring the museums and memorials. Although younger children won’t grasp the importance of Pearl Harbor, it’s something they will likely remember for a long time to come.
Plan to spend around two hours at the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor.
Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden
This is the perfect time to stop at the Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden since it’s on the way from Pearl Harbor to the Polynesian Cultural Center.
It’s free and if you get out and walk around, you won’t need more than an hour here. It’s a beautiful place to stop, use the restroom, and take a walk through the garden.
If you plan ahead, this would be a lovely spot to bring a picnic and enjoy lunch. There are several spots that are ideal for this and since you’ll want to eat before you get to the PCC, you might as well make it a memorable one!
Polynesian Cultural Center
This was another of our favorite things to do with our kids in Oahu.
It’s also another reason we got the Oahu Pass because we saved quite a bit by not having to pay for entrance to the PCC.
The Polynesian Cultural Center opens at 12:45 and you’re going to want to be there at that time.
There’s so much to see and do here and the shows are so much fun! As the guide told us when we first got there, don’t dilly-dally or you won’t get to see it all.
Take a good look at the map and schedule when you first arrive and make note of the things you definitely want to see.
Then you can add in other things as you go and you’ll have a full afternoon of exploring the different villages there.
You can stop by the gift shops and food vendors after your time is up inside the center, so don’t waste any time doing that when you first get there.
We had a really great time here and all of the employees were so friendly. The PCC is well worth adding to your perfect Oahu itinerary.
Oahu itinerary Day 6 – snorkeling, hiking, and beach time
Hanauma Bay is one of the most popular beaches on Oahu. However, it’s become so crowded that you now have to have reservations to go there.
If you can score tickets to Hanauma Bay, start your morning early and spend time snorkeling there. Even without reservations, some people have had success getting in just by showing up at 6:45 and waiting in line.
Either way, do your research if visiting Hanauma Bay is important to you.
If you don’t spend the morning there, but you want more time snorkeling or playing in the water, head to your favorite beach to spend the morning.
We opted to go back to Ko Olina lagoons to play with the kids there.
Lanikai Pillbox Hike
You may also want to plan on doing the Lanikai Pillbox hike and then spending time at the Lanikai beach on the windward coast of Oahu when you’re done.
It’s considered one of the best hikes on Oahu and is also kid-friendly.
Beach time with your family
If neither of those options work for you, today is the day to pick your favorite beach and spend your time enjoying what you came here for…relaxing in the sun!
After spending your last 5 days on Oahu on the go, you’ll appreciate having a slow day before you head home.
My suggestion is to not try to fit too much into this day, but rather keep it chill.
Book a dinner reservation ahead of time and celebrate your last night in Oahu before heading home!
Day 7 – Wrapping up your Oahu itinerary
It’s time to pack it up and say Aloha. Actually, I prefer to say “until next time” since I never want to say goodbye to Hawaii!
Be sure to give yourself plenty of time to return your rental car if you haven’t yet and get to the airport two hours early.
Sometimes you’ll breeze right through, but other times are quite busy and the lines can be long.
More fun for your Oahu itinerary
If some of the things on this itinerary don’t sound interesting to you, feel free to swap them out for things that do.
Here are some other ideas you might want to consider. Again, you may want to consider getting the 5 day Oahu Go Pass if that fits your itinerary better.
Visit a museum
The Go Oahu Pass includes entrance to several museums. These include the Bishop Museum, Queen Emma Summer Palace, Honolulu Museum of Art, and the Iolani Palace.
Swim at Waimea Valley
This is a very popular hike and swim attraction that you may want to add to your itinerary. The hike is an easy, kid-friendly trek that should take 20-30 minutes to get to the falls.
Life jackets are provided and during busy seasons it can be very crowded with people swimming at the falls.
Go Kayaking or Stand-up paddleboarding
Feel like spending some time out on the water? If you have time for it on one of the days you’re using your Go Oahu Pass, you can reserve a kayak or stand-up paddleboard for three hours.
We didn’t do this since it wasn’t something our seven-year-old could do, but it sure sounds fun!
Adults and children ages 12 and up can also use the Go Oahu Pass to take a stand-up paddleboard yoga class at Magic Island Beach.
The Go Oahu Pass included several more outings that we didn’t have time for, but we really did enjoy each of the things we used it for and would have done more if time had allowed.
Where to eat in Oahu
It’s a good idea to make reservations ahead of time at any restaurants you plan to eat at.
You can use apps like Open Table to book and also to keep an eye on cancelations if the restaurant you like is already booked.
Since it was more important to us to spend our time playing and exploring the island, we didn’t tie ourselves down to any dinnertime reservations.
If you’re celebrating a special event or just really want to experience a particular restaurant, try to plan it for a day when you’ll be in the area that afternoon.
Some of the best places to eat in Oahu are (including bakeries and desserts):
- Duke’s Waikīkī
- The Surfing Pig
- L&L Hawaiian Barbecue
- Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck
- Leonard’s Bakery
- Eggs ‘n Things
- Cheeseburger in Paradise
- Chubbies Burgers
- Merriman’s Honolulu
- Helena’s Hawaiian Food
- Marukame Udon
- Big Kahuna’s Pizza
- L&L Hawaiian BBQ
- Foodland (for Poke)
- Matsumoto Shave Ice
If you’re staying in the Waikiki Marina Resort (or the Hilton next door), be sure to hit up $2 Tuesdays at Dave’s ice cream in the lobby of the hotel!
Where to stay in Oahu
Since this is about planning the best Oahu itinerary for families, here are three of the best hotels for families in Oahu.
Hyatt Regency Waikiki – the location of this hotel couldn’t be better and is right in the heart of all the action at Waikiki beach.
The hotel is very family-friendly and is within easy walking distance to plenty of places to eat. Our hotel room had a stunning view of the beach and sunset!
Waikiki Marina Resort at the Ilikai – not many hotels in Oahu come with kitchens, but that can be a great way for families to save money while in Oahu.
The Waikiki Marina offers rooms with small kitchens that are perfect for times when you want to fix your own breakfast before you head out or keep things like sandwich makings in the fridge for packing picnics each day.
Aulani Disney Resort – what could be better than combining Disney and Oahu? Not much! The resort is located on the Ko Olina lagoons and is such an amazing vacation spot for families. It’s not cheap, but oh the memories you’ll be making if you stay there!
Commonly asked questions about Oahu
How many days do you need to see Oahu?
There’s plenty to do in Oahu to fill your days, no matter if you’re planning a 3 day Oahu itinerary, a 5 day Oahu itinerary, or 7 day Oahu itinerary.
Ideally, you’ll have at least 5 days in Hawaii as that will give you time to explore the island, take some hikes and spend time at the beach.
If you have 10 days in Oahu, you can really get to know the area, discover which beaches you like best and spend even more time relaxing and enjoying the tropical atmosphere.
You may also enjoy reading: 16 Amazing things to do in Oahu with Kids
What is the best month to visit Oahu?
Whichever month you’re available! Seriously, there’s no bad time to visit Oahu. However, some months are busier than others and if your goal is to avoid peak season, then skip the busy summer months as well as the holiday season.
The best times to visit Oahu are April, May, September, and October. The weather is ideal and you can usually score good travel deals for those months.
What is the best way to get around Oahu?
Renting a car will give you the most freedom to come and go as you please. If you’re traveling with young children who need car or booster seats, it really only makes sense to rent one for the time you’ll need it.
Booking through RentalCars.com can save you up to 30%.
Turo is another popular option and you can often find cars for cheaper than traditional rental agencies.
We used Turo to rent a car from an individual while we were there and it worked out great for us.
Using Uber or a taxi service is an option if you’re only needing to go short distances. They do not service the entire island and can be quite expensive to use.
The city bus is a very inexpensive way to get around the island. If renting a car isn’t an option for you, check out the bussing system as an option, but keep in mind it will take considerably longer to get to your destination than it would if you were driving yourself.
Most hotels charge up to $50/night for parking, so we used Charlie’s Taxi service to get from the airport to the hotel. We didn’t need a car the first day we arrived so we not only saved on parking, but it cut down on our rental fees.
If you’re following our one week Oahu itinerary, you’ll want to rent a car for at least four of those days.
What is the rainiest month in Oahu?
December gets the most rain in Oahu, while June gets the least.
What is the cheapest time of year to visit Hawaii?
Flights to Hawaii are usually least expensive in January and September. June and December are generally the most expensive.
Which Hawaiian island is best for first time visitors?
Oahu is a great choice for families for several reasons. First, it has so much to see and do! It also has the most hotel options and is overall generally less expensive than the other islands.
Hopefully, this gives you a great idea of how you can plan your Oahu travel itinerary.
While we found great value in using the Oahu Go Pass, if you aren’t planning to attend a luau, you may want to plan your 5 day Oahu itinerary without the Pass.
Check the prices to see which way you come out ahead and then you can make your reservations.
Let us know if you have questions about any of the outings or what else you might want to add to your itinerary!
Aloha & Mahalo 🌺
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