Honu is a name to Hawaiian Green Turtle that can be seen on the North part of the island, just a mile or two past the town of Haliewa. The turtles are always there, swimming in the ocean, but there are certain hours when these giant creatures bask in the sand.
Students of University of Hawaii volunteer to protect the animals and are always happy to share information with tourists. They were the ones that told us that Honu come out of the ocean at around 2:30 p.m. and rest on the beach for several hours.
The first time we came to Laniakea beach was in the morning, several turtles were swimming in the ocean. It was a great opportunity for snorkeling. Our second visit was at 3pm and indeed Honu were basking on the beach.
You’ll be able to get very close to these native Hawaiians since they don’t really mind being photographed. A thick red rope will mark the line which you’re not allowed to cross, but this line is only 2-3 feet distance.
A short drive from Haliewa you’ll find Waimea Valley Audubon Center and its famous waterfall. Ok, I’ll be honest here and say that if you’re interested in waterfalls then there are many better places and more beautiful falls, but the nature here is amazing (like everything else in Hawaii) and the hike will be one of your most pleasant experiences.
It will take you 2-4 hours to appreciate it all.
Actually, pretty much everything is combined in this place: spectacular views, colorful birds, pretty flowers, and some really interesting trees.
This place claims to “feature over 5,000 species of tropical plants” and all the names are carefully mentioned on signs and maps.
You can easily combine this place with a visit to Laniakea beach, because the places are about 20 minutes drive apart.
A great free activity is the torch lighting ceremony at the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Mall. Every night at 6:00pm, the conch shell is blown signaling the approach of darkness. The beautiful dancers circulate throughout the crowd greeting all with handshakes and the greeting of "Aloha".
Then two male runners appear, their torches ingited and held aloft, make their way through the crowd to light the torches that border the perimeter of the mall. There are a variety of dancers--from the lovely hula girls to the "keikis" (children).
The torch lighting cermeony is free to all, I recommend you get there early if you wish to have a seat for the show.
Kris and I decided to take in the high tea at the Sheraton Moana Surfrider Hotel. We stepped back in time at Waikiki's first hotel, which dates from 1901 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The tea is served on the Banyan Veranda, located at the Banyan Wing of the Sheraton Moana Surfrider. A wide sweeping expanse of porch where we sat in comfortable chairs at a well appointed table. The server, with impecable manners, wore white gloves, as he introduced us to the teas from which we had to choose: Moana Royale -the hotel's signature blend, Silver Needles, Chamomile Mint, Moana Sunset, Surfrider Serenade, Veranda Breeze, Jasmine Phoenix Pearls and Ceylon Silver Tips.
Then came the three tiered server ladened with finger sandwiches and unearthly desserts. I won't eat for a week!!
$28.00 plus tax
$34.00 plus tax (Includes Piper Heidsieck Champagne Split)
Afternoon Tea is served:
Monday to Saturday: 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Sunday: 3:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.
First of all, let me warn you: Don’t be as stupid as I was, TAKE A BUS OR DRIVE!!!
Only one bus (#15) goes all the way to the cemetery and it runs once an hour. I decided to walk there from Downtown. Needless to say that by the time I reached the place I was ready to purchase a “resting spot” for myself.
I took some info pages at the entrance and was ready to explore this huge place. As I started walking, I heard it: “Can I help you Ma’am?” I turned and saw a security guard in his little car that looks like a golf-cart. I said that I’m fine and just visiting the cemetery. Two second later he asked again: “Are you alone? Let me give you a tour, I’m bored anyway.” I couldn’t wish for a better guide. Living on the island all life and being so knowledgeable about the cemetery there was no tree that was “just a tree”, no grave that had no story, and no question that had no answer.
From the man that never told me his name I learned that the flagstaff in the middle of the memorial is standing on the top of a sleeping volcano, that the statue of Lady Columbia represents all the grieving mothers and the water by it - their tears.
He revealed that the most scenic spot of the cemetery is called “Hill of sacrifices” or “Puowaina” because it was used by natives for this purpose hundreds of years ago and he did patiently wait for me while I was taking pictures of Waikiki from the hill. He showed me the grave of Ellison Onizuka – Challenger astronaut and let me know that the graves of Pearl Harbor attack victims are all over the place and not in one area. After the “tour” he kindly drove me to the bus stop…
Don’t skip the Punchbowl visit and if you happen to meet “the nameless guard” please tell him that I’m not forgetting his kindness!
This is one of the most dramatic and visited places on Oahu. It’s amazing what nature can create sometimes, or more precisely what volcanic eruption can create. Apparently, they call it a lava tube (it looked like a rock to me) and when it’s windy enough the ocean shoots its waters through the tube, creating what is known as the Blow Hole.
Beautiful view, I must admit. I stood by this place about 10 minutes and each water spurt was more impressive than the previous one.
I read somewhere (probably in those tourist brochures) that many people became victims of this place and that only one returned alive.
There’s a great lookout point and it’s located on the side of a highway, past the famous Hanauma Bay.
This is the next stop if you’re driving from Waikiki visiting Hanauma Bay followed by the Blow Hole.
The parking lot is very tiny and it is easy to miss, but anyway nobody drives fast on this scenic road, so you’ll have the time to pull off.
It’s a very easy hike, considering the paved trail that takes you all the way up a hill with breathtaking views on the Ka’iwi shoreline, Rabbit Island, and Turtle Island. If weather permits you’ll see Molokai island in the horizon.
The way up is augmented with smell of mesquite trees. It’s a very strong and pleasant smell of burned wood that fills the air. If you hike in the winter, November thru March, there’s a great lookout point for migrating whales. If you’re lucky you can actually see them. If you look down from that point you’ll see a very idyllic picture of a red-headed lighthouse by the ocean. And when you reach the top of the hill you can see a very big part of the “brown side” of the island.
It’s a nice and refreshing hike along the ocean where cool breeze never ends and views are spectacular.
I have to admit that Missions Houses museum wasn’t my #1 place to visit. Later I regretted it and a lot!
When I came to the museum it was pretty empty, it didn’t look like a popular place among neither tourists nor locals. I was told that walking around the area is free, but a guided tour is $10. Undecided I went to the tickets’ booth where I was approached by a guide who asked me if I’ll be joining the tour. Well, he decided for me, I was his only tourist. As I found out later, Peter Salter got both, his degrees from Yale and worked as a university professor for over 20 years.
This man is a walking encyclopedia that seems to know everything about any historical topic.
Only if you get the guided tour you get to go inside the only original wooden house remaining on Oahu. You’ll be able to see the house exactly as it was when first missionaries arrived on the island. Sitting on the old chairs that belonged to these people back in early 19 century you’ll be able to listen to many interesting stories that Mr. Salter has to tell.
Thanks to my knowledgeable guide I learned were Hawaiian alphabet came from. Yes, people that had no written language whatsoever were introduced to it by missionaries that had to translate the Bible in order to convert the locals to Christianity. Their success was tremendous.
Mr. Salter told me about the coral block houses and the building techniques, showed me the old well and explained how it was constructed. He gave me an idea of how the place looked like over 100 years ago, and revealed where the King Street got its name from.
Please take an hour off your busy schedule and visit this place Tue to Sat at 11 am or 2:45 pm, you’ll have one of your best experiences of this island.
No, this is not another boring tip about an aquarium with fish and seaweed. This place is a real educational center. Once inside you’ll be given a self-guiding audio set that will provide you with loads of info about the ocean life. Corals, especially, catch attention of visitors.
Well, the sharks are a bit disappointing in their size, but the endangered Hawaiian monk seals definitely steal the show. There are less than 1500 species left and it will be a real miracle if you encounter one in nature. They’re said to be seen on shores of Ni’iahu, but this island is off limits to any kind of a tourist, which leaves us with one option – Waikiki Aquarium. Both seals were rescued more than 20 years ago and have been living at waquarium ever since. Their Hawaiian name is “Ilio-holo-i-ka-uaua”, which means something like a “running dog”. They are not running, but you’ll definitely get the chance to get a close-up picture because these spoiled creatures don’t stay in the water longer than 15 minutes.
It is one of the oldest aquariums in the US dating back to 1904, so you’ll get to see another Paradise’s piece of history.
Getting there is very easy, if you like walking than it’s about 15-20 minutes walk from Waikiki (depends on where you are). You can also take a bus #2 which will stop infront of the Aquarium’s gate. It’s open everyday and costs $9.
Yes, that same big mountain that you¡¦ll see from Waikiki is the Diamond Head and if you didn¡'t climb it you're not a "good tourist":) It's like being on Oahu and skip the Pearl Harbor. So, don't miss the stunning views from Waikiki's most famous lookout point.
Some people say that climbing up is not easy and too many stairs "attack" you on the way to the top. Well, I have to disagree. First, if you ever climbed those famous European church towers then the Diamond Head is piece of cake for you! Second, I saw some people going all the way up wearing flip-flops, no wonder they hardly move. A good pair of sneakers will definitely make your life easier. And third, remember that when you get to the top you'll get your chance to take one of these breathtaking shots of Waikiki.
Usually, they say that it takes about 1,5 hours to complete the hike, however, it took me less than 1 hour, including 20-25 pictures that I took from the top.
If you’re expecting huge collection of exotic flowers than you may be disappointed, because this place features, mostly, trees. As I thought I’ve seen pretty much every type of a palm tree, I was wrong again. Before visiting this garden I definitely had a huge palm-education hole in my brain.
There’s a small hibiscus garden, but it depends on the season. Winter is definitely not the time, or should I say “winter months”, since weather never changes in Paradise.
It’s a nice and peaceful piece of nature in the middle of the busy downtown of Honolulu, just across from the Chinatown district. If your time is short don’t make it your must see place, but if you have some hour or two to spare then it’s worth a visit.
Now, there’s a bus that running there, but you may end up waiting for ages, so what you can do is walk from Chinatown. But, if you insist on riding TheBus, then take #4 from corner of Hotel and Bethel streets, downtown.
This is the most popular beach for snorkeling, enjoying breathtaking views, and feeding the permanent resident – mongoose.
Hanauma Bay is located on the, what locals call, brown side of the island, just 15 minutes drive from the city. Don’t worry, if you don’t have a car, a bus runs there and will stop at the entrance to the park. Entrance fee is $5 and you can enjoy this little peace of “seventh heaven” from 6 am to 6 pm. Renting snorkeling gear is not a problem and there are small stands to get light food and water from. While snorkeling, please be careful and make sure you don’t step on the corals, they are living creatures too.
You’ll see lots of colorful fish and there’s a possibility to see Honu (green turtle) although it’s rare.
On arrival you'll be given a 15-minutes explanation about Hanauma Bay, its flora and fauna, and general rules. If you plan to come back do sign the visitors list, it will prevent you from listening to the same things everytime you return and is valid for 1 year. Snorkeling gear can be rented at the store, although a simple snorkel can be purchased in any store on the island for as low as $10-$15.
Don’t forget to take underwater camera, you can always get them at the ABC stores for about $15.
There is a long stretch of coastline that is lovely to walk, however it is best to walk either early morning or in the early evening when the beach is less crowded.
Start at the lagoons of the Hilton Hawaiian Village, continue down the beach 2 miles to the the Natatorium War Memorial. Continue on towards Diamond Head, the beach will narrow and you may even have to go up to the walkway of the Halekulani Hotel. Continue on and you will pass the beautiful pink hotel known as the "Royal Hawaiian Hotel"
You are nearing the last of the hotels on the beach as you make your way past the Outrigger Waikiki and finally to the Sheraton Moana Surfrider Hotel, which is the oldest hotel on Oahu.
Kuhio Beach has a lot of activity going on, you will enjoy the sights of people playing chess or checkers. Queen Kapiolani Beach is a great place to take a swim there the ocean has been reefed to provide a safer place for keiki's and adult swimmers who don't want to brave the open waters.
Your walk ends at the Waikiki Aquarium and the Nataorium War Memorial. Built in 1927 to honor those from Hawaii who died in WWI.
Huanauma Bay, east of Honolulu, is the premier snorkeling spot on Oahu. It is a protected volcano-formed bay populated with brightly-colored fish who come for the food and shelter provided by an extensive reef system. Visitors used to be able to feed the fish, which certainly added to the population and maybe still attracts fish with long memories. While feeding is no longer practiced, visitors can still rent snorkeling gear on the spot and jump right in among the beautiful swimmers after viewing a short video on the ecology of the bay. This was the first place I ever snorkeled in my life and still among the best.
When you're done snorkeling, there's an excellent beach on which you can rest and a path out to a blow hole (the eastern side of the bay). However, this place is popular, so get there early or plan a late afternoon arrival, after the crowds are likely to have dispersed. Don't make plans to go on Tuesday though, as the Bay is closed.
One concern is the arrival of box jellyfish, which can close the bay to snorkeling. There is a website that posts the probably arrival of the jellyfish, and you might use it to plan your snorkeling trip if you have some flexibility. It is http://www.honolulu.gov/esd/oceansafety/boxjellymainpage.htm
Please don’t skip this place if you have 2 – 2,5 hours to spend on the Royal history of Hawaii. I found it really fascinating. This place is dedicated to the Kalakaua dynasty, King David Kalakaua and his sister, and the last monarch of Hawaii, Queen Liliuokalani.
The palace is well preserved with squeaky clean floors. Each visitor gets funny shoe covers which have two purposes, first keeping the floor clean, second polishing it daily by hundreds of tourists.
Once shoe-covered you’ll be given an audio set with a great story that will guide you through the rooms of the palace. These are not a boring set of facts and figures, standing in front of each and every room you’ll be hearing in your headset words like “Imagine you’ve been invited by the King to one of his famous festivities…” before you know you’ll be standing in front of another royal hall imagining what it was like when the palace was inhabited by royalty.
And, speaking of facts and figures, Iolani palace claims lots of “first to” or “the only” lines. King Kalakaua is the first monarch to travel around the world. Iolani is the only Royal Palace in the USA, it got electricity years before the White House and even the Buckingham.
Liliuokalani, successor of Kalakaua, was imprisoned in this palace for almost a year and the exhibition tells a great story about the event.
In the basement there’s a small museum featuring jewelry, coats of arms, royal clothes, furniture, and even tableware.
I won’t continue spoiling the fun, if you’re in Honolulu go and see it yourself.
Upon arrival to the Halekulani you are greeted at the desk and assigned a staff member to tour you...more
2417 Prince Edward Street, Honolulu, Hawaii, 96815, United States
Good for: Business
1277 Mokulua Drive, Kailua, Hawaii, United States
Good for: Families