Oahu Activities and Tours
At forty miles long and 26 wide,
Oahu's not the biggest island in the Hawaiian archipelago, but it serves as the
seat of government and is home to the state's largest city. You can find a bit
of everything on Oahu, ranging from timeless to the high-tech allure of downtown
Honolulu. The third largest of the four major islands.
addition to being one of the top all-around beaches in the world, the hotels
and businesses crowding the waterfront at Waikiki offer cultural activities and
entertainment venues unequaled anywhere in the world. The city of Honolulu is itself a tourist
mecca, offering exotic historic sites like Iolani Palace and the famous statue
of King Kamehameha, as well as the kind of shopping you can only dream of
on the mainland.
The island is split from northwest
to southeast by twin mountain ranges, the Waianae range to the west and the
Koolau range to the east, providing plenty of opportunities for adventure on
the slopes and in the associated valleys. Between the ranges is a fertile
central plain, bracketed by Pearl Harbor on the south and the famous surfing
area, North Shore(on the north, oddly enough). The less-developed leeward
(western) side of the island hosts the lovely towns of Waianae and Mahaka. Honolulu,
which means "protected bay" in native Hawaiian) is on the south end
of the island and, if you're like most visitors, that's where you'll begin your
the top sites on the island is historic Pearl Harbor, where World War II began
for the United States; located just a few miles to the west of Honolulu, this
is a site no one should miss. If it's
surfing and other water sports you're interested in, try the incomparable North
Shore of the island; you'll also find opportunities there to experience ocean
kayaking, windsurfing, swimming, and just about any water-based activity you
can imagine! The Waikiki area, including fabulous Kewalo Reef near Diamond Head, and the
Leeward Coast are the best locations for both snorkeling and scuba diving,
whether you're a beginner or a seasoned pro.
The Leeward Coast also offers some of the finest golf courses in the
world, if you're of a mind to hit the links.
As the center of the tourism industry in Hawaii, a wide variety of
tours is available on Oahu. You'll have
the option of circumnavigating the entire island, hitting certain hotspots, or
traveling to neighboring islands for day tours.
You can even tool around in a vintage World War II amphibious vehicle
called a "Duck," going from land to sea with no trouble at all. If you prefer to cover the maximum amount of
ground in the minimum amount of time, you have the options of air tours in both
helicopters and seaplanes. At sea and during
the appropriate season (from December to April), you can even get up close and
personal with the largest animals on the planet: whales. The waters between Oahu and Maui have been
designated as the "Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine
Sanctuary," and every winter they host the Islands' best known repeat
tourists for a well-deserved winter break.
Then there's the unique experience for which Hawaii is famous: the
sunset dinner cruise. You'll find a
variety of vendors offering these fine combinations of ocean excursions and
dining, mostly from docks near Waikiki.
Up for a little adventure?
The island is host to a variety of vendors who'll be glad to give you a
taste of the exciting and unusual, from the tame to terrifying! The
world-famous Kualoa Ranch offers both horseback and ATV riding into lush
mountain valleys well known for their appearances in Hollywood movies like Jurassic
Park. The west side of the island is
host to the only water park in Hawaii, Hawaiian Waters, where you can choose
from three different water sports packages.
Care to dive deep below the sea in a submarine? With Atlantis Submarines, which operates a
big 60-passenger boat out of Waikiki, you can.
Or you can head out to sea to frolic with inquisitive spinner dolphins
and watch as they live their passionate lives.
If you're really brave, take a trip out to the deep waters off Oahu's
North Shore with Hawaii Shark Adventures, then climb into a giant Plexiglas
cage while curious sharks press their noses against the windows.