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EXPLORE OAHU

Oahu Hawaii

View From Diamond Head Oahu Hawaii

View From Diamond Head Oahu Hawaii

Oahu has been Hawaii’s eco­nomic and entertainment capital since 1850, when King Kamehameha III moved the government seat from Maui to Oahu. It is home to Waikiki, the world’s most famous resort, and Honolulu, the world’s most beauti­ful city. More than seventy-five per­cent of the state’s multi-cultural popu­lation reside on Oahu, and 70,000 visitors from all over the globe ex­plore the island each day.

Oahu enjoys all the trappings of the most sophisticated U.S. metropo­lis, with a tremendous diversity of activities, attractions and events. But

it also has all the natural beauty and magnificence that you’d expect from a tropical paradise. Experience the beauty for yourself: Hike Kaliuwa’a Falls (also known as Sacred Falls) in Hau’ula…kayak to the Mokulua islets off Lanikai Beach…explore ancient fish ponds in Ka’a’awa…soak up the sun at a tranquil white sand beach. On Oahu, Mother Nature and mod­ern civilization enjoy the most suc­cessful of marriages.

Waikiki—Oahu’s Royal Play­ground

Most of Oahu’s visitors stay in Wai­kiki, the heart of the island and a world-class resort offering outstand­ing dining, entertainment, shopping, attractions and accommodation op­tions to fit every budget. Waikiki has a long and rich tradition of hospital­ity, dating back to the ruling ali’i of the 1800s. Monarchs Kamehameha IV, Kamehameha V, Lunalilo, Kalakaua and Lili’uokalani—along with the lovely Princess Ka’iulani—all had residences in Waikiki. The poet Rob­ert Louis Stevenson, an ardent ad­mirer of Ka’iulani, was a frequent guest at her elegant Victorian-style estate. (Other famous writers who enjoyed prolonged visits in Waikiki include Mark Twain, Jack London, Herman Melville, W. Somerset Maugham and Edgar Rice Bur­roughs.) Word about Waikiki quickly got around, and the first resort hotel opened in 1901. Some of Waikiki’s early guests included Amelia Earhart and Charlie Chaplin. Today, Waikiki is still a royal playground for princes and movie stars, but inexpensive jet travel and an abundance of differ­ently styled accommodations make it accessible for everyone.

During the day, Waikiki offers a full menu of activities under the sun. Head to Waikiki Beach, where beachboys still provide surfing and canoe paddling lessons. Hike to the top of Diamond Head, rewarding yourself with spectacular views of the island. Shop till you drop, and fulfill your most sumptuous dining fanta­sies at Waikiki’s award-winning res­taurants. For family fun, Waikiki even has the Honolulu Zoo and Waikiki Aquarium! At night, Waikiki comes alive with concerts under the stars at the Waikiki Shell and the hottest en­tertainment revues and dance spots in Hawaii.

But Waikiki is just the beginning of what a vacation on Oahu really has to offer. Take advantage of the readily available transportation, tours or Honolulu’s excellent public bus system and explore the island at your pace.

 

Honolulu—The Heartbeat of the Islands

Much of Hawaii’s culture is nurtured and protected in Honolulu. Founded in 1889, the Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum has been called “the heart of Hawaii’s heritage.” Housed within its walls are hundreds of Hawaiian artifacts and hundreds of thousands of historical photographs and docu­ments. In downtown Honolulu, Iolani Palace, the only royal palace in the U.S. and the official residence of Hawaii’s last two monarchs, King Kalakaua and Queen Lili’uokalani, displays lavish turn-of-the-century art and furnishings.

Just up the street from the palace is the Mission Houses Museum, which documents Hawaii’s missionary era through a variety of precious artifacts, including books, quilts, clothing, furniture and utensils. Next door to the Mission Houses stands Stately Kawaiaha’o Church, which is built of hand-hewn coral blocks. It holds the distinction of being the old­est church on Oahu, and Sunday services are conducted here in the Hawaiian language.

Set aside at least one full day to explore the historic Chinatown dis­trict in downtown Honolulu. It’s lo­cated just a few blocks from the ten-story Aloha Tower, once Hawaii’s tallest building, and now the center­piece of the Aloha Tower Market­place, an exciting harborside com­plex that is the newest shopping and dining attraction on the island. In Chinatown, Hawaii’s rich ethnic mix is reflected in the faces of the throngs of shoppers. At bustling Kekaulike

Market, vendors sell fresh fish, meat and produce at reasonable prices. Chinatown is where you’ll find eth­nic restaurants as well as shops car­rying beautiful jewelry and porcelain, exotic herbs and spices, fragrant flower leis and wonderful Asian handicrafts.

From Chinatown, take a drive up to the Pali Lookout in Nu’uanu, a historical landmark where Kamehameha the Great and his army won a decisive battle over Oahu chief Kalanikupule and his forces in 1795. Kamehameha’s victory here paved the way for the unification of the Hawaiian Islands. The lookout pro­vides a spectacular bird’s-eye view over the lush windward side of the island, including Mokolii and several fish ponds.

Administered by the National Park Service, the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial recalls a tumultuous period in Hawaii’s history. This stark white landmark honors the more than 2,000 American men and women who per­ished on December 7, 1941, when Japanese planes bombed Pearl Har­bor, propelling the United States into

World War II.

The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, commonly referred to as Punchbowl, is the final resting place of veterans who served in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War. In ancient times, this extinct volcanic crater was known as Puowaina, which appro­priately translates as “hill of sacri­fices.” Also buried at this historic cem­etery are such notables as famed World War II correspondent Ernie Pyle and Hawai’i-born astronaut Ellison Onizuka, who perished in the 1986 space shuttle Challenger disas­ter. Thousands attend the annual Easter sunrise service held at Punch­bowl.

Activities for Active Visitors

Even if you’ve never considered your­self to be athletic, it’s difficult not to take advantage of Oahu’s endless summer. Learn how to surf Waikiki’s waves, jog barefooted along a beach or challenge a friend to a rousing game of tennis. Try your hand at windsurfing at Diamond Head Beach, the birthplace of the sport, with prime wind and wave conditions. Go out­rigger canoeing in Waikiki waters or kayaking at Kailua Beach. Enjoy hik­ing? Oahu has dozens of great trails, including one that leads to the sum­mit of Diamond Head. Put on your fins and mask and go snorkeling at Hanauma Bay, a marine preserve where you’ll see thousands of rain­bow-colored reef fish.

Golf buffs can choose from nearly thirty public, semi-private and resort courses. Oahu boasts America’s toughest golf course (the Ko’olau Golf Course) as well as the world’s “most played” course (the Ala Wai Golf Course). With fairways bordered by palm trees and holes that over­look the blue ocean and magnificent mountains, you’ll find that golfing on Oahu is like golfing nowhere else in the world. It’s no wonder that Oahu has be­come the venue for several top-notch sporting events. Football aficionados can watch exciting gridiron action at December’s Aloha Bowl, a post-sea­son collegiate game; January’s Hula Bowl, a collegiate all-star game; and February’s Pro Bowl, which spotlights the National Football League’s super­stars. Each December, hoop fans flock to the Outrigger Hotels Rain­bow Classic, a holiday tournament that pits eight top U.S. college bas­ketball teams against each other.

December is also the month when an international slate of runners com­pete in the Honolulu Marathon—one of the largest running events in the world. And running enthusiasts by the thausands gather each Presidents’ Day for the Great Aloha Run, an 8.2-mile fun run for local charities.

The Honolulu Sharks and West Oahu CaneFires are Oahu’s entries in the Hawai’i Winter Baseball League. You can see future Major League stars in action from mid-Oc­tober through mid-December. Golf­ers won’t want to miss the Hawaiian Open, held at Wai’alae Country Club in February. This prestigious PGA event always attracts an enthusiastic gallery.

Cycling enthusiasts can look for­ward to the Outrigger Hotels Hawai­ian Mountain Tour, a thrilling four­thly mountain bike competition, held in March at Kualoa Ranch in Kaaawa. And the UCI/Grundig World Cup Mountain Bike Finals in Septem­ber will focus the international spot­light on Oahu.

• Surfing dominates life on Oahu’s North Shore, and during the winter months, when the waves are mon­strous, that’s where you’ll find the world’s best surfers. Camera crews and sportswriters from as far away as Australia and Germany join spec­tators at Pipeline, Haleiwa and Sun­set, where the prestigious Triple Crown of Surfing, the jewel of surf­ing meets, is held. Nothing matches the excitement of seeing an athlete glide down the face of a fifteen-foot wave.

Honolulu is also the home to world-class art galleries, including the Honolulu Academy of Arts and the Contemporary Museum. In theatrical arts, a full spectrum of must-see productions—from community theater to visiting Broadway shows—is offered practically year round, and Honolulu even offers top-quality presentations for symphony, chamber music and opera aficionados.

In terms of dining, Oahu’s “melt­ing pot” sizzles! Chinese, Japanese, Italian, Greek, Vietnamese, Indian, Filipino, Mexican, Korean and Thai— fine cuisine from around the world graces the tables of Oahu restaurants. Of course, you’ll want to sample tra­ditional Hawaiian food as well as innovative Hawai’i Regional Cuisine, which makes use of locally grown meats and produce. Chances are, your visit will coincide with one of the many food celebrations held on Oahu throughout the year, whether it be the Taste of Honolulu, a popu­lar event that brings together top chefs from around the island; a cook­ing demonstration at a five-star ho­tel; or a school carnival where you can indulge in the ultimate in local fare—plate lunches!

Cultural Experiences Around the Island

Most of Honolulu is nestled within a narrow corridor on the south shore of Oahu, between majestic moun­tains and the blue Pacific. The rest of the island is open countryside— fields of sugarcane and pineapple carpeting a broad central valley, vol­canic mountain ranges flanking misty valleys, ranch lands, farms and small towns.

Get away from it all and head out for a day-long drive. From Honolulu, drive Diamond Head (east) to scenic Makapu’u, where beauty of the “fantastic” kind can be found at Sea Life Park, home of giant sea turtles, bottle-nosed dolphins, Hawaiian monk seals, false killer whales and Kekaimalu, the world’s only wholphin (half whale, half dolphin). Con­tinuing on your drive, stop at the Polynesian Cultural Center in La’ie, where you can experience the col­orful cultures of seven different Polynesian islands hands-on!

Any drive around the island must include a stop in Haleiwa, the heart of life on Oahu’s North Shore. Sample Matsumoto’s famed shave ice or the “world’s best burger” at Kua ‘Aina. At Waimea Valley, exotic flora and fauna thrive on 1,800 lush acres, and you can explore ancient Hawai­ian heiau and fishing shrines, weave a lei, pound the bark of the wauke tree into kapa and play konane in this pristine and stunningly beautiful valley. Here, it’s easy to bring back the Hawai’i of yesterday.

Also on the North Shore is the Turtle Bay resort, where swimming, golf, and horseback riding are just a few of the outdoor adventures avail­able to visitors. Or, if you prefer a more leisurely pace, just hit the beach and bask under the warm Hawaiian sun. It’s all up to you!

Trace the history of Hawaii’s sto­ried pineapple industry at the Dole Plantation in Wahiawa, which has intriguing displays and a pineapple garden with thirty-five varieties of the famous fruit. Continuing along your circle-island tour, the Ko ‘Olina Re­sort, located near the southeast point of the island, is a world-class resort offering challenging championship golf and crystal blue lagoons perfect for a refreshing dip or sunbathing. And in nearby Waipahu, Hawaii’s Plantation Village puts the sugar plan­tation era in the limelight. Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Portuguese—all the major immigrant groups who came to work in Oahu’s cane fields are represented in this authentically recreated plantation town.

Quite simply, Oahu is a spectacu­lar place. It’s impossible to see and do everything this island has to offer in one trip—and akamai visitors don’t even try. Instead, they return time and again, creating new memories and rekindling fond ones…savoring the very best Oahu has to offer.
Oahu Important Phone Numbers

Police, Fire, Ambulance: 911
Coast Guard Search/Rescue Center: 541-4000
ASK-2000 (Information & Referral
Service): 275-2000
Weather Forecast:
O’ahu, 973-4380 or 973-4381
Marine conditions, 973-4382
Hospitals:
Castle Medical Center, 263-5500
Kaiser-Permanente Honolulu Clinic, 593-2950
Kapi’olani Medical Center for
Women and Children, 973-8511
Kuakini Medical Center, 536-2236
Queer’s Medical Center, 538-9011
Saint Fronds Medical Center, 547-6011
Straub Clinic & Hospital, 522-4000
Clinics (Waikikiarea):
Doctors on Call:
Hyatt Regency Waiklkl, 923-1234
Hawaiian Regent Hotel, 923-3666
Hilton Hawaiian Village, 973-5252
Outrigger WaikM, 971-6000
Kuhio Walk-In Medical Clinic, 924-6688
Queen’s Medical Healthcnre Center, 943-1111
Dottors Who Care: Pncific Bench Hotel, 926-7776
The Honolulu Physicians Exchange: 524-2575
Hawai’i Dental Association Hotline: 536-2135
Hawai’i Visitors and Convention Bureau: 923-1811
or 1-800-GO-HAWAII
Waikiki/O’ahu Visitors Association: 524 0722
or 1-800-0AHII-678
O’ahu Attractions Association: 538-6248
Governor’s Office: 586-0034
Mayor’s Office: 523-4141
Information and Complaint: 523-4385
Honolulu International Airport: 836-6413
Office of Consumer Protection: 586-2630
Better Business Bureau: 941 -5222
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