One day in Oahu July 19, 2019

We were fortunate enough to spend a whole week on Oahu, exploring the island, relaxing on the beach, and eating as many dole whips as we could find.

Our Hawaiian recommendations by Our Cruising Life

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If you're cruising the Hawaiian Islands, there is a good chance you'll only have one day Oahu! Below are our top recommendations for every kind of Hawaiian holiday:

  • For a whirlwind panoramic tour of the island
  • For the history buff

If you don't have a car and want to maximize beach time

Sailing in and out of Oahu, your ship will likely be docked at Pier 11 at Aloha Tower or Pier 2 located on Ala Moana Boulevard, only a hop, skip and a 10 minute drive from Waikiki and beautiful beaches.

For a whirlwind panoramic tour of the island:

Get started early, as this itinerary is jam packed! Depending on if you want to leave time for exploring each location or simply hop out and take a photo, you can adjust the number of stops on this tour.

On this tour you'll see:

  • Waikiki City
  • Hanauma Bay
  • Makapu'u Point Lighthouse Trail
  • Ho'omaluhia Botanical Garden
  • North Shore
  • Dole Plantation (and Dole Whip of course!)

Leaving the cruise terminal, head east. You will pass Waikiki city on your right as you head towards Hanauma Bay! Hanauma Bay is famous for it's beautiful snorkeling. If you want the full experience, you can spend some time on the beach here. Just make sure to keep an eye on the time and know you won't cover much ground (however, you'll see beautiful tropical fish, coral reefs as far as the eye can see, and, if you're lucky, sea turtles!)

If you manage to resist swimming with Crush and Squirt (yes I know they live in Australia and not Hawaii...), continue east to Makapu'u Point Lighthouse Trail. There are lots of look outs along the way, feel free to stop at any of them.

When you feel you've had enough sweeping ocean views (or, the more likely scenario, you're trying to beat the clock to sailaway), head north towards Ho'omaluhia Botanical Garden.  If you're into botany, beautiful flowers, and reenacting chase scenes from Jurassic Park, this may be where your day ends. This park is giantic with tons to be explored. We spent about 30 minutes driving around and capturing some great candid shots before taking a quick bathroom break and getting back on the road.

From here, you're going to cut through the island towards the North Shore. If you're visiting in the winter, you're in for a treat of huge waves and impressive surf competitions. Follow the highway as far as you desire (I recommend turning around at Waimea Bay Beach Park to be safe on time). Each beach is unique and more beautiful than the last, so you really can't go wrong.

Sadly, this island tour has to come to an end in time for sailaway. On your way back to port, make a pit stop at Dole Plantation and indulge in the original Dole Whip (this is my heaven).

For the history buff:

Hawaii is full of different cultures and history.

On this tour you'll see:

  • Pearl Harbour
  • Byodo-In Temple
  • Nuuanu Pali Lookout
  • Diamond Head

If you're here for a day of learning about Hawaii's rich history, head to Pearl Harbour first. If you want, you could spend the whole day here exploring 4 historic sites. But if you want to maximise your time, we recommend reserving your USS Arizona Memorial tour ahead of time. It's completely free here! The experience is a little over an hour, including a short boat ride to and from the memorial.

Next stop, Byodo-In Temple. Hoping on the H3 it should only take 30 minutes to get to this replica Byodo-in Temple at the foot of the Ko'olau Mountains. There is a $5 cash only entry fee per person (much cheaper than the flight to Japan!) Stretch your legs and enjoy the peacefulness for about 45 mins-1 hour.

Now that you're rejuvenated, head off to the last activity: climbing Diamond Head! Taking highway 61/H1E back towards Honolulu, you'll pass Pali Lookout (Nuuanu Pali State Wayside). Make the pitstop for sweeping ocean and island views. This Nuuanu Pali Lookout was the site of the Battle of Nuuanu when King Kamehameha I won a decisive battle that helped him conquer the island of Oahu.

Make sure you've left plenty of time, as this hike takes about 2 hours, and you'll want time to take in the spectacular views from the top and a cold treat at the bottom.  There is an entrance fee of $5 per car.

If you don't have a car and want to maximize beach time:

Grab a taxi, Uber, or Lyft from the port to Waikiki Beach (ask your driver to drop you by Fort Derussy park). We found the best place to sit is about a 5 minute walk away from the Sheraton Waikiki, where there are less crowds and more room to relax. The snorkeling in this area is out of this world and easy to do on your own!

There are plenty of good restaurants in this area and, of course, Dole Whip in the ABC store - less than a 5 minute walk from the beach.

If you want to plan your own day of fun check out our top hikes here and our top beaches here. Whatever you choose to do, just enjoy your day on the beautiful island of Oahu!

Our Cruising Life

When Holly and Andrew first met, they instantly connected over traveling. Since then, the trips haven't stopped. They realised pretty quickly that they love cruising!

Our Cruising Life

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