Get the most out of your Hawaiian holiday with our guide to Oahu Island
Get the most out of your Hawaiian getaway with this guide to Oahu Island. Words and pictures by Meral Kathwari
Nestled in the Pacific Ocean lies the state of Hawaii and its eight beautiful islands: Lanai, Oahu, Kahoolawe, Maui, Niihau, Molokai, Kauai, and Hawaii. Oahu is Hawaii’s ‘gathering place’ and its third biggest island, where you’ll find no shortage of adventure, beaches and history.
Island attractions Kick off your island tour by visiting, the Byodo-in-Temple in the Valley of Temples, Hawaii’s most historic Buddhist structure. Enjoy the tranquil ambiance and ring the Peace Bell. You will also get a chance to overlook Haunuma Bay for a picturesque view. Known for its wildlife, crystal clear blue waters, and tranquil setting, the bay is also an excellent spot for snorkelling. Elvis Presley filmed his 1961 movie Blue Hawaii here. In the centre of Waikiki you’ll run into a statue of Duke Kahanamoku, an iconic Hawaiian swimmer, surfer, sheriff (elected 13 times for Honolulu), actor, businessman, and volleyball player, all rolled in to one. Nicknamed ‘The Big Kahuna’ this local hero once rescued eight men from an overturning wave, on his surfboard.
Iolani Palace, a sacred building, was established in 1879 and is home to Hawaii’s monarchy. Here, learn about Hawaii’s royal family, the historic reign of Queen Liliuokalani and her imprisonment. When driving along the Honolulu Harbor at night, the Aloha Tower lights up the district. It’s a landmark that’s known for guiding ships to shore and stays true to Hawaiian architecture. In downtown Honolulu, The Nauuanu Pali lookout offers a panoramic view of Hawaii’s cliffs, hills and natural landscape. The biggest historical attraction on Oahu, however, is Pearl Harbor, which was bombed by the Japanese Navy on December 7 1941.
Adventure The perfect place for adventure, with its many mountains, hills and volcanoes, you won’t have a problem finding a place to hike in Hawaii. Diamond Head is Hawaii’s most popular state monument. It’s a 750-foot crater, sitting alongside the Honolulu skyline and Waikiki coastline. The crater was formed around 300,000 years ago after an explosive eruption. A steep hiking trail was built there in 1908. Once you get to the top, you’ll have a postcard view of the city, shoreline and the crater itself. Other popular hikes are Oahu’s Olomana Trail (for really skilled hikers), Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail (from which you might get a chance to see the migrating whales), and The Koko Head Crater Trail – a strenuous and steep hike but worth the view. For a romantic getaway, hike the Maunawili Falls Trail and you’ll run into a beautiful waterfall and lagoon.
For surfers, lessons are provided on Waikiki Beach but you’ll catch the best waves on Hawaii’s North Shore, where many surfing competitions are held every year. If you want to scuba dive or snorkel, some popular points to view the aquatic underworld are Sharks’ Cove, Rainbow Reef Magical Island and the Corsair Plane.
Hawaii’s Kualoa Ranch experience is a must-do. Alongside the Kamehameha Highway, overlooking the Pacific waters, you’ll be able to ride horses, drive ATVs and visit Ka’a’awa Valley where movies such as Jurassic Park and Godzilla were filmed. Spend a day at The Secret Island Beach where you can relax in a hammock, go kayaking or canoeing. It’s very secluded, and perfect if you’re looking for a little more quiet and privacy, overlooking a view of Hawaii’s Chinaman’s Hat.
Culture The Polynesian Cultural Center immerses you into Hawaii’s heritage and Polynesian Islands, including Somoa, Fiji, Tonga and Tahiti. You can learn to make fire using sticks, crack open a coconut with a stone, and watch as men climb 40-foot tall coconut trees. Tour this village-like museum, exploring one Polynesian region after another. Listen to Maori natives from New Zealand talk about the significance of their facial tattoos; at the Tonga exhibit, play drums and learn the moves to the traditional Mauluulu sitting dance; and enter a Fijian temple and see a variety of tools and weapons native to their culture. Lastly, in the Hawaii section you’ll learn the tradition of hula dancing, watch women craft flowers into traditional leis and try authentic food from the region. In the evening you can conclude your day in true luau fashion amid a waterfall, palms and a lagoon. www.gohawaii.com.