Oahu Visitor Guide: Best Road Trips on Oahu
If you want to enjoy the most of Oahu in the limited amount of time you have, see this Oahu Travel Blog article, ‘Best Road Trips on Oahu.’ Learn more about fun day trips from Waikiki that will show you the best of our island including waterfalls, beaches, volcanic craters and lush valleys.
These are unique times we find ourselves living in, with restrictions being put in place and lifted with little notice, so please be sure to confirm operating hours before visiting any of the attractions mentioned in this article.
Ready to experience your dream vacation on Oahu? We’ve put together a list of road trips on Oahu that will let you take in the best of our island in just a short amount of time.
If you have a week to spend on Oahu, you can enjoy these road trips at your leisure, perhaps once a day with a double-day trip in your final 24 hours with us.
If you're only on the island for a weekend or a few days, take your pick because any of these road trips will lead to marvelous memories.
In this Oahu Travel Blog article, ‘Best Road Trips on Oahu,’ we’ll share fun day trips from Waikiki that you can take to see beautiful scenery including roaring waterfalls, volcanic craters, pristine beaches and lush valleys.
The Famous North Shore
Oahu’s North Shore is known for its gigantic waves and for the professional surfing championships that are held there during winter. For your first road trip from Ambassador Hotel, we suggest you hit the North Shore to experience this beautiful stretch of coastline that features amazing surf and so much more.
If you’re looking for a definitive starting point to your North Shore road trip, head to the main town of Haleiwa, which is consistently rated as one of the best small settlements in Hawaii. Refresh with an acai bowl or shave ice, then head to the beach for sun, surf and snorkeling.
Oahu's Polynesian Cultural Center
The Polynesian Cultural Center sits in the region of the North Shore of Oahu, so you might be wondering whether or not you can include it in our first recommended road trip. We suggest you make the Polynesian Cultural Center the center of its own excursion, unless of course you are completely pressed for time.
With 8 simulated tropical villages, restaurants, tours and hula lessons, the Polynesian Cultural Center is a living attraction that is best enjoyed over an entire day. Brigham Young University owns the Polynesian Cultural Center and 70 percent of the Center’s staff are students of the organization’s school.
It is impossible to experience all there is to do and see on Oahu in 1 or even 2 visits...it may take a lifetime of visits to take in all that makes up this beautiful island, but plan to enjoy a few great road trips around Oahu on your next visit and you'll have memories to last a lifetime!
The Leeward Coast
The beautiful Leeward (west) Coast of Oahu features amazing hiking opportunities and lush jungles that are perfect for touring. Often overlooked in favor of the North Shore or Waikiki, this region of Oahu is a slice of heaven with stunning beaches and countless other gems to discover.
For your road trip to Oahu’s Leeward Coast, we suggest visiting Makaha Beach, Kahumana Organic Farm & Cafe, Kaena Point State Park and Yokohama Bay. Also, consider spending time at Kanaena Cave, which is believed to be roughly 150,000 years old.
Windward Coast Beaches
Oahu’s Windward Coast is designated as the 10-mile stretch of coastline that runs from Kaneohe’s Marine Corps Base to Makapuu Beach Park. In this section of Oahu, you will find beautiful blue waters and soft sand to relax on after your day of swimming or snorkeling.
While road-tripping to Oahu’s Windward Coast beaches, stop at the Makai Research Pier to take a postcard-perfect photograph or to catch that Instagram-worthy shot.
Road trips don’t have to mean hours upon hours spent in the car. Within 15 minutes of Honolulu and Ambassador Hotel, you can escape the bustle of the city and touch down into fields of sugarcane and coffee.
For an easy road trip from Waikiki, head to Manoa Valley. This residential area on Oahu is where you will find the University of Hawaii at Manoa, a lush jungle that leads to Manoa Falls and the Mu Ryang Sa Buddhist Temple. In Manoa Valley, it rains often, which means the region is always green and paradise-like.
Kapolei is Oahu’s ‘second city’ and it is home to outstanding shopping. Situated on the Leeward side of our island, it is where you will find Ko’Olina, a picturesque area with family friendly activities as well as great bars for adults.
Visit Wet’n’Wild in Ko’Olina, or plant to road trip when fun events take place in the area like the Hawaii Food & Wine Festival or the Ko’Olina West Side Summer Fest.
Ride ATVs, go on a boat expedition and feel the thrill of a zip line at Kualoa Ranch, the perfect place for everyone. Kualoa Ranch is an area of immense natural beauty, so much so that countless movies have been filmed there including Jurassic Park and Godzilla. Television shows like The Hunger Games have used the picturesque scenery of Kuala Ranch as a backdrop too.
If you want to take a road trip that features quintessential Hawaiian landscapes, head to Kualoa Ranch. Bring your camera to capture pictures of stunning flora and fauna as well as wildlife that call this region home.
Beautiful Waikiki Beach is just 2 blocks from Ambassador Hotel, but sometimes you just want to get away to somewhere away from the bustle. If you want to enjoy some downtime in a peaceful place that doesn’t feature crowds, but does offer amazing food and fascinating attractions, take a road trip to Wahiawa.
In Wahiawa, located inland on the island of Oahu, there are plenty of places to linger, stroll and daydream. Surfers Coffee Bar, the famous Dole Plantation and the Wahiawa Botanical Garden are just a few of the highlights of a day trip to Wahiawa.
On December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, triggering the United States’ participation in World War II. Did you know that Hawaii was officially under martial law until the war’s end?
Today, you can visit Pearl Harbor to learn all about this historic battle and to see the sunken wreckage of the USS Arizona. Near the Pearl Harbor memorial, visit the USS Battleship Missouri, the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park and the Pacific Aviation Museum.
We hope our latest Oahu Travel Blog article, ‘Best Road Trips on Oahu,’ has helped you plan a few days of adventure discovering the beautiful island of Oahu during your next visit.
You may also enjoy our article, 'Guide to Whale Watching on Oahu!'
If you need help getting to any of the destinations we mentioned, or if you want more ideas for things to do, please feel free to contact our Concierge.
Visit our Oahu Visitors Guide for more recommendations for all there is to do, see and experience when visiting Oahu.