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3 Days in Oahu

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First time on Oahu? Here's your must-see list of things to do!

Good for
  • History Buff
  • Thrill Seeker
  • Shopping Fanatic
  • Art and Architecture Lover
  • Nightlife Seeker
  • Nature Lover
  • Foodie
  • Peace and Quiet Seeker
  • LGBT
  • Beach Goer
  • Luxury Traveler
  • Thrifty Traveler
  • Trendsetter
  • Like a Local

16 Places

3 City Tips

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16 Places

Day 1

Bishop Museum

Specialty Museums

Chinatown

Neighborhoods

Ali'iolani Hale

Architectural Buildings, Government Buildings

Honolulu Museum of Art

Art Museums

Shangri La

Art Museums, Architectural Buildings, Historic Sites

Waikiki Beach

Beaches

Side Street Inn

Restaurants

Day 2

Pearl Harbor / WW II Valor in the Pacific National Monument

Historic Sites, Historic Walking Areas, Military Bases & Facilities

Kukaniloko Birthing Stones

Historic Sites, Geologic Formations

Haleiwa

Destinations

Matsumoto Shave Ice

Restaurants

Sunset Beach Park

Beaches

Day 3

Nu’uanu Pali

Valleys, Lookouts

Lanikai Beach

Beaches

Valley of the Temples

Cemeteries, Sacred & Religious Sites, Historic Sites

Polynesian Cultural Center

Civic Centers

Chris O's City Tips

  • Staying in Honolulu? "TheBus" is an easy and affordable way to get around town and much of the island of Oahu, hitting some of the best beaches along the way.
  • There’s a reason why this far flung archipelago of tropical islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean is a surfer’s paradise: big waves! Swim with caution or not at all.
  • A little "aloha spirit" goes a long way anywhere - especially in Hawaii.
    Day 1
  • Bishop Museum
    Specialty Museums
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    To discover the distinctive history, arts and culture of the Hawaiian people, there is no better place to visit than the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum – the designated State Museum of Natural and Cultural History for Hawaii. Whether you’re working on a PhD in Polynesian Studies or simply looking for a rainy day activity on your family vacation, the Bishop Museum is designed to entertain and enlighten. It’s a must-see attraction for any visitor to Hawaii.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • To make the most of your visit to the museum, have a look at its membership options. It may come out just as affordable and grant you access to things not otherwise on offer.
    • The Bishop is closed on Tuesdays.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #15 of 285 things to do in Honolulu
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • If you have time 04/19/2019
    • hawaiiana 04/17/2019
    • Bishop Museum
    Address:
    1525 Bernice St
    Honolulu, Oahu, HI 96817-2704
    Phone:
    +1 808-843-7654
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    9:00 AM - 5:00 PM
    Other:
  • Chinatown
    Neighborhoods
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    Just in time for lunch! Forage your way along the historic streets of Chinatown, home of one of the oldest Chinese communities in America. While small in size, foodies are spoiled for choice here, from humble bakeries and noodle houses to upscale restaurants.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Thrifty Traveler
    • Like a Local
    • History Buff
    • Shopping Fanatic
    Tips
    • The food court at the Maunakea Marketplace is a popular and inexpensive place to grab a bite.
    • If you’re looking for some of Honolulu’s best (and least touristy) nightlife, consider heading back here after the sun’s gone down.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #147 of 285 things to do in Honolulu
    • Chinatown 04/04/2019
    • Enjoyed our walk through Chinatown 03/12/2019
    • Chinatown
    Address:
    100 N Beretania St
    Honolulu, Oahu, HI 96817-4712
    Phone:
    +1 808-521-3826
    Other:
  • Ali'iolani Hale
    Architectural Buildings, Government Buildings
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    Learn about the history and traditions of Hawaiian royalty at the once official residence of the islands’ monarchy. This 'marvel of opulence' was the first major Western-style structure built by the Hawaiian monarchy and is well known for its iconic clock tower and its more recently placed statue of Kamehameha the Great.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • The museum offers a range of events including a Hawaiian quilt making workshop.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #56 of 285 things to do in Honolulu
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Iconic & Not To Miss 04/19/2019
    • Your very own Hawai’i 5 O 03/20/2019
    • Ali'iolani Hale
    Address:
    417 King Street
    Honolulu, Oahu, HI
    Phone:
    +1 808-539-4999
    Other:
  • Honolulu Museum of Art
    Art Museums
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    Yes there is fine art and refined culture in Hawaii! An ample amount can be viewed at the Honolulu Museum of Art, including works by Bacon, Gauguin, Matisse, Monet, Picasso, Hockney and more, as well as one of the largest collections of Asian and Pan-Pacific art in the United States.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Be sure to enquire about tours, workshops and other special events held at or by the museum.
    • The museum is open to the public Tuesday through Sunday.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #16 of 285 things to do in Honolulu
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Worth a Visit 04/13/2019
    • Free Admission on The Third Sunday of Each Month 04/08/2019
    • Honolulu Museum of Art
    Address:
    900 S Beretania St
    Honolulu, Oahu, HI 96814-1495
    Phone:
    +1 808-532-8701
    Hours:
    Sun
    1:00 PM - 5:00 PM
    Tue - Sat
    10:00 AM - 4:30 PM
    Other:
  • Shangri La
    Art Museums, Architectural Buildings, Historic Sites
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    An unlikely home for an Islamic Arts and Cultures Center, Shangri-La is full of surprises and delights. Set beside Diamond Head - just outside of Honolulu - this former retreat of heiress Doris Duke is one of Hawaii’s most architecturally important houses, and features Duke’s extensive collection of Islamic art. The five acre complex is comprised of a 'series of interlocking spaces, both indoors and out: rooms, courtyards, lanais, terraces, gardens, and numerous water features' that might seem less out of place in North Africa or the Middle East.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • Like a Local
    • History Buff
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Tours of Shangri-La are organized by the Honolulu Museum of Art.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #7 of 285 things to do in Honolulu
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • WOW. Absolutely terrific place to visit. Great Arabesque Art. 04/14/2019
    • "Picture Perfect" 04/11/2019
    • Shangri La
    Address:
    4055 Papu Cir
    Honolulu, Oahu, HI 96816-4850
    Phone:
    +1 808-734-1941
    Other:
  • Waikiki Beach
    Beaches
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    Even with all the hotels and urban build-up, the natural beauty and cozy charm of this world-renowned crescent of sand cannot be denied. There’s a reason Waikiki is such an incredibly popular tourist destination: it’s an awesome beach with gentle waves, a scenic backdrop and offers a wealth of attractions in close proximity, including the zoo, the aquarium, the statue of surfing legend Duke Kahanamoku and lots, lots more. You'll find some of the islands' best shopping and dining here as well. End your day here with a walk along the boardwalk, some amazing food, and an obligatory tropical cocktail!

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Must See
    • Beach Goer
    • Luxury Traveler
    • Thrifty Traveler
    • History Buff
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Nightlife Seeker
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Of course, Waikiki is hardly a hidden gem. So if you want desert island solitude, you may prefer to steer clear.
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #5 of 285 things to do in Honolulu
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Coming back every single time going to Waikiki 04/20/2019
    • Much better beaches in Oahu 04/19/2019
    • Waikiki Beach
    Address:
    Kalakaua Avenuue
    Honolulu, Oahu, HI 96815
    Other:
  • Side Street Inn
    Restaurants (American, Bar, Hawaiian)
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    Even though reservations are HIGHLY recommended and they offer valet parking, this is not a fine dining establishment. Side Street Inn serves family-style dishes that range from fried rice to pork chops to salads and prawn fettuccine. Portions are huge and the atmosphere is fun and relaxed.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Thrifty Traveler
    Tips
    • Families will love this place for an affordable, satisfying meal.
    • Take advantage of the valet parking, especially at peak meal times.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #78 of 3,046 restaurants in Oahu
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Used to be good. Now overated. 04/18/2019
    • Great family meal 04/13/2019
    • Side Street Inn
    Address:
    1225 Hopaka St
    614 Kapahulu Ave
    Honolulu, Oahu, HI 96814-4302
    Phone:
    +1 808-591-0253
    Price range:
    $1 - $20
    Hours:
    Fri
    1:00 PM - 10:00 PM
    Sat - Thu
    1:00 PM - 12:00 AM
    Other:
  • Day 2
  • Pearl Harbor / WW II Valor in the Pacific National Monument
    Historic Sites, Historic Walking Areas, Military Bases & Facilities
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument 'preserves and interprets the stories of the Pacific War' and includes the USS Arizona Memorial and Visitor Center, the USS Utah Memorial, and the USS Oklahoma Memorial - commemorating the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor and the events leading up to American engagement in World War II.

    Good for
    • History Buff
    Tips
    • The Pearl Harbor Visitor Center has an average of 2,000 first-come/ first-serve tickets available each day. Tickets to the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center are free but limited.
    • The Visitor Center opens at 7am. If you arrive early enough to secure your own tickets, you may have a few hours to wait before your tour.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #1 of 285 things to do in Honolulu
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Pearl Harbor 04/19/2019
    • Must see site for remembering our heros 04/19/2019
    • Pearl Harbor / WW II Valor in the Pacific National Monument
    Address:
    1 Arizona Memorial Place
    Honolulu, Oahu, HI 96818-3103
    Phone:
    808-422-3300
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    7:00 AM - 5:00 PM
    Other:
  • Kukaniloko Birthing Stones
    Historic Sites, Geologic Formations
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    This uncannily serene inland setting of spiritual and cultural significance is one of only two sites reserved for the birth of royalty by the ancient Hawaiians. A small grove of trees marks the spot where oddly shaped rocks were used in labour and subsequent ceremonies.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Like a Local
    • History Buff
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Kukaniloko means "to anchor the cry from within."
    • Look for the site at the intersection of Kamehameha Highway (Highway 99) and Whitmore Avenue on the north side of Wahiawa.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #3 of 9 things to do in Wahiawa
    • Blessed to see this. 03/23/2019
    • Park on the road and walk in - you will have red shoes after you go 03/10/2019
    • Kukaniloko Birthing Stones
    Address:
    Off Kamehameha Hwy.
    Wahiawa, Oahu, HI
  • Haleiwa
    Destinations
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    This small town famous for its big waves is a great place to soak up the laid back atmosphere for which Hawaii is so widely known. It also offers an excellent opportunity to try some 'ono grinds' from a local food truck or do a bit of souvenir shopping.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Beach Goer
    • History Buff
    • Thrill Seeker
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Nightlife Seeker
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Myriad outdoor activities are available year round in the Haleiwa area.
    • Assuming little or no traffic, Haleiwa is less an a 45 minute drive from Honolulu International Airport and makes a good alternative base to Waikiki and the big resorts.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    • Haleiwa
  • Matsumoto Shave Ice
    Restaurants (Hawaiian)
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    Shave Ice is a Hawaiian institution and a delicious way to cool down on a hot sunny day. Some argue there’s better shave ice than Matsumoto’s, but this place is the oldest continually run shave ice shop on the island.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    Tips
    • Potential flavor combinations are infinite. Try the "house" combo of lemon, pineapple and coconut, and strongly consider adding some adzuki beans to your order!
    • For comparative tastings, try the shave ice from nearby competitor, Aoki.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #135 of 3,046 restaurants in Oahu
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Worth the Wait! 04/18/2019
    • Shave Ice! 04/17/2019
    • Matsumoto Shave Ice
    Address:
    66-087 Kamehameha Hwy
    Haleiwa, Oahu, HI 96712-1411
    Phone:
    +1 808-637-4827
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
    Other:
  • Sunset Beach Park
    Beaches
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    Whether you’re among the adept who brave the giant waves, or more likely to consider surfing a spectator sport, you can’t help but be amazed by this epic destination on the famous North Shore of Oahu. And, oh yeah, as you might expect the sunsets seen from here are lovely.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Beach Goer
    • Thrill Seeker
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Come in the winter to see the really big waves.
    • If you don’t know what you’re doing, please don’t attempt to surf here.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #2 of 35 things to do in Haleiwa
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • If your in the area near sunset this is the place to be 04/12/2019
    • Stop by for awhle and watch the surfers 04/11/2019
    • Sunset Beach Park
    Address:
    59-104 Kamehameha Hwy
    Haleiwa, Oahu, HI 96712-9728
    Other:
  • Day 3
  • Nu’uanu Pali
    Valleys, Lookouts
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    Start you day with a drive up to this scenic lookout point for the panoramic views of the Koolau cliffs and lush windward side of Oahu.

    Good for
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Nuuanu Pali is high up on the windward side of Oahu. Be prepared for strong gusts!
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #44 of 513 things to do in Oahu
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • scenic 04/13/2019
    • Historic Place 04/02/2019
    • Nu’uanu Pali
    Phone:
    +1 859-327-2317
    Other:
  • Lanikai Beach
    Beaches
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    Not just one of Hawaii’s best beaches but often listed as one of the best on the planet, Lanikai is a favorite among locals and visitors alike. With an offshore reef keeping the tides calm, it’s a smart choice for families with small children too.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Beach Goer
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Early birds to Lanikai get to see a spectacular sunrise (and don’t have to worry as much about parking).
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #2 of 17 things to do in Kailua
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Beautiful 04/19/2019
    • Loved it! 04/16/2019
    • Lanikai Beach
  • Valley of the Temples
    Cemeteries, Sacred & Religious Sites, Historic Sites
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    Valley of the Temples is a beautiful memory park located in the lilting and verdant foothills of the Koolau Mountains. It is well worth making a short detour here to take in all the beauty on offer, and appreciate the diversity of contemporary Hawaiian society.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Like a Local
    • History Buff
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Be sure to have a look at the 1960s replica of an 11th century Buddhist temple.
    • Keep in mind that this site is for many locals a place of remembrance for family members who have passed away.
    Plan to stay:
    Less than 1 hour
    From the community
    Ranked #53 of 513 things to do in Oahu
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Beautiful Place 04/18/2019
    • Be sure to visit the Buddhist Temple 04/18/2019
    • Valley of the Temples
    Address:
    47-200 Kahekili Hwy., Kaneohe
    Oahu, HI
    Phone:
    +1 808-239-8811
    Hours:
    Sun
    9:00 AM - 3:00 PM
    Mon - Sat
    8:30 AM - 4:30 PM
    Other:
  • Polynesian Cultural Center
    Civic Centers
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    This 'Polynesian-themed theme park and living museum' located on the northern shore of Oahu is the most popular paid attraction in Hawaii. Despite an ample dose of kitsch and crowd-pleasing entertainers, the center provides an authentic and respectful look at seven Polynesian cultures.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Must See
    • History Buff
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Stay for the luau. It's among the best on offer across the islands.
    Plan to stay:
    More than 3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #5 of 18 things to do in Laie
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • The Polynesian experience 04/19/2019
    • Must see while on Oahu 04/19/2019
    • Polynesian Cultural Center
    Address:
    55-370 Kamehameah Hwy.
    Laie, Oahu, HI 96762-2113
    Phone:
    +1 800-367-7060
    Hours:
    Mon - Sat
    11:30 AM - 8:45 PM
    Other:
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