Posted on September 23, 2022
Hawaii has been a destination for sun-seekers and those who want the best possible beach vacation for more than a century. The epicenter of all the natural beauty and cultural wonder in the state is Waikiki Beach. Located in Honolulu, on the island of Oahu, the beach is a peninsula that covers about half a square mile. The sand is soft, the water warm, the views magnificent, and the activities endless.
Waikiki Beach is the perfect home base to combine sun and fun with exploring the rest of the region. Consider a Waikiki timeshare during your stay, as owning a timeshare is like having a vacation home in this amazing location.
Called The Gathering Place, Oahu offers far more than a place to meet friends. It is the gathering center of East and West as well where the ancient culture of the Native Hawaiian people meets the modern world. The outcome is a fascinating contrast for visitors and locals alike.
The city of Honolulu has three main sections. While Waikiki Beach is the most popular, Pearl Harbor and the downtown area have a lot to offer visitors. Surfing is the state sport, and there is a sculpture of the Father of Modern Surfing and Olympic gold-medalist, Duke Kahanamoku, on the Waikiki Historic Trail, which is made of surfboards.
Diamond Head is a volcanic tuff cone that runs along the northern side of Oahu and ends at the ocean with a dramatic and picturesque volcanic cone. Declared a National Landmark and a U.S. National Monument, the best view of the peak is from Waikiki Beach. You can also get a great view of Waikiki and Honolulu from the peak of Diamond Head. The hike up the rather steep trail is just 0.8 of a mile, but well worth the effort.
Once the source of thousands of pearls, the largest natural harbor in Hawaii is still an active naval base. Today, it is a National Historical Landmark where you will find several places that commemorate the valor of the people who lived and died during World War II.
A few of the most interesting Pearl Harbor memorials are for the USS Oklahoma, USS Arizona, and USS Utah. Visitors can also see Battleship Row and Ford Island. The Pacific Aviation Museum is on Ford Island. You will find video presentations, historic photographs, and two hangers with various WWII aircraft. Game aficionados can try their hand at flight simulators to take off and land on an aircraft carrier.
The Pearl Harbor Visitor Center is operated by the National Park Service and you can visit it for free. History enthusiasts will see impressive presentations about Pearl Harbor during WW II.
If you have an interest in military history, you may want to tour the USS Missouri Battleship that is docked in the harbor. Its nickname is Mighty Mo and it is the official site where the Japanese surrendered ending WWII. It offers two tours, a short one of the bridge and captain’s quarters, and a longer in-depth look at the whole ship.
On the northern end of Oahu, the Polynesian Cultural Center is a living museum with six working villages each of which is dedicated to unique Polynesian cultures. These include a traditional Hawaiian village as well as representations of life in Samoa, Fiji, Tahiti, Tonga, and the Maori in New Zealand.
There is a lot to see and do in this cultural center, but the most popular by far is the authentic Alii Luau with live entertainment and amazing food. Other activities include canoeing through a Tonga village and fishing like a Tahitian. With fire dancing, hula, and much more this is ranked by TripAdvisor as one of the top 10 experiences in the U.S.
As mentioned above, surfing is the official state sport, but there are many more activities you can do in the water. Starting with scuba diving and snorkeling to see the wonderous miles of coral reefs and sea turtles. They are just offshore and all the equipment you need is provided by local outfitters.
Try your hand at paddling a traditional outrigger canoe or, for an adrenalin rush, try parasailing or flyboarding riding. The waters are calm, warm, and welcoming no matter how you enjoy them.
Formed in the crater of an ancient volcano, Hanauma Bay is a brilliant ecosystem where visitors can interact with the reef life. Once overrun by tourists, in 1990 restoration procedures began and today it is back to its natural state with safeguards for keeping it that way.
The Hanauma Bay Education Center provides videos of instructions to show visitors that are allowed in each day about protecting the reef. It also has interactive displays to help you understand and enjoy the reef life.
For a break from Waikiki Beach, consider visiting Lyon Arboretum along with Manoa Falls. The arboretum is a botanical garden in 194 acres of tropical rainforest. It has more than 5,000 plants from all over Polynesia and Hawaii. You will see the largest collection of palm trees anywhere in the world as well as several themed gardens such as spice and herb gardens, a bromeliad garden, and the Beatrice H. Krauss Hawaiian Ethnobotanical Garden to name just a few.
Starting at the entrance of the arboretum is the beginning of a hiking path that takes you to the foot of Manoa Falls. The falls drop 150 feet and swimming is allowed in the natural pool at the bottom. The Foster Botanical Garden is another amazing garden and has an Orchid Conservatory, local faunas, and a butterfly garden.