With its skyscrapers, downtown Honolulu looks like any other major American city, Waikiki is Manhattan by the sea but with a fantastic view of the mountains of the hinterland. We stayed in one of the many hotel bunkers but had a room on the 20th floor and could see a tiny piece of the ocean from our balcony. But if you think all of Oahu consists only of skyscrapers, you're wrong. The island is scenically beautiful and worth a stay of several days. Even if you don't travel with a rental car , the bus network is well developed and you can get everywhere easily.
A bit of history
A short visit to the historic center of Honolulu is worthwhile. There you will find the Iolani Palace, the only royal palace that exists in the USA. Just across the street is Alilonai Hall, in front of which stands the imposing statue of King Kamehameha I. The first king of Hawai'i would become famous because of the unification of all the Hawaiian Islands and fought for independence against the colonial powers. King Kamehameha I is beloved by Native Hawaiians and honoured to this day.
Another highlight is, of course, a visit to the historic Pearl Harbour.
It is wonderful that the entrance is free of charge. Bags and backpacks may not be brought onto the grounds but there are lockers of course. There are two very interesting exhibits on the grounds about December 7, 1941, which were disastrous for America. A highlight, of course, is the guided boat tour to the Arizona Memorial. The wreck of the battleship has been lying on the harbour floor since the Japanese attack. When you think about what happened back then and the consequences of it all, it can make you feel quite different. There is still a different atmosphere on the site today.
After that, we decided to do something more cheerful and decided that the next destination is the Ala Moana Center. The shopping center is huge, for the most part even open air and offers everything your heart desires. In addition to the stores, there is also a great food court for refreshment. By the way, from Waikiki you can also easily get to the historic center, Pearl Harbour and Ala Moana by bus. You definitely don't need a rental car and can avoid the heavy traffic.
Up north - surfing Oahu
The next day however, we went on a tour with our rental car. We passed Honolulu and headed north. We drove on Highway 12 through the interior of the island to our first destination, Dole. Who doesn't know them, the cans with the inscription Dole - this is where they come from. We passed the huge pineapple plantations of "Del Monte" and of course "Dole". Wherever you look, pineapples grow on the red earth. There is an information centre with a souvenir store and you can take a little tour. We found the pineapple ice cream very tasty and, funny enough, there is even pineapple wine. I wonder if it tastes good. We didn't buy any.
We continued towards the North Shore to Haleiwa and Waimea.
Historic Haleiwa is a typical surf town. There are many small shopes, galleries with Hawaiian art, cafés and restaurants that invite you to take a look around. In the numerous surf stores you can stock up on cool swim outfits or even buy a surfboard. I can recommend a snack from one of the numerous snack trucks, the shrimp trucks. Here you can buy the absolutely tastiest and freshest shrimp of the islands - delicious!
Along the coastline, there are many beaches. The wind conditions provide ideal surfing conditions, therefore this coast is considered the Surf Mecca. The best conditions are between November and March, when the waves can reach up to 10 meters. During this time, the big surf competitions take place here. Only for professionals but watching is also fun! The Banzai Pipeline, north of Waimea, is one of the most famous surf spots.
We make a detour to the Waimea Valley Audubon Center from the small town of Waimea. This is a botanical garden with many tropical and exotic plant species from all over the world. The small hiking trail leads past a waterfall to the natural pool of Waihee Fall - swimming allowed! What a nice refreshment in this humid heat.
This tour can be done quite comfortably in one day, there is enough time to stroll and swim. We make our way back to Waikiki, our sundowner is already waiting.
Excursion along the east coast
Today we started early again and our destination is the Kualoa Ranch. Passing Diamond Head, the bizarre mountain landscape and all the great beaches, we want to visit Kualoa Ranch first. Does that mean nothing to you? Famous movies like 50 First Dates, King Kong, Jurassic Park and Pearl Harbor were filmed here. The scenery is of course unique.
At the ranch, tours are offered to the movie locations and film sets. Impressive, if you have the movies in mind.
And afterwards, you can enjoy a delicious meal or a refreshing drink in front of this scenic backdrop.
Dream landscape - dream beaches
We left the ranch and drove back in the southern direction. A stop is worthwhile at Kualoa, from there you can see the small Mokolii Island with the nickname Chinaman's Hat. We took some funny pictures here.
The coastal road is just a dream, small towns, the mountains, the sea, you want to stop all the time.
We passed Lanikai BeachWe dedicated an extra day to this beach and drove past Sea Life Park, Sandy Beach Park to the Hanauma Bay. This bay is located east of Honolulu and is another picture book beach of Oahu. The water is crystal clear and there are hardly any waves in the bay, so it is ideal for swimming and snorkelling. Above the bay, there are a few small stores for drinks and something to eat. If you don't have a rental car, you can also get here from Waikiki by bus. The proximity to Waikiki and the dream scenery cause of course numerous visitors. Which means you are certainly not alone here. It is best to go here first thing in the morning or late afternoon.
Back at the hotel. we refreshed ourselves and quickly went to the happy hour. We enjoyed inexpensive cocktails, get 2 - pay 1, a delicious meal and an evening atmosphere in Waikiki.