5 days in Oahu itinerary, hawaii, oahu, north shore-1440739.jpg

5 Days in Oahu Itinerary: Your Exclusive Guide

Pearl Harbor, Diamond Head, the North Shore, and Valley of the Temples are just some of the places you can visit during your 5 days in Oahu itinerary. Oahu is the third-largest island in Hawaii after the Big Island and Maui and is home to about one million people. 

Officially, the island is the City and County of Honolulu. And, it is the 20th largest island in the United States. The Maunawili Ranch, now abandoned, once had the longest rainfall in history where it rained for 331 days.

You have landed on the right page if you are looking for a complete 5 days in Oahu itinerary covering all Oahu regions. In this post, we explore and answer the questions which you may have about:-

  1. Where is Oahu?
  2. What is there to do in Oahu for 5 days?
  3. What is the best month to visit Oahu?
  4. Is a Hawaiian Luau worth it?
  5. How much money do you need for 5 days in Oahu?
  6. Is Oahu worth it?

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Where is Oahu?

Oahu is the third-largest Hawaiian island is home to a million people. The island’s nickname is the “gathering place“. Oahu is the only state in the United States that has a tropical climate. The two shield volcanoes on the island are the Waiʻanae Range and the Koʻolau Range.

Waiʻanae is the remains of an ancient volcano on the Western side of Oahu while the Koʻolau Ranges are the dormant fragments of another ancient volcano on the Eastern side of the island. 

Brief History

Hawaii is the only state in the United States that was once ruled by kings and Oahu is no exception. The Aliʻi Nui of Oahu was the Supreme Rulers of the Oahu Monarchy. The monarchy claimed descent from Wākea, who was the parent couple of the ruling chiefs of the Hawaiian islands.

It was Kamehameha the Great who conquered the Kingdom of Oʻahu, unified the islands of Kauaʻi and Niʻihau to create the new Kingdom of Hawaiʻi. Captain James Cook on his third Pacific expedition sighted the island of Oahu.

However, it was Captain Charles Clerke who was the first European to stepped ashore at Waimea Bay. 

Oahu also marks the start of World War II with the bombings of Pearl Harbor and USS Arizona. The surprise attack by the Imperial Japanese Navy damaged 12 American warships, destroyed 188 aircraft, and caused the deaths of 2,335 American servicemen and 68 civilians.

Fun Facts on Oahu

  1. 𝐍𝐨𝐭𝐚𝐛𝐥𝐞 𝐏𝐞𝐫𝐬𝐨𝐧𝐬 𝐁𝐨𝐫𝐧 𝐇𝐞𝐫𝐞. Oahu is the birthplace of Barack Obama, Nicole Kidman, Jason Mamoa, Bruno Mars, and Bette Midler.
  2. 𝐀𝐦𝐞𝐫𝐢𝐜𝐚’𝐬 𝐎𝐧𝐥𝐲 𝐑𝐨𝐲𝐚𝐥 𝐏𝐚𝐥𝐚𝐜𝐞. The Iolani Palace is the former residence of the Hawaiian monarchy. The palace is known for its rich interior features, ornate furniture, and royal gifts from around the world.
  3. 𝐁𝐢𝐫𝐭𝐡𝐩𝐥𝐚𝐜𝐞 𝐨𝐟 𝐒𝐮𝐫𝐟𝐢𝐧𝐠. The father of modern surfing, Duke Kahanamoku is credited with popularizing the ancient Hawaiian sport of surfing. He was also a five-time Olympic medalist in swimming, served as a Sheriff of Honolulu, and served as a Military Police Officer during World War II.
  4. 𝐖𝐚𝐢𝐤𝐢𝐤𝐢 𝐮𝐬𝐞𝐝 𝐭𝐨 𝐛𝐞 𝐚 𝐬𝐰𝐚𝐦𝐩. Waikiki was a swampland until the construction of the Ala Wai Canal drained the surrounding plains. The Waikiki shorelands were once the playground of Hawaiian nobility and royalty.  
  5. 𝐍𝐨 𝐏𝐨𝐫𝐤 𝐨𝐯𝐞𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐏𝐚𝐥𝐢. Nuuanu Pali is a scenic lookout point with panoramic cliffs and legends. According to local belief, bringing pork on the roads of the Pali reminds Pele, the Hawaiian volcano goddess of Kamapua’a, the Hawaiin pig god she broke up with. People have reported cars having problems until the pork has been disposed of.

Check out the 10 Things You Never Knew About Oahu to know more.

Useful Hawaiian Phrases

Let’s check out some useful Hawaiian phrases which you can use when you are there.

How do you greet someone in Hawaiian?

Aloha is a common greeting for Hello, Welcome, and Goodbye. If the locals welcome you into their home, they say, E Komo Mai which means Come In. Good morning is Aloha kakahiaka while good afternoon is aloha ʻauinalā. Thank you is Mahalo while you’re welcome is ‘A’ole pilikia

Check out some Hawaiian Words and Phrases To Learn Before Your Trip, the 15 Basic Words and Phrases For Your Trip to the Aloha State, Useful Hawaiian Phrases to know more.

What are some Hawaiian quotes?

Some inspirational Hawaiian quotes are:

Kulia i ka nu’u which means to always “strive to reach the highest.”

E hele me ka pu’olo which means to “always take an offering with you. And, make every person or place in a better condition than you left it.” 

Noho me ka Hau’oli which means “be happy always.”  

How To Get There

The main airport is Honolulu International Airport or officially known as the Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. The airport has three terminals and serves major airlines such as American Airlines, Japan Airlines, Korean Air, Delta Airlines, and United Airlines.

The busiest domestic route is the Los Angeles-Honolulu route with about 301,000 passengers until April 2021. The busiest international route is the Tokyo-Honolulu route with about 1.6 million passengers in 2019.

What is there to do in Oahu for 5 days?

In our 5 days Oahu itinerary, we explore Oahu based on its districts. We begin at Honolulu district and end Day 5 with a trip to Central Oahu. This means that in this itinerary, you would cover every district and the places that are worth visiting in those districts.

Day 1: Waikiki & Honolulu

Honolulu is on the southeast coast of Oahu and is the main gateway to Oahu. In Hawaiian, Honolulu means either a “sheltered port” or a “calm port”. The city’s growth is credited to King Kamehameha III who moved his capital to Honolulu.

He also transformed Honolulu into the modern capital we see today. He instructed the construction of Iolani Palace, St Andrew’s Cathedral, and Aliʻiōlani Hale. 

Despite a turbulent history, annexation to the United States, a major fire, and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Honolulu has remained the largest capital city and the main seaport, and airport to the Hawaiian Archipelago.

Iolani Palace

5 days in Oahu itinerary, Iolani Palace, only royal residence in the US
Photo by Jason Raia on Wikipedia Commons

The first of our 5 days in Oahu itinerary is Iolani Palace. This palace is the only royal residence in the United States. This palace is the second palace to be built on-site. 

The original structure was in poor condition and infected with ground termites when King David Kalakaua found it. The palace was razed to the ground. He then commissioned the new Iolani Palace which stands today.

What does the name Iolani mean?

The name Iolani means Royal Hawk and refers to Kamehameha IV whose full name was Alexander Iolani Kalanikualiholiho. The Hawaiian origin of the name means “to soar like a hawk”.

Who was the last official ruler of Iolani Palace?

The last official ruler of Iolani Palace was King David Kalakaua. He was known as Merrie Monarch because of his fun-loving and flamboyant personality. The Merrie Monarch Festival celebrates the Hawaiian people, showcases Hawaiian artistry, and gathers the best hula dancers from the Hawaiian Islands. 

King Kalakaua was also the first Head of State to circumnavigate the globe in 1881. Read all about his journey on King Kalakaua’s World Tour.

How much are the tours to Iolani Palace?

There are several popular tour options at Iolani Palace. These are the Docent-led Tours and the Self-led Audio Tours. 

The Docent-led Tours are $30 for adults, $27 for teenagers, and $12 for youths. Children below the age of 5 years enter for free. The tours are on Wednesdays from 9.00 am to 12.30 pm and Thursdays from 9.00 am to 2.30 pm.

The Self-led Audio Tours are $25 for adults, $20 for teenagers, $10 for youths with children below the age of 5 years enter for free. The tours are on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 9.00 am to 4.00 pm. On Wednesdays, it is from 1.30 pm to 2.30 pm.  

Read America’s Only Royal Palace and 7 Historic AAPI Sites That Reveal Contributions to America’s Past to know more.

Diamond Head Crater

The second of our 5 days in Oahu itinerary is the Diamond Head Crater. This volcanic tuff is Lēʻahi which means “tuna brow bridge”. This was because the ridgeline resembled a tuna’s dorsal fin. This crater is part of the Honolulu Volcanic Series and is about 500,000 years old.

What is inside the crater at Diamond Head?

Fort Ruger is inside the crater. The fort housed cannon mortars and a telescope station. The fort was nicknamed “Gibraltar of the Pacific” during World War II. Although, none of these fortifications were ever used during World War II.

Is Diamond Head crater active?

No, this volcano is extinct for about 150,000 years. It is a “dead volcano” which means that an eruption is unlikely. 

Is Diamond Head a hard hike?

The trail takes two hours to complete. The trail to the summit is uneven, rocky, windy, and strenuous. It is a steep easy hike as one reaches about 560 feet above the crater floor. Although, there are switchbacks between traversing the slopes of the crater.

The trail is not only exhilarating, but it also gives a glimpse of Oahu’s military and geological past. Non-Hawaiian visitors pay a $5 entrance fee that is paid via credit card. Read the Diamond Head State Monument page to know more.

Check out the 11 Volcanic Craters To Blow Your Mind, the History of the Iconic Diamond Head, and Hiking Honolulu’s Diamond Head: A Picture Guide to know more.

Sunset at Waikiki Beach Park

The third of our 5 days in Oahu itinerary is watching the sunset at Waikiki Beach Park. If there is one thing Waikiki is famous for, it has its beautiful beaches. Waikiki in Hawaiian means “spouting waters” and you can find many shopping, dining, entertainment, and resorts along its main street, Kalakaua Avenue.

Hawaii’s legendary surfer, Duke Kahanamoku grew up surfing the waves of Waikiki. And today, surf instructors along Waikiki Beach continue his legacy. You can find the Duke Kahanamoku Statue standing on Kuhio Beach which is part of Waikiki Beach with open arms.

Is Waikiki Beach open to the public?

All beaches on Oahu are FREE and are open to the public. If you are driving, you may need to factor in parking costs, ranging from $2 to $45. Check out Parkopedia to see the location and parking rates. 


Day 2: Waianae Leeward Beaches

The Leeward Coast at the foot of the Waianae mountain ranges lies about 30 miles from Waikiki. This region is unexplored as it is less developed. There are several major hotels here, the Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina, Embassy Suites by Hilton Oahu, and Marriott’s Ko Olina Beach Club

Makua Beach

The fourth of our 5 days in Oahu itinerary begins with a stop at Makua Beach. Makua Beach is one of the most secluded and underdeveloped beaches on Oahu. The beach boasts white sands, lush Makua Valley, and the towering Waianae mountain ranges in the background.

To get to this beach, you would need to drive to Makaha Beach Park and walk to the second last beach where the road ends. Yokohama Bay is the last beach. Makua Beach and Yokohama Bay are part of the Ka‘ena Point State Park.

When can you see dolphins at Makua beach?

The best time to see dolphins at Makua beach is in the mornings. During winter, you may see whales breaching.

Can you swim at Makua beach?

Makua Beach or Tunnels Beach is generally calm and is safe for swimming. It is best to avoid this beach during the winter months are the waves are rough and high. As the ocean floor drops suddenly, it is best to swim near the shore.

For snorkelers, the inner reefs are suitable for beginner snorkelers. Experienced snorkelers can swim along the outer reefs. Do note that there is a constant slight rip current that flows westwards, be aware of your surroundings at all times so that you don’t drift too far.

Nānākuli Beach

The fifth of our 5 days in Oahu itinerary is Nānākuli Beach. This Nānākuli is a Hawaiian word that means “took at the knee”. This beach is within the Nānākuli Beach Park and is situated between two limestone points on Farrington Highway.

Some of the activities which you can do here are camping (permit required), cliff jumping, swimming, surfing, bodyboarding, and snorkeling. 

One essential which you would need to make your trip memorable is the ISOPHO Beach Blanket. This oversized blanket easily fits 3 to 5 adults, is sand proof, and is water-resistant. It is perfect as a children’s play area when not at the beach. 

Another must-have when at the beach is your sunscreen, we recommend Sun Bum Original SPF 70 Sunscreen that smells like summer and is Hypoallergenic and Gluten, Cruelty and Paraben Free. 

Another beach essential is the MARCHWAY Floating Waterproof Dry Bag which is durable, sturdy, and compact. The bag comes in multiple sizes to meet your needs. Other than versatility, the bag comes with a guarantee to protect your valuables from water, snow, mud, and sand.


Day 3: North Shore

North Shore is a tourist destination known for its waves. These huge waves attract surfers from all over the world. Two popular surf spots are Waimea Bay and Sunset Beach.

However, the number one spot for surfing is the Banzai Pipeline, our second item on this day. We end the day by watching the sunset at Three Tables Beach.

Dole Plantation

The fifth of our 5 days in Oahu itinerary is a visit to Dole Plantation. This iconic stop began as a fruit stand in the 1950s and soon the pineapple became a symbol of Hawaii. James Dole started the Hawaiian Pineapple Company and opened “Hawaii’s Pineapple Experience” in 1989.

Today, the plantation attracts one million visitors a year and is the second most popular stop after the USS Arizona Memorial. 

How much does it cost to go to the Dole Plantation?

While admission to the grounds is FREE, there are separate admission fees to enter the Pineapple Express Train Tour, Plantation Garden, and Pineapple Maze. 

The Train, Garden, And Maze Combo Package is $25 for adults, $21 for children, and $23 for Military personnel. 

The Train And Garden Combo Package is $17.25 for adults, $13.75 for children, and $16.25 for Military personnel.

For those on a budget, the Maze And Garden Combo Package is the cheapest as adults are $13, children are $10, and Military personnel is $12 per person.

How do I get to the Dole Pineapple Plantation?

If you are coming from Waikiki, take H1 West to H2 North. From H2 North, take Exit 8A to Wahiawa and continue onto H99 North, the Kamehameha Highway. You can see Dole Plantation on your right of Kamehameha Highway. It is roughly 26 miles from Waikiki which is a 40-minute drive.

If you are coming from North Shore, the H930 of Kamehameha Highway towards Haleiwa. Continue south towards the traffic circle where Kamehameha Highway becomes H99 South. The plantation is about 6 miles south and is on the left after the Haleiwa Traffic Circle.

Address: 64-1550, Kamehameha Highway, Wahiawa, Hawaii 96786

Opening hours: 9.30 am to 4.30 pm daily. CLOSED on Christmas Day.

Read A Visitor’s Guide To The Dole Plantations to know more before you go.

Surfing at Banzai Pipeline

The sixth of our 5 days in Oahu itinerary is surfing the Banzai Pipeline. This surf reef break is off Ehukai Beach and is known for its massive waves that break into shallow waters. Several surfing competitions such as the Pipe Masters, Volcom Pipe Pro, and the IBA Pipeline Pro are held here.

The Banzai waves are also the most dangerous in the world where the average wave is about 9 feet and can reach as high as 20 feet. These are “heavy waves” as hundreds try to ride their waves at any one time. 

For surfers and paddle boarders, get the Revolution Swell 2.0 designed with your body balance, stability, and coordination in mind.  

For ladies, you can show off your FURTALK Summer Beach Sun Hats made with 100% cotton material and is extra wide to keep your head and neck protected from the scorching heat. 

You can pair your sun hat with the Jeasona Cover Up Crochet Dress. This dress is from polyester and is suitable as beachwear, poolside tanning, or even gifted as a honeymoon gift.  

Sunset at Sunset Beach

The seventh of our 5 days in Oahu itinerary is watching the sunset at Sunset Beach. This two-mile-long beach is about 39 miles from Waikiki. Due to its extensive coral formations, this beach is not suitable for inexperienced surfers.

During the summer months, the waves are calm and flat. The waves swell during the winter months with the highest waves on the record being at least 40 feet high in December 2017. Sunset Beach State Park is off the Kamehameha Highway is perfect for relaxing, snorkeling, and beachcombing.

The Carfia Retro Round Polarized Sunglasses are perfect for men and women. With a UV 400 protection lens, you can admire the sunset without straining your eyes. These glasses also filter out 99% reflected glare and are lightweight and durable for all-day comfort. 

The Moss Rose Women’s Beach Cover Up is inspired by the Bohemian spirit as one size fits all body shapes.  You can pair this with a Women’s Floppy Reversible Sun Visor that is excellent for face and neck protection. 

Day 4: Windward Oahu (East Shore)

The Windwards or the East Shore is Oahu’s underrated region. As you exit Honolulu, you will be greeted by lush green valleys and stunning countrysides. The three main must-visits in this region are Lanikai Beach, Valley of the Temples, and Nuuanu Pali’s lookout point.

Sunrise at Lanikai Beach

The eighth of our 5 days in Oahu itinerary watching the sunrise at Lanikai Beach or Kaʻōhao Beach in Kailua is ranked among the 40 Best Beaches In The World to visit. Lanikai Beach has one of the most stunning sunrises in Oahu.

So, make your way there early and catch the sunrise. This beach is popular with locals and tourists and is a perfect beach for relaxing and soaking in the sun. For the more adventurous, head to the Lanikai Pillbox Hike or popularly known as the Kaiwa Ridge Trail.  

How do I get to Lanikai Beach?

The best way to get to Lanikai Beach is by car from Waikiki, the drive would be at least 45 minutes, without any traffic. In Honolulu, make your way to Highway Route 61 or Pali Highway.

On Pali Highway, continue straight until you reach a T-junction where Pali Highway merges with Kamehameha Highway. At this junction, continue straight and you will be on Kalanianaole Highway.

Continue on Kalanianaole Highway until it becomes Kailua Road and then turn right once you see Kailua Town Center Parking on your right. Once you have made the right turn, Kailua Shopping Center should be on your left.

Keep on Kailua Road until you reach Kailua Beach Center Parking. There are no parking lots near Lanikai Beach and you may be ticketed or your car towed for illegal street parking. Lanikai Beach is about 20 minutes walk from Kailua Beach Park.

Byodo-In Temple at Valley of Temples Memorial Park

The ninth of our 5 days in Oahu itinerary is the Byodo-In Temple at the Valley of Temples Memorial Park. This memorial park is located at the foot of Koʻolau Mountain Range. This memorial park is famous for its replica of the Byodo-In Temple.

Former Philippines President, Ferdinand Marcos was once interred at a private mausoleum overlooking the Byodo-In Temple.

Is the Byodo-In Temple free?

This temple was built when the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaii arrived. There is a General Admission Fee of $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, and $2 for children. 

What are the opening hours like?

The opening hours of the temple are from 8.30 am to 5.00 pm daily with the last admission being 4.45 pm.

As this is a memorial ground, it is advisable to be solemn, quiet, and respectful of your surroundings. Shoes are to be removed before entering Byodo-In Temple. 

Nuuanu Pali Lookout Point

nuuanu pali lookout point
Photo by Lukas on Wikipedia Commons

The tenth of our 5 days in Oahu itinerary is the Nuuanu Pali Lookout Point. Nuuanu Pali is a vital link that connects East Shore to the West Shore since ancient times. Nuuanu Pali is also famous for its Ghost Dog Legend.

According to local legend, if one sees a dog on the hill, it would lead to disaster. This is based on the story that the ghost dog used to stop carriages and horseback riders. The ghost dog is the demi-god, kupua, and he used to attack and kill any men he saw on the road.

How do you get to the Nuuanu Pali lookout?

From Waikiki, you can reach Pali Highway by driving into Honolulu on Ala Moana Boulevard or H1. The trip is about 30 minutes, depending on traffic. This lookout point makes a refreshing stopover if you are headed towards Kailua or Lanikai. Non-residents pay a parking fee of $7. There is no entrance fee to the lookout point.

The winds are strong here which is why we recommend the Avoogue Packable Hooded Windbreaker for women. This jacket is made from waterproof material and packs into a carrying pouch. It is also perfect for any weather condition. 

For men, we recommend WULFUL Casual Lightweight Windbreaker that is lightweight and made from high-quality fabric. It is also machine and hands washable. Most importantly, it is comfortable and durable and can be worn for any other occasion.

Day 5: Central Oahu

On our last day at Oahu, we visit two of the most important landmarks in central Oahu, the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park and the USS Arizona Memorial Visitor Center next to it. These sites are a reminder of where World War II began. 

These two museums are part of the larger Pearl Harbor Historic Sites. Other sites which can be visited are the Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum and the Battleship Missouri Memorial. A trip here can last one full day. 

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USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park

The eleventh of our 5 days in Oahu itinerary is the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park. The USS Bowfin is the most preserved submarine of World War II and remains a legend among the 188 World War II submarine sinking records.

This fleet attack submarine is credited with the term “Silent Service”. She was launched exactly one year after the attack on Pearl Harbor and spent most of her patrols at the South China Sea, Celebes Sea, off the coast of Japan, and into the Sea of Japan. 

USS Arizona Memorial

USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor Historical Site
Photo by the United States Navy on Wikipedia Commons

The twelfth and last of our 5 days in Oahu itinerary is the USS Arizona Memorial. The memorial marks the resting place of the 1,102 out of 1,177 sailors and Marines killed during the attack on Pearl Harbor on 7th December 1941. 

The memorial is only accessible via boat and delicately straddles on the sunken hull of the ship, without touching it. One of three of USS Arizona’s 8,848-kilogram anchors is displayed at the entrance of the visitor center. 

To this day, oil still leaks from the USS Arizona and is often described as “the black tears of the Arizona” or the “tears of Arizona”. Another display is that of a paper crane created by Sadako Sasaki, a 12-year-old boy who died from exposure to radiation after the Hiroshima bombings. 

How many memorials are there at Pearl Harbor?

Pearl Harbor is home to three World War II memorials. These are the USS Oklahoma Memorial, Battleship Missouri Memorial, and the USS Arizona Memorial. Check out the Five Historic Pearl Harbor Landmarks to know more.

What does the Passport to Pearl Harbor include?

The Passport to Pearl Harbor is $79.99 for adults and $39.99 for children. It includes:

  • USS Arizona Audio Tour
  • Battleship Missouri Memorial – Mighty Mo Pass
  • Pacific Fleet Submarine Museum admission ticket
  • Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum admission ticket
  • Pearl Harbor Virtual Reality Center admission ticket

The boat ticket to USS Arizona is not included in the passport program. It is bought separately at the ticketing office.

Did you know that Pearl Harbor marks the place where World War II began and ended?

The surprise attack on USS Arizona began World War II in 1941 while the Japanese surrendered to the Allied Forces with the signing of the Japanese Instrument of Surrender on board the USS Missouri in 1945.

Read the 5 Facts About Pearl Harbor and USS Arizona and What Happened to the USS Arizona after Pearl Harbor? to know more.

What is the best month to visit Oahu?

Generally, Oahu has pleasant weather all year round with the wetter and greener side being Windward Oahu (East Shore). The drier weather is on Leeward Coast (West Shore). In our 5 days in Oahu itinerary, we explore the seasons and the best month to visit Oahu.

Seasons of Oahu

The coolest months on the island are during the winter months of January, February, and March. There may be slight rain during early winter which soon dries out by end of March. It is best to bring a jacket and an umbrella. This is the best time for surfing and Humpback whale watching.

The early spring months of April, May, and June are the best time to visit Oahu. The temperatures are mild and the large tourist crowds have not arrived on the island in early April. 

By the summer months of July, August, and September, the large crowds have arrived as this is another best time to visit Oahu. The large crowds would have thinned out by the end of September.

The fall months of October, November, and December are good months to visit if you want to catch some big waves at the North Shore. During these months, temperatures would be lower as the weather becomes wetter. December through mid-February are when the best waves hit Oahu and are best for surfing.

Hurricane Season

Hurricanes and tropical storms are extremely rare on the island. However, it is best to be prepared for them. Oahu’s hurricane season is from June to November. It is best to monitor the weather conditions before leaving for Oahu and when planning your trip.

What is a Hawaiian Luau?

A Hawaiian party with entertainment and food is a luau. According to ancient Hawaiian history, men and women ate separately during luaus. It was King Kamehameha II who abolished this practice and ate with women. This symbolic act led to luaus being celebrated.

What is the purpose of a luau?

According to Culture Trip, the purpose of a luau is to unite people to celebrate a significant event, victory, and achievement. The largest luau ever recorded was by King Kamehameha III whose feast required 271 pigs, 482 large gourds, 3,125 saltwater fish, 1,820 freshwater fish, and 2,245 coconuts.

What are the dishes at a luau?

The main dish is kālua puaʻa or kālua pig that has been slow-cooked in an earth oven. In a luau, food is served on the mats made of leaves and on the floor. Food is always eaten by hand and utensils are never used. Some other popular food served at a luau are poke, laulau, huli huli chicken, lomi lomi salmon, and haupia.


A traditional Poke is made using tuna, soy sauce, sea salt, green onions, and rice. In Hawaii, there is a three-day “I Love Poke” to celebrate this dish and its many variations. Similar versions of this are Ika Mata from the Cook Islands, Kokoda in Fiji, and Oka in Samoa. A Spicy Perspective has a recipe with seven ingredients.


Hawaiian Laulau, Hawaiian soul food, sweet potato, Chinese cabbage, goat, lamb, deer
Photo by Arnold Inuyaki from Wikipedia Commons

This dish where taro leaves filled with pork, fish, or coconut cream. Laulau is the soul food of Hawaii. And, modern-day variations include fillings with sweet potato, Chinese cabbage, goat, lamb, or deer. Try the recipe from All Recipes which only has six ingredients and is easy to make. 

Huli Huli Chicken

Huli is a Hawaiian word that means “turn”. During the grilling, people would say, “Huli, Huli” which is how this dish came about. It was Ernest Morgado who brought this dish to the public using his mother’s recipe.

The dish became a success and was soon at every fundraiser for charity. Try the recipe on Food Network which yields 4 servings and takes about 2 hours to make. 

Lomi Lomi Salmon

Lomi Lomi Salmon, classic Hawaiian dish
Photo by Stu_spivack on Wikipedia Commons

This is a popular side dish at a luau. Lomi lomi in Hawaiian means “to massage”. Salmon is diced and mixed with tomatoes, onions, and scallions. The ingredients are “massaged” to release their flavors. This is a classic Hawaiian dish and is an integral part of any luau or party.

The recipe from All Recipes has six ingredients and is easy to make.   


Haupia, Hawaiian pudding
Photo by Arnold Gatilao on Wikipedia Commons

This dessert is technically a pudding. A dish with a similar texture would be blancmange. Try this Easy Haupia from All Recipes with 4 ingredients. 

We recommended the Aloha Kitchen cookbook that has 85 recipes that reflect the major cultures that have influenced Hawaiin cuisine. Vegans would love Hawaii: A Vegan Paradise cookbook as it comes with 120 plant-based recipes. 

How much money do you need for 5 days in Oahu?

According to Budget Your Trip, the average daily cost for a person per day on a budget trip is $92 while it is $647 per person for a week. The average daily cost for a hostel or hotel per person is $60 and the food budget would be $17 per day for one person.

A luxury trip to Oahu would cost $865 per person per day where accommodation for a double occupancy room would cost $1,387 for two persons. The average cost of food on a luxury trip is $103 per person.

Is Oahu worth it?

Yes! Absolutely! With palm tree beaches, ancient historical sites, and iconic landmarks such as Diamond Head Crater and Pearl Harbor, Oahu does live up to its native name as a “gathering place”. 


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