The capital of Hawaii is a delightful city with much to offer the tourist. The beach is of course the major destination for most visitors to the islands, but there are a myriad of additional activities if you have the time to enjoy them. Here are my favorites.
1. Sun and Fun on Waikiki — Surf, swim, rent a sailboat, or just lie on the beach soaking up the rays, but be sure to spend plenty of time at this extremely popular place.
2. Climb to the Top of Diamond Head Crater — The remains of this volcano brood over the city and dominate the skyline of Waikiki. The area is a state park and is worth the climb for stupendous views of Waikiki, the Oahu shoreline and the city of Honolulu.
3. Visit America’s Only Royal Palace — Iolani Palace, the former residence of Hawaiian kings and queens, is not far from Waikiki and merits a visit if only for its uniqueness.
4. Admire the Statue of King Kamehameha — The legendary king who united all the islands and became the first king of Hawaii is remembered by an elegant statue, across the street from the Iolani Palace (see #3 above).
5. Find Breathtaking Views at the Pali Lookout — The Nu’uanu Pali Wayside, just a short distance inland from Honolulu, offer great views of the opposite coast and the beautiful mountains of the interior.
6. Get Nostalgic at the Punchbowl — The National Cemetery of the Pacific, which contains the remains of many American who gave their lives during World War II’s Pacific campaign, is a moving tribute to these brave men and women. This stop can be conveniently combined with #5 above.
7. Snorkel at Hanauma Bay — This state park, not far from the city center, allows visitors access to coral reefs just offshore. A few minutes of snorkeling reveals hundreds of multi-colored tropical fish, seemingly inches from your hand.
8. Order Pineapples at the Dole Factory Store — Pineapples are one of the major exports of the islands, and the Dole company has been in Hawaii for many years. In the past, visitors could observe the entire processing of this delightful fruit, but now, all that remains is this store where almost anything pineapple-related can be found.
9. Visit Pearl Harbor — The naval base where American ships and sailors were attacked on December 7, 1941, now includes a huge, open-air museum, displaying many memories of this pivotal date and time. The most impressive part of any visit is a boat ride to the USS Arizona Memorial.
10. Enjoy a Traditional Hawaiian Luau — Available at many hotels in the islands, this version of the New England Clambake is a great way to sample some typical island dishes. It is ususally accompanied by traditional dances and entertainment.
11. Visit Shangri La — Doris Duke’s palatial estate boasts furniture and accessories from around the world and is a marvel of Islamic architecture patterned after the Mughal construction she admired in India and elsewhere.
12. Learn About South Pacific island peoples at the Polynesian Cultural Center — A kaleidoscope of interesting demonstrations and activities allows visitors a glimpse into life in the South Pacific. This attraction is worth the better part of an entire day.
13. Watch the Surfers at the North Shore — Oahu’s north shore beaches are famous around the world as some of the best surfing beaches on earth. Names like the Banzai Pipeline, Sunset Beach, and Waimea Bay elicit visions of enormous waves and the world’s best surfers.
14. Meditate at Byodo-In Temple — Modeled after its counterpart in Japan, this haven of peace and serenity is located just outside of the city.