It’s “expensive,” the flight is really long no matter where in the world you’re coming from, and there are tons of homeless people everywhere. I’m here to tell you that Oahu isn’t really that pricey (we’ll get to that later). The long flight is totally worth it. If you’re coming from Asia you even get to go over the International Date Line! There are homeless people in every American city so why does that stop you for Honolulu? Here are 10 reasons to spend several hours over the Pacific Ocean and visit Oahu, the gathering place.
To See Waikiki Beach in Person
(Duke Kahanamoku Statue at Waikiki Beach)
One of (if not the) most famous beaches in the world. Waikiki is located right in the middle of Honolulu and is super easy to get to whether you’re staying in that area or not. Although, parking might be a bit of a nightmare. Might I suggest the bus? Meet Duke Kahanamoku (it’s okay, I don’t know how to say his name either!), the one who brought surfing back for everyone to enjoy, or go shopping along Kalakaua Avenue. Stick around for the sunset and get your camera ready because they’re beautiful in Hawai’i.
Then Immediately Ditch Waikiki And See Literally Any Other Beach On Oahu
There are so many other beaches right in Honolulu you could enjoy. Ala Moana Beach Park which is right across from the Ala Moana Shopping Center or Fort Derussy Beach Park which has an awesome board walk and an even better view of Diamond Head. If you don’t like sand that much there is Kaka’ako Waterfront Park, full a beautiful rocks and has an amazing view of the city (including Diamond Head). Outside of Honolulu there are all of the beaches leading up to Makaha on the west side, then as always the north shore in Haleiwa. There are also the beautiful blue-green waters of Waimanalo Beach Park and Kailua Beach Park. There are too many to name!
To Zip Line Across the Island
For less than $200 dollars you can spend hours zip ling across the mountainous green lands of Oahu. You’ll get to see areas where the Jurassic Park movies were filmed. It’s also far away from the city that is Honolulu so you can really slow down and enjoy yourself. Enjoy the beautiful ride along the highway whether you’re driving, taking the bus, or riding in a taxi or Uber/Lyft. There are tons of other tours in that area as well, including horseback riding tours or ATV trails.
To Get a Taste of Asia Before Going There
Hawai’i has got to be the most Asian state there is. Oahu is no exception. If you’re thinking of heading the vast continent of Asia, head to Honolulu on Oahu first. Even outside of Chinatown you can have authentic Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese, Korean, Filipino food, the list goes on and on. You’ll hear every dialect of Chinese on the streets and see Korean tourists everywhere you go. Also, plane tickets coming out of Honolulu to Asian countries tend to be very cheap (less than $600 one way most of the time, sometimes 1/3 that price!). So why not see Oahu first?
To Get a Glimpse into Polynesian Cultures Before Seeing the Rest of Polynesia
Oahu is home of the Polynesian Cultural Center. Back in the 1960s a mormon man decided to house several polynesian cultures in one place so they would never be forgotten. He chose 40+ acres in Laie along the north shore and 6 islands to represent. Hawai’i (of course, right?), Aotearoa (New Zealand), Tahiti, Tonga, Samoa, and Fiji. While visiting the center you can learn about each island culture and learn a little of each language. If you plan on going to these islands is a great start, if not, why not visit anyway just to see what it’s about?
To Visit The Only Palace in the USA
Iolani Palace was built in the 1870s by King Kalakaua (Does the name look familiar?). He lived there until he died and then his sister, Queen Liliuokalani, took the throne. In 1894 she was held prisoner on the top floor or 8 months while the republic took over and eventually the United States. In 1959 Hawai’i officially became a state (which does have some debate among the people today). While at the palace you can take a tour of the inside that costs $22 or walk around the outside for free.
It’s the Perfect Stepping Stone to the Other Hawaiian Islands
When you go over the Kauai, from there you can see Niihau, also known as the forbidden island. Here you can learn a more detailed way how. With other short flights out of Honolulu (sometimes as cheap as $60) you can easily see Molokai, Lanai, Maui, and the Big Island. So why not go to Oahu first? Before you ask, no, you can’t see Kauai or Maui from Oahu, the islands aren’t quite that close together. However on Kauai you can see Niihau and on Molokai and Lanai you can see Maui.
To See Oahu From the Air
There are helicopter tours daily that are as short as 12 minutes or as long as an hour. These can just fly over Waikiki or go around the entire island to really see it from the air. If you were sleeping on the flight in or maybe you came at night, this is the perfect opportunity to see it again. Get your camera ready! You can either have the doors on or off, depending on how adventurous you feel.
To Get Several Different Views of Honolulu
From the view from the highway coming into Honolulu, from the rocky shoreline of Kaka’ako Waterfront Park or the sandy beach of Sand Island Beach Park. Perhaps from the air, like I just mentioned, or from the Aloha Tower. Maybe even hiking up Diamond Head, or hiking trails around the city. Everywhere you seem to go on Oahu there is a way to get great views of the city.
To Learn Surfing On the North Shore
Haleiwa is home of the north shore beaches where in the winter, the swells get can over 5 feet high. From there you can easily get some surfing lessons or perhaps sit back and enjoy watching people wipe out. There are also other water sports available (of course) like snorkeling, scuba diving, and stand up paddle boarding. Don’t forget to watch the sunset at the end of the day (this picture is taken from Laie, not Haleiwa).