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Arizona Memorial: (free) get there early, preferably by 8am. Opens at 7:30am. If you get there after 10am the lines can get long and you may spend 1-2 hours in line. Battleship USS Missouri and Submarine USS Bowfin are in the same area. These are about $15 each so you can go or skip them. Look for coupons in brochures for two for one. You can take pictures of them from Arizona Visitors Center and the Arizona tour ferry. Go on the lawn behind the Visitor's Center (Circle of Remembrance) for great pictures. You can also walk around the Bowfin Memorial area for free without taking the tour. Its worth the time. The Swap Meet is only a couple blocks from here at Aloha Stadium.
NOTE: You can now make reservations online for USS Arizona Memorial for a service fee of $1.50 per ticket.
http://www.recreation.gov/tourList.do... Select USS Arizona Memorial or USS Arizona Memorial with headphones. If you select the one with headphones, there will be an additional charge for the headphones.
Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC): www.polynesia.com General Admission about $50 or the luau buffet package ($80). They also have an optional buffet (no entertainment) for $15. The evening show, Ha, Breath of Life, is the best Polynesian show in all of Hawaii. It comes with all ticket price options. The higher priced ticket packages get the better seating for Ha, Breath of Life. Also the earlier you get there, the better the seating is for 'Horizons'. The Ali'i Luau Show that is part of the luau package is also a good Polynesian show. IMAX, Canoe Pageant, Samoa and Tonga villages and canoe rides are the best other attractions (these are included with any type ticket). Plan on this as an all day event. Get there by 1pm (earlier if possible), leave around 9:30pm. When I take visitors, I try to keep on this schedule: IMAX 1:30, Canoe Pageant 2:30, Samoa 3:00, Tonga 4:00, Canoe Ride around 4:30, regular buffet or Ali'i luau buffet 5pm and Ha, Breath of Life at 7:30. The other villages are nice also, but there is not enough time for all of them. You will have time to do some shopping or looking around between the buffet or luau and Ha, Breath of Life. Closed on Sundays. You can go back for free for two days. Check with PCC employees for instructions before leaving the Center if you want the extra days.
Diamond Head Summit: Drive right into the crater and hike to the top. ($5 per carload or $1 each if you walk into the crater). I prefer to drive in. Awesome 360 degree view from the summit. Best time is around 8am or around 4pm. In between it can get hot walking to the top. Takes about 1 - 1 1/2 hours roundtrip. Right across the road from the entrance to Diamond Head is KCC (Kapiolani Community College. There is a nice cactus garden there. You can drive by or a couple of minutes to stroll through. On Saturday mornings there is a really good farmers market.
Punchbowl (National Cemetery of the Pacific): (free) While you are there, drive to the overlook area. Also from the overlook parking area, walk to the memorial. See the murals and the chapel. Short walk to the summit that overlooks the entire city. If you have time, take the Mt. Tantalus/Round Top drive through a rain forest. Stop at the Puu Ualakaa State Wayside about 2/3 of the way to the top of the mountain. It has an awesome view of the city from Waikiki to Pearl Harbor. Punchbowl is near the bottom of Mt. Tantalus.
Hanauma Bay: Snorkel. Its for any age. You can rent snorkeling equipment there or some places in Waikiki or bring your own. Closed on Tuesdays. Try to get there as early as possible. If you drive, the parking lot gets filled up by 9:00 or 10:00. ($1 for parking, $7.50 for each person, children under 13 free). You can reserve snorkel tours with several companies. They provide equipment, transportation, etc. They seem to have better equipment than the park does. You can also take the city bus #22. But the first city bus doesn't leave Waikiki until 8:30 am. Website:
Swap Meet: You can buy almost any souvenirs here much cheaper than anywhere else. All items are new. Vendors wrap around the stadium twice. Located at Aloha Stadium near Arizona Memorial. Open Wed, Sat, Sun.
Hilo Hattie's: Nice place to shop. Higher prices than swap meet, but not too much more on many items. Has good selection of clothing, candies and souvenirs. Check brochures for coupons. Can take free Hilo Hattie's shuttle from Waikiki.
Ala Moana Beach Park: (free) The best beach in Honolulu. Just a short ride on the #8 bus to Ala Moana Shopping Center, then cross the boulevard to get to the beach. The beach is a long wide strip of white powder, and perfect for swimming since its protected by an offshore reef. Great sunset location in the winter. Walk all the way out to the end of Magic Island. Great view of Waikiki, Diamond Head, Ala Wai Boat Harbor (shown in opening scene of Gilligan's Island).
Hike to Manoa Falls: $5 for parking at Treetops. One mile one way. Short hike through a rain forest. Also small bamboo forest there. Treetops restaurant there (at the previous Paradise Park site) has a good Chinese buffet. Lyon Arboretum is nearby. It is a nice botanical garden. You can park there and walk a short distance to Manoa Falls trail.Donate the $5 to Lyon Arboetum rather than to those operating Tree Tops parking lot.
Hike to Makapuu Point Lighthouse: (free) Great view from here. Easy one mile hike. In winter months (mid-November to mid-April) it's great for whale watching.
North Shore Beaches: Haleiwa, Banzai Pipeline (Ehukai Beach), Waimea Beach, Sunset Beach, Shark's Cove (Pupukea) and Laniakea Beach. Laniakea Beach has sea turtles. Best time to see the turtles is the afternoon as they like to bask in the afternoon sun. Other nice stops for pictures in the area. Can be huge waves in winter. Good snorkeling at Shark's Cove in the summer. Laniakea Beach is located about 1/2 way between Waimea Bay and Haleiwa.
Other beaches: There are close to 100 beaches on Oahu. Besides North Shore and Waikiki beaches these are some of the better ones: Makaha Beach (west shore), Waimanalo Beach, Waimanalo Bay Recreation Area, Lanikai Beach, Sandy Beach, Hanauma Bay and Kailua Beach (east/Windward side), Ala Moana Beach Park (south shore). All public beaches are free except Haunama Bay.
Dole Pineapple Plantation: On H-2 just past Wahiawa. Can visit on the way to or back from the North Shore. Nice gift shop to browse, but expensive. Go behind the center for pineapple exhibits, gardens and carp feeding pond.
Kualoa Ranch: Several movies have been set here: (Jurassic Park, Mighty Joe Young and others), ATV rides, horseback riding, tours. Located across from Kualoa Regional Park. Several tours available.
Waikiki: Beaches, shopping, dining, nightclubs, shows, some museums. Wide range in dining prices. $3-4 breakfasts, $6-10 lunch buffets, $20-$25 fine dining and anywhere in between. Best Waikiki shows: Creation: A Polynesian Journey, John Hirokawa's Magic of Polynesia, Society of Seven, many more to chose from. Many Waikiki shows offer cocktail show along with the dinner show. They seat you after everyone else has eaten. Regular price of shows around $40-$60. Cocktail show about $25-$35. There are several other short free hula shows and other demonstrations in Waikiki daily. Check the brochures for location, days and times. Check brochures and Entertainment Book for coupons for shows/dining/shopping, etc. On Friday nights head to the beach in front of the Hilton Village to catch their fireworks display.
Botanical Gardens: Oahu has many botanical gardens. Most are free, the others charge a few bucks. Haiku Garden in Kaneohe is nice and is a nice stop if you are taking an island driving tour. Located near Byodo-In-Temple (Valley of the Temples).
Other: Sea Life Park, Honolulu Zoo, Waikiki Aquarium, Children's Discovery Center, dinner cruises, whale watching cruise, submarine tours, parasailing, helicopter tours, horseback riding, Wet'n'Wild Hawaii scuba, surfing lessons, other luau shows (Germaine's, Paradise Cove, Royal Hawaiian).