Top 5 Oahu Excursions When You’re Short on Time

Byodo-in Temple: Hawaii on a budget
Hawaii Aloha Travel > Blog > Top 5 Oahu Excursions When You’re Short on Time

Picture it: You’ve had a busy morning on Oahu and have already had lunch. You’re too tired (or short on time) to commit to a full or half-day tour, but you aren’t ready to head back to your hotel room. Besides a little stint at the beach, what’s a visitor to do? Here, we have your top 5 Oahu excursions when you’re short on time, but still want to make the most of your Hawaii vacation:

Waikiki Aquarium

Waikiki Aquarium is the perfect place to spend as little — or as much — time as you want. Plus, its location next to the Honolulu Zoo is so convenient. Walk over to the aquarium to find 15 different exhibits, including tanks dedicated to seahorses, corals, and octopuses. Although there’s lots to see, the space is quite small, which lends itself to a quick visit. Outside, you’ll find a touch pool and monk seals, in case you want to linger a little longer.

Nuuanu Pali Lookout

Just a five-mile drive northeast from downtown Honolulu, you’ll find the Nuuanu Pali Lookout. This wayside park offers panoramic views of the sheer Koolau cliffs and the lush Windward side. The stone terrace overlooks the areas of Kaneohe and Kailua, Mokoliʻi (Chinaman’s Hat), and the University of Hawaii’s marine biology research center, Coconut Island. 

Other notable landmarks you can see are Hawaii Pacific University’s Windward campus, Kaneohe Marine Corps Base, and the Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden.

The best part? You can be in and out in less than an hour. If you’re NOT short on time you’ll still want to include the Nuuanu Pali Lookout in your Oahu excursions itinerary. Consider taking a Circle Island Tour, offered by Secret Hawaii Tours. In addition to the Nuuanu Pali Lookout, you’ll stop at a Mac Nut Farm, Sunset Beach, and Haleiwa Town.

nuuanu lookout oahu excursions

King Kamehameha Statue 

King Kamehameha was such a strong influence in Hawaii, and every visitor should learn more about this impressive historical figure. The most recognized Kamehameha statue stands before Aliiolani Hale (home to the Hawaii State Supreme Court). This spot is across from Iolani Palace and a short walk from historic Kawaiahao Church and the State Capitol. 

If you love history and have another few minutes to spare for more quick Oahu excursions, check out the Duke Kahanamoku statue on Kuhio Beach in Waikiki. Duke Kahanamoku was a true Hawaiian hero and one of the world’s greatest watermen – a master of swimming, surfing, and outrigger canoe paddling.

Kawaiahao Church

This historic church is sometimes called the “Westminster Abbey of the Pacific” for a reason. It’s a registered historic site because this is where, in 1820, missionaries were granted permission to establish their residence. 

Since then, the church has served many functions, including as a sanctuary in 1900 when a fire displaced thousands of residents, and again in 1941 during the bombing of Pearl Harbor. 

The tower clock is called the Kauikeaouli clock in memory of King Kamehameha III (its donor) and dates back to 1850. 

During your Oahu excursion to Honolulu, take a moment to see the Kawaiahao fountain, named after the High Chiefess Hao, who frequented the freshwater spring located here. That’s also how the church got its name: Ka Wai a Hao – the water of Hao.

Kawaiahao Church sighting during Oahu Excursions

Valley of the Temples

If you don’t have much time but want to get outside and absorb some spiritual culture, visit Valley of the Temples. This serene place is on the windward side near Kaneohe. 

The memorial park and cemetery features a 1968 replica of an 11th-century Buddhist temple. Inside the main part of the temple is a 9 ft. Amida Buddha statue sitting on a gold lotus leaf. Also on the grounds are large Catholic statues depicting the Passion of Christ, the Virgin Mary, various Catholic saints, crypts, and mausoleums of some of the most influential people in Hawaii.

A Lot of Insight From Quick Oahu Excursions

You may be surprised how much culture you can absorb in such a short amount of time when you visit these “in a hurry” Oahu excursions. So, grab your water bottle, hit a few of these sites, and still be back in time for dinner.