Touring / Exploration, Oahu
This is the book we used for our hiking trails. It is amazing how detailed the information is. Every trail is accurately described telling you by what tree to turn left, by what rock to climb up and how to cross a stream by two mango trees. Besides giving the general directions and explanations the book explains every trail’s history, uniqueness, flora, and fauna. While hiking you’ll learn what trees where used by the locals and by what purposes, if birds are typical to this area or they simply visit the place on their way elsewhere. You’ll know what wild fruits are safe to eat and what should be avoided. And for sure you won’t get lost if carefully following directions. Some trails are very isolated and not listed in general books and brochures available for tourists.
Only once we missed our turn point, but this is because some ass took the mark off, so we didn’t blame the author.
Favorite thing: Available at a store near you on O'ahu. If you plan to surf, snorkel, scuba dive or just want to know where the beaches are - pick up a Franko's Map. They're waterproof/rip-proof and show the topography, major roads, and most importantly - the best beach areas and how to get there. I picked up mine at Matsumoto's General Store on the North Shore for $5.95. Keep in mind that winter/summer will change surf/snorkel conditions, especially on the North Shore. Go here for the best surf report: http://www.surf-news.com/
Favorite thing: My wife and I are very early risers and most mornings in Oahu we were up around 4:30-5am. This is the best time to walk along the beach or street without the crowds. We enjoy watching the sky lighten up and the sun rise over the beach.
The Nuuanu Pali Lookout is a scenic lookout offering spectacular views of the Ko'olau mountains and areas of the windward coast including Kailua and Kaneohe. Several placards contain information regarding the history of the area and how the road was built.
To get to the lookout from Honolulu, drive up the Pali Highway (Route 61) and take the Nuuanu Pali Lookout exit on the right. When approaching from the Windward side, the turn-off to the lookout is about half a mile past the tunnels at the top of the hill. You can also include the lookout as one of many stop in a longer drive.
It can be windy at the lookout and temperatures are generally cooler than Honolulu by about 5 - 10 degrees (F), or 2 - 5 degrees (C).
Parking at the lookout is $3.00, payable at a kiosk in the lot.
When exiting the lookout it is important to keep in mind that there are two roads into the parking lot. If you exit on the same road you arrived on, then you will end up continuing the same direction on the Pali Highway. So if your intention is to return from where you came, then be sure to use the other road to exit. If you take the wrong exit, then you'll have to drive quite a way before being able to turn around to correct the error.
Fondest memory: While we were driving on Kalaniana’ole Highway (Road 72) along the mountains (West side of the island), we saw beautiful and mystic view on our left of foggy clouds hanging on the top of the mountains, steep mountains covered in green, rainy fog above houses settled close to mountains, and on our right hot bright sun above the ocean. This west-east difference with a boarder within of several feet was one the wonderful and mysterious views I saw.
Oahu is a beautiful place. We lived there 4+ years between 1983 and 1988. Christmas in Hawaii is strange, but its not hard to just fall in love with the people and place. My favorite spot on Oahu was the North Shore. Taking the coastal highway, you can literally travel around the island in one day. The Pipeline Beach is a thrill to see on a good day. Its amazing to see the surfers fearlessly tackle those 15-20 foot waves, and ride the "pipe".
Fondest memory: My fondest memory of Oahu is a good friend I met when we first got to the Island. She took my family under her wing and showed us the "real Hawaii". We drove to little villages out in the farming area of Oahu, ate at the local places, strolled around Chinatown in downtown Honolulu, and sat on the beach at Pipeline and just took in the awesome waves. I began to understand the "no time" concept. The Hawaiian people are not in a rush. Being on time isn't important, and casual clothes in business is the norm.
Favorite thing: Many people come to Oahu and never leave Waikiki. That's fine, but you should really take the opportunity to explore the island. What you'll find (in addition to the beautiful sights) are many food options. Prices tend to be higher in Waikiki (it's a tourist destination), but in Honolulu, the North Shore or other locations out side of Waikiki, you'll find many hidden gems that won't cost you and arm and a leg.
Fondest memory: Located across the street from Iolani Palace is a replica of the statue dedicated to King Kamehameha the Great...perhaps Hawaii’s greatest historical figure. Kamehameha unified the Hawaiian islands under one rule and set the stage for the kingdom’s proud-but-turbulent monarchy period.
Favorite thing: As we walked past Iolani Palace, we noticed the Hawaii Supreme Court building (Ali`iolani Hale). Inside, you can walk through the history of the state of Hawaii and view the chambers where trials are held.
On Oahu tourist activities abound. Wiakiki for the crowds, nightlife, shopping and "be seen" beach. Pearl Harbor, the Arizona, the Missouri, the Bowfin, all worthwhile. Northshore for the surfing, low density beaches and the Polynesian Cultural Center.
Maui or Kauai for secluded beaches, golf, and quiet.
Big Island for fishing, open country and the volcanos. Small beaches.
Fondest memory: The sand bar in Kaneohe Bay. Isolated away from the crowds of sunburned tourists. Rent a small boat and motor or sail out to join the locals (tolerance of topless swimwear and drugs required).
The best thing I did when I was in Oahu was to rent this beautiful red jeep and drive all over this amazing, beautiful island.
Fondest memory: The beauty, the magical views, the refreshing mist that sprayed us during our drive through North Oahu. Driving on th Pali Highway through the tunnels that divide West Oahu from East Oahu . . . the definition of scenic is to drive in Hawaii!
Favorite thing: Heading West on H1 not so far from Waikiki Beach there was a scenery look. We stopped and saw the panorama of houses in valley near the mountain and low floating clouds in the sky.
Favorite thing: In the middle of downtown Honolulu sits Iolani Palace (built in 1882 by King David Kalakaua and his wife Queen Kapiolani)...the only royal palace in the United States.