72 hours in Oahu, Hawaii

“Who goes to Hawaii for three days?!” Was a common reaction I got when I mentioned my plans to visit Hawaii for 72 hours in Oahu. My parents on the other hand flipped assuming I’d been roped into an international drug smuggling ring (which was run by Apple based on the way the conversation played out) without realising…

Given the short timeframe we stayed on Oahu, the largest island where the capital Honolulu is. We opted not to hire a car given the cost and the fact that valet parking at the hotels was so expensive. The local bus was $2 per person per trip and served us fine but did mean we remained on the south coast.

72 hours in Oahu is by no means an adequate amount of time. But here is how to make the most of it.

Rainbow Tower, Hilton Hawaiian Village

Walking around Honolulu

The best way to see a city is to walk around it (though I may moan at the time!). Mike and I walked the length of Waikiki Beach, along Kuhio Beach and through Sans Souci State Recreational Park where we stopped for pancakes at the outdoors Barefoot Beachside Cafe.

We then walked back through town. At every street corner in the central city there were pavement tiles where those waiting for pedestrian lights can learn common words from the Hawaiian language  such as man, woman, child and house. The words were similar to the same in Maori.

We also got to see some historic buildings, beautifully set in parks.

Iolani Palace in Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii
Iolani Palace

Waikiki Beach

Waikiki Beach, 72 hours in Oahu, Hawaii

Waikiki Beach is the kind of white, sandy beach you imagine in your perfect holiday. I happily spent hours lying on the sand and swimming. There are stands to hire toys and furniture such as sun loungers, surf and paddle boards and kayaks.

On Friday night at 7:45PM the Hilton sets off fireworks which can be seen all over Waikiki.

Diamond Head

Diamond Head is the volcanic cone you’ll see in a lot of photos taken from Waikiki. Armed with water and sunscreen it took us 45 minutes and cost $1 to walk to the top from the bus stop (if you had a car and are reasonably fit it would probably take around 30 minutes from the carpark and costs $5). The 140-odd steps and steep, dark tunnel at the top are the toughest part, the rest zig-zags upwards and is reasonably paved.

Top of Diamond Head, Hawaii 72 hours in Oahu

The view of Waikiki and the Pacific Ocean from the top is well worth the climb. We purchased a shaved ice (pineapple and watermelon flavours) at the bottom as a reward.

Ala Moana Centre

Ala Moana is the world’s largest open-air shopping centre with some of my favourite stores to visit when travelling such as Sephora, MAC, Victoria’s Secret, Apple and Macy’s. And it’s all so much cheaper than New Zealand prices! There’s also a free shuttle which stops at a number of the big hotels.

Next time/ if you have longer than 72 hours in Oahu

Other than visiting Maui and other Hawaiian Islands I would visit the North Shore and check out the surf pipelines. And I keep hearing about Turtle Bay where you can swim with turtles!


  1. December 23, 2015 / 10:46 am

    I just love Hawaii. My Grandma lives in Oahu and you fit in some of my favorite things to do on the island in your 72 hours!

    • December 26, 2015 / 3:47 pm

      What a cool place to go to visit your Grandma! I’ve just accepted an invitation to a wedding on the North Shore of Oahu in May 2016, can’t wait to head back there and explore more.

  2. May 23, 2015 / 12:10 pm

    I loved the $2 bus when I was in Honolulu; I rode it everywhere. The other highlight was AMAZING mango and macadamia nut french toast from a diner filled with retirees. I wish I remember what the restaurant was called!

    • May 24, 2015 / 5:35 pm

      That does sounds amazing! Let me know if you remember where – Hawaii is a popular holiday spot at the moment and genuine finds like that are great to pass on to people.

  3. Tabitha Lee
    May 19, 2015 / 5:53 am

    Love this quick getaway! Gorgeous pictures. Hawaii is definitely on the short list of our T-bucket list. 😉

    • May 19, 2015 / 4:30 pm

      Thanks Tabitha, I love hearing what other people have on their travel bucket lists!

  4. Christine | A Keane Sense
    May 19, 2015 / 2:10 am

    Yum, shaved ice! I could go to Hawaii just for that! lol I still need to make it out to Hawaii! Such a beautiful state!

    • May 19, 2015 / 4:42 pm

      Haha I can think of better reasons to go than the shaved ice! It is such a beautiful state and completely different to any other I have visited.

  5. May 18, 2015 / 10:47 am

    What a fun little weekend trip! My husband and I have visited Hawaii a couple of times…and our favorite island is by far the Big Island! Active volcanos, swimming with pods of dolphins, night snorkeling/diving with manta rays and tons of hiking! Oahu is awesome though as well! We woke up one morning at 3am to drive up to the North Shore and watch the surfing. Unfortunately the waves were actually TOO big and dangerous for most surfers…so we just watched the waves and one brave soul surf. ha!

    • May 18, 2015 / 11:13 pm

      Woah that’s one early start! And it must have been so scary watching that one surfer out there in the dangerous waves. Checked out your Hawaii posts and the Big Island looks awesome (including when your camera was out of action!)