When we traveled to Maui with my parents for their first visit to Hawaii, we wanted to make sure they had an opportunity to see the history and beauty of Oahu with a day trip. They very much enjoyed that island hop to Oahu. They have mentioned that seeing Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial as well as Punchbowl were some of the highlights of their Hawaii visit.
Being seasoned Hawaii travelers and inter-island “hopper-arounders”. Andy and I now know how to get around Hawaii with ease. Using our knowledge and experience, we planned a day trip itinerary to Oahu from Maui that worked extremely well.
Not only was our itinerary well-planned, if we do say so ourselves, but we also saved hundreds of dollars in comparison to booking an organized tour. In addition, we got to see far more sights and have more freedom and privacy than if we’d opted for an organized day trip tour.
By the way, I have nothing against organized island-hopping tours. In fact, the first time Andy and I visited Maui, we booked an organized day tour to Oahu. You pay more, but you deal with much less stress, especially if you are a first or second time visitor.
*** UPDATE: Since we originally wrote this article, we’ve created very detailed Oahu day trip drive guides, maps and instructions for a similar plan as we’ve listed below, along with another route.
In case you’re interested in planning your own independent day trip to Oahu from Maui, Kauai, Big Island, Lanai or Molokai, I wanted to share our itinerary with you.
1. 7am Hawaiian Airlines flight from Maui (OGG) to Oahu (HNL) arriving at 7:40am.
3. Tour Pearl Harbor and USS Arizona Memorial. (We were here on the Saturday before Easter, so it was very crowded, but doable. If we had gone during a slower period, we would have been able to spend less time here and perhaps seen more of Oahu that day.)
4. Liliha Bakery for Coco Puffs.
5. Visit Punchbowl, the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.
6. Drive the Pali Highway (Highway 61) to East Oahu, with a stop at the Pali Lookout.
7. See Lanikai Beach, one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
8. Visit Byodo-In Temple near Kaneohe to see a beautiful example of Japanese architecture.
9. Drive the scenic Kam (Kamehameha) Highway (Hwy 83) along the East and North Shore of Oahu with stops to see:
10. Late lunch at Ted’s Bakery on the North Shore. (From here, we wanted to see the ancient Hawaiian temple at Puu O Mahuku or pop into Haleiwa for shave ice, but we were concerned we’d run out of time since our visit at the USS Arizona Memorial ran longer than on a normal day.)
12. Return rental car. Depart Oahu (HNL) at 7:30pm, arriving back in Maui (OGG) at 8:10pm on Hawaiian Airlines.
You can see we had a full day and covered a lot of ground in a short amount of time. As we were in HNL airport on our way back to Maui, Daddy stuck up a conversation with a local. The conversation led to what we had seen that day. The local was amazed at how much we had seen and done in just one short day..
As I’ve written this post, I was reminded of what a fun day we had on our Oahu day trip. I hope our itinerary might be useful to you as you consider making your own island hopping to Oahu plans.
To see the above plan along with a guide with a slightly different route, see our Oahu driving tour sightseeing guides.