Visiting Hawaii and only have a few days to sightsee in Honolulu? This 2 Day Oahu Itinerary will give you ideas for the best things to do and eat. Honolulu travel tips with alternatives to Waikiki Beach.
2 Day Oahu Itinerary – Honolulu Hawaii Travel Tips
If you have a few days in Honolulu and want to see the island outside of Waikiki Beach, here is a 2 day itinerary that I put together. If I went back to Hawaii and only had a few days on the island of Oahu, this is what I would do!
What Hawaiian Island is Honolulu on?
Honolulu is located on the island of Oahu, the third-largest Hawaiian island. There is so much to do in Hawaii and many options when visiting the island of Oahu.
When I told people I was visiting Honolulu on our trip to Hawaii, people assumed I was only visiting Waikiki beach. I got a lot of replies such as “Oh, it’s so crowded!” It’s true, Waikiki is one of the busiest, most famous beaches in Honolulu and might take you 15 minutes to drive a few blocks. But, there are many more places to visit when traveling to Honolulu,
If you love to vacation at the beach, but are the kind of person that prefers to avoid crowded commercial areas with rows of high rise hotels, then this Oahu itinerary is for you!
How many days do you need in Oahu?
No matter how many days you have in Oahu, you can certainly fit a LOT of activities and see much of the island in just a few days. For a fun filled quick trip around Oahu in two days I recommend these ideas.
2 Day Oahu Itinerary – Best Things to Do and Eat in HONOLULU
Day 1 – Oahu Itinerary
I like to take the first day to explore my surroundings. We call this the beach and food day. It’s always one of my favorite things to do.
1. Take a Scenic Drive Around the Island
First, rent a jeep, take off the top, pack some drinks and snacks, then drive around the island!
If starting near Honolulu drive east on the Kalanianaole Highway and make stops along the scenic view stops. You’ll drive by Hanauma Bay, but I’d save that for another day when you have more time to enjoy it. Make a stop at the Halona Blowhole Lookout if you can find parking. It’s very pretty!
What is the best scenic view in Oahu Hawaii?
If you want an amazing view on your drive around the island, the Makapu’u Point Lookout is a must stop! It’s on Oahu’s southeastern tip with amazing views of the turquoise ocean, beautiful sea cliffs and Oahu’s shoreline. Out of all of the places, this is one of the most beautiful scenic views on the island.
Location: Makapu’u Point Lookout – Kalaniana’ole Hwy. Scenic turnout above Makapu’u Beach, Oahu, HI 96795
2. Visit the North Shore
From Makapu’u Point, we headed straight to the North Shore which took about an hour drive.
Where should we stop on our way to the North Shore from Honolulu?
Want to stop for a quick swim? Kualoa Regional Park was a pretty area that was halfway between Makapu’u Point and the North Shore beaches.
We drove by the Polynesian Cultural Center and wish we had time to stop there, but were on a mission to get to the North Shore and enjoy the beach. If you have time, make a pit stop to learn about the Hawaiian culture, eat shave ice and souvenirs.
Where should you eat on the North Shore?
We stopped at a few places to eat once we got to the North Shore, but the best of the best was definitely Fumi’s Kahuku Shrimp! I heard about this from friends, but couldn’t find much information about it online, so here is everything you need to know!
Fumi’s is not a food truck, but a food stand where you walk up and order, then eat outside. There is shaded seating next to the building, bathrooms and an outdoor sink to wash your hands.
Order all kinds of shrimp at the front of the building and find the dessert window on the side of the building. We were told their most popular was the garlic shrimp, so of course that’s what we got. It was amazing! The sauce on the sticky rice was my favorite. I could eat this everyday!
The tree leaves are covered in signatures that guests have scrapped on with their keys or other sharp objects. It’s a charming little stop and totally worth visiting!
Location: Fumi’s Kahuku Shrimp, 56-777 Kamehameha Hwy, Kahuku, HI 96731
What if we don’t like shrimp?
If you or your kids don’t like shrimp, stop in the town of Kahuku at The Sugar Mill for all kinds of amazing food trucks! You’ll drive past this on your way to the North Shore. So festive!
What is the best beach on the North Shore?
There are so many great beaches, it’s hard to say which is the best, but I highly recommend Sunset Beach Park.
Sunset Beach is a gorgeous beach that stretches two miles. We arrived after lunch and found parking in the lot across the street. There are bathrooms and showers available which is nice. I loved this beach!
The water is crystal clear and not many waves, the kind of beach that is perfect for kids. If you walk down the beach, you’ll find areas with big waves. I am always worried about tidal waves, so we stayed away from that area and enjoyed this calm, gorgeous water! This beach is next to the Banzai Pipeline which is the iconic surf spot with huge waves in the winter.
Location: Sunset Beach Park, 59-144 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, HI 96712
3. Visit The Dole Pineapple Plantation
On your way back to Honolulu from the North Shore, be sure to stop by the Dole Pineapple Plantation. It was one of our favorite places! Make note that they close at 5 pm. We actually went there a few times because we had so much fun!
What are the best things to do at the Dole Pineapple Plantation?
The first thing you’ll want to do is walk to the back of the shop for a Dole Whip. Take a seat outside on the patio where you can enjoy the wonderful smell of fresh pineapples in the air, watch for chickens and kittens and enjoy your treats.
Shop and stroll around the plantation. Learn about all of the different types of pineapples or get a tour on the Pineapple Express train. There is a lot to do and see!
Our favorite activity was the Pineapple Garden Maze
My daughter and I competed against my Aunt Tricia and son in our own “Amazing Race” in this maze. We caught my Aunt cheating red-handed as we ran around a corner and found her stuck in a hedge that she was trying to sneak through! LOL! Of course we will never let her live that one down, and will call them cheaters for life.
They beat us by FIVE seconds as we all ran towards the finish line cracking up. My daughter and I still say we won since they cheated!!!
This will be a full day and you’ll be ready to go back to your room to shower and have dinner. Scroll down the page for restaurant suggestions.
Day 2 – Oahu Itinerary
Now that you’ve done your sightseeing around the island, it’s time to visit some popular iconic Oahu spots.
1. Early Morning Snorkel in Hanauma Bay
I recommend visiting Hanauma Bay State Park first thing in the morning. It’s a gorgeous beach where you can literally walk into the water while beautiful tropical fish swim around you. Arrive by 7:30 am to find a parking spot. Be sure to visit their website as it has a ton of great information and tips.
Bring a change of clothes, so you can keep going for the day.
Where Should You Eat Lunch in Oahu?
There are many great places to have lunch in Oahu, but remember we’re not on Waikiki Beach with this itinerary. These are a few delicious restaurants to choose from for lunch in Honolulu.
- Helena’s Hawaiian Food – One of the most popular restaurants for Hawaiian food on Oahu. It’s open between 10 am and 7:30 pm from Tuesday to Friday. Cash only. Located at 1240 N School St, Honolulu, HI 96817
- Rainbow Drive-in – Iconic local Hawaiian food. 3308 Kanaina Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815
- ‘AMA‘AMA – An open-air restaurant on Ko Olina Beach at the Disney Aulani Resort. (pictured below) Lunch is 11:30 am – 2:30 pm (reservations recommended)
2. Visit The Pearl Harbor National Memorial
After lunch, visit The Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. The visitor center, two museums, and USS Arizona Memorial program are free and open everyday from 7 am- 5 pm.
We didn’t do any of the extra add ons, only the areas that were free. The free museums and riding the boat around the USS Arizona memorial was very moving and educational.
After the Pearl Harbor memorial you’ll be ready for a shower and dinner.
3. Enjoy Dinner on the Beach
Your last night should be overlooking the ocean with a view of iconic Diamond Head. Get dressed in your Hawaiian shirt and make the trip to Waikiki Beach.
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Where should we go to dinner in HONOLULU?
When I asked this question to my friends who visit Hawaii often, the place that was most recommended was House Without a Key.
This restaurant is in the Halekulani Hotel on Waikiki Beach. Not only is the food incredible, but the patio has the most amazing views along with live entertainment. Reservations are recommended. If you’re not staying in the Waikiki beach area, make sure to give yourself plenty of time to make your reservation. Be warned that traffic is very congested in that area, but you can valet for free, which makes it easy to get to your dinner on time.
I highly recommend the famous Mai Tai cocktail.
House Without a Key: Halekulani Hotel, 2199 Kalia Road, Honolulu, Hawaii 96815
Is there a another good restaurant in Honolulu you recommend?
Another great dinner spot in Oahu is Side Street Inn on Da Strip. It’s an award-winning gourmet Hawaiian comfort food. 614 Kapahulu Avenue, #100, Honolulu, HI. 96815 (reservations recommended)
I hope you got a lot of fun ideas for visiting Honolulu with this 2 Day Oahu Itinerary. We also visited Kauai and I’ll be writing tips about that island soon.
Originally published on August 20, 2019. Last Updated on August 21, 2019 by Amy Locurto