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.
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.
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.
Koko Crater Railway Trail is a trail for every nature enthusiast. The old railway tracks here, which were used once for transporting goods, are now defunct and used as stairs to head up to the mountain. The trail covers a large part of the Koko Head and offers spectacular views of the Honolulu shoreline. The panorama is a major highlight and is definitely worth the challenging climb. Visitors can also explore the Botanical Garden located at the top of the Koko Crater.
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.
Western and Eastern art, crafts and costumes are displayed in this spacious gallery and the works are by students and established visiting artists. A wide variety of styles and media are displayed. Recent exhibits include Mai Na Kupuna Mai, Ho'i I Ka Pu'olo, which featured the works of more than 50 local artists, in addition to Private Passions, which showcased five private collections. The most famous exhibit is the annual International Shoebox Sculpture Exhibition. Admission is free.
Hanauma Bay boasts some of the best snorkeling in the entire world. You can see schools of exotic fish without even wading out past hip-level. However, if you're unfamiliar with the ocean or you've never tried snorkeling before, it's nice to go with an experienced guide. Hanauma Bay Dive Tours is a great option for that. The price of a snorkeling tour includes transportation, instruction and equipment. Depending on which package you choose, you can spend up to four hours at the bay.
Guide Michael Walther has spent his life studying local flora and fauna, and he imparts his knowledge during these interesting eco-excursions. Invigorate yourself with an early morning hike to the 763-foot summit of the Diamond Head Crater. Visit magnificent waterfalls during the afternoon rainforest excursion in the Ko'olau mountains. There are several tours to choose from, as well as combination tour packages. Call for more details.
If you have a desire to learn about the natural treasures of the sea, then this establishment in Waikiki is the place to visit. There are fascinating exhibits on how coral and pearls transform into beautiful jewelry and works of art. Other exhibits showcase endangered plants and birds of the islands, and there's a wonderful area devoted to Hawaii's volcanic past. There is a for-sale area where you can pick up local arts and crafts made from the natural materials of the Hawaiian Islands.
In addition to owning and operating the popular Navatek I and Atlantis Submarines, this company works in conjunction with several major Honolulu attractions to provide guests with deeply discounted tour packages. Visit Sea Life Park, splurge on a dinner cruise/show package, or take a ride in one of the submarines. Call or check the website for more details.
Head to the Sheraton Moana Surfrider Hotel's private beach to show off your amateur surfing skills. And no harm if you stumble and fall, as only beginners are around for company. You can rent a surfboard from the Aloha Beach Service, who also provide a bodyguard, just in case you lose your balance while trying to impress! But if you are a complete novice, enroll yourself in the private or group classes on offer. Go for canoe rides, if surfing has failed to excite you—equipment is rented out for that too. Also on rent are beach chairs and umbrellas.