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  Diamond Head From Wiakiki Beach August 17, 2006

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Diamond Head - Click Picture to Enlarge

O’ahu - The Gathering Place - The Heart of Hawaii

 

O'ahu is where most of Hawaii's people live. Yellow is O'ahu's color and its flower is the 'ilima - hence the color of this web page. It has a huge variety of hotels, restaurants and major attractions. It offers much in the way of culture, entertainment and the arts. O'ahu has the bustling city of Honolulu and the "world's best known beach," Waikiki, but  it also features wonderful. un-crowded beaches and natural areas, and small towns where their's a slower and more rural way of life.

There are no roadside billboards in Hawaii. In 1926, a group of women finally won the fight to ban outdoor advertising and a law was passed to that effect.

O’ahu, known as "the Heart of Hawaii," is the third largest island. It was formed when two mountain ranges created from eroded volcanoes split the island. Oahu offers rainforests, valleys and canyons, waterfalls, coral reefs, gold-sand beaches and mountains nearly a mile high. The Nuuanu Pali lookout offers a spectacular view of windward O’ahu. It's just off the Pali Highway, which crosses the mountains between Honolulu and the windward side. It’s a view you must see when visiting.

 

Puu Ualakaa Park, with its spectacular views of the Honolulu area, means "Rolling Sweet Potato" in Hawaiian. It was named for the way that the potatoes were harvested on the steep hillside by simply rolling them down the hill.

 

Mountain ranges divide O’ahu into three separate environments. The leeward side of the island is dry, with modest vegetation and sporadic rainfall. The windward side is a little more lush and tropical, with waterfalls and excellent beaches. In between is a fertile central valley.

 

Honolulu, the largest city in the state and the 11th largest in the United States, lies in the southern part of the island. Honolulu means "sheltered bay," and it is the political, cultural and economic center of the Hawaiian chain. 80% of the state's population live here. Honolulu is a long, narrow city bordered by mountains on one side and the ocean on the other. Its main beach, Waikiki (View DVD), is the best  known stretch of sand in the world. Here your clients can shop, eat, sun and practice just about every other activity imaginable. Most of O'ahu's hotels are here, too. Waikiki is currently undergoing both renovation and beautification in order to enhance its already legendary beauty, culture and history.

 

Diamond Head, the island's most recognizable landmark, and Punchbowl, a military cemetery, are craters that were formed during a later period of volcanic activity, about 150,000 years ago.

Diamond Head Crater (called Mt. Leahi by the Hawaiians) was so named for the sparkling calcite crystals found there, which British sailors at first thought to be diamonds. Honolulu (especially the Waikiki area) is bustling, but the rest of O’ahu is surprisingly rural.

 

East of Honolulu is Hanauma Bay, a protected bay that's great for novice snorkeling.

 

A few miles west of Waikiki is Pearl Harbor.

 

A rental car is a must if you want to see the rest of the island.

 

The North Shore is old Hawai'i at its best, with world-class surfing sites. O’ahu's windward side has some of the best beaches in the world.

 

Northeastern O’ahu offers the  and quaint, quiet towns. The middle valley is home to pineapple plantations.

O’ahu offers a great variety of resort accommodation areas. Waikiki obviously offers a vast selection of all types, sizes, styles and price ranges, including some of the largest, most venerable and most opulent on the islands. The rest of Honolulu (Ala Moana, Honolulu Harbor, Downtown, Northern Honolulu, Nuuanu, Tantalus, etc.) offers many fine lodging options, too.

Kahala, 10 minutes to the east of Honolulu, along with Ko'olina to the west and the North Shore (Haleiwa, Waimea, Turtle Bay, Laie) also have lodging. These two latter options are ideal for those who want to get away from it all, yet want to take advantage of O’ahu's more developed areas.

Windward O’ahu offers some lodging choices at Kailua, Kaneohe, Waimanalo, Kahuku, and other spots.

   

 

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Oahu's Attractions

Waikiki

Can you imaging Hawaii without thinking of that great curved beach, with in the background? Waikiki's two-mile-long by half-mile-wide crescent of sand attracts about five million visitors per year. Yes, it gets busy, but that's part of the fun. Waikiki is actually a string of beaches, running from Diamond Head to the Ala Wai Canal, each with a slightly different personality. Along its length are hotels, shops, restaurants and entertainment venues.

 

Waikiki's bay has a sandy floor and gentle waves. It's great for swimming, body- and board-surfing, canoeing, sailing and fishing. Diving and snorkeling can be done here, too, in addition to places nearby. Waikiki is really noted for the great sunbathing and people watching. Visitors can also take a guided historical tour of Waikiki.

 

According to Hawaiian lore, four sixteenth century Tahitian priests gave their mana, or healing powers, to four stones and then vanished. These stones are just south of the Moana Surfrider.

 

Some of the fabled white sands of Waikiki Beach were actually imported from Moloka’i, 40 miles across the waters. Other sand came from as far away as Manhattan Beach, Ca. (Waikiki was originally very rocky.)

Iolani Palace

Iolani Palace is the only royal palace in the U.S. fully restored to its glory days. This remarkable edifice was built by King David Kalakaua. The four-story Italian renaissance palace was the first electrified building in Honolulu - it had electricity even before the White House did. The highly polished Douglas fir floors require visitors to wear denim "booties" to prevent scratches. The royals lived here for 11 years, until Queen Liliuokalani was deposed and the monarchy fell. She composed the haunting song "Aloha Oe" while under house arrest in the palace.

A 42-acre lagoon park, the features the lifestyles, traditions, songs, dance, customs, costumes and authentic villages of seven Polynesian islands - it's a great introduction to South Sea cultures. New Zealand, Fiji, Tonga, Samoa, Hawai’i, Tahiti and the Marquesas are represented here.

 

Traveling by foot or by canoe on a man-made lagoon, your clients can experience village life on each of the islands through interactive demonstrations. With a variety of stage shows that celebrate the music, dance, history and culture of Polynesia, a festive all-you-can-eat luau and even an IMAX show, the entertainment is comprehensive and spectacular.

Hanauma Bay

On the eastern route from Honolulu to the Polynesian Cultural Center is Hanauma Bay. This underwater park, nestled in an old crater, offers some of the best snorkeling in all of Hawaii.

 

Mormon Temple

 

The Mormon Temple in Laie on the northern side of O’ahu has been there since 1864. It occupies 6,000 acres; visitors are welcome to tour its beautifully landscaped grounds.

Aloha Tower Marketplace

This waterfront complex offers restaurants, entertainment and boutiques clustered around what was once the tallest structure on O’ahu. The 184-foot Aloha Tower was built in 1926 to welcome the transpacific ocean liners that docked here and it was visible 16 miles out to sea. While it's dwarfed now by the many high-rise buildings nearby, it serves as the centerpiece of many shops and restaurants in the historic port area of Honolulu.

U.S.S. Arizona Memorial

Launches take visitors to the hull of the U.S.S. Arizona, sunk during the attack on Pearl Harbor. A 184-foot white structure sits atop the wreckage that still holds the remains of the 1,177 sailors who perished onboard. A solemn and moving experience, it's one of the island's biggest tourist attractions. Visitors should get there early and expect waits. A visitor's center, museum and the U.S.S Bowfin, a rare World War II submarine, are also nearby.

 

An allied attraction is the U.S.S. Missouri, the battleship upon which the Japanese surrender of World War II was signed. It's somehow fitting that these great warships, which saw the beginning and the end of America's WWII involvement in the Pacific, now rest peacefully together at the place where it all began.

The North Shore

28 miles from Honolulu, the laid-back little beach town of Haleiwa (hah-lee ee-vah) serves as the meeting point of those visiting the North Shore area. People come here to eat shave ice at Matsumoto's (a North Shore tradition). Your clients can also explore Waimea Valley Audubon Center, a 1,800-acre botanical garden and center of culture and tradition. Here, too, is the island's largest heiau.

 

Shave ice, Hawaii's version of the snow cone, has been served at Matsumoto's General Store in the North Shore town of Haleiwa for more than 40 years. Locals get their shave ice here with a scoop of ice cream and sweet black azuki beans in the middle.

 

The North Shore's biggest claim to fame, however, is the winter surf, when the waves can tower over three stories high. Expert surfers congregate here for the big-wave action at this, the most famous surfing area in the world.

 

O'ahu's Hidden Secret

 

Tucked away in Makaha Valley is “O’ahu’s hidden secret.”

 
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