Probably the only island in Hawaii where you can survive without a car.There is a reason why it is the most visited island in the state of Hawaii with tourists all around the year.It has a very touristy vibe with entertaining and relaxing beaches like Waikiki,Kailua & Lanikai but at the same time it offers ethnic cuisine,unique culture and great hiking experience.Oahu has something for everyone.Families with young kids love the island because everything is so accessible and available all the time.But all these facilities,amenities and entertainment comes at a cost.The island is damn expensive especially Honolulu and Waikiki which are action spots for most of the visitors.Be ready to stand in waiting line for hours if you are going during peak season.Parking is a big hassle everywhere.Believe me there is more to explore in the island than taking a dip in the ocean and sipping Mai Tai. I found South Eastern part of the island to be more beautiful with some awe-inspiring panoramic views.Here are few favorites from the island.
Oahu has got beaches for all appetites – crowded,secluded,white sand,wild wave,big,small,sandy,rocky and the beaches starred in movies.Whether you go for a long walk on a beach or take a dip in the ocean or snorkel with fish and turtles, the beauty of the place is awe-inspiring especially the beaches of North Shore,Kailua,Lanikai,Turtle Bay and Waimea bay.
2) Dole Plantation & Pineapple Maze
Spend few hours in this pineapple plantation.Learn the history of James Dole, a Harvard graduate, also known as “Pineapple King”. He captured 80% of the world pineapple market by setting up assembly line for pineapples.Place is a living pineapple museum and it has a world’s largest maze to solve.Try Dole Pineapple Whip ice-cream in their little souvenir shop and cafeteria.They can make anything out of pineapple.They even sell pineapple soap and moisturizer.Seriously!
3) Experience Hawaiian culture – Go for a Luau
Luau is a traditional feast followed by traditional Hawaii music and Hula celebrations.It also features various Hawaiian traditions like imu ceremony(Hawaiian way of cooking food in underground oven) and Hukilau on the beach which is a fishing ceremony.You can even participate in Hula lessons and Hawaiian games like ‘O’o ihe(spear throwing),‘Ulu maika(rolling stone disks) and Moa pahe’e(dart sliding).It was a unique cultural experience but it was too much Hula for me:-)We chose Paradise Cove Luau for couple of reasons – 1) I got discounted tickets. 2)We wanted to explore the Ko Olina Lagoon where the Luau was organized.
4) Pearl Harbor and USS Arizona Memorial
The museum is based on one of the most crucial moment in US history,attack on Pearl Harbor,where World War II began for United States.It is the resting place for more than 1100 sailors and marine killed during the surprise Japanese attack.USS Arizona Memorial is built over the sunken ship USS Arizona.The tour starts with a 30 min video which is about the events that led to the attack.Later, a navy boat takes you to the USS Arizona Memorial from where you can actually see the remains of the sunken ship.You can easily spend half a day in exhibits and galleries inside the museum.You can also explore USS BowFin submarine and USS Missouri battleship for an additional cost.
5) Diamond Head
Diamond Head Crater is 1.6 mile heavily trafficked trail with panoramic views of ocean shores,Honolulu and Waikiki.The hike involves switchbacks,steep stairs,tunnels and at last a bunker which finally takes you to the top viewing platform.The most interesting part is hiking a bunker which was built during WWW II to fight Japanese.Once on top you can climb up to the top of the bunkers for 360 degree views of the island and Pacific Ocean.
6) KoKo Stairs
This hike is for people who don’t hesitate to do hard work during their vacation.The torturous 1000+ stairs will make your legs feel like jelly.Even standing can feel unusual with jelly legs.During WWW II, military built several bunkers at the summit and constructed railway line(now KoKo stairs) to move supplies up and down.The stairs are wide and small and its extremely difficult to climb more than 1 stair at a time.But the hard work is rewarded with the gorgeous blue waters of Hanauma Bay.
7) Mt Tantulus Round Top Drive
It’s a scenic drive overlooking Oahu’s south shore.Reach Pu’u Ualaka’a State Park lookout before sunset and watch the sunset over Diamond Head Crater in the east and Pearl Harbor in the west.The night time city lights(Honolulu and Waikiki) are amazing from the lookout.
8) Makapu’u Lighthouse
It is an easy 2 mile paved hike with stunning views overlooking Makapuu beach,Koko head,windward coast,Oahu’s south-eastern coastline and neighboring islands like Molokai and Lanai.
9) Nuuanu Pali lookout
Another lookout point of historical significance where Battle of Nuuanu was fought and King Kamehameha I won Oahu and united the island under his Hawaii Kingdom.
10) Historic Honolulu downtown
Spend couple of hours here to explore historic buildings like King Kamehameha Statue and Ali’iolani Hale,U.S. Post Office, Custom House & Court House,‘Iolani Palace, ‘Iolani Barracks,Hawaii State Capitol & Queen Lili’uokalani Statue to name a few.
11) Food in Honolulu/Waikiki Strip
I was amazed by the awesome food on the strip.Probably, this is my favorite food destination so far.If you see a huge waiting line outside a restaurant,believe me its worth the wait.Most of the good restaurants have waiting time between 45 min to 1 hour.The restaurants you should absolutely try – Goofy Cafe and Dine,Marukame Udon,Bombay Palace,International Market Place and Eggs n Things.Do not forget to try local recipes like Acai Bowl,Taro chips and Poke.
Check my blog on Big Island – https://everycornerhasstory.wordpress.com/2018/01/15/the-big-island-of-hawaii/