At the Kuhio Beach Park’s Hula Mound in Waikiki (diagonally across Kalakaua Ave. from the Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach hotel), every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday night (6:30-7:30pm) you can enjoy (free) authentic Hawaiian music and hula shows by Hawaii’s finest halau Hula (dance troupes) and performers. The evening begins with torch lighting and traditional blowing of a conch shell. With the sun setting and the sky turning to vibrant shades of yellow, orange and pink, it’s a perfect way to experience a Hula performance. Before the show you can visit a farmer’s market in the lobby of the Hyatt for snacks and beverages to enjoy during the Hula show.
East to the Hanauma Marine Sanctuary
Hanauma Bay’s turquoise waters are ringed by the remnants of an ancient volcano. Oahu’s most famous and popular snorkeling spot is legally protected as one of Hawaii’s Marine Life Conservation Districts. Hanauma Bay is like a wonderous outdoor fish bowl with a coral reef that’s many thousands of years old. Even if you just stand on the overlook, the translucent waters reveal schools of glittering silverfish, bright blue parrotfish and other fish protected from the ocean by various reefs. Snorkelers, scuba divers and everyone else should visit the park’s Marine Education Center run by the University of Hawaii to learn about the ecology of the bay.
Diamond Head and Koolau Range
Visible from all over Honolulu, Diamond Head and its trail to the 750ft. summit provides visitors with panoramic views of the city, Waikiki and the Pacific. Visitors also can head up Mt. Tantalus in the nearby Koolau Range for fantastic views and a walk through lush vegetation to the lovely cascade of Manoa Falls. A 1.6 mile round-trip to the Falls, that drop about a 100 ft., also opens up the Aihualama Trail through a bamboo forest to views of Manoa Valley.
Touring from Waikiki
From Waikiki very short drives take visitors to:Honolulu’s historical district, packed with history and art, which is only a 10-minute walk from Chinatown, its markets and food shops, only minutes from the glorious Foster Botanical Garden; remarkable and fascinating Polynesian cultural and natural history exhibits at the Bishop Museum;beautiful walking trails in the 200-acre wooded Lyon Arboretum; and the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl), a crater floor shared by the remnants of ancient Hawaiians and soldiers killed during WWII.
Burn Those Calories
Some of Oahu’s hiking trails also are favorites of mountain bikers: just east of Diamond Head, Kuli’ou’ou Trail climbs forest switchbacks and a ridgeline to the summit with magnificent views; northward around Makapu’u Point leads to Maunawili Trail, a scenic trail along Maunawili Valley beneath the Koolau Range; and the North Shore has the “Seven Mile Miracle” of gorgeous shoreline from Hale’iwa Beach Park to Waimea Bay Beach Park to Sunset Beach. Cyclers with enough time will want to head up verdant Waimea Valley to check out the gardens and walk up to Waimea Falls. This tropical garden has more than 5000 native and exotic plant species!
The scenic Maunawili Trail along Maunawaili Valley is not far from gorgeous Waimanalo Bay Beach Park and 4-mile long Kailua Beach Park on the Windward Coast, excellent for swimming year-round and a favorite of windsurfers and kitesurfers. Nearby Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden houses thousands of tropical plants beneath the Koolau cliffs. Further north, another scenic trail Hau’ula Loop Trail, reveals a great deal of endemic vegetation and birdlife as well as spectacular ocean vistas. Past Kahana Bay more beautiful coastal driving takes you to the famous food trucks near Kahuku.
To the North Shore and Back South
Further north, bustling La’ie, center of the Mormon community, is home to the Polynesian Cultural Center. Even with all of the marvelous attractions on the Windward Coast, the nearby North Shore beckons with its idyllic shoreline and the beaches of Turtle Bay, Kawela Bay, Kaihalulu Beach, the giant winter swells of Waimea Bay and Sunset beaches, the surf town of Hale’iwa, and the unique 1800-acre nature and cultural park in Waimea Valley. From Hale’iwa southward on Kam Highway to Pearl Harbor the main attractions are two attractions for coffee lovers and fruit fans: Green World Coffee Farm, offering samples and roasting beans from all over Hawaii, and everything pineapple at Dole Plantation.
Pearl Harbor and Leeward Oahu
The attack on Pearl Harbor that launched WWII is commemorated at the USS Arizona Memorial offshore shrine and the nearby Bowfin submarine and battleship USS Missouri. The WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument includes two excellent museums. From Pearl Harbor, Leeward Oahu and the Wai’anae Coast lead to Ko Olina and Disney’s Aulani resort with four artificial lagoons and an outstanding golf course. North of Ko Olina, for the get-away-from-it-all visitor, Makaha Beach Park and Papaoneone Beach are as beautiful and more-or-less deserted as you’ll find on the island. Makaha’s underwater caves attract divers and in winter Makaha has a great surf break.