Oahu vacationsOahu is the most populated and visited Hawaiian island, besides hosting the capital, Honolulu and its most famous beach, Waikiki. Most tourism is concentrated here to access the services provided by the city and its pleasant festive atmosphere.
Honolulu, the capital is the point of entry and exit of the archipelago, a busy place that has little to quiet in the city that offers a mix between Miami and Tokyo. Waikiki Beach is the most famous beach in Hawaii.
On Oahu, Hawaii’s timeless beauty blends with the modern luxuries of today. Swim in the warm waters of world-famous Waikiki one moment, then enjoy the dramatic mountain views of the Nuuanu Pali Lookout another. Watch the surfers on the legendary North Shore by day, then dance the night away in vibrant nightlife spots around Honolulu. Get a taste of local flavors in Kapahulu one night, then dine at a Five Diamond Hawaii Regional Cuisine restaurant the next. From indulging in urban comforts to escaping to natural wonders, Oahu’s “town and country” experiences are unrivaled. With so much to see and do, you’re never far away from just what you’re looking for on Oahu. Visit the Heart of Hawaii and find the island paradise you’ve been searching for.
At the foot of the 4000 foot Waianae mountain range and less than 30 miles from Waikiki lies the Leeward Coast. Dryer than the lush Windward Coast, this local area is home to rural towns, off-the-beaten-path beaches and one luxurious resort area.
Most visitors to the Leeward Coast will be coming to visit the beautiful Ko Olina resort area. Home to the J.W. Marriott Ihilani Resort and Spa and Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa, this 43-acre marina offers stretches of beautiful shoreline, ample opportunities for water sports and championship golf. Other attractions in the area include the Paradise Cove Luau and the Wet n’ Wild Hawaii water park. Local beaches include Makaha Beach, one of the first spots where surfers began big wave surfing, and Yokohama Bay. At the end of the road you can take a hike to Oahu’s western most point at sacred Kaena Point.
North Shore, Oahu
If there is such a thing as a perfect wave, you’ll likely find it on Oahu’s North Shore. The big, glassy winter waves of this legendary surf mecca attract the best surfers in the world, while summer waves are far smaller and more gentle – all of which makes the North Shore the perfect surf spot for beginners and veterans alike.
Stretching for more than 7 miles, the beaches of the North Shore host the world’s premier surfing competitions during the peak, winter months, including the Super Bowl of wave riding, the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing (November - December). Stroll in the thick sands of Waimea Bay, Ehukai Beach (Banzai Pipeline) and Sunset Beach — just leave the surfing to the pros.
The months between November and February are the best times to watch big wave surfing. These massive waves can sometimes swell up to thirty feet or more and can even be dangerous for experienced surfers so please heed warning signs. From May to September, the waves subside, creating a more tranquil atmosphere for surfing, swimming and sunbathing.
Roughly a one hour drive from Waikiki, the North Shore is also home to various condo rentals, the luxurious Turtle Bay Resort and Haleiwa Town, where you can shop, eat like a local and cool off with rainbow flavored shave ice, the perfect way to end your day on the North Shore.
Nuuanu Pali Lookout, Oahu
Just a 5-mile drive northeast of Downtown Honolulu, the Nuuanu Pali Lookout offers panoramic views of the sheer Koolau cliffs and lush Windward Coast. Driving up the Pali Highway through tall trees and dense forests to get to the lookout, you’ll see the city disappear and the tranquil beauty of Hawaii’s natural landscape emerge.
Perched over a thousand feet above the Oahu coastline amid mountain peaks shrouded by clouds, the stone terrace overlooks the areas of Kaneohe and Kailua, Mokolii (a pointy island locals call Chinaman’s Hat) and the University of Hawaii’s marine biology research center, Coconut Island. Other notable landmarks that can be seen are Hawaii Pacific University’s Windward campus, Kaneohe Marine Corps Base and the Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden, which is part of the Honolulu Botanical Gardens.
The Pali Lookout is a site of deep historical significance. Named “Pali” meaning ‘cliff’ in Hawaiian, the Pali Lookout is the site of the Battle of Nuuanu, where in 1795 King Kamehameha I won the struggle that finally united Oahu under his rule. This fierce battle claimed hundreds of soldiers’ lives, many of which were forced off of the Pali’s sheer cliffs.
Note that the Pali Lookout is also known for its strong and howling winds. You’ll understand why the Nuuanu Pali Lookout is one of Oahu’s best scenic points when you feel the wind push up against you, hear the winds whistle through the mountains and see the breathtaking views of Oahu’s lush Windward Coast.
Home to the State Capitol, Honolulu is the vibrant epicenter of Hawaii. Here you’ll find everything from historic landmarks and treasured monuments to world-class shopping and a flourishing arts and culture scene. Home to the majority of Oahu’s population, the sprawling city of Honolulu spreads throughout the southeastern shores of Oahu, from Pearl Harbor to Makapuu Point, encompassing world famous Waikiki.
Honolulu has it all. This is the home of some of Hawaii’s most historic places from Iolani Palace, the Kawaiahao Church, the Mission Houses and the treasured artifacts of the Bishop Museum to iconic landmarks like the Aloha Tower, the King Kamehameha I Statue, the Duke Kahanamoku Statue and the historic Hawaii Theatre. Honolulu is also Hawaii’s hot spot for arts, culture and entertainment. From the nightlife, live music and fine dining of Waikiki to the art galleries and underground bars of the Chinatown arts district. Whether you’re looking for Hawaii’s finest museums, or Hawaii’s finest Hawaii Regional Cuisine chefs, the best resorts, festivals, and events, or just some fun things to do, you’ll find it all in Honolulu.
The fertile central valley between the Waianae Mountains and Koolau range offers a peek into Oahu’s history. On your way from Honolulu to the North Shore, you’ll pass residential areas as well the Leilehua Plateau in Wahiawa, where you can see sprawling fields that are reminders of Oahu’s sugar cane and pineapple plantation past.
Attractions in Central Oahu include the Dole Plantation, famous for its Guinness Book of World Records worthy shrub maze, the Hawaii Plantation Village, where you can learn about Oahu’s plantation past, and Aloha Stadium, site of University of Hawaii football games and annual site of the NFL Pro Bowl.
But the most important landmark in Central Oahu sits to the south in historic Pearl Harbor, the largest natural harbor in Hawaii. This active naval base is home to 5 Pearl Harbor Historic Sites: The Pacific Historic Parks, the USS Battleship Missouri Memorial, the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park, the Pacific Aviation Museum and the USS Oklahoma Memorial. These special monuments commemorate the historic events that changed world history during World War II.
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