I've done a lot of posts about the trip I took to Oahu, Hawaii back in February. But, in case you missed some of those posts (and also because it's so dreary out today and I need to look at something pretty), I've decided to share with you some of my favorite spots and activities from Hawaii, through various pictures I took there.
We'll do a quick tour of the island of Oahu, going counterclockwise from Honolulu.
Starting in Honolulu, there's the ever-popular Waikiki Beach, which is usually full of people on any given day and in any kind of weather. (Though, if you go in the evening, it's much less crowded.)
>>> Here's a little taste of Waikiki Beach (photos and video).
If you're interested in more than just beaches, also consider visiting ‘Iolani Palace downtown, the only (former) royal palace in the United States.
Right across the street from ‘Iolani, check out the statue of King Kamehameha in front of the Ali'iolani Hale government building.
>>> You can get to all of these downtown locations by hopping on TheBus.
Getting away from the city, a popular activity on Oahu is the hike to Diamond Head Crater, which affords nice views out over Honolulu. Though, I personally found Diamond Head Beach much more photogenic.
Next up is horseshoe-shaped Hanauma Bay, which is one of Hawaii's most popular snorkeling destinations. It's not difficult to understand why!
>>> Here's my account of snorkeling at Hanauma Bay.
As you're making your way along the island's eastern coast, be sure to stop to see Halona Blowhole and Eternity Bay. Sandy Beach (a very dangerous beach with wicked rip tides) is also within view from here.
From there, cutting inland, don't miss a stop at the wind-swept Pali Lookout, which offers views down onto the windward coast and the town of Kaneohe.
Take time to visit the Byodo-in Temple, too, a Buddhist temple located at the foot of the beautiful Ko'olau Mountains near Kaneohe.
>>> Here's a quick photo essay of the Byodo-in Temple.
Be sure to also marvel at the islands off the windward coast while you're there, including one that's amusingly named “Chinaman's Hat.”
Also nearby along the Kamehameha Highway is Kualoa Ranch. This fun pit stop offers everything from horseback riding to ATV tours. If you're a movie/TV buff, consider a film location tour to the ranch's Ka'a'awa Valley, where scenes from “Jurassic Park” and “LOST” were filmed.
>>> Here's a look at film tourism at Kualoa Ranch.
Continuing on along the coast, it's worth your time to drive out to Laie Point.
While you're there, consider a stop at the Polynesian Cultural Center. Even though this place is slightly kitschy, it's still possible to learn a lot about the peoples of the South Pacific by spending a day here.
>>> Here's my take on the Polynesian Cultural Center.
Before you know it, you'll be on the North Shore (the island isn't really that big, after all!). A beach of interest may be Sunset Beach, which is known for its huge waves.
Don't miss Laniakea Beach, either. This beach has been nicknamed “Turtle Beach” for good reason — each day, green sea turtles can be spotted here, resting on the sand.
If you're feeling extra gutsy, stop in Haleiwa and sign up for a tour with Hawaii Shark Encounters, where you'll get to cage dive with local sharks.
>>> Here's my story of how I didn't quite swim with any sharks…
From there, you can either head to the leeward side of the island, or continue on along Kamehameha Highway through the center of Oahu. If you continue through the center, perhaps you'll stop at the Dole Pineapple Plantation.
On your way back to Honolulu, don't skip Pearl Harbor. This U.S. naval base was attacked by the Japanese on December 7, 1941, catapulting America into WWII. Today, you can tour the visitor center and take a ferry out to the USS Arizona Memorial for free, as well as explore battleships and submarines. It's a very moving location well worth a stop.
>>> Here are my tips for visiting Pearl Harbor.
After Pearl Harbor, consider heading up to “the Punchbowl,” another volcanic crater like Diamond Head, which houses the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific.
>>> Here's my account of visiting this beautiful national cemetery.
While at the Punchbowl, along with paying respects and admiring the memorial, be sure to stroll out to the lookout, which arguably has better views of Honolulu than Diamond Head.
So there you have it. My top picks for things to see and do on Oahu!
This, of course, is not an exhaustive list of all the great places you can visit on Oahu. And you're also unlikely to be able to visit them all in one day.
Would any of these places be included on your dream Oahu itinerary? What would you add to/remove from this list?