Your 24-Hour Oʻahu Itinerary
Get out of Waikīkī and discover the true Oʻahu.
Oʻahu has it all—stunning beaches, picturesque hiking trails, award-winning restaurants, museums and cultural sites, and bustling city life. It’s hard to just spend a single day on this island, the third largest of all the Hawaiian Islands and easily the most populated. (Oʻahu is home to roughly 1 million people—or two-thirds of the state’s population.)
While there’s tons to do—from shopping at Ala Moana Center, the world’s largest open-air shopping mall, to visiting the historic Pearl Harbor—we narrowed down an itinerary that’s packed with a variety of must-dos, giving you a day’s worth of the best Oʻahu has to offer.
(Scroll to the bottom to find the link to our digital issue, where you can download, print or save this itinerary to your smartphone.)
Get up—and get outdoors. The popular Mānoa Falls trail in lush Mānoa Valley, about 5 miles outside of Waikīkī, is an easy trek through a rainforest and bamboo grove to a 150-foot waterfall. It recently reopened with safety modifications and improved trails. Parking is $7.
Read More: Watch: Hiking Oʻahu’s Quick and Beautiful Mānoa Falls Trail
It’s breakfast time! Since you’re in Mānoa, head to Waioli & Bake Shop (waiolikitchen.com), a historic tea room that first opened in 1922. Now it serves housemade scones, a short rib loco moco and an açaí bowl served in a coconut shell. The coffee is great, too.
Drive the long way to the island’s east side via Kalaniana‘ole Highway, through Hawai‘i Kai, past Hanauma Bay and along the rugged and stunning Kaiwi Coastline.
Lounge on Waimānalo Beach, the longest stretch of sand on O‘ahu. The powdery white sand and gentle surf make this beach one of the island’s best. In fact, in 2025, it was name best beach in the U.S. in the annual Top 10 list complied by coastal science professor known as Dr. Beach. You can swim, lounge and walk this mile-long swatch of sand. If you have time, explore the rural town, too, which boasts flower nurseries, horse ranches and charming eateries and shops.
Head to Kailua for lunch. Uahi Island Grill (uahiislandgrill.com) serves island-style fare like kālua pork sandwiches, poke bowls and garlic shrimp. Want shave ice? Wilson Store (@wilsonskailua) serves that, plus crack seed and boiled peanuts. (This is a local favorite!) Grab fresh malasadas at nearby Agnes’ Portuguese Bake Shop (agnesbakeshop808) food truck; order in advance to avoid waiting.
Walk around the city-run Ho‘omaluhia Botanical Garden, a 400-acre garden in Kāne‘ohe with tropical plants and a fish-filled lake.
Grab an early dinner at Fête (fetehawaii.com)—be sure to make reservations—in historic Chinatown. Menu changes often but expect a fusion of Asian, Italian and local cuisine. Wine and beers are curated.
Save room for dessert. MW Restaurant (mwrestaurant.com), which recently reopened just outside Downtown Honolulu, boasts some of the best desserts on the island. Each is inventive and features local ingredients. Book a table in advance.
This story was published in our September/October 2021 digital issue. Read it here.