Oahu Things to Do
the state capital Honolulu and famously touristy Waikiki beach area, Oahu is the most
densely populated of the Hawaiian islands, but it also has the best surf beaches
in the world, an infamously historic harbour, a lovely driving circuit around the coast road and plenty of inland
greenery and good walks.
thanks to its large international airport most tourists start here.
Architectural interest can be found downtown at Iolani
Palace, which is the only royal palace in US territory, and
Kawaiahao Church made out of coral slabs.
The city, albeit hideously overbuilt, offers Hawaii's best shopping with several fine malls including the popular International Market Place in Waikiki. For first class dining experiences in the city try colourful Chinatown or some of the many authentic Japanese restaurants. Honolulu pictures and information.
Diamond Head National Landmark: A short distance away from Honolulu's concrete jungle is the dramatic volcanic viewpoint of Diamond Head (alt. 230m) that can be reached by a short bus, car or taxi ride or a pleasant 1.8 mile (3 km) hike. Take a guided hiking tour for about $30 or go it alone, but start reasonably early as the trail gets hot until you catch the breeze at the top. The trail is mostly paved, occasionally steep and will take about 1.5 hours. It's open 6 a.m. to 6 p.m, there's a small charge for car parking or pedestrian access and nothing to see except a couple of wartime tunnels and a wonderful panorama.
Harbor: You may have to wait a couple of hours after getting a ticket, before entering, so be prepared!
This is an emotional place of remembrance for the Americans who died here in the surprise 1941
attack by the Japanese.
Visit the USS Arizona Memorial (entry free), view a documentary, explore the massive USS Missouri battleship at Bowfin Park and visit the Pacific Submarine
Museum, but it's a popular attraction and entry tickets do sell out so get there early or take a guided tour. Get to the Visitor Centre on a public bus or by taxi, but early unless you enjoy staning in line! Open 7.30 a.m. - 5.p.m. Photo.
Waikiki Beach, dominated by high-rise hotels these days but still world famous, is home to the longest running beach party in the world. Waikiki is a terrific place for people watching, watersports and living it large, but massively over-populated by tourists, many of them ironically Japanese who spend a lot of time shooting each other. With digital cameras. Waikiki beach pictures and information.
Shore: the most famous surfing beaches
in the world are to be found here; dramatic Waimea Bay is the number one winter surf
playground with breaks pushed up to 30ft+ (10m+) by a steep coral
shelf; Waimea waves have killed more than their fair share of surfers though summer
waves are much smaller; Ekuhai Beach Park produces the wicked Banzai Pipeline
tube; Sunset Beach Park, another top area of monster surf, is great for people-watching or for swimming in the summer. The North Shore is about an hour's drive from Honolulu. North Shore Photos.
Bay: although it's become a cliché, this calm, clear, pretty and most importantly protected bay on the southeast coast is Oahu's best snorkelling site, packed
with coral, fish and tourists (in season). More Hanauma Bay.
Kailua Beach Park and Lanikai Beach: two of Oahu's best beaches with fine champagne-colour sand, excellent for swimming and kayaking all year around. They're along the east coast. More Lanikai and Kailua.
More on Oahu Beaches.
Best things to do in Oahu, apart from beaches
The Byodo-In Buddhist temple is spectacularly situated in the Valley of the Temples, O'ahu, and reeks of authenticity but is actually a relatively recent, half-size replica of a 900 year old structure in Kyoto, Japan. The building houses a 9 ft tall lacquered gold Buddha and is encircled by perfectly manicured Japanese gardens, Koi ponds and the Ko'olau mountains.
Completed in 1968, Byodo-In not only welcomes visitors of every denomination to this supremely tranquil setting but also occasionally film crews, notably from the Hawaii Five-O and Magnum PI series. It's open 8.30 a.m. to 4.30 p.m. daily and there is a small admission fee, in cash only. Get there via Kahekili Highway in the Kaneohe region. Photo | More Information
Pali lookout. This mountain pass viewpoint connects the leeward side of the island - such as Honolulu - to the windward side of the island, and wind is the operative word here!
Get to this panoramic viewpoint via Pali Highway (Highway 61) from Honolulu to Kaneohe. Photo.
A Polynesian dance show. Hula and other Polynesian dance routines are pretty high on the list of things to do in Hawaii as this is an important - not to mention attractive - ethnic element of Hawaiian tradition, but Waikiki is hardly the place for authenticity, so head for the North Shore's Polynesian Cultural Center, an hour up Kamehameha Highway from Honolulu. Photo and more information.
Waimea Valley historic nature park is a beautifully arranged collection of botanic gardens displaying the best flora (6,000 plant species) of the Hawaiian Islands, along with some fauna, especially birds. Photo and more information.
best place in the world to surf for variety and consistency, monster
to tube, with year round rideable waves in warm to mild conditions, but
local beach boys can be brutal about what they consider to be
their 'spot' on the beach or their 'line' in the surf. Stay away
Oahu's Waimea Bay has the biggest waves you can just about keep
up with. 20' - 30' plus (7-10m+), but wipe out and get smashed onto the sand by a giant force can seriously hurt, if not worse. Surf here during winter, October to April and you've got big kahunas for sure.
Also in Oahu smooth breaking tubes are found at Banzai Pipeline
and regular excellent surf at Sunset Beach.
Snorkelling: summer is best time to avoid
the surf on many beaches. Hanauma Bay is safe, surf-free and spectacular.
Deep Sea Fishing: some good
sites but Big Island's are better.
Scuba: all sorts of weird subsurface
formations, coral and sunken ships around Oahu's coast.
||GAA operate two good value, adventurous 8 day cruises around the Hawaiian Islands, including guided hiking trips, snorkeling, kayaking, paddle-boards and more: Cruise North | Cruise South
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