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Things to do in  Oahu

Welcome to Oahu

This island gem—the third largest of Hawaii’s eight—offers city entertainment to the south and outdoor adventure to the north, just an hour’s drive apart. History buffs can visit Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona or get a taste of the island at the Polynesian Cultural Center. Experience the outdoors, from snorkeling to sailing to jetskiing to just plain lounging on Waikiki Beach, or with a hike up Diamond Head. And be sure to plan a night at a traditional lu’au; visit to Haleiwa on the North Shore for garlic shrimp and shaved ice; and trip to the Halona Blowhole to snap photos.

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Top 10 attractions in Oahu

Diamond Head
#1

Diamond Head

The pointy peak of Diamond Head forms a dramatic backdrop to Waikiki on Oahu’s south coast. Diamond Head is a State Monument, and a popular lookout point on Oahu. Formed from volcanic tuff, the crater is part of a geological outcrop of cones, vents and old lava flows, formed from eruptions around 150,000 years ago. If you’re feeling fit, work out with an exhilarating climb to the top of Diamond Head and take in the city views. The steep round-trip hike takes a couple of hours, with challenging stages of steps and tunnels....
Waikiki Beach
#2

Waikiki Beach

Waikiki Beach is one of the most famous stretches of sand on the planet, up there with Ipanema and Bondi. Its curving stretch of sand is bordered by palms and high-rise hotels. Come here to soak up the sun, swim, pilot an outrigger canoe, sail a boat, or snorkel. Lifeguards are on hand to keep a watchful eye. The surfing isn’t bad either, with long rolling breaks. Look out for the statue of Duke Kahanamoku on the sands, the local who popularized surfing and brought it into the modern era. Pack a picnic to enjoy in nearby Kapiolani Park, hire a beach chair and umbrella, or sit back at sunset and watch the free movies screened on the beach....
Hanauma Bay
#3

Hanauma Bay

Hanauma Bay State Park is a protected marine-life-preservation area with clear water ideal for snorkeling and a vast array of tropical fish and coral reefs surrounded by volcanic rock. Once used by the Hawaiian royal family for fishing, it is now one of Oahu’s top tourist destinations with about 1 million visitors each year....
Pearl Harbor National Memorial
#4

Pearl Harbor National Memorial

A hallowed name in US history, Pearl Harbor was the site of the December 7, 1941, bombing by the Japanese that wrenched the United States into World War II. In total, nine U.S. ships were sunk and a further 21 damaged, and the eventual death toll was 2,350. Pearl Harbor is still a Navy base today, and a National Historic Landmark. For visitors, the focus is the USS Arizona memorial, protecting the remains of the American battleship destroyed in seconds during the attack. The USS Utah was also sunk, and there is a memorial on nearby Ford Island. The highlight of the harbor's Bowfin Park is the submarine USS Bowfin and the adjacent memorial museum, packed with memorabilia and exhibits....
USS Arizona Memorial
#6

USS Arizona Memorial

The main Pearl Harbor memorial marks the final resting place of the USS Arizona, one of the battleships destroyed on December 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked and the USA joined the war effort on behalf of the Allies. The site also commemorates the 1,177 crew members killed aboard the ship that day. Start your visit at the visitor center, with a free introductory talk, audio tour and a documentary on the attack. Then board a US Navy boat to reach the memorial for a self-guided tour. Visitor numbers are restricted, and tickets can often run out early in the day at this extremely popular sight, so it’s a good idea to book a tour in advance....
King Kamehameha Statue
#7

King Kamehameha Statue

Planted firmly on the lawn of Aliiolani Hale, the State Supreme Court building, is the most visited of all the statues honoring King Kamehameha I in Hawaii. The 18-foot bronze icon with golden-colored detailing was erected in 1883 and depicts a spear-wielding and cloak-draped Kamehameha the Great, the first Hawaiian monarch and the ruler credited with uniting the Islands under single rule in 1810. Each year on a date near the June 11 state holiday commemorating King Kamehameha, community groups build massive flower lei garlands and drape them over the Honolulu statue using the ladder from a fire truck. The popular lei draping ceremony commemorates the King’s significance and kicks off week-long celebrations of colorful parades and festivals throughout the Islands....
Iolani Palace
#8

Iolani Palace

Much more than just a popular Honolulu visitor attraction, ‘Iolani Palace is the only royal palace to exist within the United States of America. Constructed in 1882, this ornate palace served as the political centerpiece for the Kingdom of Hawaii, and monarchs such as King Kalakaua and Queen Lili’uokalani ruled the Kingdom from its luxurious halls. During the time it was constructed, ‘Iolani Palace was considered to be one of the most modern buildings in the world and even boasted electricity and telephones prior to the White House in Washington D.C. The palace also featured indoor plumbing, and large galas were thrown to welcome visiting dignitaries to the modern and sovereign Kingdom of Hawaii. Since King Kalakaua was the world’s first monarch to circumnavigate the globe, the palace was also adorned with decorations and memorabilia acquired during his travels around the world....
Makapuu Lighthouse
#9

Makapuu Lighthouse

When the Makapu‘u Lighthouse was built in 1909 for ships traveling between Moloka‘i and O‘ahu, it was meant to serve as a luminary deterrent to keep ships away from the rocks. Today, however, the historic lighthouse with its bright red roof draws visitors to the rocks in droves, and the trail to the lighthouse has become one of the most popular hikes for visitors and families on O‘ahu. Two miles long and entirely paved, the trail climbs at a moderate pace until the dramatic lighthouse terminus. During the winter months, humpback whales can often be spotted splashing in the waters offshore, and large surf can break along the shoreline during the long, hot days of summer. As part of the Kaiwi Scenic Shoreline, the trail offers views of offshore islets such as Manana (Rabbit Island) and Kaohikaipu, which are protected from development as sea bird sanctuaries and provide a rustic nature to the coastline....
National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific
#10

National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific

therwise and colloquially known as Punchbowl Cemetery, the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific is a United States Armed Forces cemetery in Honolulu, Hawaii. Part of the National Register of Historic Places, the cemetery gathers millions of visitors every year, making it one of the most popular tourist attractions in all of Hawaii. It is dedicated to Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard members who lost their lives in their line of duty. The location of the cemetery wasn’t the fruit of coincidence; it is located on what Hawaiians called “Hill of Sacrifice,” which used to be an altar where they offered human sacrifices to pagan gods and where they installed a battery of two cannons used to salute prominent arrivals and signify noteworthy instances. Since the site was established in 1949, approximately 53,000 World War I, World War II, Korean War and Vietnam War veterans and their dependents have been interred in these grounds....

Trip ideas

Know Before You Go: Visiting Pearl Harbor

Know Before You Go: Visiting Pearl Harbor

Top Hiking Trails on Oahu

Top Hiking Trails on Oahu

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