The Ultimate Oahu 4-Day Itinerary For Budget Friendly Travelers

Hawaii is a vacation destination most people dream of experiencing at least once in their lives. The combination of the beautiful scenery, alluring weather, and enriching culture all contribute to make it one of the most popular honeymoon destinations as well!

Picking an itinerary for a 4-day trip to Oahu can be hard. There are so many things to do and see, ranging from shopping for high-end luxury goods to going on backpacking adventures.

If you’re visiting Oahu for the first time, picking where to go and what to see might seem even harder. My goal is to help you discover some of the best things to do on a 4-day Oahu itinerary!

This itinerary brings you to all parts of the island, so you can really experience Oahu’s majestic beauty and culture.

Whether you’re sunbathing on a beach on the North Shore or hiking Koko Head Crater, here are the best things to do for a 4-day Oahu itinerary.

Disclosure: Go City kindly provided me with a comped pass to discover the power of their city passes in Oahu, but all opinions are my own. You’ll get nothing but honest thoughts from me! This post may also contain affiliate links. You won’t be paying a cent more, but in the event of a sale, the small affiliate commission I receive will help keep this blog running/pumping out useful and free content. Thanks a lot!


How To Get To Oahu

Honolulu International Airport (HNL), the one that you’re most likely flying into, is conveniently located in Honolulu. The HNL airport is about 20 minutes away from Waikiki and about 45 minutes away from Haleiwa (a town on the North Shore).

There are plenty of ways to get to and from the airport upon arrival or departure. If you’re staying in Waikiki:

  • You could rent a car right from the airport.
    • We like renting with Hertz because their free Gold Rewards Membership allows you to skip the counter entirely and go right to your assigned rental car. This is so valuable in Hawaii, where almost everyone else flying in also needs a rental car. And rental car lines get long.
  • You can get to downtown Waikiki via TheBus route #20.
  • You could also take a taxi or rideshare to your hotel for a relatively low fare. 

We usually stay outside of Waikiki if we can help it because we like other parts of the island so much more. Hotels and resorts in the Waikiki area typically charge an arm and a leg for resort fees and parking, which I am not a fan of.

By staying outside of Waikiki, we’re able to rent a car for the entirety of our trip because we’re usually able to park our car wherever we want–free of charge!


How To Get Around Oahu

Waikiki / Honolulu area

If you’re happy staying in the Waikiki / Honolulu area for the majority of your trip, then a car rental is not needed. There are plenty of great public transportation options that make it easy to travel around the main areas of Oahu, like the bustling downtown area and popular tourist attractions.

There’s an excellent local bus system called TheBus, that mostly services Honolulu and Waikiki, but has lines extending out to just about every major town on the island.

Catching a ride on TheBus is very straightforward. Just stand in front of the bus stop, and wait to be picked up. Once onboard, make sure to pay attention to each stop, as you’ll have to pull the stop cord to request a stop.

Fares are reasonable and transfers are allowed. For more information, check out TheBus’ website for info on departure times, system maps, ticket prices, and more.

Ridesharing services, like Uber and Lyft, are now available in Hawaii as well. These may be cheaper than hailing a taxi, so make sure to download your preferred service to your phone and compare prices.

If you plan on walking or biking as your main form of transportation, this is best in the Waikiki and Honolulu areas. These areas are very pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods and you’ll find plenty of restaurants, attractions, tours, and other exciting sights just by exploring on foot or bike.

How To Get Around Oahu - TravelsWithElle

The rest of the island

Those looking to explore past what Waikiki offers and do as the locals will prefer to rent a car.

Renting a car is the most popular option for travelers visiting Oahu. Because the island is spread out with lots and lots of things to do in many of the island’s neighborhoods, you can see a ton more with a car rental.

If you plan on exploring parts of the island outside of Waikiki, a car is absolutely necessary and you will not regret the decision of renting one. Even if you are staying in Waikiki, without a car, you’ll be pretty much confined to that area.

That will make for one heck of a mediocre vacation in Hawaii because the best parts of Oahu are outside of the Honolulu area!

Driving in Oahu is easy and straightforward, though traffic can sometimes be an issue during the busy months of the tourist season and during rush hour on weekdays.

Be aware that speed limits in Oahu are generally lower than those in the continental United States and are strictly enforced.

You can rent cars directly at the airport. Many rental car companies require drivers to be 25 years of age or older.

We typically like to rent from Hertz. With their free-to-join Hertz Gold Membership program, you’ll get counter-free pickup (great for skipping those long Hawaii airport lines), and even mobile alerts with your exact rental car and its location before you arrive.

Renting a Car In Hawaii - TravelsWithElle


Where To Stay In Oahu

Staying in Honolulu/Waikiki can be a good idea for first-timers, as it puts you close to plenty of introductory things to do, places to eat and shop, and tourist attractions.

While it is convenient and close to a lot of restaurants, bars, and shopping, there are some drawbacks.

First off, because of how compact and populated this area is, street parking is hard to come by.

Do note that a lot of the hotels and resorts here charge both resort fees and parking fees. These fees range anywhere from $20-50 per night for parking and $15-35 per night for the resort fee.

So if you’ve found a hotel you like, be sure to check for these ‘hidden’ fees!

Many hours of research later–here are a few hotels that I’ve found to be the most budget-friendly in the Waikiki area, after accounting for all the added fees:

If you have more budget to play with, we especially like these hotels:

Waikiki - Where To Stay In Oahu Hawaii

If you’d rather get off the beaten path a little, I would actually recommend staying in a VRBO vacation rental or hotel on any part of the island other than Waikiki. While Waikiki is beautiful and convenient, it is also very developed, meaning it’ll have more of an impersonal city feel.

Other parts of Oahu are way more scenic!

My favorite part of the island to stay is in Kailua, located on the East Shore. Lanikai Beach, named one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, is located on the Eastern part of the island, too.

Best lodging/transportation combination: Rent a car + rent a vacation home/private room in a neighborhood with driveway parking or street parking outside of Waikiki. Free parking = more money to spend on other parts of your vacation!


Oahu 4-Day Itinerary: Day 1 – Waikiki

1. Wake up to Kona coffee and pastries

Kona Coffee Purveyors - Best Things To Eat In Oahu

Typically on our first day in Hawaii, we’re jetlagged. If you also happen to be jetlagged, then why not start your first morning off with a casual stroll and a walk to a coffee shop?

One of our new favorite coffee shops in the Waikiki area is Kona Coffee Purveyors. Aside from their high-quality coffee, there’s something else that draws us there each and every morning. The undeniable pastries by b. Patisserie (originally from San Francisco, CA)!

Do not miss the croissants and the kouign amanns, they are all baked to perfection.

I always get the black sesame kouign amann–in SF where we live, you can only get these twice a year on Chinese New Year and National Kouign Amann day. In Hawaii, you can get these every single day!

2. Spend the morning hiking Koko Head

36 Hours On Oahu, Hawaii - www.travelswithelle.com

No matter how fit you are, a Koko Head hike will have you huffing and puffing, dripping with sweat.

First off, what is Koko Head? Basically, the Koko Crater Trail is a Stair Master workout all the way up the 1000+ stairs, with a rewarding panoramic view up top.

As challenging as it sounds, hiking the Koko Head trail is super fun as people passing each other are continuously motivating or complaining to each other. It’s pretty, entertaining, and a very popular hike on Oahu. Highly recommended if you’re going to be spending any amount of time in HI!

The views are absolutely amazing here on a clear day.

36 Hours On Oahu, Hawaii - www.travelswithelle.com
Views from the top of Koko Head. And me…resting.

Pro Tip: If you can manage to wake up early, Koko Head makes for a great sunrise hike. I’ve done this hike during sunrise on other Oahu trips and let me tell you, it’s one of the most epic times of day to see the island from that high up!

Read More: The Packing List for Hawaii and Other Tropical Beach Destinations

3. Get malasadas at Leonard’s Bakery

Leonard's Malasadas - 4 Day Oahu Itinerary For Budget Friendly Travelers

Malasadas stuffed with haupia. That’s all I need to say!

Whenever we’re in Hawaii, we always pick up a few flavors of the malasadas so that we can sample them all. Some of our favorites include the chocolate dobash, plain, and haupia. We also try and order a slice of the butter mochi (my personal favorite sweet treat)!

I’d highly recommend the butter mochi, the haupia malasada, and the plain malasada which is what they’re known for.

Pro Tip: If the line at the original Leonard’s location is too long, you could visit their food truck location in East Honolulu.

4. Get lunch at Kyung’s Seafood

36 Hours On Oahu, Hawaii - www.travelswithelle.com

If you’re looking for a more off-the-beaten-path restaurant, head to Kyung’s!

Let me tell you, the meat jun is not to be missed here. Our go-to dish is a combo plate of poke, meat jun, and rice. It always tastes so fresh and amazing.

On my last trip, I was gushing to the owner about how delicious our plate was, and she said their meat jun was the best on the island. Obviously, I have no idea if that’s true or not, but I certainly believed it by the taste of the food!

Next time, we want to go back and try their plate of sashimi. It is a seafood restaurant after all! 100% would recommend dining here.

5. Get an afternoon coffee and go shopping

36 Hours On Oahu, Hawaii - www.travelswithelle.com

At this point, being potentially jetlagged and all, you might be tired. A very casual activity is to walk around the Waikiki area, grab some coffee, and hunt for gifts and local treasures.

Kai Coffee Hawaii is a great coffee stop. They have an extremely delightful and creamy macadamia nut latte.

On the shopping front, you could pop in and out of the shops on Kalakaua Avenue in Waikiki, head to Ala Moana Shopping Center, or visit the Don Quixote superstore (a Japanese market, like a Walmart, but with tons of pre-made Japanese / Hawaiian / Korean food as well).

Pro Tip: I highly recommend checking out Don Quixote as an alternative to Foodland or the ABC Stores. To save some money, buy your souvenirs, coffee beans, and snacks to bring home here!

Read More: Oahu Hawaii: Top Tips For First Timers

6. Cool yourself off at Waiola Shave Ice

36 Hours On Oahu, Hawaii - www.travelswithelle.com

A complete hole in the wall, Waiola is one of our favorite shave ice spots. They excel at their mochi balls, which is why I love them! The passionfruit, guava, and lychee flavors are our go-to.

For some of the best li hing candies on the island, head inside the Waiola store. Their li hing mangos and sour belts are some of the most potent and delicious we’ve tasted!

7. Get an afternoon snack at Ono Seafood

36 Hours On Oahu, Hawaii - www.travelswithelle.com

Ono Seafood has been killing it in the poke game since I first went to Hawaii years, years ago. Of all the flavors we’ve tried over the years, the shoyu and spicy mayo are the best ones in our opinion.

Foodland’s shoyu poke is typically too salty for me, and this was pure perfection. I come back time and time again!

8. Visit Iolani Palace

Iolani Palace - 4 Day Oahu Itinerary For Budget Travelers

For an immersive taste of Hawaiian history, head to Iolani Palace in the afternoon for an interactive self-guided audio tour. This attraction is not to be missed for history buffs!

Located in Honolulu’s capitol district, this regal structure and National Historic Landmark was home to the Hawaiian Kingdom’s two final monarchs, King Kalakaua, and his sister and successor, Queen Liliuokalani.

Marvel at the ornate architecture, see the furnishings made for royalty, and learn all about the building and its former occupants.

The inside really is as picturesque as the outside of the building!

Note: This attraction is included with a Go City Oahu All-Inclusive Pass

Iolani Palace - 4 Day Oahu Itinerary For Budget Travelers

9. Makani Catamaran Sunset Sail

Makani Sunset Sail - 4 Day Oahu Itinerary For Budget Travelers

There’s no better way to see your first day off than on a boat! Take a two-hour catamaran trip along the coast of Waikiki to see the city and Diamond Head from a very unique perspective.

From the deck of the boat, you’ll get stunning coastal views of Oahu and see the amber glimmer of the sun as it sets over the city’s landmarks.

While you’re enjoying the views, you’ll get to enjoy a great selection of drinks to toast the perfect trip. The best part? The drinks are unlimited (even the alcoholic ones)!

Once you’re on the water, be sure to look out for Hawaii’s native ocean life. Turtles, dolphins, and even humpback whales are typically spotted. On our sunset sail, we saw dolphins!

Note: This attraction is included with a Go City Oahu All-Inclusive Pass! Because it is a Premium attraction, you’ll need to get an All-Inclusive Pass of 3+ days.

10. Get a casual dinner at Zippy’s

Zippys Zip Pack - 4 Day Oahu Itinerary for Budget Travelers

Zippy’s is a Hawaiian staple; you have to try it at least once while you’re on the island!

If you need some pointers, opt for the Zippy’s Zip Pac, Korean fried chicken plate, or the chili and fried chicken plate. I also personally love the chicken long rice.

For fast food, Zippy’s is pretty amazing. I mean, if we had a Zippy’s on the mainland, why would there be any use for McDonald’s or Burger King anymore?

Pro Tip: You need to try the chili, even if you’re not a fan of chili. I typically don’t like chili, but this… is something else. I’ve even gone so far as to try to recreate it for dinners! It’s so, so good.

Other stops in Waikiki/Honolulu to consider:


Oahu 4-Day Itinerary: Day 2 – North Shore

1. Green World Coffee Farm

Green World Coffee Farm - Oahu North Shore Itinerary

Green World Coffee Farm is a small local coffee farm consisting of 7 acres of land with approximately 3,000 arabica coffee trees. Green World Coffee buys green beans from local farms across Hawaii such as Maui, Molokai, Kauai as well as Waialua, which is located on the North Shore of Oahu.

In addition to a large gift shop selling everything from coffee, tea, and other local merchandise, they also offer a full menu of drinks that can be purchased off the espresso bar.

At the gift shop, there are free coffee and tea tastings! Personally, the chocolate mint tea was unique and delicious! And because they roast their coffee daily, you know you’ll be tasting fresh beans whether you buy beans to take home or order a drink.

After you pick up your drinks and gifts, head out back to the little coffee farm area to enjoy a few moments outdoors before heading back in your car for your next stop.

2. Dole Plantation

The Dole Plantation, located just a few minutes from the previous stop on the North Shore of Oahu, is a fun stop for the entire family. Established by James Dole in 1899, the company now ships 170 different food products to over 90 countries.

If you’re traveling with children, you may want to consider doing the Pineapple Express Train Tour and the Pineapple Garden Maze. The Plantation Garden Tour provides visitors with a pleasant stroll through cute little pineapple plants on display.

While you’re strolling through the gardens, be sure to stop to read the informational displays and presentations, where you’ll learn all about the history of the pineapple.

After you’re done exploring the outdoor grounds, head into the plantation country store where you’ll find a huge (and I mean huge) variety of Dole Plantation gifts, local snacks, and gifts. Sure it’s touristy, but still a lot of fun to look through.

In the cafeteria area, you can find foods and refreshments to enjoy including their iconic Dole Whip. And if you’re looking to bring an actual pineapple home, they have those for sale too!

Dole Whip Dole Plantation - Oahu North Shore Itinerary

Pro Tip: Parking gets crazy here, so try to arrive around 9:30 am when they open. You’ll get the shortest lines at all the attractions–gift shop, train rides, maze, etc.

3. Haleiwa Town

Haleiwa Town - Oahu North Shore Itinerary

Located about 1 hour from Waikiki (15 minutes away from Dole Plantation) is Haleiwa. Along with the North Shore of Oahu, this area is known as the surfing capital of the world!

Historically, Haleiwa is an old community dating back to the 1900’s contributing to the sugar plantation industry.

Once you pass Haleiwa’s iconic sign with the surfer, you’ll find a bunch of cool surf shops, boutiques, art galleries, and local food joints housed in plantation-era buildings.

Once you drive in, you will be able to tell that Haleiwa is the social and artistic hub of the North Shore. You’ll find lots of food trucks, shave ice joints, and acai/smoothie shops, and lots of people sitting around enjoying them!

Jenny's Shrimp Haleiwa Town - Oahu North Shore Itinerary

Haleiwa Town - Oahu North Shore Itinerary

Take a stroll around the various plazas that make up Haleiwa for an hour or two, including the old Waialua Sugar Mill. The sugar mill features local crafts, products, and services in a unique, old-Hawaii setting.

Shops include the North Shore Soap Factory, Charley Walker’s All Surf Glassing, Haleiwa Surfboard Company, Old Sugar Mill Brand Coffee & Chocolate, the weekly Saturday morning Farmers’ Market, and more.

You may want to get Matsumoto’s Shave Ice now, but if you’d like to get some real food in your belly first, you can always come back later in the day for it!

4. Haleʻiwa Bowls

Haleiwa Bowls - The Perfect Oahu North Shore Itinerary

Acai bowls are such a refreshing treat after a beach day or during a hot and sunny day out in the North Shore.

Haleʻiwa Bowls serves up some of the most delicious and beautiful acai bowls and smoothies on the North Shore of Oahu. If you’ve been looking for an antioxidant fix in Hawaii, this is the place to get it!

We ordered a large Local Bowl to share and were pleasantly surprised to find poi in our bowl! With the almond butter we added, our acai bowl was extra nutrient-packed and filling.

What I love about Haleʻiwa Bowls is that they use real, straight-up acai (as opposed to an acai blended base with other fruits). It’s also the perfect amount of frozen, which is really important because Hawaii is so hot all the time!

Haleiwa Bowls - The Perfect Oahu North Shore Itinerary

Not feeling acai right now? No problem. A great alternative further down the road is Sunrise Shack, located about 7 miles east of Haleʻiwa Bowls. If you’re not feeling up for acai in the morning, you’ll have a second chance later!

5. Get lunch at Poke For The People

Time for lunch! While there are tons and tons of great options in the North Shore, I would highly recommend Poke For The People. While writing this now, I am drooling and dreaming about the freshness of the fish…

We ordered a 2-item bowl with the shoyu ahi and the daily special, creamy garlic marlin. The quality of the fish was perfection. The sides that came with our poke bowl also complimented the fish so well!

Personally speaking, Poke For The People has made it on our top 3 best poke spots we’ve had on the entire island! Don’t miss this one!

6. North Shore Macadamia Nut Company

North Shore Mac Nut Farm - Things To Do In North Shore Oahu

Can you really go to Hawaii and not eat a whole bunch of macadamia nuts? The best place to get mac nuts to snack on (or to bring home as gifts) is straight from the source!

The North Shore Macadamia Nut Company has been a working macadamia nut farm in Waialua since 1972. I love stopping here for mac nuts gifts when I’m in the North Shore–this last time around, we left with 6 bags total to bring back to our family/friends back home.

You have to know that these aren’t just the regular boring macadamia nuts you find in your local Walmart or Target. We’re talking about all kinds of great flavors, including coffee-flavored, cinnamon-flavored, lilikoi-flavored, coconut-roasted, and more.

The best part? They have free samples so you’ll know exactly what kind of deliciousness you’re going to get before even buying.

7. Laniakea Beach (Turtle Beach)

The next stop is Laniakea Beach, otherwise known as “Turtle Beach”. This is a great spot to warm your toes in the golden sands and–with a bit of luck–spot some green sea turtles basking in the sun!

Turtle Beach North Shore Things To Do

If you haven’t been able to guess it, the beach is named for the large sea turtles that frequently sun themselves on the sand. For decades, Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles have frequented Laniakea Beach more than any other spot on Oahu, which is why this beach has taken on the name “Turtle Beach”.

If you get lucky, you may even see a few for yourself. Also at the beach will be a group of volunteers that serve to provide information about the turtles and make sure tourists are viewing from a distance.

I cannot stress this enough, please respect the laws and the turtles and admire them from afar. It is prohibited by federal law to touch, provoke, or even get too close to the turtles.

Pro Tip: Parking can get really bad here, so be prepared to hunt for nearby parking along the main road and walk to the beach.

8. Waimea Valley

Waimea Valley - North Shore Things To Do In Oahu

Waimea Valley is a hidden gem of an area that’s chock-full of authentic Hawaiian history, culture, nature, and tradition. The main highlight at the end of the road? A beautiful waterfall that you can actually swim in!

Because we didn’t do much research before deciding to visit, we didn’t know what to expect at Waimea Valley. We had never really done attractions on Oahu that had admission fees, but we were so pleasantly surprised by what Waimea Valley had in store for us!

On top of being a beautifully manicured botanical garden, there was so much education and history surrounding us. We learned about the significance of the valley and the gods that Hawaiians believed in, and the way that they lived.

If you’d like a more enriching experience, consider taking the guided botanical or cultural tour, beginning at 12:30 pm and 1 pm respectively.

Getting to the waterfall does take a bit of effort. The walk up the waterfall is a paved path through the botanical gardens and historical sites. The walk is 0.75-mile (1200 meters) one way or 1.5-mile (2400 meters) round trip. There’s a shuttle option as well.

If you’re up for a quick adventure, consider taking a dip in the waterfall! This was probably the most fun part of Waimea Valley because of how refreshing the water was!

Waimea Valley Waterfall - North Shore Things To Do In Oahu

While swimming at the waterfall is totally allowed, the status of swimming changes throughout the day depending on the weather. All guests who would like to experience a swim at the falls are required to wear a life vest, which is included in your admission fee.

Note: This attraction is included with a Go Oahu All-Inclusive Pass.

9. Snorkel or beach at Waimea Bay

Waimea Bay - Best Snorkeling Spots In Oahu

Waimea Bay Beach Park is one of the most beautiful beaches on the North Shore. It’s also a perfect place to visit with the whole family after your adventures in Waimea Valley.

In the summer, Waimea Beach offers visitors a beautiful white sand beach to lounge on and picturesque waters to swim in. During winter, it’s one of the world’s most historical surf breaks!

During the summer months, visitors can do all sorts of things, including snorkeling, swimming, boogie boarding, or even surfing.

Looking to snorkel during your beach time too? Waimea Bay is a wonderful place to do that. While the waters here are rough in winter, Waimea Bay can be as calm as a swimming pool on summer days, meaning lots of great snorkeling opportunities.

In fact, the bay is part of the Pūpūkea Marine Life Conservation District, which means that the amount of fishing is limited, protecting the local aquatic life.

There are no snorkel rentals available at Waimea Bay, so if you want to snorkel, you must bring your own snorkeling set.

Alternative Beaches: Sunset Beach or Shark’s Cove

Sunset Beach - North Shore Things To Do

If you’re traveling in the wintertime, head to Sunset Beach to catch some of the best surfers carving some truly impressive waves.

Sunset Beach is one of the three surf breaks where the famed Triple Crown Surfing Contest is held over the course of the winter months. The other two surf spots where this contest takes place are Waimea Bay and the Banzai Pipeline at Ehukai Beach.

In the summertime, however, the surf really flattens out to almost nothing, making it a really family-friendly beach to swim and snorkel in.

If you want to get some more snorkeling in, head to the rocky areas on the outskirts of the beach area. Don’t go out too far because currents can be strong in some areas. In these areas, the visibility varies with how calm it is. The depths over the rock and coral are about 8-15 feet.

But above all, visit Sunset Beach for its namesake–offering some of the most breathtaking sunsets in all of Hawaii!

Another north shore beach is Shark’s Cove, part of Pupukea Beach Park, one of the best snorkeling spots on the North Shore. This area is so teeming with life that it’s even been rated by Scuba Diving Magazine as one of the “Top 12 Shore Dives in the World”.

Snorkelers will be able to see a large variety of marine life here, including butterflyfish, parrotfish, surgeonfish, tang, eels, and even sea turtles!

On the south side of Shark’s Cove are the Pupukea tide pools, a great place to explore and take the little ones.

Other stops in the North Shore to consider:


Oahu 4-Day Itinerary: Day 3 – East Shore

1. Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden

Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens - 4 Day Oahu Itinerary

Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden is a must if you love beautiful scenery, mountains and exotic plants.

Even before you enter the park, it’s jaw-dropping to see. You’ll be driving in through a grand, palm-lined entrance to Hoʻomaluhia Botanical Gardens, a very grand welcome to this majestic park.

While you’re here, do not miss the picturesque lake and walking trails around the park. And being a botanical garden, you’ll see global collections from the Philippines, Malaysia, Tropical America, India & Sri Lanka, Melanesia, Hawaii, Polynesia, and Africa.

Best of all, admission is completely free! For your visit, I recommend 1 to 1.5 hours.

2. Got’z Grindz

Got'z Grindz - Oahu 4 Day Itinerary For Budget Travelers

Start your morning off right with musubi! For the best musubis with the best variation, head to Got’z Grindz located in Kaneohe. Not sure which flavors to get? Opt for one of their variety packs!

After discovering Got’z Grindz on our last trip, we have decided we’re going to pay them a visit each and every time we visit Oahu.

You can eat them all as soon as you get them or buy extra to snack on during your next few activities. Trust me, you’ll be craving these immediately after you’ve finished scarfing them all down.

3. Byodo-In Temple

Byodo In - Unique Things To Do In Oahu

Byodo-In Temple is a little hidden gem on the East side of Oahu. This is a very impressive replica of the original Byodo-In Temple in Japan.

Everything about this area is postcard-perfect! The lushly landscaped grounds here are filled with koi carp ponds, and colorful peacocks strut their stuff in the Japanese garden. Head inside to take a peek at the huge Lotus Buddha statue.

4. Go on an adventure tour at Kualoa Ranch

Kualoa Ranch - 4 Day Oahu Itinerary

Kualoa Ranch is a true gem. Kualoa Ranch’s mission is to enrich people’s lives by preserving its sacred lands and celebrating its history.

Not only do they have a very honorable mission statement, but they also offer visitors a ton of fun stuff to do.

Kualoa Ranch offers a bunch of awesome tours including the Jurassic Adventure Tour, Jurassic Valley Ziplining Tour, Ocean Voyage Adventure, Hollywood Movie Sites & Ranch Tour, Jungle Expedition Tour, and a lot more.

Because we wanted a more relaxed day, we took the 90-minute Aloha Aina Tour. This tour was super informative and took us through the beautiful Kualoa Farm–all from the comfort of a trolley car!

Aloha Aina Tour Kualoa Ranch - Things To Do In Oahu

We saw tropical fruit and flower gardens, got a glimpse of the old movie sets that were still standing, and learned all about Kualoa Farm as well as Hawaiian agriculture, native plants, and wildlife.

In addition to sampling some of the local foods (we tried poi and fish preserved the traditional way), this tour includes a visit to Moli’i, one of the most well-preserved ancient Hawaiian fishponds in all of Oahu.

Note: Some of Kualoa Ranch’s tours are included with a Go City Oahu All-Inclusive Pass, others are not. They do allow upgrades to a few other tours for a small fee.

5. Tropical Farms Macadamia Nuts

Macadamia Nut Farm - Best Things To Do In Oahu

If you’re looking to bring home some Hawaiian coffee and macadamia nuts, then you have to make a stop at Tropical Farms Macadamia Nuts.

Located beneath aged banyan trees, this shop offers up macadamia nuts and delicious Kona coffee (free tastings!), along with natural bath products, chocolates, and other local Hawaiian treats.

Macadamia Nut Farm - Best Things To Do In Oahu

This is a great stop either before or after your Kualoa Ranch adventures.

6. Polynesian Cultural Center

Polynesian Cultural Center - The Perfect Oahu Itinerary

Next up is one of my favorite activities on Oahu–PCC! This is your chance to immerse yourself in the culture of the 1,000+ islands that make up Polynesia.

The Polynesian Cultural Center is Hawaii’s #1 paid attraction and is considered a must-do for both travelers and Hawaii locals. I’ve been three times and I still find myself learning so much about Polynesian culture each and every time.

PCC is essentially a cultural park that brings to life the spirit of Polynesia through its six Polynesian villages. You’ll be able to enjoy shows, demonstrations, and immersive activities, all while learning facts about the islands of Fiji, Samoa, Tahiti, Tonga, Aotearoa, and Hawaii.

Polynesian Cultural Center - The Perfect Oahu Itinerary

If you’d like to extend your stay at PCC, opt for the luau package!

For the same price as some other luau’s that only come with dinner, packages at the Polynesian Cultural Center include admission to the park with demonstrations and activities, a luau dinner, and a 1.5-hour cultural show at the end (with firing dancing and everything).

Note: This attraction is included with a Go City Oahu All-Inclusive Pass. However, the luau is not included.

DEAL ALERT: Save 10% on select PCC packages when you book at least 10 days in advance!


Oahu 4-Day Itinerary: Day 4 – Southeast Shore / Waikiki

1. Go snorkeling at Hanauma Bay

Hanauma Bay - 4 Day Oahu Itinerary

Hanauma Bay is a must-do on your Oahu island itinerary, no matter if you’re a beginner or an avid snorkeler! This is one of the island’s premier snorkeling destinations because of how much marine life you’ll see once you get in the water.

The Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve is open to the public from Wednesdays through Sundays. Do note that it has a relatively steep admission fee, as well as a parking fee.

While that may be steep, if you’ve never been to Hanauma Bay before, I’d still highly recommend it!

To save on snorkel rental costs, you can either get snorkel gear rentals through your Go City Oahu pass or bring your own set.

Pro Tip: Don’t want to pay that steep admission fee? You can drive a bit further to get to Kaiona Beach Park, which is another good snorkeling spot that’s free to snorkel at.

We actually did this on our last trip–instead of snorkeling at Hanauma Bay again, we decided to rent snorkeling gear with our Go City Oahu passes and snorkeled at Kaiona Beach Park again.

We received a mask, snorkel, and fins with our pass to explore as much as we wanted, then dropped off the gear at the end of the day.

2. Halona Blowhole

After snorkeling, it’s time to do a little sightseeing! First stop: Halona Blowhole.

Halona Blowhole is a famous landmark made out of molten lava tubes from volcanic eruptions. When the surf is just right, water pressure builds up within the lava tube and erupts through the narrow opening, creating a special Hawaiian geyser – all for your viewing pleasure!

3. Makapu’u Point Lookout

Just a 4-minute drive away is Makapu’u Point, featuring dramatic sea cliff views and epic ocean views.

This is the perfect spot to snap a few selfies or family photos before heading back to the Waikiki area.

From here, you’ll also be able to spot Manana Island, aka Rabbit Island (aptly named for its shape). There is also a lighthouse in the area, but the lighthouse isn’t visible from this viewpoint.

To get there, you’ll have to walk up the paved road that begins just below the entry to the lookout (on the Hawaii Kai side of the lookout). It’s a 1.75-mile trail to the lighthouse from there.

4. Lanikai Beach

Lanikai Pillbox Hike - www.travelswithelle.com

Lanikai Beach is easily one of the best beaches on Oahu without a doubt.

With its bright turquoise waters washing up on fine white sands, it’s easy to see why Lanikai is consistently voted Oahu’s “most beautiful” beach. In fact, it’s even been ranked as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.

Because of how popular it’s gotten over the years, expect a lot of people. So many people that you might have trouble finding a parking space. If you aren’t able to find a spot in the main lot, do be extra mindful of where you park! Laws are strictly enforced here.

There are also no bathrooms, showers, or changing facilities, so come prepared with that knowledge.

5. Go shopping at the Aloha Market

Just 20 minutes away from Waikiki is the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet, Hawaii’s largest open-air market.

This is the ideal place to discover unique treasures (think Hawaiian candies, ukeleles, keychains, aloha shirts, and other affordable souvenirs), where even the locals shop for the best deals in town.

If you’re getting too warm from the walking, there are delicious and refreshing coconuts to keep you hydrated while you shop!

Aloha Stadium Swap Meet is open on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays. There is a small admission fee to enter. Check their website for the latest admission fees and business hours.

Be sure to bring cash so you can buy things!

6. Go museum hopping

Honolulu and the rest of Oahu are steeped in a ton of history. As part of the Go City Oahu Pass, you can (and should) take some time to visit some of the following museums:

  • Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum at Pearl Harbor
  • USS Arizona Memorial Narrated Audio Tour
  • Battleship Missouri Memorial Tour
  • Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum
  • Honolulu Museum of Art
  • Bishop Museum
  • Queen Emma Summer Palace

7. Have dinner at Wagaya

Wagaya - What To Eat In Oahu

Wagaya is one of my favorite ramen places in Oahu! This little ramen joint is a homey shop located in Honolulu that serves amazing bowls of noodle soup created from scratch.

We ordered the tsukemen, black garlic ramen, squid cartilage skewer, corn tempura, and vanilla ice cream with warabi mochi. Everything was absolutely delicious!

8. Get drinks at a tiki bar

There’s no better way to end a night in Oahu than with some deliciously handcrafted drinks! For extra creative concoctions, make it a goal to grab island-inspired tiki drinks.

Some great tiki bars in the Waikiki area include Ko Tiki Terrace and Cuckoo Coconuts. For something a little more divey, not quite tiki, but equally as fun, head to Suzie Wong’s Hideaway.

Looking for more things to do in Oahu? Check out this post: 116 Bucket List Things To Do In Oahu, Hawaii


Consider Getting The Go City Oahu Pass

We experienced it for ourselves–the Go City Oahu Pass is the easiest way to see the very best of Oahu! As you can see, we were able to do a lot with the All-Inclusive Pass. More importantly, we were able to save a ton of money!

The All-Inclusive Pass gets even cheaper the more days you opt forThe 1-day pass costs $84, 2-day pass costs $144 ($72/day), 5-day pass costs $309 ($61/day), so on and so forth. You can choose between a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 7-day All-Inclusive Pass.

Do note that Go City does offer Premium attractions that are only available to those who opt for a pass of 3 days or more.

Note: If you’re still debating whether this pass is right for you, you should know that Go City offers a 365-day cancellation policy! As long as you don’t use your pass at any of the attractions, you’re good to get your money back with their risk-free guarantee.

We had one friend bail on the trip, so we had to request a refund for her pass. After sending out a quick email, we received the refund in a matter of days! Quick and easy.


And that about wraps up our list of things to do on a 4-day trip to Oahu! Are there any must-do activities on Oahu that I left out? Let me know in the comments!

Looking for more Oahu travel tips? Read more:

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