People from all corners of the globe come to Hawaii for its sun, surf and the sand. From its pristine beaches, crystal clear waters and vibrant coral reefs to its well-manicured parks, interesting museums and a plethora of adventure activities, you will never fall short of things to enjoy in Hawaii. The island’s natural beauty together with a bursting culinary scene and luxury hotels to pamper you make it a popular destination among honeymooners as well.
We recently returned from our 10-day honeymoon trip from Hawaii and still can’t get over the majestic shorelines, colourful culture and the untouched beauty of the island. If you are planning a trip to Hawaii anytime soon, here are some popular attractions that you must definitely add in your itinerary.
World-famous for its gorgeous beaches, high-end resorts, shopping and entertainment options, Waikiki is located on the southern shore of Honolulu. The iconic Waikiki Beach stretches for two miles and has many different sections that are always thronged with tourists. Whether you are looking for adventure water sports such as canoeing, surfing, snorkelling or just simply wish to soak up the sun for that perfect golden tan it is very easy to have a memorable time here.
Diamond Head Crater
Also known as ‘Leahi’ in Hawaiian, this 760-foot tuff crater is one of the most legendary landmarks of Hawaii located on the eastern portion of Waikiki’s coastline. It is famous among the adventure enthusiasts for its walking trails which offer spectacular vistas of the southern coastline of Oahu and Waikiki. Apart from the panoramic views, there are an enormous lighthouse and old war bunkers at the top that you can check out.
Polynesian Cultural Center
Polynesian Cultural Center prides itself at being the “Number 1 paid-admission visitor attraction of Hawaii”. It has 6 island villages representing the natives from Tonga, Hawaii, Tahiti, Fiji, Samoa and Aotearoa (New Zealand). You can visit the authentic villages and get up, close and personal with the natives through their traditions, dance, and music. Learn about Hawaii’s royalty with the amazing Ali’ I Luau feast followed by an awe-inspiring Polynesian performance by over 100 performers from across the Pacific.
Kualoa Ranch is no less than a Hollywood attraction given that it has been featured in many international flicks such as Jurassic Park, 50 First Dates and more recently, Jumanji. The one-stop adventure playground is sprawled across 4,000 acres and offers numerous adventure activities like zip-lining and ATV rides to family fun activities like film site tours. You can also explore the Hakipuu Valley and the site’s Secret Island Beach to create long-lasting memories.
If you are a history buff you will fall in love with this neoclassical building which is also the official residence of Hawaii’s monarchy. The building was completed in 1882 for King Kalakaua and showcased artistically decorated interiors with elaborate wood carvings from imported wood types. The palace was opened as a museum in 1978 after it was restored in the 1970s, allowing tourists to learn all about the history it has to offer.
Your trip to Hawaii is incomplete if you do not visit one of the most historic sites in all of America, Pearl Harbour. The largest natural harbour still remains an active base and is also a National Historic Landmark. You can visit several other historical places of interest here including the memorials for USS Arizona, USS Utah, USS Oklahoma as well as Ford Island and Battleship Row and learn about the tragic history of the 1941 attack.
The Byodo-In Temple
The Japanese temple ‘Byodo-In’ translates to ‘The Temple of Equality’ and is located alongside the 2000-foot Ko’olau range in the deep lush Valley of Temples. It is a smaller-scale replica of the United Nations World Heritage Site in Uji Japan, the 950-year old Byodo-in Temple. As you enter the temple grounds by crossing the wooden bridge, we bet you will get transported to a fairyland far away. You can also relax at the traditional Japanese gardens featuring a 2-acre koi pond.
If the thought of witnessing the underwater world fascinates you, you should definitely head to Hanauma Bay. This unique natural bay came to be formed within the crater of an ancient volcano. It is home to marvellous reefs and ecosystems and is a top snorkelling destination in Hawaii. Disclaimer: You may want to reach the place early as the number of visitors allowed inside is limited to protect the fragile ecosystem against damage.
The North Shore of Oahu is a paradise for any adventure junkie. At any time of the year, it is swarmed with excited surfers waiting to catch a wave. If you happen to visit in winters, you may even spot a whale out in the ocean. Snorkel with sea turtles, try the local cuisines at the cosy restaurants and take in the breathtaking landscapes while you are here.
P.S. The best way to explore the island is by renting a car, so you can visit the attractions at your own pace.
By far one of the most scenic areas in Oahu, Lanikai is laden with crystal clear water, cutesy homes and the famous Mokulas (mountains) out in the ocean. There is no better way to start your day than by catching a sunrise from atop the Lanikai Pillbox Trail for some jaw-dropping vistas. Then, head to the Lanikai Beach to relax and spend time with your loved ones. You can even enjoy a mini picnic by bringing your own food or try the local eating joints at the beach.
Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail
The Makapu’u Lighthouse sits at the most eastern point of Oahu. The paved trail presents an excellent hiking opportunity for beginner hikers because of its easy accessibility and route. Since it is an easy hike, you can enjoy this with your family and soak in the beautiful views from the top. The trail is also dog-friendly, so you may end up making quite a few furry friends here.
Makapu’u Tide Pools
After the Makapu’u Point Lighthouse hike, don’t miss out venturing down the cliffs to the tide pools on the water’s edge. Most travellers walk right past this hidden gem without realising what they have missed. Keep your cameras handy while you explore because the sky here is known to bedazzle the tourists with its colourful hues and reflection in the pools, making it look like a scene out of a dream.
The Lanai Lookout is another hidden wonder which most travellers miss acknowledging. Tucked cosily between Halona Blowhole to the right and Koko Head and Hanauma Bay to the west, Lanai Lookout offers stunning panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. If it’s a clear day, then you can even spot the islands of Maui, Molokai, and Lanai. The blue waves crashing into the rock formations here are worth capturing in your phones. And, if you are lucky enough, you may even be able to spot a humpback whale frolicking off the coast.
If you thought this was all that Hawaii had to offer, make way for more as this is just the tip of the iceberg. There were so many things to explore and we didn’t want to miss out on anything, so we decided to go overboard and break our blogs into three different posts trying to cover as much as we could.
So, stay with us in the following posts as we take you to the best restaurants in Hawaii to treat your taste buds and get your adrenaline thumping with adventure activities like swimming with the sharks!