Also known under the name "Place of refuge", probably easier to pronounce. This is an interesting site for anyone with an interest on Hawaian-Polynesian culture. In this open-air museum, you have recreated historic houses, temples, granaries, wood-carved idols, and also a "place of refuge". Under ancient Hawaiian law, the death penalty was dealt out even for minor transgressions, but if the prosecuted reached the place of refuge, he was out of reach of the law and could return to a normal life, regardless of what he`d done.
Next to the boating pier is Honaunau Bay, a great place for snorkeling and home to a pod of dolphins you might or might not see.
While on Big Island, the winding North Kohala Mountain road (Highway 250) is worth the effort - a very different landscape apart from the rest of the island; Hawi village makes for a nice stop before you head back south along the coast on Highway 270. A great daytrip to comine the road with activities would be to start with a horse ride with Paniolo Adventures (midway on Highway 250), then have lunch in Hawi, and head to Hapuna or Mauna Kea Beach for the afternoon.
Honolulu is the obvious starting point of any Hawaii trip. Attractions include
- the Aloha Tower (an observation tower within a shopping mall): nice view of the harbour and financial district
- the Iolani Palace: the Royal Palace of the Hawaiian kings and queens, built 1882. The only royal palace on the territory of the United States!
- the King Kamehameha monument (opposite the Iolani Palace)
- the historical district with the Mission Houses, Washington Place and Kawaiaha`o Church
- the Hawaii state art museum (fantastic restaurant-cafe inside)
- Chinatown (roughly the area between River Road to the north and Maunakea Road to the south, Kukui road to the east) with interesting markets, good restaurants and a Chinese temple.
That`s about it. Nearby attractions like Waikiki Beach, Pearl Harbour, Diamond Head Hike, Pali lookout have descriptions in seperate things to do-entries.
While planning your itinerary keep in mind that Honolulu is not the only island with an international airport - if you plan on island-hopping, you can start in Oahu/Honolulu, but you could leave from Big Island/Hilo, too. Or vice versa.
Located in Oahu; a great operator of beach rides along the Kahuku coast on real Arabian horses. Reservation is essential, and you shouldn`t come late (seriously). Suitable for unexperienced riders, but if you like you can gallop along the beach - which, on an Arab Horse, is a bit liking driving a Porsche. Great fun. We even saw a rare Hawaian seal on the beach!
Honolulu`s Chinatown (roughly the area between River Road to the north and Maunakea Road to the south, Kukui road to the east) has interesting markets, good restaurants and a Chinese temple. Kekaulike Market is probably the most interesting part.
I you want to get to know the beautiful North Kohala countryside, there is no better way than to join a horseride with Paniolo Adventures (pre-booking essential, base located just a few metres north of milemarker 13, Highway 250). It is suitable even for unexperienced riders, great docile horses in good shape, friendly guides, and they don`t do nose-to-tail rides. A 2 1/2 hour ride costs between 90-100 USD.
This memorial in Kelaukea Bay is dedicated to the British explorer James Cook, who discovered the Hawaii islands on his last voyage in 1778/1779 (he wasn`t even looking for them, but en route to Alaska, searching for the Northwest Passage). After a cordial welcome by the Hawaiians of Kauai`i in January 1778, a second visit in February 1779 in Kelaukea Bay went disastrously wrong, and Cook was killed by a warrior on the shore, where the memorial stands today.
There are several ways to get there (though not by car): either hire a kayak (several operators near Captain Cook village), take part in an organized snorkeling trip or tour, or hike there (ca. 1 1/2 hours one way). For hiking, drive on the Mamalahoa Highway (11), turn left shortly after milemarker 110 on Napoopoo Road. After a few metres on that road, a small sign on the right side indicates the hiking path.
The bay is a great place to snorkel. Exotic fish are no rarity here - you can even see them without actually going in the water (see the yellow dots on the water surface?).
Though not the most direct route between Waikiki and Kailua, Highway 72 is a scenic alternative with several worthwhile stops:
- Hanauma Bay (great for snorkeling)
- Koko Crater & Botanical Gardens
- Halona Blowhole (see the photo): incoming waves are funneled into a blowhole and literally erupt through it
- Makapu`u Beach and Lighthouse (Makapu`u Head)
Leaving Waikiki in eastern direction (past Kapiolani Park/Waiki Aquarium and entering Diamond Head road), you can stop at the Diamond Head parking lot and hike towards the panoramic viewpoint. The classic vista of the Waikiki beach and skyline can be seen from the top, clear weather provided. The return trip takes ca. 1 1/2 hours - despite its shortness exhausting due to its steepness. Usually crowded, but well worth the effort. The park closes at 6 p.m., so don`t start too late.
Just south of Kona airport (exit around milemarker 94, sign "Natural Energy Lab") a commercial Seahorse Farm is well worth visiting. The price is a little steep, but you will get an enthusiastic tour of the farm and see seahorses in different stages of growth (and even get one to wrap its tail around your finger). The farm was established to prevent the extinction of the rare wild seahorses by offering farm-raised species for collectors and aquariums.
Reserve ahead a place on a tour (usually twice daily) as the farm can only be visited with a guided tour. Bring water and food as no restaurants or shops are nearby.
Big Island has some exceptional beaches, mainly concentrated on the western shore, less so in the other parts of the island. The highest concentration of beaches is on Highway 19 between Keahole airport and Kawaihae town, my favourites being Mauna Kea Beach (admission through the Mauna Kea resort-entrance, even if you are not a guest; parking fee) and Hapuna Beach. An impressive but less accessible small beach is Green Sand Beach near South Point (see separate tip).
Driving north from Kailua on the Kahekili (83) Highway direction Kane`ohe, you will drive past the "Valley of the Temples", basically a big cemetery with churches and temples dedicated to different religions. If you take the exit into the valley and drive all the way through, stop at the beautiful Byodo-In Temple, a replica of a Japanese buddhist shrine built in the 1960`s in memory of the arrival of the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaii.
Simply my favourite beaches in all of Oahu. Skip Waikiki, this is the place to go. The neighboring Kailua Beach (accessible from Kalaheo Road) and Lanikai Beach (accesible from Molokua Road) are merely a short drive distant from Kailua town centre. Very calm, shallow water, white sand, palm trees, not too crowded. Kailua has the additional benefit that it is a convenient mid-way base both for trips to Honolulu/Waikiki/Pearl Habour and the Northern Shore of Oahu.
This harbour was the base of the American Pacific Fleet and surprise-attacked by Japanese planes on December 7th 1941, thus starting the war between Japan and the United States and involving America into the Second World War.
If you are interested in military history, this is the place to go. Keep in mind to come very early as the tickets for the Arizona memorial have fixed time-slots, and the scheduled tours sell out quickly. All other attractions can be visited whenever you like. The Pearl Harbour area has several attractions:
- the Battleship Missouri, where the surrender ceremony of Japan took place in WW II. The Missouri also took part in Operation Desert Stom.
- the USS Bowfin submarine, active in WW II
- the Arizona Memorial: built over the battleship Arizona, sunk by the Japanese sneak attack on December 7th 1941
- the Pacific Aviation museum with military aircraft
- the audiovisual "Pear Harbour experience" which re-enacts the attack of December 7th 1941
All attractions are connected by regular shuttle busses. You will likely need a full day to see everything.
Just before entering Waimea on the Highway 83 (opposite Puula road), a protected bay offers great snorkeling opportunities. Though it is called Shark`s cove, you are unlikely to see them, but plenty of other exotic fish live here. Keep in mind that the entrance to the pool is very slippery and stony, so take care. May to September is said to be the best time for snorkeling here. Can easily be combined with a visit to Turtle Beach.
Upon arrival to the Halekulani you are greeted at the desk and assigned a staff member to tour you...more
The hotel room I had, had a balcony. When I looked to the right, I had a view to the ocean.more
2417 Prince Edward Street, Honolulu, Hawaii, 96815, United States
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