You may be staying on one of the neighboring islands and considering visiting Oahu, or you might want to save money. Either way, weʻll help you make the most of your 1 day in Honolulu. There is also some information about our favorite places. Weʻll give you plenty of information you can use if you rent a car, choose a group tour, and of course, if you decide to let us show you around. But donʻt worry. We donʻt try to convince you of that until the end.
Spending 1 day in Honolulu and touring Oahu?
Time is precious, and vacations can seem essential. It doesnʻt matter if you are in Honolulu for 1 day or an entire month. But if you decide to go touring the island if you have a flight or a cruise to catch, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. First, the only way you are not on the hook for making that departure is if the airline tickets are included in a package. A few companies still offer interisland tours, but not as many as before. If you know you want extra “insurance” for that exit ticket, thatʻs the way.
For those flying in for a day, layover, or on a cruise ship
As long as you plan it right (or have someone else who knows what they are doing) and monitor the traffic conditions, youʻll be fine. Not to mention, exploring and touring Oahu on your last day is a great idea.
That would be better than dragging your bags around the City looking for something to do. Itʻs certainly more fun than sitting at the airport for hours on a beautiful day.
Book an excursion or be self-guided touring Oahu?
There are benefits and drawbacks to both options. There are several areas off-limits to commercial vehicles that you would have to rent a car or take a taxi to visit. This is actually true for most beaches on the island now. So many more people are deciding to go that route. But it doesnʻt mean you have to miss the stories. Several GPS-Guided Audio Tours will share stories, directions, and recommendations. Of course, that does mean you have to navigate traffic and streets you are unfamiliar with.
What type of experience are you looking for?
If you donʻt want to spend your 1 day on Oahu driving, you may want to book a tour. Whether you drive on the other side of the road, are a history buff, or just like meeting new people, they can be great fun.
A group tour may be perfect if you are single or traveling with a small party and want to save money. The private Oahu touring options may be best for flexibility and freedom. You might even save money.
Oahu is known as the Sands of Kahuhihewa
The story of Hawaii is incredible, and Oahu is no exception. Some things are more familiar, like Kamehameha, World War II, your favorite movies, and television shows. But there is so much more than that. History and tradition cover every inch of these islands. This particular one is known as ʻKe one o Kakuhihewa.ʻ He was a famous Chief who moved his Royal Court to Waikiki. For those on a budget, there are plenty of resources to learn about this special place that donʻt cost a dime.
There are several free ways to learn about Hawaii
One of our favorites is the Waikiki Historic Trail. It runs all the way from Kapiolani Park to Ala Moana. The information spans hundreds of years and is sure to keep your interest. Keep an eye out for the surfboard markers.
Many of the hotels offer historical tours, dance, and ukulele lessons, all for free. There is also a Cultural Center in the Royal Hawaiian Mall. You may even find a hula show by the banyan tree and Duke Kahanamoku statue.
Pearl Harbor National War Memorial
The Arizona Memorial and Pearl Harbor Visitor Center are also free. However, a small fee reserves tickets in advance for the shuttle boat. Which we highly recommend doing. Since the site is so somber, there are stringent rules for guides here, so even if you are on a tour, much of that is self-led. Although they do have audio sets for those who want to learn more.
Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum and Battleship Missouri
Are you worried about your kids having fun at Pearl Harbor? They will likely enjoy these two exhibits. The Battleship offers a guided tour, and you can explore below and above the main deck.
Waikiki houses another free Military Museum. But the history here starts long before the United Statesʻ presence in these islands. The Kingdom of Hawaii was the first non-Western Country to be recognized as a sovereign nation. There is a Modern Art Museum in Honolulu and a Judiciary Museum at Aliiolani Hale, behind the Kamehameha Statue. The Royal Palace across the street has turned into a museum.
Visit Iolani Palace and the Bishop Museum
With running water, flush toilets, and electricity, all before the Whitehouse and parts of Buckingham Palace, Iolani is a must-see. They offer docents and audio set tours you will surely enjoy.
While the Bishop Museum houses the most extensive collection in the Pacific. You can learn about traditions, animals, geology, and the Hawaiian Kingdom there. You can visit both, alongside the National Park, in 1 day in Honolulu.
No other island offers so many types of adventures
For those more active than interested or wanting a quick trip to Pearl Harbor but still do some exploring, youʻll love Oahu. You can easily add a tour at Kualoa Ranch depending on how many museums you visit. But make sure you have reserved that in advance. They will give you even more education, or you can raise those adrenaline levels on an off-road excursion or zipline. You can also stop for free photos at the visitor center, and the gift shop has surprisingly reasonable prices.
Everything is (relatively) close
You can get almost anywhere on the island within an hour and a half. So you can cover a lot touring Oahu on your 1 day in Honolulu. But donʻt forget to add about half an hour to whatever travel time your GPS gives you.
Of course, if you decide to go on a tour, that will be someone else’s problem. Oahu also offers plenty of free adventures, from mauka (uplands) to makai (the sea), so if you like hiking or swimming, this is the place.
1 day in Honolulu, from the mountains to the sea
While most people have beaches and waterfalls in mind, the hike up Diamond Head Crater is undoubtedly the most popular hike on Oahu. It takes under 2 hours and is generally considered easy. However, the stair section is guaranteed to get your heart pumping, and youʻʻll want to bring water and sunscreen. But there are several great places to cool down while exploring the island. One of our favorites is Manoa Valley.
Hiking and swimming on the island Oahu
Often called Waikiki Beach, itʻs actually named in honor of Prince Jonah Kuhio. Summer brings waves for surfing, and the winter typically has calm waters. Hanauma Bay is a short trip from the City if you hope to snorkel.
So itʻs pretty easy to get a taste of the mountains and ocean on the same day. At Waimea Valley, you can walk from the waterfall to the sea. Admission to the grounds includes parking, and the scenery is gorgeous.
Shop until you drop on your day touring Oahu
If all that sounds good, consider a Circle Island Tour especially if you like to shop. There is a huge range of souvenirs, fruit stands, coffee, and macadamia samples. These places also have clean restrooms, which arenʻt always easy to find. So, if you are doing a self-guided driving tour and the need arises, theyʻre a great option. But if you are thinking about an excursion, youʻll want to decide between a group trip or something with a more personal touch.
Should you go with a group or private tour of Oahu
Group tours are great for the 20-something age range. They allow you to meet more people, and if you have a small party, itʻs typically cheaper. But, of course, the itineraries are pre-determined and can be rigid.
For families or couples looking for something more romantic, go for a private tour. You generally pay about the same price if you have 4 or more people in your group. Sometimes less.
You can turn any tour into a food tour!
While most group tours will feature some local treats, itʻs so easy to get exactly what you want when you travel privately. You can even turn a Pearl Harbor Tour into a culinary delight! There are great places to get malasadaʻs, fresh fish, dim sum, and much more, minutes from the Memorial. Good luck getting that type of experience on a group excursion. Oahu is a severely underrated food destination; you can generally find something from nearly anywhere in the world. If you know where to look.
We obviously prefer private tours and excursions
Everything we do is 100% custom and private, so check out our different Oahu Tours. If you only have 1 day in Honolulu, you might as well make it count. Weʻd love to show you around this beautiful island.
If you are traveling with luggage, on a cruise ship, or just flying in for the day, weʻve got you covered. Your Private Oahu Transfer Tours let you maximize your precious vacation time.
Best part of Honolulu private touring? Making changes
Whether the weather or your mind changes. This allows you to make adjustments. Weʻve all been on a tour where 1 component or another is canceled. On a group tour, thereʻs rarely anything anyone can do. But when you go private, you can often adjust and get a similar experience. Not to mention, if youʻre traveling with young ones, especially babies, their moods can change quickly.
If you go that route, we hope you ride with us
We are rated 5 stars on Google and everywhere else, for that matter. Safety and experience are not just marketing phrases for us. Not to mention, we take having fun very seriously and show up for our Community.
We take the gift of being able to share our home, as well as the responsibility that entails, to heart. For those who want to help with that mission, we also offer discounts for your kindness.
You can get a discount for Community contributions
Now you donʻt have to travel with us to do something special for these islands or their people. But we make it easy and will also get you a discount. You can save hundreds of dollars on Your Community Service Tours by spending 1 stop doing something kind. Then spend the rest of your 1 day in Honolulu seeing or doing whatever you want on any route we offer. Thatʻs not a bad deal if you ask us, and our favorite days at work.
Dedicate a stop to leave a positive impact
Several options are fun, free, and easy. Our favorite is probably the beach cleanup. We keep the supplies in the vehicle, so you can even decide that day. Weʻll process a refund for the difference on the spot.
There are several options to work at a farm or fishpond. Those admissions are about the same as our discount, so you basically get a freebie. Perhaps our favorite of these is planting native trees at the Gunstock Ranch.
Thinking about more than one touring day on Oahu?
For those lucky enough to have more than 1 day in Honolulu for touring, weʻd love to help with that as well. We have some articles for information about multiple days on the island. Regardless of where you are staying, they should help. After all, the average length of vacations here lasts about a week. So we put more discounts together for you to spend some of that time with us.
Buy 2 excursions and get the 3rd 50% off!
Your Oahu Multi-Day Tours are a great way to save money and explore more! When you divide to spend 2 full days with us, weʻll give you the 3rd for half price. You save from about $400 to $700 on your trip.
Guests can choose from any route or activity we offer; there is so much to see. If you are booking other island excursions, itʻs also a great way to save on transportation. But be warned, thatʻs a lot of time for bad jokes.
Weʻve also put together all online tour reviews to help you decide. No matter how you spend your time on this beautiful island, we certainly hope you enjoy it. We hope this article was helpful and gave you many more ideas for spending your 1 day in Honolulu touring Oahu.
As always, mahalo nui loa for taking the time to read the Things to do in Oahu Blog. Make sure to follow us on social media for updates and more information about family-friendly activities on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. Donʻt forget to share with your family and friends.
No matter how you travel, we hope this was helpful and that you enjoy your trip. If you enjoyed this article, please subscribe below and get first access to the next post. For those with questions, as always, feel free to Contact Us.
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Published by Halia Tours and Transportation | Private Tours Oahu Hawaii
Every tour 100% Custom and Private Tours of Oahu, Hawaii. Choose from places like Pearl Harbor, Diamond Head, Dole Plantation, North Shore, and more. We can take you virtually anywhere that is safe, legal, and not in a neighborhood.
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