Guest Author - Shasta Wilson
With a population of around 1 million people at any given time (including tourists!), the island of Oahu is Hawaii's business and industry hub. Most major Hawaii cruises begin and end in the port of Honolulu, embarking and disembark at the island's industrial pier. Many cruisers add extra days on to their Hawaii vacations, either at the beginning or end, choosing to visit some of the most popular sites on Oahu. A quick overview of local favorites:
USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor
As the final resting place for many of the USS Arizona's crew members, this unique Memorial commemorates those who lost their lives and the events that happened December 7, 1941. Visitors are able to view the ship's wreckage by way of a memorial structure that spans the deck of the sunken ship. For more information: USS Arizona Memorial website.
No trip to Hawaii would be complete without a visit to the world famous Waikiki Beach. Located in downtown Honolulu, about a 20 minute drive from the pier, visitors can soak up the sun, learn to surf and kayak, or walk the shops in the surrounding area. Hotels flank all sides of the beach, so there's always plenty to do, see and eat. Check out the Waikiki Beach Cam.
Considered one of the best places to swim and snorkel, Hanauma Bay showcases much of Hawaii's fabulous marine life. Beachgoers can swim right along with dozens of fish varieties and sea turtles (if you're lucky!). But get there early because the number of visitors per day is limited to preserve the ecosystem. More information: Hanauma Bay
One of the most recognizable silhouettes in Hawaii, Diamond Head Crater is a great day trip adventure. Visitors can hike up the crater's 200 steps and traverse the unlit tunnel (about 1 ¾ mile hike in all) for a breaktaking view of the island's west side. More information: Diamond Head.
The North Shore
Oahu's North Shore is known as the surfer's paradise, and the entire region epitomizes the aloha spirit. A 45 minutes drive from the pier (across the island), beaches stretch on for miles and there's no shortage of local restaurants, markets and shops.