Oahu, the most populated island in Hawaii and home to the state’s capital, is full of magnificent beaches, lookout points, attractions, hiking, and restaurants. Whether you’ve lived on Oahu your entire life and just want to find a new way to spend a Saturday, are visiting from a neighboring island, or are headed to Hawaii for vacation, we’ve created the ultimate Oahu road trip.
This road trip is approximately 115 miles, and at just under four hours of drive time, is easily completed in one day. We’ve included a link to the
Google Map here, and if desired, the road trip can be customized to your particular interests.
At Only in Hawaii, we’ve started and ended this road trip at Waikiki Beach, but you can obviously start from any one of these points, depending on where you live, or are staying while on vacation. Don’t forget to pack up your car with the essentials: swimsuits, towels, a camera and a stellar road trip mix.
1) Waikiki Beach
Whether you’re on vacation and staying in Waikiki, or simply live nearby, this is the perfect place to either start or finish the perfect day in paradise. In the morning, you can catch some waves of your own – or maybe just watch the surfers while enjoying an acai bowl before starting your day. In the evening, you can watch the sun set over the Pacific Ocean, and on Fridays, watch the weekly fireworks at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.
2) Hanauma Bay Lookout
You could easily spend the entire day hanging out at the beach and snorkeling with Hawaii’s marine life at Hanauma Bay, but if you’re short on time, you can snap a few photographs from the lookout and be on your way.
3) Makupu’u Point Lighthouse
This short and sweet two-mile hike to the Makupuu Lighthouse Trail is a wonderful addition to any Oahu road trip. The path is fully-paved, not too difficult, and offers stellar views. Plus, is there really any better way to start your day than with exercise?
4) Nu’uanu Pali Lookout
For the best views of Oahu’s windward coast – and a stellar photo opportunity – you won’t want to miss a stop by the Nu’uanu Pali Lookout. Truth be told, you could make this stop last an entire day, as there are some killer hiking trails that are easily accessible from the lookout, but if all you want are a few pictures, this spot is second to none.
5) Kailua Beach
With crystalline turquoise water and fine white sand, Kailua Beach, and its neighbor, Lanikai, are often considered the best beaches in the state. Head into the charming Kailua Town for a quick bite to eat – might we suggest breakfast or lunch at Cinnamon’s, a quick pick me up at Morning Brew Coffee, or a smoothie from Lanikai Juice?
6) Byodo-In Temple
One of Oahu’s true gems is the Byodo-In Temple, a near-perfect replica of a 900-year-old Buddhist temple in Japan. The non-denominational shrine was dedicated in August 1968 to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants to arrive in Hawaii.
7) Laie Point State Wayside
For the adrenaline junkie, this beautiful lookout spot is ideal for some stellar cliff jumping – when the conditions are right. If you are anything like me and would rather not jump off a cliff and into the ocean, Laie Point will offer you some absolutely phenomenal views of the Windward Coast. Stop by nearby Kahuku on your way to the net destination for some killer shrimp at one of the town’s many infamous shrimp trucks – we suggest Giovanni’s.
8) Banzai Pipeline
While the entire seven-mile stretch of beaches along the island’s north shore are magnificent, there is little better spot to relax and watch professional surfers than at the Banzai Pipeline, off Ehukai Beach.
Alternative suggestions: If you would rather get in the water, I would suggest Laniakea, a beach that is populated by sleepy green sea turtles lounging on the shore. If you’re itching to see a waterfall, check out Waimea Valley; there is an entrance fee to the botanical garden, but you will enjoy a leisurely stroll through gorgeous plant life to a charming waterfall where you can jump in for a quick dip.
9) Matsumoto Shave Ice
Some people say that Matsumoto is the best spot in all of Hawaii to get shave ice, and we would be amiss to disagree. There is little better than this sweet treat after a day spent exploring the beautiful island so many of us call home. While you’re in Haleiwa, you can do some shopping at the local boutiques and surf shops, or grab a bite to eat for dinner. My favorite is Cholos Homestyle Mexican, but Haleiwa Joe’s and Banzai Sushi are two other phenomenal options.