Oahu - Pearl of the Pacific

Oahu - Pearl of the Pacific
Oahu, the pearl of the Pacific

Each of the major six islands of Hawaii has its own unique personality. But it is Oahu that most visitors will see first and keep in their hearts as a magical place. Its’ name in the Hawaiian language means the gathering place and today it is the most populated island of the entire chain.

This one island has it all. Clean, white sandy beaches. Sophisticated and varied cuisine. Museums, zoos, water parks and cultural venues. Most of all it keeps it has a distinctly Hawaiian flavour.

You could spend all of your time in the thriving metropolis of Honolulu with its upscale shopping and manicured beaches. But like many visitors you’ll want to rent a car or hop on of the islands many public buses, and head to the outer reaches, especially the north shore.

But start with Waikiki Beach; you just can’t say you’ve been to Hawaii with out a stroll along this sandy stretch. You can almost hear Elvis croon and Gidget giggle as you wiggle your toes into the imported sand. This is the place to take a ride in an outrigger canoe, take a lesson in how to surf, or simply watch the parade of global visitors walk by in varying stages of suntan.

One of the best sightseeing deals on the island is to take “The Bus” around the island. The $2.00 ride will take you past the major tourist attractions that Oahu has to offer. However, each time you leave the bus you’ll have to buy a new ticket, transfers are only allowed for connections.

Start early in the morning and begin with the climb to the top of Diamond Head for some breathtaking views of the city. Be sure to bring some water, a hat, and where lots of sunscreen. A flashlight is helpful too as part of the climb goes through a short tunnel. It can be a hot and sweaty climb but your pictures will be worth the effort.

Reboard the bus and head to the north shore for a stop at Waimea Bay, the birthplace of big wave surfing. The waves are particularly dramatic during the winter season, sometimes as high as 30 feet tall.

The trip will also take you past Nuuanu Pali Lookout. The view from these 1000 feet high cliffs of the Koolau Mountains and the Windward Coast in the distance if pure Hawaiian postcard.

Back in the city the bus will take you through the very heart of Chinatown. This is a perfect place to buy some fresh fruit, find a Chinese herbalist, take a meditative time out in a Buddhist temple or simply enjoy some fantastic Chinese fare.

Two can’t miss Hawaiian sites are the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve and Pearl Harbor. Both are accessible by public transport but on a different route from the circle island tour.

Hanauma Bay is open six days a week, usually closed on Tuesdays. This circular shaped bay was once a volcanic crater and is today one of the best places to snorkel on the island.

Pearl Harbor, the naval base that was the site of the Japanese air attack that brought the United States into World War II is a national historic site that pays tribute to the tremendous loss of life and ships.

You’ll want to spend a few days taking in all the sites, making sure you leave plenty of time for sun, sand, surf and shopping. Hawaii just never grows old. The people are friendly, the pace is slow and there’s just enough good ol’ American infrastructure to make you vacation pretty much hassle free.

For more information contact the Oahu Visitors Bureau at Visit-Oahu.com.

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