The Ultimate Guide To Oahu
Oahu, also called "The Gathering Place"!
Oahu, also called “The Gathering Place,” is home to the state capital, Honolulu, and is the third-largest Hawaiian island. Oahu is a coalition of Native Hawaiian traditions and modern western culture. Highlights include historic Pearl Harbor: site of WWII’s 1941 bombing attack, Waikiki, Diamond Head Crater, North Shore, and much more.
The former Puuloa (Long Hill) today known as Pearl Harbor, got its name from the pearl oysters found in the area. However, Pearl Harbor is known to the world due to the devastating events of December 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, claiming several lives and causing the United States to enter into World War II.
In Pearl Harbor, you will find five historic sites, honoring the events that occurred at this National Historic Landmark in Central Oahu.
The WWII Valor in the Pacific (USS Arizona Memorial): Where the catastrophic bombing took place, on December 7, 1941. The attack that sunk the massive battleship in just nine minutes, killing several soldiers. Today, the USS Arizona Memorial marks the final resting place for those sailors and Marines. You can take a boat that will take you to the floating memorial built on top of the sunken USS Arizona. There is no fee, but you have to reserve a time slot for the boat tour in advance.
Battleship Missouri Memorial: This is where the Japanese surrendered, on the “Surrender Deck” of the Battleship Missouri, that ended World War II on September 2nd, 1945. Now located at Pearl Harbor’s Battleship Row, is a massive museum with several World War II artifacts and exhibits on display.
USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park: One of the US submarines that fought the war in the Pacific, called the “Pearl Harbor Avenger.” Today it’s a museum where you can learn about underwater warfare, see the engine room, and the torpedo room.
Pearl Harbor Aviation Museum: With more than 50 aircraft on display, the museum is home to two WWII era hangars that survived the December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.
USS Oklahoma Memorial: The USS Oklahoma Memorial honors the 429 crewmen who lost their lives in the Pearl Harbor attack. Around nine torpedoes hit “The Okie,” capsizing (overturn in water) this 35,000-ton battleship in just 12 minutes.
Address: 1 Arizona Memorial Place, Honolulu, HI 96818
The Polynesian Cultural Center
This is a must-do, the Polynesian Cultural Center features six island villages representing the unique island cultures of Hawaii, Fiji, Aotearoa (New Zealand), Samoa, Tahiti, and Tonga. It’s at times referred to as the Disney World of Hawaii! The Polynesian Cultural Center offers various shows and fun activities throughout the day, and the fun continues into the evening with a Grand Hawaiian luau (buffet) and a fantastic show, “Ha: Breath of Life.”
Address: 55-370 Kamehameha Hwy, Laie, HI 96762, Highly recommend booking your tickets in advance and not to miss the Luau and the show “Ha: Breath of Life.”
A vibrant neighborhood, located on the south shore of Honolulu, Waikiki, is Oahu’s leading resort and hotel area. Waikiki has a lot to offer Waikiki beach, beachfront resorts and hotels, world-class shopping, International Marketplace, ample dining options, nightlife, a zoo, and an aquarium. I recommend the Waikiki Trolley Hop-On Hop-Off Tour, it’s a great way to sit back, relax, get around, and discover the many things in Waikiki.
Address: 2330 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815
Diamond Head Crater, an extinct volcano, is a popular hiking destination offering some amazing panoramic views from the top. Native Hawaiians initially named the extinct volcano Le’Ahi, but later in the 1800s, British sailors were fooled by the glittering stones embedded at the top of the craters, they didn’t find any diamonds, but that is how the crater got its name “Diamond Head.”
The hike is about 1.5 miles roundtrip, takes around 50-60 mins to reach to the top of the summit, and is moderately strenuous. But once on the top, the panoramic views are simply breathtaking.
Address: GPS Lat: 21.263844, Long: -157.803895. Entry fee: $5 per vehicle or $1 per walk-in visitor.
A one hour drive from Waikiki would take you to the North Shore, laidback, rural countryside of Oahu Island. Oahu is not complete without driving to the North Shore and experiencing some of the amazing things it has to offer: visit the Dole Plantation, explore charming surf town of Haleiwa Town, visit Waimea Beach and Falls, snorkel at Shark’s Cove, stroll Ehukai Beach (Banzai Pipeline), Sunset Beach, see Turtles at Turtle/Laniakea Beach, have shrimps and shaved ice from the local food trucks at Kahuku, see Laie Point s and finally visit the Kualoa Beach Park.
Address: North Shore spans from La’ie to Ka’ena Point, I suggest you use the Dole Plantation address: 64-1550 Kamehameha Hwy, Wahiawa, HI 96786; that takes you right into the Haleiwa town follow the road all the way to Kualoa Beach Park.
Hanauma Bay Beach
Hanauma Bay Beach is not so much about the beach as it is about the marine life nature preserve and the astonishing Hanauma Bay snorkeling experience! Several years ago, a violent eruption blew out one side of the crater, creating the half-moon-shaped beach, and the lava rock tubes built a perfectly protected home for beautiful marine life. However, there is a limit of 3,000 visitors per day, so I highly recommend going there early in the morning.
Address: 7455 Kalanianaʻole Hwy, Honolulu, HI 96825, Entrance fee: $7.50 per person and Parking fee: $1.00 parking fee, Open daily, 6 AM – 7 PM, except Tuesdays, Christmas Day, and New Years Day.
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I hope you enjoyed reading the post, The Ultimate Guide To Oahu, and I expect this will help you plan your trip to Oahu.
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