Things to Do in Oahu - page 4
The Oahu Cruise Port is the gateway to Hawaii’s most populous island, home to big-name attractions such as Pearl Harbor, Waikiki, the Polynesian Cultural Center, Dole Pineapple Plantation, and Diamond Head. Cruise ships dock in downtown Honolulu, the Hawaiian capital, convenient for both tours and independent exploration.
Named after Hawaii’s legendary surfer and the official “Ambassador of Aloha,” this Waikiki Beach was voted “Best Beach in America” in the 2014 rankings. Dozens of palm trees spring from the sand to provide natural shade from the sun, and young children love splashing and lounging in the protected saltwater lagoon. The ocean here isn’t nearly as busy as at the main Waikiki Beach, and since the offshore reef manages to break up the waves, inflatable rafts meant for lounging in the sun replace surfboards, SUP boards, and canoes.
When standing on the wide, white sand beach, iconic Diamond Head looms to the left on the far side of Waikiki. To the right, the Ala Wai Boat Harbor houses mariners from all across the Pacific, and the famous Hilton Hawaiian Village Resort lines the entire shoreline. The beach—as you can imagine—is very popular, so it’s a good idea to arrive early and stake out a good patch of sand. Once here, exhale deeply, slather on sunscreen, and peacefully float in the saltwater lagoon. You should also probably cancel the rest of your plans—since there’s a good chance you won’t want to leave.
Waikiki, where most Hawaii vacations get their start, is everything at once: white sandy beaches, swaying palms, high-rise accommodations, world-class shopping, top-notch and seaside dining, local culture, and excellent surfing. It’s no wonder this former playground for Hawaiian royalty continues to be an oasis for global visitors.
Oahu’s Coconut Island, officially known as Moku o Loe, an offshore islet in Kane‘ohe Bay, functions as a marine research facility for the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology (HIMB). It is usually closed to the public, but occasional tours are offered. Barring that, visitors come for the stellar snorkeling, marine life encounters, and other bay highlights.
Manoa is both a valley and a neighborhood that's part of Honolulu. It's about three miles from downtown, and less than a mile from Waikiki Beach.
The Manoa Valley neighborhood is largely residential, though there is also a university campus here, and is surrounded by the tall, green mountains of the Ko'olau Range. In the 19th century, Manoa was the setting for Hawaii's first sugarcane and coffee plantations.
Because of the geography and position of the Manoa Valley, it rains at least a little bit almost every day – rainbows occur frequently – and it is always incredibly lush. One of the main attractions is the 150-foot Manoa Falls.
The only land-based memorial at Pearl Harbor, the USS Oklahoma Memorial honors the more than 400 servicemen who lost their lives aboard the ship during the flurry of attacks on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. Second only in casualties to the USS Arizona on that fateful day, the Oklahoma Memorial on Ford Island commemorates each life lost with a tall white marble column, symbolizing a crisp white Navy uniform. Taken together, the low black granite walls etched with stories and towering clean rows of columns symbolize the ship and the crew within standing tall forever.
The memorial’s location, on the still-active military base at Ford Island, is also significant. The USS Oklahoma’s berth was here, just offshore. When the ship was torpedoed, several crew were able to escape by swimming and crawling on the stretch of land the memorial now occupies.
A relatively new Pearl Harbor attraction, the USS Oklahoma Memorial was designated on Dec. 7, 2007.
When you’re on Oahu on a Saturday, there’s nothing quite like living local: Rising early, going for a surf or swim in the sea and then perusing fresh, tropical produce for a delicious Island-style DIY brunch. The KCC Saturday Farmers’ Market, a weekend tradition for many Honoluluites, is where you go to satisfy the latter.
The weekly event has blossomed from a collection of traditional farm stalls to include vendors proffering regionally-made value-add products: jams, honeys, flavored salts, sausages, breads, taro chips, popsicles and bean-to-bar Hawaiian chocolate. Unique and niche produce vendors sell microgreens, sea asparagus, locally-caught seafood and fresh-cut tropical flowers. On any given Saturday you’ll find upwards of 70 food and artisanal edibles vendors.
Gift items are omnipresent and despite the tourists that come by the bus-full to find unique-to-Oahu souvenirs, the weekly event retains its local charm.
After shopping, take a short walk through the college’s exotic desert landscaping featuring rare and endangered Golden Barrel Cactus, towering saguaro, agave and aloe vera.