There is no shortage of things to do on the island of Oahu and as the weather is so great – averaging between 73 and 81 degrees F (22 – 27 degrees C) – it’s a pretty good place to visit all year round.
Perhaps the most famous of all the Hawaii beaches has to be Waikiki. The beach is extremely popular and attracts several million visitors each year. It has stunning views of Diamond Head, and is all beautifully lit up on an evening. It is a great beach for families as the shoreline has a gentle slope rather than a steep drop making it safe for children to paddle. The waves are long but very small. It is the ideal beach to learn how to surf, which is one of the most popular pastimes in Hawaii. The Duke Kahanamoku Statue is a great place for a photo opportunity and it just happens to bewhere the Waikiki webcam is pointing, so if you want to wave to your family back home, that’s the place to stand.
Fans of The Beach Boys will have heard of Waimea Bay who mentioned it in their classic hit ‘Surfin’ USA’. The beach is popular with surfers as the swells along the north of the island create the perfect environment for enjoying the sport. In the winter surfing competitions are held here although in summer the waters are much calmer and are popular with SCUBA divers. The bay is one of several that are protected waters due to the vast array of sea life who make their home in the area. This was once the most populated part of the island and remnants of an old Hawaiian temple can still be seen on the hilltop overlooking the bay. The views from the top are breath-taking at any time of the year.
Lanikai beach is most definitely a must visit beach while on the island. It is frequently recognised as being one of the best beaches in the world. As it is part of an exclusive residential area public access is only available via small pathways and there are no nearby parking areas. This helps to keep the beach fairly quiet compared to others on the island. The beach itself is breath-taking and is often the background to many photo shoots, swimwear advertisements and holiday brochures.
The beach is pure white sand and the waters are very calm. On weekdays the beach tends to be very quiet, only becoming more populated at a weekend. The view across to the twin islands of Mokuluas is stunning on an evening as the moon rises. The two islands can be reached by kayak for those who would rather be a little more active.
Things to Do
Perhaps the biggest tourist spot on Oahu is the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor. After buying tickets there could be a very long wait, up to several hours before actually being able to get in. During this time it is possible to take a city tour of Honolulu or just wander around the shops. Once inside there is somewhere to buy souvenirs, books and DVD’s on the subject of the events of December 7th 1942. After a short film describing the attack you are then taken by boat to the USS Arizona Memorial. It is possible to see the ship under the water and the small oil leak that still rises from the hull. The memorial wall contains the names of all those who perished that day. There are markers in the harbour to pinpoint the positions of other stricken vessels.
After visiting the memorial why not indulge in a spot of shopping? The International Market at Waikiki is a fabulous place to buy gifts and souvenirs including traditional Hawaiian shirts, silk ties and pearls. Fresh fruits are sold there and there are several stalls selling hot food. The market offers goods at reasonable prices and the atmosphere – like everywhere on the island – is warm and friendly.
Nightlife on the island is livelier in the bigger cities of Honolulu or Waikiki, but one of the not-to-be-missed experiences is a beach Luau. There are several places where it is possible to book tickets for one of these events, some of the hotels have their own excursions offices and can help to make the arrangements. The Polynesian Cultural Centre located on the northeast of Oahu is considered to offer one of the best luaus available.