Hawaii is much more than dreamy beaches and surfing. Dynamic cliffs rise towards the sky and fascinating marine life hide underneath the turquoise waters surrounding the island. Oahu is sometimes called “The gathering place”, which couldn’t be more accurate – this is where you gather memories for life.
Most of us choose to stay close to the hustle and bustle at Waikiki Beach. But don’t get too comfortable on your beach towel. Make sure to spend one or two days fully exploring the island.
1. PEARL HARBOR, OAHU
A visit to Oahu isn’t complete without Pearl Harbor. It feels surreal that this green oasis was once a big inferno. A sense of sadness still leaks out of the area, just like the oil from the USS Arizona at the bottom of the sea.
2. LANIAKEA BEACH, OAHU
“Stay behind the rope” said the woman. Behind her chills a sea turtle the size of a toddler. It all feels like a dream, are turtles really this big? I start thinking about their connection to the dinosaurs. I can see the resemblance. Laniakea Beach is a small bay where sea turtles come to sunbathe and eat. Volunteers put down red ropes so the visitors keep their distance – this is turtle territory and not ours to stomp as we wish. The palm-shaded beach on the northwestern coast of Oahu is a natural stop on the way to the famous North Shore.
3. HALEIWA TOWN, OAHU
This historic surf town is the cultural hub of the North Shore. You’re probably exhausted from all the turtle watching, stop here for some delicious cuisine from the food trucks and enjoy some shave ice.
4. WAIMEA BAY, OAHU
A large cliff rises from the turquoise water, it almost looks like a giant crocodile. About ten people stand at the top, they jump into the tempting water, one by one. Waimea Bay is one of North Shore’s finest beaches and the cliff is a popular spot for those seeking adrenaline kicks. The waves up here at the North shore can be as big as 15 meters (50 ft) and several surf competitions are held at the North Shore. Seeing miniature surfers almost floating above the giant waves is an unreal sight. If you’re anything like me you spend hours watching turtles and waves, which means it might be time to head back to the south and recharge for tomorrows adventures.
5. DIAMOND HEAD, OAHU
Everyone but the surfers are still asleep, but you better hurry if you want to reach the top before it gets too hot. The road to the top of Diamond Head runs through slopes and steep stairs, but even an inexperienced hiker can make it to the top in about 45 minutes. At the top, you’re rewarded with a view worth all sweat and respiratory distress.
6. HANAUMA BAY, OAHU
The calm bay below the crater walls has only a small opening leading out to the sea. When the sun hits the water the surface shines bright of turquoise blue. About 10 kilometers (6 miles) from Waikiki lies Hanauma Bay Marine Reserve, formed about 32 000 years ago, of what is believed to have been the latest volcanic eruption at Oahu. Hanauma Bay offers the best snorkeling on the island, where sea turtles, fish of all colors, and coral reef coexist in harmony. Spend one day in Hanauma Bay and you’ll love life again.
7. LANIKAI BEACH, OAHU
Lanikai means “heavenly sea”, and you couldn’t find a more accurate name for this beach. It has been described as Oahu’s most beautiful beach and one of the best beaches in the world. Lanikai Beach is also famous for Na Mokulua, the two islands in the background, which makes this spot popular among photographers.
8. SURFING AT WAIKIKI BEACH, OAHU
If you’re a beginner surfer this is the perfect place to practice your skills. Surfboards of all shapes and sizes are lined up on the shore waiting for you to rent one. Don’t feel comfortable enough to jump right in alone? Don’t worry, you don’t have to look far to find a surf school here.
After surfing on the tiny waves at Waikiki Beach, watch the sun set over the ocean as the palm leaves sway above your head from the cool breeze. Diamond Head stands tall to your left and locals hula dance to your right. It’s such a shame the dinosaurs didn’t get to see this.
Stay: Hilton Waikiki Beach, high floor with sea view is a must.
Eat: Hamburgers in paradise, an endless selection of delicious burgers.
Shop: Ala Moana Center in Honolulu has close to 300 stores.
Cruise: Want to see more of Hawaii? Visit four islands during a seven-day cruise with Norwegian Cruise Line.
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