Oct 13, 2011

Island of Oahu, Hawaii

View Oahu Vacation sight map in a larger map

Aloha!! One of the most beautiful places, a place on everyone's "To Go" Dream List, a place for Romance, Adventure, Culture, Family Fun, Honeymoon or just Relaxation.. it has to be HAWAII!  The warm turquoise crystal clear blue waters, the year long gorgeous weather is a treat for everyone visiting Hawaii. This was just the place to celebrate our Wedding Anniversary.

Waikiki in the background from Kuhio beach park

Hawaii is made up of 5 islands Kaui, Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Maui and the Big Island. We visited Oahu which is made up of Honolulu, Windward coast, Central Oahu, Leeward coast and the North shore.

The average weather is around 80F. We spent 4 nights, 5 days here and wanted to see all that we could. Hence rented a car which came in very handy knowing that buses would be inconvenient travelling to distant areas we had on our itinerary. The hotels do charge a fee for parking, so please check the same. Also, traveling in summer or on holidays, please keep in mind the traffic and extra time at hand for any delays. There are a  number of ABC stores at every corner street for supplies that you would have forgotten, even curios and gifts.


Taking the Hawaiian airlines, the experience begins in the flight. On arriving after a 5 1\2 flight, we decided to relax on the Waikiki beach, and in the evening stroll along Kalakaua avenue and the International market. Most hotels have a evening live entertainment program with hula dancers and live relaxing music to dance to and enjoy. Sunsets here are gorgeous with the silhouettes of the palm trees and hula dancers. You can enjoy a free Hula Show at sunset, that takes place at the Kuhio Beach Hula Mound ( near Duke Kahanamoku statue, beachside at Uluniu & Kalakaua Ave) in Waikiki.  For more information please call 808-843-8002. The night life at this place is something to look for, just walking down the street will rejuvenate you.

Duke Kahanamoku statue with Waikiki beach in the background

 Keep at least 2 - 3 hours for a leisurely round trip hike. From the trail head to the summit is a slightly strenuous hike with a number of switchbacks that will take you 0.8 miles \ 1.3 kms one way up and climb 560 ft from the crater floor. This is an uneven and steep terrain with railings for support at various places. It is not recommended for strollers and wheelchairs. If you have a baby\toddler, you may have to carry them up. It is usually very hot up, and is recommended to start early morning to avoid the heat. There is a steep stairway ( 74 + 99 )  and a lighted tunnel that you will have to go through. At the end, you can get an attested certificate proving that you have completed the climb to Diamond Head ( for a small amount paid in cash )! The tunnel gate closes at 6.00 pm ( don't get locked in ! ). Once you have reached the top, the view is amazing of the Crater, Honolulu and the entire coast line! It can get very windy at times, so hang onto you hats!

Climb up Diamond Head

View of the Lighthouse from Diamond Head
View of Waikiki Beach Area from Diamond Head.

Hanauma Bay
 This place is a beauty from the moment you lay your eyes on it. The preserve was once a crater and is shaped in a "C" with greenish, blue waters, lined with palm trees and a white sandy beach. There is a  presentation you would have to see before starting. The walk down is pretty. The reef is full of colorful fish. We saw different colored shole of fish swimming near our feet. My favorite was the yellow and black striped. It was an incredible experience. Don't forget your snorkeling gear or if you forget, you can rent one there.

The view of the shallow reef from the pedestrian trail to Hanauma Bay
If you have time, you can drive up the east coast towards Kalanianaole Beach park. The drive here is very different as compared to the Honolulu area and is picture perfect. The para-sailors gliding in the air above the highway and the kayakers kayaking along the shore with the rugged coastline, will have u thinking about the beauty that this island has to offer.

Kamehameha ( south east ) highway

DAY 3:
 If you have seen the movie "Pearl Harbor", being physically present at the actual site gives you a deep sense of what really happened on December 7th 1941. Till today oil and the hull of the ship can be seen through clear waters. It was a dream come true to be on the grounds of an event that made history. The USS Arizona Memorial  museum has exhibits, that assist the visitors that come in large numbers from all around the world to the events leading up to the aftermath. A reconstructed battleship Arizona shows before and after pictures.

Tickets are given out on a first come first serve basis. They have limited number of seats per batch so go early to avoid getting a late admission. ( Even though we arrived at 9, we got an admission of 12.30 ). The short film on the Pearl Harbor attack and then the boat ride to the memorial built on top of the sunken warship are a must. The memorial is probably one of the few places where I found it difficult to speak and just looked around in respectful silence for those who lost their lives on December 7, 1941.

Other memorials that you can visit are USS Oklahoma Memorial ( free, visit the visitor centre ), USS Bowfin, Battleship Missouri Museum & Pacific Aviation. ( tickets required )

No bags are allowed due to security reasons. There is a storage area for a few dollars. Strollers are permitted, however you have to leave them outside before the film and the boat ride, and pick it up after the round trip is over. The round trip for this from start to finish is about 4-5 hours. So plan accordingly.

The drive from Pearl harbor to Kailua is about 45 mins via H3 ( Pali Highway ). The route is one of the best drives we have experienced. As the road from the island climbs towards the mountains, the route is along green hills which have scenic viewpoints along that provide panoramic views of the city and the ocean in the distance. The Kailua beach park is stunning. The soft sand and the vast shoreline is just awesome. This beach has a restroom and big parking lot. It is popular beach and can get crowded on weekends and holidays. There is a kayak rental closeby if you would like to rent one.

Kailua Beach Park

One of the most beautiful beaches in the world, some of which are located in Oahu, are never to be missed. The National Geographic website has named Lanikai Beach as one of the TOP 10 Beaches of the world @ number 5. This beach is located in a residential neighbourhood. Parking is very limited and care has to be taken not to block someone's entrance. We parked near Onekea Dr. where we found a public beach access via a narrow pathway. It is a beauty! No doubt it is one of the most beautiful of the world.. the view was like this.. deep blue waters, white shoreline, kayaks parked against palm trees, yellow and red kayaks against the backdrop of the two islands of Mokulua. Was there another word\words for Picture perfect postcard? No.. it was just awesome.. You have to see it to believe it. This is one of the safest family friendly beach and considered the best for swimming.

Lanikai Beach, The Twin Islands

Lanikai Beach

DAY 4:


Laniakea Beach
Laniakea beach

One beach that I was very interested in visiting was the Laniakea Beach \ Turtle beach. Located bout 1.5 miles from Haleiwa, it is just before Pohaku Loa Way on Kamehameha highway on the left hand side. Cars are usually  parked in large numbers on the right hand side of the road. I had read and seen pictures of these massive turtles that come to rest and eat sea weed on the shore. We were looking forward to seeing some of them. We waited for 2 hours, and saw 3 of them nearing the shore, however were frightened by a surfer. We waited for a long time but they kept on swimming in the water. There were just too many people by that time surrounding the area. 

Laniakea Beach

So if you want to see them, this is what the locals told us.. they come at their own convenience, mostly around mid day - 2 pm and at dusk. Be prepared to see\ not to see them.. You can see similar ones at the zoo near Waikiki if you missed it here.

The North Shore is considered to be the surfing mecca of the world with waves more than 20 ft in height which in December hosts 3 surfing competitions. Baywatch, Lost and Blue crush are some movies that were filmed here due to its natural beauty and vast stretches of sandy beach. We did get a chance to see some surfers in the water even though there was an advisory of high and rough seas that day. This area reminded us of Goa with its vast sandy beaches.    

Waimea Bay
Waimea Bay

    The Centre is located on the North East of Oahu, in Laie, on the Kamehameha Highway, 1 hour from Waikiki. If you want to experience a Luau ( an elaborate Hawaiian feast or party accompanied by traditional foods and entertainment), one of the best place to experience it would be at The Polynesian Centre. It is totally worth it. The Centre is a non profit organization that is dedicated to preserving the cultural heritage of Polynesia while providing scholarships for hundreds of Polynesian students attending the adjacent university. The centre has various events throughout the afternoon and evening to experience the Polynesian culture.

  • The Rainbows of Paradise\ Canoe Pageant ( pics above ) is one of the best that we saw. The islanders float through the lagoon dressed in their native outfits dancing to music. This is a very colorful pageant. 
  • The island presentations of Samoa, Aotearoa, Fiji, hawaii, Tahiti and Tonga are unique in their own way and provide information about family, survival, music, dance and endurance through their skits. Some of their special presentations are learning to play the drums Tongan style at the island of Tonga, coconut husking and fire making at the island of Samoa and learning to play the Derua bamboo drum in the island of Fiji. ( taken from the Passport handbook )
  • The canoe ride is a leisurely cruise on a canoe to view the islands from the lagoon.
  • HA Breath of Life -  A story of Passion, ignited by fire, song and dance is a must see. For more information please visit http://www.polynesia.com/evening-show.html. 
  •  It is recommended to arrive early as the programs start  at 12 p.m


The last day we just spent lazing on the Waikiki beach and hitting the Waikiki shopping district. We drove by Queen Iolani Palace.

Waikiki Beach

When we arrived back in San Francisco,  it was like stepping out of a dream to reality!


  1. Well written account and made for interesting reading. Will be making a personal consultation with you before I make my Hawaii trip!

  2. Thanks Meghna.. I'd be very happy to help you!