Oahu is everything you'd want a tropical paradise to be. There is enough to see and do here to keep you busy for a lifetime, and you'll be amazed at the incredible diversity of this unique island. From the cosmopolitan atmosphere of Honolulu to the wild backcountry trekking on the windward side to the pristine beaches of the North Shore, Oahu is home to more than 900,000 residents and about 81,000 visitors on any given day. And when you've had enough of the incredible range of activities the island offers, it's comforting to know you can return to Halekulani, your oasis of tranquility.
Here's just a sampling of places you can go and things you can do:
Stroll through the Botanical Gardens
If Hawaii's amazing collection of sweet-smelling flowers and trees have captured your fancy, Oahu offers plenty of opportunities to see and learn more. Foster Botanical Gardens, for example, is a sea of green on the edge of downtown Honolulu and home to the nation's largest collection of tropical plants. The vast collection includes plantings of palms, heliconia, orchids, and a primitive cycad garden.
Check Out the Lookout
You don't want to leave Oahu without taking a drive on the Pali Highway. The road cuts through a lush rainforest, providing stunning views from its famous Nu`uanu Pali Lookout. From this windswept vantage point, the villages of Windward Oahu, the sparkling sweep of Kaneohe Bay, and the crystal blue surface of the Pacific spread for miles below. Less than a half hour from Waikiki, the Lookout is a perfect place to gain an overall perspective on this tropical paradise.
See Hawaii's Royal Palace
Take a unique tour of the only restored royal palace in the United States. Built in 1882 for King Kalakaua, Iolani Palace offers a unique glimpse into the mystique and grandeur of Hawaii's regal past. This Renaissance-style building was the official residence of King Kalakaua and Queen Lili'uokalani, Hawaii's last two monarchs, and is conveniently located just a short walk from the State Capitol in downtown Honolulu.
Visit Pearl Harbor
The U.S.S Missouri secured its place in history as the site of Japan's unconditional surrender to the United States, bringing an end to World War II. Today the Missouri shares the harbor with the sunken U.S.S. Arizona, a memorial to all who lost their lives during the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941. Thus, both the beginning and end of World War II are memorialized forever at Pearl Harbor today in the form of these battleships - The submerged Arizona and the proud U.S.S Missouri. Each year more than 1.5 million people visit the Pearl Harbor Navy Base, located about 45 minutes west of Waikiki, and pay tribute to the many who lost their lives there.
See Humpback Whales
Every year, thousands of humpback whales leave their summer feeding grounds in Alaska and set off for Hawaii. Some arrive as early as September and most will have completed the 3,000-mile journey in time for Christmas. Consider taking a tour to see these symbols of nature's grandeur in the wild during your visit to Hawaii.
Tour Waikiki Aquarium
Discover the diversity and beauty of aquatic life below the deep waters of the Pacific at the Waikiki Aquarium. Located next to a living reef on the Waikiki shoreline, the Aquarium focuses its exhibits, programs and research on the diversity of aquatic, shoreline and reef inhabitants in Hawaii and the tropical Pacific. Home to 2,500 animals representing 420 species, the Aquarium is especially proud of its world-renowned coral reef exhibits.
See Historic Mission Houses
The Mission Houses were the original headquarters of the Sandwich Islands Mission, a group of New England missionaries who arrived in Hawaii in 1820, determined to convert the Hawaiians to Christianity. Today the original three buildings of the Sandwich Islands Mission have been restored into an outstanding museum, complete with original furnishings and curios.
Hike Diamond Head
Located on the southeast coast of Oahu, not far from Waikiki, Diamond Head is one of the world's best-known volcanic craters. The view from the 760-ft. summit is well worth the climb. The steep trail to the top is mostly paved and includes two sets of stairs. One is 99 steps, the other 76 steps. They lead to a 225-foot tunnel (bring a flashlight) and end with a spectacular view of the island's west side. This is also an excellent spot for whale watching during the winter months.