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Itinerary: Hawaii getaway – Oahu!

July 30, 2012

Hawaii – the name brings to mind images of sun-kissed beaches, sandy coves and lush green landscapes. Oahu effortlessly combines tropical paradise with a bustling urbanscape – Honolulu. There’s a bit of everything on Oahu for folks who like to mix it up. Laze on hammocks beside sunny beaches, surf and kayak along rugged shorelines on the North Shore by day and party all night in the hippest of clubs in the heart of the city.

For those who prefer exploring beaches, snorkeling, swimming with sharks and soaking up the cultural heritage of the Hawaiian islands and Pearl Harbor, the list below will appeal greatly!

Hanauma Bay

(1) Snorkeling in Hanauma Bay – Reserve at least half a day for this. Go early morning when the crowds are less or immediately after lunch when the morning crowds are heading out. This is hands down one of Oahu’s BEST snorkeling spots. A gently sloping beach gives access to coral-rich shallow waters where you are guaranteed an unforgettable swim alongside veritable troves of tropical fish, sea turtles and maybe even the occasional reef shark.

Shark Cage swim with North Shore Charters, Halewia

(2) Shark-swim-in-a-cage with North Shore Charters in Halewia. This is a highly recommended outfit on the North Shore of Oahu who take folks on a swim-and-snorkel-with-the-sharks trip. The trip lasts a few hours. Early morning is best when waters are calm and sharks are about and active. Being out on the ocean before dawn, watching the sunrise and getting out to the middle of the ocean on a boat is part of the memorable experience. Out in the ocean, you will get into a metal cage with snorkel gear on, be advised to keep all limbs inside the cage at all times! Once in the water, looking through the snorkel mask will bring you face to face with schools of the sleekest & most fearsome sharks ever.

Byodo In Japanese Temple

(3) Byodo-In Japanese temple – A serene temple of Zen tucked away on the North-East side of the island. Highly recommended, and well worth the visit. Reserve a couple hours to sight-see. Grounds are gorgeous, with plenty of koi fishes, friendly pigeons and exotic black swans.

“HA – The breath of life” show at the Polynesian Cultural Center, canoeing through the islander villages, Hawaii showcasing their traditional dance

(4) Polynesian Cultural Center – This is a great place for getting a hands-on experience with all the different islander cultures. Preferably spend a full day here. There is also the popular luau show named “Ha – The Breath of Life” in the evening which is perfect to wrap up your day. PCC provides a well-packaged fun experience – learning how to hula dance, getting a tattoo (as real as ink tattoos are!), tasting coconut-chicken baked underground in banana leaves and doing a dozen other different things when exploring each culture intimately.

Matsumoto Shave Ice in Halewia on the North Shore of Oahu

(5) Matsumoto’s Shave Ice – A picture is worth a thousand words. The drive along the North Shore to the quaint surfing town of Haleiwa for this shave ice is worth it!

Shark’s Cove Snorkeling

(6) Shark’s Cove snorkeling – A great spot right off the beach where the snorkeling is rich in fish and turtles and protected by the coral reefs over over which the enormous ocean waves break off. Perfect for a picnic and lazing around on a pleasant warm afternoon.

(7) Hike up to Diamond Head for amazing views of Honolulu! Need better part of the morning to do this.

Juhie Chawla welcomes you into the Fiji Market & Indian Curry store!

(8) Fiji Market and Indian Curry Kitchen – We stumbled onto this place thanks to Yelp and it hit the spot! After pigging out on luau pork and fried mahi-mahi, if you’re craving Indian food, this place is sure to hit the spot. Authentic Indian chicken curry with freshly made chapatis and rice, and lots of variety to choose from for those who prefer lamb curry, fish curry or shrimp curry!

USS Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor

(9) Pearl Harbor – a MUST-SEE if you like fighter ships, submarines, war stories and a lot of WWII history. A full-day needed to do justice. The major sites can be covered in a rushed half-day. Ticket prices are a bit steep, but for a history buff, it’s a priceless experience.

Botanical Gardens

(10) Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden – Even just a drive through the spectacular grounds is amazing. A couple hours needed to fully explore the gardens. Make sure to carry DEET or bug spray, lots of mosquitoes coming buzzing around in the evenings!

Mormon Temple

(11) Mormon Temple – The grounds are impressive. It’s enroute to the Polynesian Cultural Center, so a quick stop is possible for those interested in learning more about Mormonism.

Some tips:

  1. If you are planning to snorkel for a few days, rent gear from Snorkel Bob’s – available for very reasonable rates. They have an outlet on Oahu which makes it’s much more convenient to rent snorkel gear (includes mask, fin, anti-fog liquid, bag) and keep it handy in the car so you can jump into any snorkeling cove / beach you find! Snorkel Bob’s also has outlets on all other Hawaiian islands, so if you’re island hopping you can pick up the gear on one island and drop it off on the other!
  2. The South part of of Oahu – Honolulu – is the “happening” part. All-night party time. It’s got such a city vibe, you will not feel like you are on an island at all! They have all the big brand shops here, it’s miles and miles of Louis Vuitton and Gucci and such. A shoppers paradise.
  3. Halewia is a tiny surfing town on the North Shore. This is the more undeveloped part of Oahu. Lots of gorgeous beaches. Make sure to drive along the roads here, through the tiny coastal fishing village and the town of surfers. The shark tour leaves from Halewia harbor which means you need to head out pretty early in the morning if you’re staying on the South Shore in Honolulu.
  4. For booking the shark tour, check out http://www.yelp.com/biz/north-shore-shark-adventures-haleiwa
  5. The Polynesian Cultural Center is a great place to spend a day, it has a replica of EVERY islander culture – Hawaiian, Tahitian, Tongan, Fiji, Aotearoa). It’s an awesome way to get acquainted with all the different island cultures and tribes and they have entertaining shows and activities.
  6. Snorkeling in Hanauma Bay was one of the highlights of our trip. They have amazing fish and rich corals right off of the beach. The waves are very gentle, and it’s not too deep. Most people pack a picnic lunch and spend half a day or all day in Hanauma Bay – snorkeling, relaxing, sun-tanning – the good life.

Sunset in Oahu

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From → Hawaii, Itineraries, Oahu, USA

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