Oahu Itinerary – 3 Days in Oahu for First Timers

Planning your upcoming trip to Oahu but unsure what to do with your time?

To give you some ideas of how to spend some of your Hawaiian vacation, we’ve put together an itinerary for 3 Days in Oahu that combines a wide variety of attractions and activities.

This Oahu itinerary is designed to appeal to both families and couples, and should be tons of fun for any Hawaii-bound traveler.

This 3 day itinerary includes:

  • Sea Life Park
  • Hawaiian Style Moped
  • USS Missouri Memorial
  • USS Arizona Memorial Audio Tour
  • USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park
  • Hanauma Bay Snorkel
  • Makani Catamaran Sail
  • Waikiki Beach &  Gear Rental
  • Polynesian Cultural Center’s Luau & Dinner Show

Save on Attraction Admission

Pick up a 3-Day Go Oahu® Card and save big off combined admission prices vs paying at the gate.

Remember, this 3 day itinerary is just one of many ways to experience Oahu.

The Go Oahu® Card gives you the flexibility to create your own itinerary, so you can choose from dozens of top attractions and create a vacation tailored to your interests.

Looking for other suggested itinerary? Then take a peak at our 2 day/weekend in Oahu, or one week in Hawaii itinerary.

DAY 1

Stop #1: Sea Life Park Hawaii

sea-life-park

This charming marine park is a great first attraction for your Oahu vacation. It’s part education and conservation facility, and part entertainment complex. Explore the animal exhibits, enjoy engaging performances, and help feed the sea turtles!

Some of the creatures you’ll meet at Sea Life Park include the endangered Humboldt penguins, sea lions, dolphins, and more. And although they offer certain play areas and interactive exhibits, this place is really all about showcasing Hawaiian marine life in an authentic context.

We recommend reserving at least 3 hours for this attraction.

Getting In: Sea Life Park Hawaii tickets are included on the Go Oahu Card.

Lunch in Honolulu

Since Sea Life Park is fairly isolated, you’ll want to return to an urban center for your next meal (also convenient for your next attraction).

You can find most anything in Honolulu, just as you would in any major city, plus the addition of Hawaiian specialties!

Stop #2: Hawaiian Style Rentals, Bike or Moped Rental

hawaiian-style-bike-rentalThere’s no better way to explore the island than on two wheels. Traffic on Oahu is notoriously bad, so why not bypass it all with a bike? It’s great exercise, it’s eco-friendly, and it gets you outdoors!

Hawaii bike rentals are also a good opportunity to carve your own path and see what you want to see, and not just what a tour guide shows you. Of course, your rental does come with a map with suggested landmarks and destinations, allowing you the flexibility to really design your own day.

We recommend reserving between 2-3 hours for this attraction. You can rent a moped for 4 hours (18+ only) or a bike for 24 hours.

Getting In: Hawaiian Style Rentals: Moped and Bike Rentals are included on the Go Oahu Card.

Dinner along the Beach

Since you’ll have to return your rental to a beachside facility, you’ll be perfectly positioned to dine at one of the many waterfront restaurants that dot the Honolulu coast.

Expect a lot of seafood and Asian cuisine options, plus some fun Hawaiian fusion fare!

DAY 2

Stop #1: Battleship Missouri Memorial

battleship-missouri-memorial-oahu-museumsThe Battleship Missouri Memorial is the ideal attraction for history buffs – especially those of you with a special fascination for military history.

The Missouri was the last battleship ever built and has been recently refurbished for visitors.

This ship has actually seen service in three different conflicts, making it one of the most storied ships in U.S. Naval history.

Some of the highlights you’ll see on your tour include the Surrender Deck, the spot where a kamikaze pilot flew into the ship, and more.

The tour takes approximately 1 hour. Although admission to the Memorial itself is free, your Go Oahu® Card covers the cost of the guided tour.

Getting In: Battleship Missouri tickets are included on the Go Oahu Card.

Stop #2: USS Arizona Memorial

uss-arizona-memorial-oahu-museumsNext, you’ll want to embark on the USS Arizona Memorial Tour, an audio tour narrated by dozens of Pearl Harbor survivors, historians, and celebrity Jamie Lee Curtis.

The USS Arizona is actually the most visited attraction in all of Oahu, so it should definitely be on your must-do list.

This memorial was built specifically to honor the 1,177 crewmen who lost their lives in the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. The audio tour is a moving and poignant opportunity to honor their sacrifice and learn about an important time in U.S. history.

The audio tour takes approximately 1 hour.

Getting In: USS Arizona Memorial Narrated Tour tickets are included on the Go Oahu Card.

Stop #3: USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park

uss-bowfin-submarine-park-oahu-museumsOne of the only surviving combat submarines from WWII, the USS Bowfin has since been made into a museum that particularly features the history of submarines and the crucial role they played in sinking enemy ships in WWII.

Since this park is actually a central hub of the Pearl Harbor Historic Sites, it’s a convenient stop for you while you explore each of the different venues. Don’t forget to bring your camera to each of these attractions!

The self-guided audio tour lasts approximately 30 minutes, but we recommend leaving about 1 hour to explore the Museum and grounds.

Getting In: USS Bowfin Submarine tickets are included on the Go Oahu Card.

Lunch in Honolulu

Return to Honolulu for a delicious Hawaiian-style meal, perhaps along Ala Moana Boulevard, a prime destination for dining options.

Stop #4: Hanauma Bay Snorkeling

hanauma-bay-snorkelAfter a relaxing lunch, head East with Kaimana Tours for some excellent Hanauma Bay snorkeling opportunities.

These beautiful, pristine waters are the perfect place to see a great variety of marine life and plants.

Some of creatures you’re likely to see on your snorkeling adventure include rays, turtles, octopi, tropical fish, and more! The vibrant coral reef is a beautiful sight all on its own, too!

And don’t worry if you’ve never been snorkeling before — Kaimana Tours will give you an easy introduction to how the equipment works, and some tips for the best sightseeing tactics.

This excursion takes approximately 3 hours.

Getting In: Hanauma Bay Snorkel rentals are included on the Go Oahu Card.

Dinner in Waikiki

Mix it up a little bit and explore the oceanfront restaurants in Waikiki. You’ll find a wide variety of cuisine, including everything from sushi and fresh seafood to French and Hawaiian fusion.

Families especially love the Oceanarium, a restaurant with a giant aquarium inside.

DAY 3

Stop #1: Makani Catamaran Sail

makani-catamaran-sailIf you haven’t been aboard a boat in Oahu, you’re missing out. That’s why we’re convinced that this luxurious two-hour cruise is a relaxing and delightful way to start off your third day in Oahu.

It’s a sailing adventure takes you through beautiful coastal waters at impressive speeds while still retaining that smooth ride feel.

During the Makani Catamaran Sail, be on the look out for dolphins, flying fish, sea turtles, and, in certain seasons, humpback whales! Don’t forget the sunscreen and a camera!

This cruise lasts about 2 hours.

Getting In: Makani Catamaran Sail tickets are included on the Go Oahu Card.

Lunch in Waikiki

For lunch, try that other restaurant that piqued your fancy. With so many diverse options, you’ve got plenty of choices.

If you’re looking for something specifically beachside, try Duke’s Waikiki for great views and tasty drinks.

Stop #2: Waikiki Beach

beach-gearNow’s your chance to sit and lounge around on the beach. Waikiki Beach is the ideal place for visitors to enjoy Oahu’s beach culture.

Since you probably didn’t have a ability to bring much beach gear with you (can you really pack an umbrella in your checked luggage?), head to the Hawaiian Oceans stand and take your pick.

Some options for your rental include a boogie board, an umbrella, a chair, and fins. Or grab a surfboard and ride the waves! Whatever you choose, you’ll be able to enhance your beach-going experience.

Your equipment rental is good for 3 hours.

Getting In: Waikiki beach gear is included on the Go Oahu Card.

Stop #3: Polynesian Cultural Center

polynesian-cultural-center-oahu-museumsThis is actually both a destination and your dinner – the Polynesian Cultural Center’s Alii Luau and Dinner Show is a premier Oahu attraction and a favorite with visitors.

You’ll be treated to a mesmerizing performance that tells the story of Mana and Lani, symbolic figures from Polynesian mythology. Then, enjoy a delicious island-style buffet.

You also have general admission to the Polynesian Cultural Center’s exhibits and performances, which, believe us, is a totally amazing experience itself. Stroll through recreated villages from the six different cultures that make up Polynesia, and witness fascinating traditions like lei-making and “fire knife” dancing.

The performance and your buffet will last for 3 hours in the evening. If you want to spend more time exploring the PCC, then stop by earlier in the day for an extended period of time.

Getting In: Polynesian Cultural Center tickets are included on the Go Oahu Card.

Let’s Recap

So if you’re trying to figure out what to do during 3 days in Oahu on your vacation, try out this popular itinerary.

It’s filled with great things to do and places to see that encompass cultural, educational, and just plain enjoyable elements.

If you visit all of these attractions on the Oahu itinerary with the 3-Day Go Oahu® Card, you’ll save big on combined admission prices! Go Card holders can save even more with the included extra discounts on dining, shopping, and additional attractions.
Go Oahu card

Comments

  1. Melanie says

    If you buy a 3 day card do you need to use it in 3 consecutive days? What if you don’t complete all that you signed up for in the 3 days can you carry it over?

    • Smart Destinations says

      The 3-Day Go Oahu Card allows you to explorer for 3 ‘calendar days’ over a two-week period. Please note that calendar days’ are not 24-hour periods. For example, if you activate a 3-Day pass on a Monday evening, it is valid for the remainder of Monday (1st calendar day) and any 2 additional calendar days within two weeks of activation.

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