One Week on Oahu – Daily Itinerary and Guide

One Week in Oahu - Great Itinerary for First Time Visit

Oahu, Hawaii, is a busy yet beautiful Hawaiian island with a lot to see and do.  Soak in the culture at a luau, swim in a waterfall, hike a crater, explore the laid back vibe of the North Shore, catch a wave on Waikiki Beach, and pay your respects at Pearl Harbor.  With one week on Oahu, you’ll keep as busy as you like, although you may also just want to relax with a Mai Tai under a palm tree, too!

Oahu, Hawaii is the most populated of the four main Hawaiian islands:  Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and Hawaii (also known as The Big Island).  Oahu is home to the capital of the state of Hawaii, Honolulu, and holds about 70% of the state’s population.   While Oahu is busier than the other islands it has great shopping and restaurants, iconic hotels, and a plethora of things to see and do.  

Oahu’s location within the Hawaiian islands

Where We Stayed

We stayed at Disney’s Aulani Resort in Ko Olina with one night spent at the Royal Hawaiian in Waikiki.  We loved our stay at Aulani as it was very family friendly yet not overkill Disney.  There were a few Disney touches here and there but mostly the excellent service is what we were after.  Here, we had a one-bedroom villa with a king size bed in the bedroom, queen size pull out sofa bed, and single pull down bed in the living room.  The room also had a full kitchen and washer and dryer.  These amenities are great for families and we definitely appreciated the space.

We stayed at the Royal Hawaiian for our final night before we flew out the next day.  With a totally different vibe than Aulani, the Royal Hawaiian is historically beautiful.  It is known as the “pink palace” due to its iconic pink exterior.  In fact, we could pick out The Royal Hawaiian from our view on top of Diamond Head Crater!  Here, we had two rooms with very comfortable beds.  We loved all the carefully curated historic aspects of the hotel and the old Hawaiian bungalow feel.  Steps from Waikiki Beach, we had a blast boogie boarding and rolling in the waves.  It was great to have experienced both places.

When We Went

June 2023.  The weather was warm with a lovely breeze.  The Hawaiian weather is just amazing!

In the map below, I pinpoint all the stops we made.  I traveled with my kids as well as my 12-year-old nephew.  Mike had to stay back this trip due to work conflicts.  This itinerary was perfect for the older kids and we had the best time! 

Above is a map of Oahu with all our locations, listed in the itinerary:

  • Purple Markers – Aulaini Resort in Ko Olina and Royal Hawaiian in Waikiki
  • Red Marker – Ka’Wa Luau at the Aulani Resort
  • Blue Marker – Waikiki Beach
  • Yellow Marker – Diamond Head Crater
  • Teal Marker – Pearl Harbor
  • Green Markers – Our stops on the North Shore

DAY 1:

  • Travel Day

Traveling to Hawaii from the US is a long trip.  In fact, it was our longest flight yet!  We traveled from Louisville, KY to Atlanta, GA and then direct to Honolulu.  The second flight was just under ten hours.  It is worth the trek to get to paradise!

I pre-booked a shuttle with Hele Hele Shuttle to our resort, Aulani.  Once we had our luggage in hand, we met our greeter who took us out to the shuttle and it was off to Aulani.

I had already checked in at Aulani on the app so securing our room key was a quick process.  We unpacked and settled in before checking out the resort to get a lay of the land.  It was beautiful! 

Disney’s Aulani Resort, a beautiful place to stay on Oahu

For dinner, we grabbed pizza and salad from Ulu Café and took it over to what we called Sunset Point.  In front of Aulani, follow the path to the left until you get to the grassy area.  It is a wonderful place to watch the sunset.  We enjoyed our picnic dinner on our first night here in paradise!

The most beautiful grassy area for a picnic

Enjoying a pizza picnic

And a beer!

DAY 2:

  • Resort Day
  • Dinner:  Monkeypod

Today was a resort day.  Water slides, lazy river, swimming pools, and the beach!

One of the pools

The lazy river

Still on east coast time, we were up at 4 am!  We were ready for breakfast at 6:30 when Ulu Café opened. 

We took in the beautiful sunrise on the beach after breakfast.  It was gorgeous.

Good morning, Hawaii

Such a beautiful way to start the day

After sunrise, I enjoyed a two mile walk along the path.  I finished with some weights in the gym and felt great having gotten my work out in early.

Today was all about the resort – we swam in the ocean, enjoyed the pools, slides, and lazy river, and of course shaved ice and Dole Whip!

Aulani

For dinner, we headed across the street from Aulani Resort to Monkeypod, located in the Ko Olina Center.  It was delicious!  After dinner, we checked out a few of the shops.  Then back to Aulani for an early bedtime.  

Back to Aulani

Having a low key day after arrival is something I almost always try to plan.  With traveling and jet lag it is nice to not have major plans and get the lay of the land on the first full day.

DAY 3:

  • Oahu’s North Shore

Oahu’s North Shore beckons travelers away from the hustle and bustle of their resorts and the busier parts of the island such as Waikiki and Honolulu.  We had a full day planned!

The first stop of the day was securing our rental car.  Aulani has a rental car company on site, Enterprise.  I had pre-booked our car before we left so we would have our own wheels for exploring.

We were out the door at 7:40 am and joined the rental car line.  I wanted to get an early start to the day, as did several others as I was the fourth party in line.  By 8:20 am I had our car keys in hand and we hopped into our jeep to explore the North Shore.

Our first stop was Waimea Valley & Falls.  We explored the cultural and historical sites as well as the amazing botanical gardens along the way. 

Beautiful Waimea Valley

It rained during our visit but the rain did not take away from the experience.  In fact, it made it that much more enchanting!  We loved swimming in the falls as the water was very refreshing!

Braden & Ava in Waimea Falls

From here, we headed to Shark’s Cove about one mile to the east of Waimea Valley.  We were met with one of the most beautiful and unique beaches we had ever seen!  Volcanic rocks tumble down from the shore into the cove.  This not only keeps the water warm but is a haven for marine life.  We explored the cove and snorkeled for about an hour. 

Beautiful Shark’s Cove

At this point we were ready for lunch!  It was time to hit some food trucks which are iconic in Hawaii.  We headed to Surf N Salsa as I can never pass up Mexican food and this one was highly rated.  It was ah-mazing!  Seriously, those of us that got Surf N Salsa all agreed it was the best Mexican we ever had! 

Delicious Mexican fare from Surf N Salsa

Drake got Korean BBQ and loved every bite! 

Yummy Korean BBQ food truck

We grabbed shaved ice at Kaimana for dessert and then headed to North Shore Marketplace for some shopping.

Kaimea, yummy shaved ice after lunch

North Shore Marketplace has great shops with friendly shopkeepers. 

North Shore Marketplace

After a little bit of shopping, we grabbed a cold brew coffee from the Coffee Gallery and headed back to our resort. 

Want to read a more in-depth guide to our North Shore Day?  Read that post, here!

DAY 4:

  • Diamond Head Crater
  • Ka Wa’a Luau

We were up early again for a 7 am departure with our rental car.  Destination:  Diamond Head Crater

We have an in-depth article on planning, logistics and our experience at Diamond Head Crater, which you can read here.

We reached Diamond Head at about 7:50 am which is perfect for our 8:00 am time slot.  The hike is pretty much straight up and took us about 30 minutes.  The views are incredible and definitely worth the uphill hike in the hot sun. 

A steep hike takes you up to the top of the crater

Incredible views of Honolulu from the top of Diamond Head Crater

Looking down at the crater rim – the white building is where the parking lot is

Diamond Head Lighthouse

We stopped off for famous Leonard’s Malasadas at the Leonard’s Malasadsmobile Wagon.  We followed these delicious treats by getting gas and vacuuming sand out of our rental car.  Then it was back to Aulani to turn the rental car in to the valet.

We enjoyed a few hours of beach, swimming, and pool time.  Then we had a special evening planned, the Ka Wa’a Luau, at the Aulani Resort.

The luau was incredible.  Disney does everything well!  The story telling and show was amazing and the food delicious. 

We enjoyed our evening taking in the beautiful Hawaiian culture. 

Such beautiful and exciting dances to share Hawaiian culture

DAY 5:

  • Pearl Harbor

We spent the morning working out, eating, and swimming.  Mid-day it was time to get ready for a visit to Pearl Harbor.

We have an in-depth article on visiting Pearl Harbor which includes pertinent planning info and what to know before you go.

Pearl Harbor is the site of the Japanese surprise attack early in the morning attack on December 7, 1941.  The attack decimated Pearl Harbor and much of the fleet with over 2400 servicemen died.  This attack catapulted the United States into World War II.

Ava and Drake at Pearl Harbor

While here, we watched the movie, USS Arizona Documentary, visited the museums, and honored those lives lost at the USS Arizona Memorial. 

The USS Arizona Memorial

It was a very moving experience and we are glad to have visited.

Once back at the resort, we grabbed pizza for dinner and had a relaxing end of the day.

DAY 6:

  • Waikiki

We had one more full day in Oahu and it was off to Waikiki.  We moved from Aulani to the Royal Hawaiian located right on Waikiki Beach.

The Royal Hawaiian

What a different vibe!  Waikiki is busy, bustling, and full of life.  No laid back vibes here! 

Busy Waikiki Beach

We headed  to Waikiki Beach and rented boogie boards.  This was a blast! 

Boogie boarding in Waikiki

The waves kept rolling and would either throw you onto shore or roll you along the water.  We swam for a few hours before heading up to get ready for the evening.

Waikiki has a plethora of luxury stores as well as great shops for souvenirs such as Aloha and Honolulu Cookie Company.  The streets were very busy with people everywhere and live music blasting. 

Bustling Waikiki

We caught one last sunset here in Hawaii.

Waikiki Beach

We were ready for dinner and ate at Mai Tai at The Royal Hawaiian.  I had to get a Mai Tai as it was invented here! 

Mai Tai at the Royal Hawaiian:  good food, great music, fabulous Mai Tais!

It was every bit as delicious as I had imagined and enjoying it under the tiki torches lighting the beachside area was incredible.  Throw in live music with a ukulele and we had the perfect end to a wonderful trip to Oahu.

DAY 7:

Travel day home!

Oahu is a wonderful place to vacation, especially with kids and teens.  You can relax on the beach, drink a Mai Tai, or keep busy with all that the island has to offer.

Read more!

There more in-depth articles on the website sharing the activities we did in Oahu:

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