Want to know about the best Oahu road trip itinerary that will result in the most perfect Hawaiian day? Follow this road trip itinerary and you will see some of the most beautiful spots on the island of Oahu.
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I’ll receive a commission if you purchase through my links, at no extra cost to you. Please read full disclosure for more information.
When you visit Hawaii for the first time, it is extremely exciting. However, it can also be overwhelming because there is so much to see and do during your stay. As someone who has been to Hawaii four times myself, I am giving you the best Oahu road trip itinerary that you absolutely must fit into your schedule during your vacation. You won’t regret it!
You are going to learn about all of the best spots to stop at along your road trip from Honolulu to North Shore. You will see the beautiful jungle side of Oahu, snorkeling spots, stunning beaches, and unique photographable locations.
After learning about this most perfectly planned out road trip on the island of Oahu, you will not have to stress about missing out on some of the most stunning spots of Hawaii.
This post is all about the best Oahu road trip itinerary that will set you up to experience the most perfect day trip in Hawaii.
Where To Start:
First of all, I must make it clear that this “road trip” will take one full day if you follow it exactly.
During my most recent visit to Oahu, I stayed in an Airbnb about 15 minutes out from Honolulu. This is where we began our road trip. However, you are most likely not staying in the same location. Therefore, Honolulu has been chosen as the general starting point.
Don’t worry if you are not staying in Honolulu. Simply go to the first location listed on this road trip itinerary, then everything else will be along the way from that point on.
If you are starting in Honolulu that morning, I recommend stopping by the Hawaiian Aroma Caffe At Beachcomber Waikiki for breakfast. It is located inside the hotel – Beachcomber Waikiki. View Menu Here
First Stop: Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden
Address: 45-680 Luluku Rd, Kaneohe, HI 96744
The first stop on this road trip is the Hoʻomaluhia Botanical Garden. If you have ever browsed through Pinterest pictures of Hawaii and have come across jungle like photographs, then chances are they were taken in this Botanical Garden on Oahu.
Walking through this Botanical Garden makes you feel like you are walking through Jurassic Park (no joke). While Jurassic Park was not filmed in this exact location (filmed on Kualoa Ranch), it sure does feel like a velociraptor could pop out at any moment.
Oahu is well known for its beautiful beaches and blue water, but it is important to explore the other parts of this breathtaking island (such as the jungle side) that has so much to offer.
If you are into photography, this is an amazing location for photographs. When driving into the Botanical Gardens, you will see many signs saying to not stop in the middle of the road to take photos. However, don’t be confused, once inside the Botanical Gardens feel free to take photos as you will see many others doing the same.
A glimpse at a couple of photos taken at the Botanical Gardens:
Related Post: 10 Most Instagrammable Places In Oahu You Need To Visit
Second Stop: Byodo-In Temple
After exploring the stunning Hoʻomaluhia Botanical Garden, you are ready to hit the road again and make your way to the next stop, which is the Byodo-In Temple. This is only about a 15 minute drive.
This beautiful temple is a smaller scale replica of the Byodo-in Temple located in Uji, Japan. The Byodo-In Temple was built at the Ko’olau Mountains in Valley of the Temples Memorial Park on June 7, 1968. This replica was built in order to celebrate 100 year anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants that came to Hawaii.
It is a non-practicing Buddhist temple that is open to all faiths to worship, meditate, or just admire.
The Byodo-in Temple is a very popular tourist attraction on the island of Oahu. The beauty of the architecture of the Byodo-in Temple, mixed with the surreal mountains standing behind the temple is quite a breathtaking site to see.
Third Stop: Beach Swings
Address: Kamehameha Hwy, Hauula, HI 96717
Time to hop back into the car and hit the road again! Next up are the beach swings. My dream has always been to swing on those adorable rope swings hanging from tree branches over the ocean water of Hawaii.
When heading to North Shore, you will see multiple swings on the side of the road by the water. However, these beach swings were the best in my opinion because they hung over the water, but were still super easy to access. There are two swings at this location.
This is a great opportunity to get those “instagrammable” pics that seriously look fake. Like for real, the scenic background looks so unreal. I will never get over the beauty of this island!
UPDATE: I was told that this swing was unfortunately taken down. However, there are still plenty of beach swings like this one all along the road, so keep driving and keep an eye out!
Related Post: The Ultimate Hawaii Bucket List - Island Of Oahu
Fourth Stop: Sideways Palm Trees
Nearby Address: 54-10 Kukuna Rd, Hauula, HI 96717 (Hauula Community Association)
After hanging out on the beach swings, not far up the road is the next stop. YES, sideways palm trees!
Now I do not have an exact address for you for this location because it is simply one of those cool photo opportunity spots that you just have to pull off the side of the road for. However, you can find these palms directly across from the Hauula Community Association.
Simply follow the provided address above and you will end up across the street from the sideways palm trees. You will be able to pull off the road to park.
When I visited this location, there were a few other people waiting to get photos as well. So just as a FYI, you may or may not have to wait in a small line to get a photo depending on the time you are there.
Please be careful if you plan to climb up the palm in order to have a photo similar to mine. You do not want to slip because the palm tree is quite a few feet above the ground, not to mention the rocks that you would land on. OUCH!
Fifth Stop: Hukilau Market Place
So now you have just finished your visit at the sideways palm trees and it is most likely time for lunch.
Good news for you, there is the most adorable market place on the way to North Shore that is very close to the sideways palm trees. Now I do have to say, this market place is very “touristy”, so don’t expect an authentic Hawaiian market.
With that said, it is still the perfect place to stop for some lunch. I recommend eating at the restaurant “Pounders” (the roasted half-chicken with huli-huli glaze is really good). View Menu Here
Inside the Hukilau Market Place, you will find tons of little stands that sell everything from crepes, refresher drinks, clothing, ice cream, and more! Before you hit the road again, you have to get a drink from So’Da Bomb. It is so so so good! Plus, it is a start up that is run by BYU-Hawaii students!
Sixth Stop: Shark’s Cove
Address: Haleiwa, HI 96712
Next up is Shark’s Cove, which is a great spot for snorkeling. Don’t forget your snorkel gear!
Don’t worry, there are not actually sharks at shark’s cove (possibly outside of the cove though). This cove earned its name because the outline of a reef outside of the cove is shaped like a shark based on a popular story.
During the summer, shark’s cove is more calm and a great area to take a dip or snorkel. BRING WATER SHOES, THE ROCKS ARE SHARP! However, if you visit during the winter season, you should not go into shark’s cove due to the high surf.
The underwater lava rock that makes up sharks cove has many marine life inhabitants such as tropical fish and sea turtles that are very beautiful to see while snorkeling (do not touch or disturb).
Related Post: 7 Best Oahu Beaches You Cannot Forget To Visit
Seventh Stop: Sunrise Shack
By this time, you have probably spent a decent amount of time exploring shark’s cove and are ready to wind down the day. Before the last stop of the day, I recommend that you swing by Sunrise Shack for a quick pick me up. View Menu Here
There is a Sunrise Shack located across the street from Shark’s Cove. Grab yourself a refreshing smoothie bowl, smoothie, iced coffee, wellness shot, or even a small bite to eat such as avocado toast.
Once you have gotten your drink and snack, it is finally time to head to the last location of the day.
Final Stop: Sunset Beach
Address: Pupukea, HI 96712
Now that you have picked up your snacks and drinks, it is time to head to Sunset Beach.
Yes, Sunset Beach is actually located in the opposite direction (you have already passed it), however it is only a 5 minute drive from Shark’s Cove.
I purposely chose to put Shark’s Cove before Sunset Beach on the itinerary because at the end of the day this is the beach where you will relax while watching the sunset (SHOCKER, I KNOW).
Lay out your towels, kick off your flip flops, and sit back and relax as the sun slowly sets. Take in the beautiful view as much as you can and even capture a few photos.
The most perfect ending to the most perfect day.
This post was all about the best Oahu road trip itinerary that all first time visitors must follow.