What to Do With 48 Hours on Oahu

Oahu is one of the top vacation destinations in the country, with millions of people visiting every year. And while the beaches are certainly a sight to see, there’s so much more to do on this Hawaiian island besides soaking up tropical ocean views. This guide offers the perfect two-day itinerary for seeing the best this island has to offer.

Day 1: Honolulu

Why not start your trip to Oahu with a visit to the bustling state capital? As suggested in this handy Honolulu city guide, you should begin the day with a hike along Diamond Head, a 300,000-year-old crater that defines the city’s skyline. The hiking trail is somewhat challenging, but the views you get from the top are some of the best on the island. Going early in the day helps you beat the crowds and make the climb during the coolest part of the day.

Enjoy a late breakfast at Sweet E’s Café before exploring the city a bit. Iolani Palace, the only official state royal residence in the U.S., was home to the former King and Queen of Hawaii and offers a window into the islands’ history. Before heading on to the second half of your day, make a stop a Waikiki Beach to see one of the world’s most popular shoreline destinations.

Day 1: Kailua

Just a short drive from Honolulu is Kailua, a lovely little spot along Oahu’s eastern coast. The waters of Kailua Bay are ideal for kayaking, snorkeling, and windsurfing, so spend an hour or two enjoying the fresh ocean air. This town is considered the state’s massage capital, so stop by the Healing Arts College to get a Hawaiian lomi lomi massage from a local therapist after your outing.

A quick and easy 20-minute hike up Ka’iwa Ridge Trail ensures that your day both begins and ends with a breathtaking view. Finish the day with a satisfying dinner in Kailua. Uahi Island Grill is a popular spot for simple yet satisfying Hawaiian dishes.

Day 2: Haleiwa

Image via Flickr by arnold | inuyaki

On your second day, head to Oahu’s north coast to discover more about the island’s roots. First, a visit to Haleiwa offers a glimpse into surfer culture. The laid-back town features charming art galleries, boutiques, and surf shops in plantation-era buildings. Stop at one of the many local cafes to get a shave ice, the Hawaiian version of the snow cone with super-fine ice flakes. At Haleiwa Beach Park, you can plop down on the sand and watch surfers show off their skills in the water.

Day 2: Laie

A visit to the Polynesian Cultural Center in nearby Laie offers a fun educational attraction for all ages. This destination features a theme park and museum with plenty of entertaining shows, educational exhibits, and craft demonstrations. End your stay with the Polynesian Cultural Center’s award-winning luau dinner buffet with live performances.

Oahu has so many great attractions to offer, but this two-day itinerary ensures that you can enjoy many of the island’s top activities with just a short visit.