Oahu Travel Guide

Oahu Travel Guide Waikiki Beach The Royal Hawaiian

Find out why they call Oahu the Gathering Place…

Waikiki Beach, Pearl Harbor, and North Shore surfing make Oahu the most visited Hawaiian island. While many scoff at the crowds and traffic, most cannot resist visiting this island paradise for the nightlife, history, and beaches. Oh, those gold-sand beaches of Oahu.

We called Oahu our home for two years and it was hard to leave. Oahu is full of hidden gems and remote beaches that will leave you daydreaming of your next trip back. Let us show you around our old home.ย 

Everything you need to know about planning your trip to Oahu is here:

๐Ÿ Oahu Facts

๐Ÿ Oahu Itineraries

๐Ÿ Where to Stay

๐Ÿ Travel Tips

๐Ÿ When to Travel to Oahu

๐Ÿ Oahuโ€™s Best Things to Do


Trying to pick the best Hawaiian island for your trip?

I get it, there is a lot to consider on what island to pick. Most people are choosing between Oahu or Maui, check out this article to help you decide: Oahu vs Maui (from someone who has lived on both)

Oahu Travel Guide Best Island to Choose
Oahu Guide Cheat Sheet printable

Stop right here. Take a look at our two free printables to help with your trip planning.ย 

๐Ÿ Oahu Cheat Sheet printable

๐Ÿ Where to Stay on Oahu Guide printable

Oahu Facts

๐Ÿ Honolulu is the largest city in the world, in geographic size. Every island or atoll that hasnโ€™t been designated to another Hawaiian island defaults to the jurisdiction of Honolulu, per the stateโ€™s constitution.

๐Ÿ Oahu is home to over one million residents.

๐Ÿ Billboards are illegal in all of Hawaii so they donโ€™t crowd the ocean views.

๐ŸThe record low temperature in Honolulu is 52 degrees.ย 

๐ŸWaikiki attracts 72,000 visitors a day, making up around 40% of all the stateโ€™s tourist revenue.

๐Ÿ The only Royal Palace in the United States, Iolani Palace, is located on Oahu. It had electricity before the White House did, and was the first palace in the world to have flushing toilets.

๐Ÿ Duke Kahanamoku, a Native Hawaiian, was raised in Waikiki. He is a five-time Olympic medalist in swimming, actor, Sheriff of Honolulu for 13 consecutive terms, entrepreneur, and the father of modern surfing. Say hello to his statue when visiting Waikiki.

๐Ÿ While the nickname โ€œthe Gathering Placeโ€ makes sense in the present time as Oahu is the most populated island and home to the capital, there is no ancient Hawaiian connection to this nickname.

Oahu Vacation Guide Waikiki Beach
OAHU Travel Guide North Shore Food

Oahu Itineraries

Oahu offers a lot to explore. Here are our readersโ€™ favorite Oahu itineraries.

๐Ÿ Best 5-Day Oahu Itinerary

๐Ÿย Oahu Wayfinder Itinerary: 7 excursion days that will take you all across the island ($37) Learn more

๐Ÿ Our favorite Oahu tours and activities to fit into your itinerary!


Oahu Travel Guide Free Itineraries
Oahu Travel Guide Map of Oahu
Oahu Hawaii Where to Stay Download

Where to Stay on Oahu

Oahu is shaped like a diamond due to two massive shield volcanoes forming the Waiโ€™anae mountain range to the west, the Koโ€™olau mountain range to the east, and a valley in between.

With a population close to a million residents, 72% of the population of the state, 81% live within the Honolulu urban area. Therefore, there is a lot of green, open land to explore on Oahu. Ko Olina Resorts are situated on the leeward (dry) side of Oahu, home to Aulani, a Disney Resort and Spa.ย ย 

Free Where to Stay Guideย 

You have options when it comes to where to stay on Oahu. The vast majority of folks stay in Waikiki but are you looking for something different? Download our free one-page Where to Stay Guide here to solve the biggest decision of your vacation! You will get the Where to Stay Guides for Maui, Big Island, and Kauai too.

Oahu’s Main Airport

You will fly into Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL) on the southeastern coast, just west of Honolulu. From HNL, Waikiki is a 20-minute drive with no traffic or a 30-minute drive to Ko Olina.ย 

Oahu has three resort areas: Ko Olina, Waikiki, and Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore. If you are staying for a week or longer, we recommend starting in Waikiki and then trying another part of the island.ย 

Check out our article below to choose the best area to stay per your vacation plans.ย 

Which Part of Oahu Should You Stay? Waikiki or Ko Olina or North Shore?

Honolulu and Waikiki get a lot of heat for being the Manhattan of the Pacific, but few regret visiting this part of Oahu as it is rich in history, culture, and things to do.

๐Ÿ How Many Days Do You Need on Oahu? Where to Stay and What to Do

๐Ÿ The Ultimate Ko Olina Guide

๐Ÿ Where to Stay on Oahu with Kids: The 7 Best Family Resorts

Oahu Travel Tips

From navigating the island to finding the local beaches, check out the articles below to plan your Oahu vacation.

๐Ÿ Explore all the ways to get around Oahu (with or without a rental car)

๐Ÿ Why is Waikiki Famous?ย 

๐Ÿ Hawaii Christmas Vacation: Oahu is the Place to Go

๐Ÿ Hotel vs Airbnb: How to Decide What is Best for Your Hawaii Vacation

๐Ÿ 4 Ways to Save on the Cheapest Hawaiian Island

Oahu Travel Guide Travel Tips
Oahu Travel Guide When to Visit

When to Travel to Oahu

As with all the Hawaiian islands, the lowest prices, best weather, and smallest crowds are during the shoulder seasons of September to mid-November and March to May.ย 

Our favorite month to visit Oahu is October. It checks all the boxes for the cheapest time to go, great weather, and the least crowded month.ย 

If you canโ€™t get away during the school season, then late May and June is a good time to go during the busy season.ย 

The weather on the leeward side is a paradise all year long. During the winter, the North Shore can get large surf, hence big wave surf competitions, making swimming and snorkeling dangerous or not possible. Waikiki gets a little more rain during the winter months but rains usually happen in the morning with the sun quickly following.

Oahuโ€™s Best Things to Do

Our favorite, off-the-beaten-path activities, are going to Chinatown for dinner and the lounges, Leonardโ€™s Bakery for malasadas, Electric Beach near Ko Olina for snorkeling, kayaking out to the mokes near Lanikai Beach, and Waimea Valley for a waterfall swim.ย 

๐Ÿ 10 Best Oahu Beaches

๐Ÿ 10 Free Things to Do on Oahuโ€™s North Shore

๐Ÿ 11 Best Hiking Trails on Oahu

๐Ÿย 7 Best Easy Hikes on Oahu

๐Ÿ Pearl Harbor

๐Ÿ Bishop Museum

๐Ÿ Hike Diamond Head

๐Ÿ Lanikai Beach

๐Ÿ Iolani Palace

๐Ÿ Historic Chinatown

๐Ÿ Leanardโ€™s Bakery for malasadas

๐Ÿ Snorkel at Electric Beach (watch our video on the 5 Best Oahu Snorkel Spots)

๐Ÿ Waimea Valley

๐Ÿ Haleiwa Town on the North Shore

Oahu Travel Guide Things to Do Haleiwa

Check out our Hawaii Recommendations for more of our favorite Oahu activities, what to pack, and other helpful information on planning your vacation to Oahu!