What if you had just 12 hours to spend in Hawaii? Would you head for the nearest beach or try to cram in as much scenery as possible? “Oahu on the Run” is prompted by a question from a traveler to Bruce Fisher, owner of Hawaii Aloha Travel. The visitor has a day-long lay-over on Oahu and wanted ideas.

First, some cautions apply to all the trips.

* Although Oahu is a fairly small island, you cannot drive completely around it. One corner is closed to vehicular traffic as a nature preserve.

* Traffic is more of an issue on weekends or holidays. If you are travelling during the week, you may be able to see more attractions. If your stop is on a day with heavy traffic, you may want to limit the driving and spend time at a few spots.

* Leave your baggage at the airport consignment area – there is no reason to haul it around and you risk the possibility of theft from the rental car.

Bruce Fisher’s Oahu tour begins at the Honolulu airport and heads east through Waikiki to Diamond Head. He advises stopping at a midpoint overlook then heading for Hanauma Bay. As you proceed along the east coast of Oahu, you’ll pass the Blow Hole and Sandy Beach. Makapu’u Lighthouse marks the corner of the island. You will pass Waimanalo, Kailua and then take the Kamehameha Highway to the North Shore, perhaps stopping for lunch at one of the shrimp trucks in Kahuku. North shore beaches like Sunset and Banzai are famous for surfing but the waves are subdued in summer. When you reach the town of Haleiwa, head inland. The Dole Pineapple Plantation is a popular stop. From there, you will pass Pearl Harbor on the way back to the airport. On such a brief stop, there is not time to tour Pearl Harbor and see the rest of the island.

This circle island tour is do-able in 12 hours, with time to stop at a couple of places. However, you may want to focus on one area of the island. We’ll discuss other options in future posts.

If you have traveled with Hawaii Aloha Travel and want to share your Hawaii experience here, contact Bruce. We hope to feature guest blog posts from Hawaii visitors on Saturdays.


  1. I highly recommend the trip up to North Shore especially up the East side of our picturesque island and stopping a few times so many to choose from and none of them a disappointment!

  2. This tour is a good one with ability to see as much as possible in such a short time. I would add tho, if this is a Wed, Sat or Sun..you may want to turn the tour around starting at Pearl Harbor. This way you’d be able to stop in at our Aloha Stadium Flea Market. It is across the street from Pearl Harbor, open from 8am – 2pm and has a vast variety of local favorites, including food, souvenirs, ocean toys, clothing and everything imaginable. Next stop is The Dole Pineapple plantation, then to Haleiwa and maybe lunch at my favorite Mexican Restaurant ‘Cholo’s’ or stopping for Shaved Ice at Matsumoto’s, also in Haleiwa. Continuing thru the North Shore you’ll see our well known surfing beaches such as Waimea Bay, Pipeline, Back Doors, Chuns Reef, & Sunset Beach to name a few. Then passing thru our windward side all the way to Waimanalo, past Mokapu’u light house, around Sandy Beach, Hanauma Bay…along Kalanianaole Hwy turning left in Kahala to see Diamond Head and the gorgeous south shore coastline before you get to Waikiki. If you don’t have time to stop in Waikiki, don’t worry about it. A drive by will give you a good idea of what Waikiki is all about. Oahu is a gorgeous island, so no matter what you choose, it won’t be a wrong choice. Enjoy!

  3. Love the mix up of activities to do in such a short time frame. This could be used as a split off for those of you coming for only a couple days to Oahu. One day a tour like this and the other spent enjoying the splendors of Waikiki.

  4. Kalei — You have read my mind! I reversed the flow when my sister was here, but you’ve added stops I didn’t think of. May I use your itinerary for next week’s blog post?

  5. Jeannemarie — what would you recommend for a shorter trip that would include the North Shore? Something less than the full circle island tour for folks short on time.


  6. Lin — Your approach is exactly what my sister and her husband did. Relaxed for most of the week, took a circle around the island for their final day. It works because they needed to check out of the hotel but didn’t leave until the red-eye return to the mainland.

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