Did you know you can spend a perfect week in Oahu, Hawaii, and swim on Waikiki Beach, walk through a rain forest, visit waterfalls, snorkel in the most beautiful bay in all of Hawaii, and climb Diamond Head Crater? You can see giant turtles, Pearl Harbor, thirty-foot waves, and the laid back North Shore highlights. Enjoy kayaking, a catamaran ride, surf lessons, and great food. And, you can do this all in one week, including flying non-stop roundtrip from most large airports in the United States for $5,000 USD for two people and stay right in the heart of Waikiki Beach!
I have recently planned a honeymoon week for a friend, with pricing for a number of hotel and flight package options, for spending one perfect week in Oahu. I had also planned a similar trip previously for my daughter, who I call Millennial Melly on my podcasts, and her husband. Both couples chose to do roughly the same trip, so I thought I would share that plan with you so you can take advantage of my experience and research, too. Melly and her husband said it was just perfect, and I will let you know the feedback as soon as my friend returns from her honeymoon. Listen to the accompanying podcast by clicking on the audio bar at the end of this post (or while you read it) to get even more insight into the trip.
Before You Go
Select your flights, hotel, rental car, and book the recommended kayaking and Pearl Harbor activities using the links included below. Check out individual pricing for flights, hotel, and rental car, and then compare it with package options. See the pricing examples at the end of this post for some current offers for ideas of how to save money with a package option. If you have flexibility on dates of travel, for best pricing, avoid holiday travel weeks.
Ideally, take a nonstop flight to Honolulu, Hawaii, so you will not have to worry about potential missed connections. Travel time from most west coast United States airports is about five hours and up to 12 hours from east coast United States airports. Hawaii is three hours behind west coast time and six hours behind east coast time. However, Hawaii does not observe Daylight Savings Time, so adjust these examples by one hour in winter. For example, in December, Hawaii is five hours “behind” Eastern Standard Time.
For example, my friend is taking an 11 am non-stop flight from Atlanta, arriving in Honolulu at 3:45 pm (9:45 pm Atlanta time). So, from Atlanta, the flight is 10 hours and 45 minutes. The round-trip non-stop price for this flight returning the following Saturday night on a non-stop flight overnight, arriving Sunday morning, is about $1,100 USD, including all taxes and fees, for a coach, main cabin seat on Delta. Flight time from New York is about one hour longer.
Below are three hotel options in different price ranges for your consideration. Each is in central Waikiki.
My favorite hotel in Oahu, and the hotel my friend chose for her honeymoon, is the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort. This hotel is located in the center of Waikiki, is reasonably priced, has numerous activities, and offers great views of Waikiki Beach from most every room. Duke’s Waikiki restaurant is located in the hotel, offering delicious reasonably priced meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Live music is played outside of Duke’s many evenings. Rooms are large, comfortable, and well-decorated in a Hawaiian motif. Prices range from about $2400 for 7 nights for 2 people in a king-bed room.
My daughter, Melanie, chose to stay at the Aston Waikiki Beach hotel when she and her husband stayed in Waikiki. For about $1800 for 7 nights for 2 people in a king-bed room, they had a comfortable, well-decorated hotel on Waikiki Beach about a 10-minute walk in the Diamond Head direction from the center of Waikiki.
One day, I hope to stay at the luxurious Halekulani Hotel, about a 10-minute walk away from Diamond Head from the center of Waikiki Beach. I have visited the Halekulani to enjoy sunset and music at the House Without a Key outside on the beach. It has the reputation for one of the best hotels in all of Hawaii, and from my visits and my research I think I would agree. At about $5000 for 7 nights for 2 people in a king-bed room, it is still on my bucket list.
Here’s a suggested itinerary for “don’t miss” highlights of a week in Oahu beginning travel on a Saturday. Of course, days can be adjusted, but I will note closure dates for activities and explain why I am recommending activities on the days suggested. I have also included links to my three other Oahu blogs where appropriate, so you can see ideas for adding or substituting other Oahu activities depending on your taste and level of fitness.
Saturday – Leave for Hawaii
When you arrive in Honolulu, pick up a rental car and drive from the airport to your hotel in Waikiki. This will take about 30 minutes on a Saturday or a Sunday. If you arrive on a weekday, traffic could make for longer travel time.
Check in to your hotel and have dinner in or near the hotel at one of the restaurants suggested below. Relax and rest for an early day tomorrow.
If you are staying at the Aston Waikiki Beach hotel, walk around the corner to the left to have dinner at Lulu’s Restaurant. This open-air, casual restaurant has reasonable food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Check out the menu and other information at the website here:
If you are staying at the Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach, have dinner at Duke’s on the lowest floor of the hotel, beachside. Check out the menu and other information at the website here:
If you are staying at the Halekulani, have dinner at the hotel’s outdoor bar at the House Without a Key, beachside. Check out the menu and other information at the website here:
Sunday – Pearl Harbor
Drive to Pearl Harbor. Arrive by 6:45 am. Tickets are available beginning at 7:00 am. Get free walk-up tickets for the first tour of the USS Arizona Memorial at 7:30 am.
The United States officially entered World War II on December 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor right here at what is now one of Hawaii’s most visited destinations where over one million visitors come annually to pay their respects to those who gave the ultimate sacrifice and to see the historical landmark.
Experience the 75-minute tour of the USS Arizona Memorial that begins at the Pearl Harbor Memorial Theater. It includes a 23-minute documentary film, a shuttle boat ride to the USS Arizona Memorial, and time to experience the memorial.
Recommendation – before you go to Hawaii: For back up, reserve 2 tickets for the USS Arizona 75-minute tour ($1.00 per ticket booking fee) at a time available for your date here:
Note – Pearl Harbor Security Measures from the official website:
“Cameras, water bottles, wallets, and other small items can be brought on site, but bags that offer concealment are not allowed at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center. Clear, see-through stadium bags and bags for medical necessities are allowed. There is a bag storage facility on site, located at the USS Bowfin Submarine shuttle bus stop, where you can store your belongings for a fee of $5 per bag.”
Check out additional touring options and the latest ticket and security information here before your visit at the official website here:
See more about Pearl Harbor and other Oahu recommendations on my blog here:
Note: As of October 2018, according to the Pearl Harbor website, https://www.recreation.gov/ticket/facility/233338 “boat transportation to the USS Arizona Memorial is temporarily suspended until further notice, due to a recently detected crack in the supporting structure for the visitor loading ramp. Park staff and specialists have assessed the situation and are determining the course of action that needs to be taken. Updates will be provided as more information becomes available. Visitors with tickets will view the documentary in the theater followed by a narrated harbor tour in the vicinity of the memorial without disembarking.”
Monday – Hanauma Bay
As I describe in my blog linked above, another location that sees over a million visitors a year in Hawaii is Hanauma Bay. This must-see highlight opens at 6 am every day except Tuesday. For the best parking options and to avoid the huge, daily crowds, arrive by 5:45 am. The cost to enter is $7.50 per person.
Bring your beach towel, snorkeling gear, and water shoes. You can rent or buy snorkeling equipment here, but a cheaper option is at ABC Stores all over Oahu.
Do not swim out far or near where the ocean gets close to the bay on the sides of Hanauma Bay. Unfortunately, there are several drownings here each year from tourists unaware of the unusual undertow here.
See more information here:
For a special sunset dinner tonight, sit beachside at the House Without a Key at the Halekulani. Get there about 5 pm and get a table in front of the band. Order drinks and casual food as you listen to music and watch the sun set here. The Mai Tai’s are amazing! It is the last stop on my Waikiki blog here:
Tuesday – Climb Diamond Head Crater
Climb Diamond Head Crater early in the day. Gates open at 6:00 am. It will be less crowded and much cooler if you begin your hike before 7:00 am. For reference, the gates close at 6:00 pm.
Check out more information on my Oahu highlights blog here:
Also, check out the Hawaii State Parks website here for the latest information:
After climbing Diamond Head, take a catamaran ride and/or a surfing lesson in the afternoon. Look for catamarans (about $40 for a 90-minute catamaran sail) or book in advance at NaHoku Catamaran link:
Strong swimmers can reserve surf lessons for $75 per hour per person for two or more people at Waikiki Beach Services surf lesson link:
Lessons are offered in front of the Royal Hawaiian hotel, next door to the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort, away from the Diamond Head side.
Wednesday – Rain Forest with Waterfall at Manoa Falls
Walk through a rain forest to the Manoa Falls waterfall. Directions and more information are on my Oahu blog here:
Wear old tennis shoes, bring a water bottle, and use insect repellent. As with all freshwater streams and waterfalls in Hawaii, Leptospirosis bacteria may be present in the water. Even though you may see people in the water, do not get in it. Also, do not drink the water and keep water out of open wounds (including small scratches) and eyes. Wash your shoes well when you return from the walk.
For a special dinner, walk across the street from the Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort, about a block in the direction away from Diamond Head to the Top of Waikiki restaurant. The only revolving restaurant in Hawaii opens at 5 pm. Check out the menu, including early specials, and book here:
Thursday – Turtles, waves, and Haleiwa on the North Shore
Spend “one perfect day on the North Shore” following this plan:
Friday – Kayaking
Spend most of the day kayaking and enjoying the beaches on the quieter side of Oahu. $118.15 per person (2 hours Kayaking plus lunch and 2 hours beach time, includes hotel pick up and drop off) Check out the first tour listed on this site:
Saturday – Enjoy the beach in the morning, then return home.
Drive to the airport and return the rental car. Be sure to leave the hotel 4 hours in advance of flight time. You must be at airport at 2 ½ to 3 hours early due to agricultural inspection. You may want to check in online in your hotel lobby and print your boarding passing before you leave the hotel.
One Perfect Week in Oahu – sample pricing
Options for non-holiday week – Saturday, March 16th through Saturday, March 23rd, 2019, from New York on non-stop flights:
Hotel/Flight Package – Approximately $3200 Aston Waikiki, $3700 Outrigger Waikiki Beach Resort, or $6700 Halekulani + $1800 the food, activities recommended, rental car, gas for car, resort fees, and hotel parking = $5000 to $8500 depending on hotel
Check out www.DeltaVacations.com from Atlanta non-stop or www.HawaiianAirlines.com (bundle package) non-stop from New York. Also, check out www.orbitz.com to take a look at packages for multiple airlines and starting locations. With Delta Vacations and Orbitz, you can even bundle the rental car for a better price!
Note: These prices were current as of October 2018 for these future options in March 2019, for example. I do not receive any commission from any recommendations. Be sure you are in good physical shape for all active options. You are responsible for your own choices and actions.
I hope you enjoyed this post and podcast about visiting Oahu, Hawaii. I would love to hear from you about your travels, too. Remember, you can comment at the bottom of this blog, email via my contact page at https://oneperfectdayin.org/contact/, or connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest @oneperfectdayin and/or subscribe to my podcast below or on Apple Podcasts/iTunes or Google Podcast at “One Perfect Day in Travel”.
Podcast: One Perfect Day in Travel