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Few beaches have been as fabled as Waikiki. Since the 1950s, this beach has been a tourist destination. Upon seeing the white sand beaches and crystal blue waters, there won't be any question why this beach is so popular. If that wasn't enough, the beach is also one of the best places to surf on the island. During the night, visitors strut their clubwear on the beachwalk, and lovers find peaceful little nooks under the cover of sweeping palm trees. Affording scenic views of the Diamond Head, the beach exists quite in tandem with Hawaii's laid-back spirit.
Located just a few short blocks from Waikiki Beach, this is a great place to learn about Hawaii's amazing ocean world. You can see 400 different species of aquatic life at this small but mighty museum, including monk seals, sharks and sea turtles. A knowledgeable staff is on hand to narrate tours and answer questions. The aquarium has a good gift shop where you can ask about special events and excursions. It offers some terrific educational and community outreach programs.
Also known as Le'ahi, this crater of an extinct volcano got its name when Western explorers mistook calcite crystals they found there for diamonds. Framing the fabric of the island, the crater is riddled with a tracery of vents and volcanic remnants. The historic trail to the 761-foot (231.9 meter) summit starts inside the crater and is an easy, but steep, 0.8 mile (1.3 kilometers) hike to the top. Adorned with craggy corrugations and tufts of sun-bleached grass, Diamond Head affords astounding views of Oahu's charming landscape, including some exceptional views of its beaches and locales.
Sky Gate is located in an expanse of lawn between the Honolulu Municipal Building and the Mission Memorial Auditorium. Isamu Noguchi, who is recognized for his Red Cube at 140 Broadway in New York City, was commissioned by the City and County of Honolulu in 1977. The sculpture was initially criticized as a flagrant example of overspending by government officials. Today, this streamlined sculpture with an industrial aesthetic has attracted the attention of astrological enthusiasts as the only place in the USA where the sun will pass directly overhead during a twice-a-year celestial event known as Lahaina noon. This event is most apparent when the organic shaped sculpture casts a perfectly circular shadow that embraces the concrete base.
On December 7, 1941, the battleship USS Arizona was sunk, taking 1100 sailors with it. In 1961, a solemn white monument was erected above the midsection of the ship. The deck of the Arizona lies now six feet (1.83 meters) below the surface of Pearl Harbor and is clearly visible from the monument. Take the shuttle launch from shore to the monument and view the dark shape of a once-great ship with its silent crew. Free guided tours are offered 8a-1p daily. Visit the Battleship Missouri Memorial afterward.
When an unexpected military attack initiated by the Japanese Navy Air Service on America's naval base in Pearl Harbor jolted the entire nation, it spurred the United States' entry into World War II, thus changing the history of the world as people knew it. The attack caused subsequent world-changing events, and rendered this naval base in Hawaii a crucial part of American history and heritage. Today, Pearl Harbor is dominated by five historic sites that serve as solemn reminders of this day in American history. The USS Arizona Memorial, Battleship Missouri Memorial, USS Bowfin Submarine Museum Park, USS Oklahoma Memorial and the Pacific Aviation Museum are all part of the site of this war incident. The USS Arizona Memorial in particular pays homage to the sunken vessel.
Stand on the deck of this imposing old structure that has been painstakingly cared for and extensively renovated. The "Mighty Mo" is where General Douglas MacArthur proclaimed the end of World War II in September of 1945. The great vintage battleship now sits at permanent anchor across from the Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor. You can visit the Arizona Memorial first to get a sense of the complete story.
This 4000-acre, former working ranch in Windward Oahu has been turned into a giant outdoor activities park. Facilities include horseback riding, jet skiing, canoeing, kayaking, windsurfing, freshwater fishing and a shooting range. You can tour the movie sets used in filming Jurassic Park and Godzilla, or relax on Secret Island, a secluded fantasy beach. There's even a petting zoo for the kids. Reservations are required.