To have the absolute best experiences on Oahu, be prepared for a different culture, language, cuisine, and way of doing things. Slow down -- you're on an island that operates on its own schedule. To really experience Oahu, we recommend the following:
Get Out on the Water
You'll take home memories of an emerald island rising out of the cobalt sea with white wispy clouds set against an azure sky, or the Waikiki shoreline colored by the setting sun. There are many different boats to choose from, ranging from tiny kayaks to 100-foot sightseeing vessels, even state-of-the-art boats guaranteed to prevent seasickness.
Plunge Under the Water
Don mask, fins, and snorkel and dive into the magical world beneath the surface, where clouds of colorful tropical fish flit by, craggy old turtles lumber along, and tiny marine creatures hover over exotic corals. Can't swim? Take one of the many submarines or semisubmersibles. If you come to Hawaii and ignore the underwater world, you're missing half of what makes up this paradise.
Meet Local Folks
If you go to Hawaii and see only people like the ones back home, you might as well stay home. Extend yourself, leave the resorts and tourist quarters, go out and learn about Hawaii and its people. Just smile and say "Howzit?" (which means "How's it going?") -- and you'll usually make a new friend. Oahu is remarkably cosmopolitan; every ethnic group in the world seems to be here. It's fascinating to discover the varieties of food, culture, language, and customs.
Drive to the North Shore
Just an hour's drive from Honolulu, the North Shore is another world: a pastoral, rural setting with magnificent beaches and a slower way of life. During the winter months, stop and watch the professionals surf the monster waves.
Watch the Hula
This is Hawaii, so you have to experience the hula. A hula performance is a popular way for visitors to get a taste of traditional Hawaiian culture. For a more genuine Hawaiian hula experience, catch the interactive hula halau performed Monday through Friday at 2pm at the Bishop Museum.
Experience a Turning Point in America's History
The United States could no longer turn its back on World War II after December 7, 1941, the day that Japanese warplanes bombed Pearl Harbor. Standing on the deck of the USS Arizona Memorial, which straddles the eternal tomb for the 1,177 sailors and Marines trapped below deck when the battleship sank in 9 minutes, is a moment you'll never forget.
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