On your first trip to Hawaii, most times you will start in Honolulu. Honolulu is an unusual city, similar in some ways to Miami Beach. You are clearly in a major metropolitan city, and yet there are incredibly beautiful beaches right in front of you. In some respects it feels like the city never sleeps. No matter what time it is, someone is up and doing something, probably because most folks who arrive here have traveled over several time zones. If you arrive here on a cruise ship, you will have to make a choice what you want to see, but if you are here for a few days, you can explore it all at your leisure.
1. Not to be missed of course is Waikiki beach. You can spend a whole day here just people watching. Learn to surf, boards can be rented on the beach. Also available are stand up paddle lessons, and catamaran sailing. Or just rent a lounge chair and watch the world go by.
2. Climb Diamond Head. You can get to Diamond Head Crater by public bus, or parking is available. The entry cost is $5 for cars, and $1 for hikers on foot. The park hours are daily from 6a-6p, last entrance is at 4:40pm. Be sure to bring along some water, as it can get hot.
3. Go to the memorial at Pearl Harbor. The official website of the USS Arizona memorial If you are going to try to get walk up tickets, be sure to go early, as you may have to wait a few hours, or book in advance here. The memorial is free, but tickets reserved in advance are subject to a non refundable fee of $1.50. Be aware, all bags, including purses are prohibited at Pearl Harbor, so you will need to check them.
4. Snorkel at Hanauma Bay, Parking is available, but limited, come by shuttle bus tour, or take the public bus #22. There is limited entry, so either come early, or later in the afternoon, when the morning crowds have left. The cost of entry is $7.50 per person, and car parking is $1 per vehicle. You can rent mask, fins & snorkel on the beach & lockers are available. You will be amazed at the numerous colorful fish, and coral.
5. Rent a car and drive to the North Shore of the island and see the surfers. The surfing competition is held here, so if you are lucky you may see the contest. The waves are dependent on the weather, so some days waves will be enormous, and other days, just look like any ordinary beach.
6 .Go to the Botanical Gardens at Waimea Bay while you are at the North Shore & enjoy the waterfall & the gardens.
7. Dont forget to see The Polynesian Cultural Center, for the local history. The cultural center is a Polynesian themed park showing the living history of all the polynesian islands. It is also located on the North Shore. There are 7 villages devoted to different polynesian cultures, and currently a special exhibit dedicated to Easter Island. You can get to the center by bus, but the hours are not necessarily convenient, so must visitors come on a tour including transportation, or rent a car. The center has several dining choices, hula, an evening show, and evening an island tour that includes park admission.
8. See the Honolulu Zoo. Located within walking distance of many downtown hotels in Queen Kapi’olani Park is the 42.5 acre zoo. The hours are 9am-4:30pm, and parking is available at a cost of $1 per hour. Entry is currently $14.00 for adults and $6.00 for children 3-12. There is also a gardens as well. A nice afternoon activity with lots to see, and away from the crowds on the beach.
9. Swim with the dolphins at Sea Life Park Hawaii.Even if you dont swim with the dolphins, there is a dolphin show, a shark tank, penguin habitat, a sea turtle feeding, & much more. Great fun for the kids. Entry fee is $29.99 for adults, and $19.99 children ages 3-12. The park is open 10:30am-5:00pm and parking is available.
10. Take to the air. For something completely different try Hang Gliding over Oahu. This birds eye view of the coastline is both stunning & exhilarating. You can learn the basics of ultralight flying, or just let the pilot do all the work. Be left with memories you will never forget.