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Seven Perfect Days on Oahu

Items marked with an asterisk below can be all-day activities. You can choose to do one of these, or the remaining items listed which can be done together in a day. To see details, maps and restaurants for this trip, click the button.

Trip Details

Arizona Memorial

North Shore Surf and Cultural Museum

Wild surf on the North Shore

The Chinatown gate welcomes you.

Learn to identify this plant!

Hanauma Bay Marine Preserve

Clown fish are among the 400 different species at at the Waikiki Aquarium.

Manoa Falls

Windsurfing at Lanikai

Byodo-In Temple

Day 1

  • Arizona Memorial - Pearl Harbor Monument - On December 7, 1941, the battleship USS Arizona was sunk, taking 1,100 sailors with it. In 1961, a solemn white monument was erected above the midsection of the ship. The deck of the Arizona lies now six feet below the surface of Pearl Harbor and is clearly visible from the monument. Take the shuttle launch from shore to the monument and view the dark shape of a once-great ship with its silent crew. Free guided tours are offered 8am-3pm, daily. Visit the Battleship Missouri Memorial afterward.
  • Hawaii's Plantation Village - This theme park styled village serves two purposes: to entertain and to educate. Hawaii's economy once centered on the cultivation of pineapple and sugar. While things have changed since the 19th century, these crops are still important island exports. This attraction showcases plantation life through exhibits and restored plantation houses.

Day 2

Central - North Shore
  • Hale'iwa - If you only have time to explore one thing outside Waikiki and Honolulu, let it be the little, atmospheric town of Hale'iwa. It's got beach bums, surfer dudes, groovy artists, drop-out bohemians, wealthy folks chillin'out, distinctive shops, a perfectly situated harbor, great beaches, and eateries that range from holes-in-the-wall to sunset-ready fine dining. Spend a lazy afternoon and you'll drive away with a real glimpse of Oahu.
  • North Shore Surf and Cultural Museum - To glimpse into the history of surfing and the culture of the North Shore, visit this collection of old and new memorabilia and follow the evolution of surfboards in this funky, volunteer-run surf museum.
  • Waimea Bay Beach Park* - When someone hears the name "Waimea," chances are that images of 20-foot waves and daredevil surf monsters come to mind. That stereotype is correct. This beach is ranked among the top ten big-wave surf spots in the world, and when the waves are high, hardcore surfers come from the far corners of the globe to test their mettle. Novices are discouraged from swimming in the wintertime, which is the big-wave season at this beach. During the summer it is usually safe to take a dip, but make sure to consult the lifeguard first.

Day 3

Downtown Honolulu
  • Chinatown - This exciting historic neighborhood, located in downtown Honolulu, represents a colorful and eclectic blend of Southeast Asian cultures. A vast array of fresh produce and delicacies awaken the senses of both visitors and residents within this fifteen-block district, whose vivid history is an essential component to Hawaii's chronicle. Come to browse art galleries, see an acupuncturist, or sample exotic fare in this unique cultural cornucopia.
  • Foster Botanical Garden - For a brief hiatus from city life, duck into this garden. It is the oldest of the five Honolulu Botanical Gardens. The mission of the organization is "to plan, develop, curate, maintain and study documented collections of tropical plants in an aesthetic setting." Highlights include a palm collection, Lyon Orchid Garden, a prehistoric glen and a number of trees rated "exceptional" for their beauty and rarity. Pick up a souvenir at the Foster Garden Gallery and Bookshop.
  • Hawaii Children's Discovery Center - Children are encouraged to learn about a diverse range of subjects at this busy, colorful facility. It offers a number of fanciful interactive displays and learning toys. Every subject from physiology to sociology is explored. Tour the "Global Village" or play a game of volleyball...with a robot!

Day 4

East Honolulu
  • Hanauma Bay Marine Preserve* - Famed for its beautiful horseshoe-shaped sandy beach and clear, calm turquoise waters, this natural marine sanctuary is home to thousands of colorful tropical fish. The waist-deep water inside the reef is perfect for novice snorkelers to explore. More experienced snorkelers might want to check with the lifeguard before venturing beyond to deeper waters to see sea turtles and other marine life. The bay is least crowded in the early morning or late afternoon.

Day 5

  • Honolulu Zoo - Located at the northern part of Kapiolani Park, the Honolulu Zoo is home to over 300 species of animals on more than 42 acres of land. The zoo features an African Savanna complete with gazelles, rhinos, cheetahs, giraffes and more.
  • Waikiki Aquarium - You might think it redundant or ironic to watch fish in an aquarium when the mighty Pacific Ocean surrounds the islands, but this aquarium is well worth a visit. You'll learn so much about the fish you snorkeled with yesterday that you'll want to don a mask and fins again tomorrow.
  • Diamond Head State Monument - Recognized as one of the most famous volcanic craters, Diamond Head is certainly the island's most famous landmark. The 760-foot tall crater lies at the end of Waikiki and serves as a recognizable backdrop to the Honolulu skyline. Diamond Head, which is part of the Honolulu volcanic series of eruptions, is about 200,000 years old and is said to have been extinct for 150,000 years. Today, it's a popular hiking destination with some paved trails, a tunnel, and an observation deck.

Day 6

  • Manoa Falls - Tucked in the back of lush Manoa Valley is this waterfall, which is commonly thought to be one of the most beautiful sights on Oahu. It rushes over a precipice and drops 100 feet to the pool below. The hike to the waterfall takes approximately an hour and is not particularly difficult. The trail can get slippery during the rain, but on sunny days, it's clearly marked and easy to follow.
  • Harold L. Lyon Arboretum - Less a botanical plant garden and more a wooded, trail-filled forest, this research institution is a paradise on earth. Leave time to hike up to Aihualama Falls, about 1 1/2 miles from the park entrance.

Day 7

  • Sea Life Park - Dolphin and sea lion shows, a Hawaiian monk seal center, a sea turtle lagoon and a seabird sanctuary are a few of the highlights at this 62-acre ocean theme park on the coast of East Oahu. The park's newest attraction is Pirate's Lagoon, a themed play area for kids. Serious marine biology takes place at the rehabilitation center for endangered marine life. Other facilities include eateries and gift shops. Interactive dolphin programs and reef walks are also available.
  • Byodo-In Temple - At the foot of the Ko'olau Mountains stands a replica of a 900-year-old Buddhist temple in Uji, Japan. The graceful vermilion complex is surrounded by the largest Japanese garden outside Japan. At the temple entrance hangs a sobering three-ton bronze bell—ring it before entering the sanctuary to purify the mind of evil and temptation, then meditate to to the nine-foot-tall statue of the Buddha. More than 10,000 carp live in a two-acre reflecting pool and wild peacocks stroll the grounds freely.
  • Kailua Beach Park* - Windsurfers, a breed apart from regular humans and similar to wave surfers, travel from far-distant corners of the world to hit this top windsurfing beach. When the water is flat, they simply sit and wait. When the wind starts, they head here in droves. If you are not a windsurfer, you can still enjoy the warm waters and gentle surf of this famous, beautiful beach. Barbecue facilities, bathrooms, and showers are available.

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