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An attractive flamingo pond greets you at the entrance of this 42-acre municipal zoo in Waikiki. Rare wildlife inside the lush park includes the Hawaiian nene goose, Francois monkeys and Galapagos tortoises. There is a children's petting zoo with llamas and a retired milk cow. Just before, during, and after a full moon, the zoo's special guided twilight tour offers an uncommon glimpse of the habits of nocturnal animals; call or go online for more information.
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.
The impressive holdings of Hawaii's fine arts museum include one of the nation's finest collections of Asian art as well as a 17,000-piece collection of graphic arts and artifacts from Hawaiian and other ancient civilizations around the world. Italian Renaissance and American works are also on exhibit. Guided tours are available. The 290-seat Doris Duke Theatre presents several programs annually. A restaurant and gift shop is also onsite.
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.
Built in 1882 by Hawaii's last king, David Kalakaua, this stately three-story building is a real treat to explore. After the overthrow of the King's sister Queen Liliuokalani in 1893, the structure served as the territorial and state capitol until 1969. The Palace Galleries showcase jewels and regalia from the days of Hawaiian royalty. Guided tours are offered every 30 minutes and reservations are suggested.
Hula dancers greet each passenger as they depart on the largest of the local cruise ships, The Star of Honolulu. Visitors cruise off Oahu's leeward shore as the sun sinks below the horizon and the twinkling lights of Honolulu and Waikiki emerge in the dusk. There is always a live band and singers. Dine on a feast of steak and crab legs with a complimentary tropical cocktail.
Since 1925 this tower has welcomed people of all nations to Honolulu. It's an imposing structure, nearly 200 feet (61 meters) tall, but its Spanish architecture and bronze embellishments make it much more attractive than the average skyscraper. The wonderful Aloha Tower Marketplace is open daily. Located on Honolulu's historic waterfront, this unique open-air festival marketplace offers over 70 distinctive shops, award-winning restaurants and free nightly entertainment. Indulge in exquisite island cuisine from the simple to the sublime including steak and seafood, Italian, Mexican, Japanese, Chinese, and Pacific Rim specialties. Find the perfect gift from the vast array of stores offering island treasures, such as Kona coffee, koa wood accessories, local artwork, jewelry, furnishings, and apparel for the whole family.
Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum provides a fascinating look into Hawaii's colorful past. Established in 1889 by Charles Reed Bishop for his wife, the last descendant of the Kamehameha family, the museum has multiple permanent and special exhibits. From diverse subjects including Hawaiian royalty to hands on science exhibits to contemporary works by native American artists, it contains an array of artifacts.
For an experience that will give you goose bumps, take the Pali Highway to this spectacular lookout, one of the windiest spots on Oahu. Historians hotly debate the legend that says that in 1795, King Kamehameha I, the unifier of the Hawaiian Islands, forced thousands of his opponents to jump from the cliff to their deaths. From the lookout point high among the eerie spires of the Koolau Mountains, you can see a panoramic view of Windward Oahu.
Famed for its beautiful horseshoe-shaped sandy beach and clear, calm turquoise waters, this natural marine sanctuary is home to thousands of colorful tropical fish. The waist-deep water inside the reef is perfect for novice snorkelers to explore. More experienced snorkelers might want to check with the lifeguard before venturing beyond to deeper waters to see sea turtles and other marine life. The Bay is least crowded in the early morning or late afternoon.
This Pearl Harbor memorial park is dedicated to World War II submarines and their valiant crews. The park takes its name from a particularly distinguished sub, the USS Bowfin SS-287. Tour the narrow corridors and compartments where the crew worked, ate, and slept on nine hazardous missions. In addition to the Bowfin exhibit, there is a waterfront memorial. Also visit the Battleship Arizona and Missouri memorials.
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.