The perfect 5-day O‘ahu Hawai‘i itinerary

With so much to do and see, it’s no surprise that O‘ahu is one of the most popular Hawaiian Islands among AAA members.

Creating the perfect Hawai‘i itinerary for O‘ahu is essential to ensure you get the right balance between visiting O‘ahu’s “must-see” attractions and taking advantage of the slower pace of island life to relax and recharge. Discover what you need to know about Hawai'i travel, and use this 5-day O‘ahu itinerary to find the best beaches, surf spots, and things to do, as well as tips on where to stay and places you can use your AAA benefits to save.

Top places to stay on O‘ahu

O'ahu has resorts and hotels for every kind of traveler and budget. Here are some of the best accommodations on the island:

Budget-friendly hotel: The Twin Fin

Minutes from the world-famous Waikīkī Beach, The Twin Fin Hotel is an affordable option that's still within walking distance of local attractions like the Honolulu Zoo, as well as countless shopping and dining options.

For families with kids: Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort

With a private saltwater lagoon, 6 pools, and Camp Penguin—a children's program, there's something to keep kids of all ages entertained at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort.

For couples: Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa, Waikiki Beach

The Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa, Waikiki Beach or the “First Lady of Waikiki” was the first luxury resort built in the area in 1901. Today, couples can take a guided tour through the landmark or have a drink under the stars and historic banyan tree in the resort's courtyard.

Luxury resort: The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort, Waikiki

The Royal Hawaiian, a Luxury Collection Resort, Waikiki Spa is known for its old-world charm, luxurious rooms, and rosy hue, which has earned it the nickname, "Pink Palace of the Pacific."

How to get around on O‘ahu

With an abundance of transportation options like the Waikīkī Trolley, bike or scooter rentals, and ride-hailing services, O‘ahu is one of the best islands to visit for travelers who don’t want to rent a car. But if you’re looking for the most efficient and flexible way to see as many sights as you can, renting a car is the best way to go.

AAA members can save over 15% on Waikīkī Trolley tickets, and get special rates and benefits on car rentals.

AAA TIP: Don’t forget to factor in the price of parking if you decide to rent a car. Many O‘ahu resorts charge a daily parking fee that can range from $35-70. If you only need a car for specific excursions, getting a rental for a day or 2 at a time may be more budget-friendly.

Day 1: Get familiar with your home base on O‘ahu

On your first official day in Hawai‘i, take some time to get familiar with the area around your hotel. Unwind by the resort pool, stroll around the neighborhood to see nearby shops, and relax on the beach.

Malasadas in Hawai'i are deep fried and rolled in sugar.

Get malasadas from Leonard’s Bakery

Start your visit (and morning) with a Hawai‘i favorite, the malasada or “Portuguese fried dough,” from Leonard’s Bakery—the go-to spot for malasadas on O‘ahu. These deep-fried donuts rolled in sugar were brought to Hawai‘i by Portuguese laborers in the 1800s. For about $2 per donut, you can try the traditional malasada without filling, as well as ones filled with custard, coconut, chocolate, and other flavors.

The bronze statue of Duke Kahanamoku, the father of modern surfing, on Kūhiō Beach is a popular tourist site in Waikīkī.

Visit Waikīkī Beach

Go swimming or spend the day relaxing on the sand at the iconic Waikīkī Beach. If you’re looking to pick up a water sport, the surf spot known as Canoes is ideal for first-time surfers and stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) because of the gentle waves and sand bottoms. Don’t forget to visit the famous statue of Duke Kahanamoku, the father of modern surfing, on Kūhiō Beach.

Save over 20% on surf or SUP lessons with the Ohana Surf Project.

Day 2: Visit Pearl Harbor

Spend the second day of your O‘ahu itinerary touring one of the most significant sites in American and world history. The aerial attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, marked the U.S. entry into World War II. Today, nearly 2 million visitors from around the world come to the Pearl Harbor National Memorial each year to reflect and honor those who lost their lives.

AAA TIP: If you’re not visiting the memorial as part of a tour package, general admission to the USS Arizona Memorial is free to reserve online (with a $1 service fee). Parking at the Pearl Harbor National Memorial is $7 and can be paid on-site. The USS Arizona Memorial has a clear bag policy, so we recommend only bringing what you need for the day or getting a plastic, stadium-approved bag where all the contents are visible.

Use your AAA membership to buy tickets to the Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor, and Honolulu City Highlights Tour and save over 45%.

Day 3: See the animals of Hawai'i

Go snorkeling with sea turtles

No O‘ahu itinerary is complete without seeing Hawai'i's sea turtles. One of the best ways to encounter honu, or green sea turtles, in O‘ahu is to go snorkeling alongside them in Turtle Canyon. Located off the south shore of O‘ahu, this popular snorkeling spot on the reef is a station for sea turtles to rest, feed, and get their shells cleaned by fish.

AAA TIP: To be a responsible traveler and help keep the wildlife safe, always stay 10 feet away from sea turtles and view them from the side. This gives them a clear path to swim away and reduces the risk of causing them stress. As a threatened species, sea turtles are also protected by law, so you should never feed or attempt to touch one.

AAA members save up to 33% on a Hawai'i Nautical snorkeling tour with guaranteed sea turtle sightings.

Visit Sea Life Park Hawai'i

If you don't want to go snorkeling, you can also see green sea turtles and other animals at Sea Life Park Hawai'i without having to get wet. Learn about these magnificent creatures during feeding time at the Honu Green Sea Turtle Habitat, or see baby green sea turtles (as well as sea stars and urchins) at the Discovery Reef Touch Pool. Other attractions where you can see and learn about Hawaiian wildlife include the Dolphin Lagoon, Penguin Habitat on O'ahu, and Hawaiian Reef Exhibit.

Get discounted pricing and save over 20% on admission to Sea Life Park Hawai'i.

Get Japanese ramen and other Asian dishes from at STIX ASIA.


If you’re traveling with a group and can’t settle on a single restaurant, or if you just want to sample a variety of cuisines, stop by STIX ASIA in Waikīkī. This food hall features everything from Japanese ramen and homemade udon to traditional Korean street food or Taiwanese beef noodle soup.

Day 4: Go on a hike

See the Diamond Head Lighthouse from above on a hike.

Diamond Head

Diamond Head, or Lēʻahi as the locals call it, is arguably the most famous landmark on O‘ahu with more than 3,000 visitors a day. The hike to the edge of the 300,000-year-old crater offers stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and Honolulu. The park is open from 6 a.m.-6 p.m., but we recommend going early in the morning to beat the heat and crowds. Be sure to still bring plenty of water and wear a hat and sun protection. Don’t forget to rest, enjoy the incredible scenery, and take a few photos at the many lookout spots along the trail.

AAA TIP: Out-of-state visitors to Diamond Head State Monument are required to make a reservation for entry and parking. Entry is $5 per person and $10 for parking, and you can make and pay for your reservation online up to 30 days prior to your visit.

Make the most of your day by using your AAA membership to save 30% on Grand Circle Island with Haleiwa Town Tour tickets. The 9-hour guided tour passes by Diamond Head and includes stops at Byodo-In Temple, the Dole Plantation, as well as many other O‘ahu landmarks.

Duke’s Waikiki

Enjoy nightly live music on the beach as you dine at Duke’s Waikiki, a AAA Diamond Approved restaurant and bar at the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort. Duke’s Signature Mai Tai is a visitor favorite and an iconic Hawaiian cocktail worth trying.

Day 5: Engage with Hawaiian culture

Get a lomilomi massage

One of the most relaxing ways to experience Hawaiian culture is to get a lomilomi massage. Originating from traditional Polynesian healing practices and made famous by Hawaiian tourism, the lomilomi massage technique involves a therapist using their hands and forearms to create long, sweeping motions. The massage is said to promote circulation, flush toxins, and encourage spiritual healing, and is available at most resort spas in Hawai‘i.

Attend a lūʻau

A visit to the Hawaiian Islands wouldn’t be complete without a lūʻau—a vibrant celebration with local food, music, and cultural performances. Many lūʻaus will also offer interactive cultural activities such as lei-making and hula dancing lessons. Food and activity options will vary depending on the lūʻau you attend, so if there’s a specific thing you want to experience, make sure it’s included in your lūʻau package before you book.

Get 33% off Ka Moana Lūʻau packages which include lei-making, hula lessons, headband weaving, and ukulele lessons.

AAA TIP: If your Hawai‘i itinerary is more than 5 days long, other popular O'ahu attractions include the Polynesian Cultural Center, where you can learn more about island culture, and Kualoa Ranch—a nature reserve where hundreds of movies and TV shows have been filmed. If you want to spend some time on another island, check out more things to do and see on other Hawaiian Islands.

Book your Hawaiian escape with AAA

Browse AAA O'ahu travel packages to find the one that's right for you. Or, get in touch with a knowledgeable AAA Travel Advisor and start planning your dream Hawai'i vacation.

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