Oahu, Hawaii Attractions – A Trip Report

We went on a 4-day trip to Oahu during the President’s Day weekend in 2010. The package deal from Pleasant Holidays which included round-trip tickets from San Francisco and accommodation in Oahu crested $2000 for the four of us. This was one time we indulged our kids – since Kindergarten, Hawaii was an oft visited place for some or other of their classmates.

A rental car goes a long way in making efficient use of the time in Oahu, unless the entire plan is sun worshiping in Waikiki – the island though small is still spread-out and public transportation is just a namesake option for tourists, as invariably time is lost hand over fist trying to follow their schedules.

This was a deviation from our regular airliner (Southwest) and the $20 baggage fee for the first item in United Airlines was so unpalatable that we chose to do carry-on baggage only. We learned we too could pack light and save time by shunning the baggage facility. Also, as car rentals centers are off-site and involve a shuttle it is best to factor in an additional hour. An additional expense seldom encountered at other places is the parking garage fee at the hotels which can average $20 per day.

As for residential neighborhoods, the suburbs win hands down in the nicer area category. Except for the areas right by the beach, most of the city areas of Honolulu are tailor-made for the working class - understandably so - most of the hotels are located around Waikiki Beach and the city of Honolulu surrounds Waikiki beach, making it a prime business and tourist location. Our hotel located in Kuhio Avenue, the first parallel street to Kalakaua Avenue that hugs Waikiki beach had great views of the ocean, but as the location was adjacent to International Marketplace, quiescence were not among its virtues as the night progressed. IHOP, Denny’s, and Chili’s were all within a few blocks and so were local options. Premium options like the Waikiki Starlight Luau at the Hilton Hawaii Village were also within walking distance.

Oahu has a number of free quality attractions. Below are the major attractions (not all free - see details):
  1. Arizona Memorial: Definitely a must for every American, this memorial is the site where the USS Arizona sank following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. It is the resting place of 1102 of the 1177 service men killed. To place in context, the overall death toll in the Pearl Harbor attack was 2350. The visitor center displays memorabilia related to the Pearl Harbor attack and also runs a 23-minute documentary film. A Navy boat provides transportation out to the 184-foot structure. It spans the mid-portion of the sunken battleship. It has observation areas and a shrine with a marble wall engraved with the names of those killed on the USS Arizona. There is a headcount limit at the memorial of around 4500 people per day, hence, it is better to plan this visit for earlier than later in the day (first tour – 7:45 AM), especially on holidays. Tickets and parking are both free. Also, as a security measure, no bags are allowed.
  2. Fire Works over Waikiki Beach: The fireworks is the finale of the Music and Dance show at the poolside of the Hilton Hawaii Village that happens every Friday at 7:45 PM and lasts 10 minutes – the event is known to keep Hawaiian time. The best location to experience the fireworks are from the beach or the concrete pier in front of the Outrigger Reef on the Beach hotel – either side of the hotel has public access pathway to the beach from Kalia (Parallel Street to Kalakaua). Tickets are $20 per person for the event with poolside seating and non hotel guests can participate as well.
  3. Kuhio Beach Hula Show: The one-hour show is at the Kuhio Beach Hula Mound on Waikiki Beach on Kalakau Avenue at Uluniu on Tuesdays, Thursdays, Saturdays, and Sundays at 6:30 PM. The event showcases authentic Hawaiian music, Hula performances, and entertaining commentary.
  4. Beaches: There are plenty of beaches in Oahu. Waikiki is the most popular and crowded. Hanauma Bay (100 Hanauma Bay Road, Honolulu, HI - $7.50 Fees for non-resident adults apply) is an extremely popular snorkeling destination – for snorkeling, it is best to be among the first as otherwise both parking and renting equipment can be an issue. North Bay beaches offer the best waves and relatively lesser crowds but by Oahu standards considered a long drive (30 miles) away.
  5. Hiking: Even though Oahu is not known for hiking, there are some outstanding opportunities around Oahu and most are free. Highlights include the hike to the Diamond Head Monument ($5 per vehicle fee applies – Diamond Head Road & 18th Avenue, Honolulu, HI - 0.8 mile one-way but still can be strenuous as you climb 560 feet and involve both steep stairways and a tunnel) and the Manoa waterfalls (3860 Manoa Road, Honolulu, HI - 0.8 mile one-way - slightly less strenuous, definitely not the beaten track).
  6. Others: Oahu has its share of attractions to visit, if time allows. Some of the best options include Pali Lookout (on Pali Highway 61), Bishop Museum (Fees apply - 1525 Bernice Street, Honolulu, HI), Punchbowl National Cemetery (2177 Puowaina Drive, Honolulu, HI), Waimea Valley Falls and Garden (substantial fees apply - 59-864 Kamehameha Highway), Byodo-In Temple (nominal fees - 47-200 Kahekili Highway, Kaneohe, HI), Polynesian Cultural Center (substantial fees - 55-370 Kamehameha Highway, Laie, HI), and the Cultural Gardens at the Honolulu Airport.
On our part, we checked out Waikiki beach the first day and joined the crowd for the Fire Works show. Hiking was the main activity on our second day, teeing off with an early morning hike to the Diamond Head State Monument and finishing with the Kuhio Beach Hula Show back in the Waikiki Beach area. Our final day was spent snorkeling at Hanauma Bay and with a trip to the North Shore in the afternoon. We had visited Arizona Memorial previously and so chose not to stop by there this time around.

Related Posts:

1. Oahu, Hawaii - Flora and Fauna - A Trip Report.
2. Oahu, Hawaii - Hiking - A Trip Report.
3. Oahu, Hawaii - Attractions - A Trip Report.

Last Updated: 02/2011.

1 comment :

TetVet68 said...

Remember Pearl Harbor -- Keep America Alert!

America's oldest living Medal of Honor recipient, living his 101st year is former enlisted Chief Petty Officer, Aviation Chief Ordnanceman (ACOM), later wartime commissioned Lieutenant John W. Finn, U. S. Navy (Ret.). He is also the last surviving Medal of Honor, "The Day of Infamy", Japanese Attack on the Hawaiian Islands, Naval Air Station, Kaneohe Bay, Oahu, Territory of Hawaii, 7 December 1941.

(Now deceased) 'Navy Centenarian Sailor', 103 year old, former enlisted Chief Petty Officer, Aviation Chief Radioman (ACRM, Combat Aircrewman), later wartime commissioned Chief Warrant Officer Julio 'Jay' Ereneta, U. S. Navy (Ret.), is a thirty year career veteran of World War One and World War Two. He first flew aircrewman in August 1922; flew rearseat Radioman/Gunner (1920s/1930s) in the tactical air squadrons of the Navy's first aircraft carriers, USS LANGLEY (CV-1) and USS LEXINGTON (CV-2).

Visit my photo album tribute to these centenarian veteran shipmates and other Pearl Harbor Survivors:

http://news.webshots.com/album/123286873BFAAiq

http://news.webshots.com/album/141695570BONFYl

San Diego, California

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