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Honolulu, Waikiki, the Southeast Coast & North Shore
Explore Hawaii's capital city region for sites like Old Town Honolulu, scenic Waikiki Beach, Diamond Head Crater, Pearl Harbor, and Kualoa Ranch on this six-day adventure.
Catch the Old Town Honolulu Trolley, fee, to shop and see many of the downtown Honolulu sites. Your Best Western host will direct you to the closest stop. The Trolley runs on a 15 minute schedule and with an all-day pass, you can board it anytime.
There are 20 stops on the route that include key places you want to visit such as the Waikiki Aquarium, Hard Rock Cafè, Maui Divers Jewelry Design Center, State Capitol, and Iolani Palace State Monument, Hawaii Maritime Center, Aloha Tower, Dole Cannery Outlet, Bishop Museum, Mission Houses Museum. and King Kamehameha statue.
There is shopping at the Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center, Hilo Hattie, Dole Cannery Square, Chinatown/Oahu Market, Ward Centre and the Ward Warehouse, as well as along Waikiki Beach area.
For evening entertainment, enjoy a Hawaiian Luau at Paradise Cove, Oahu (808) 842-5911, other islands or mainland (800) 775-2683, 27 miles west of Waikiki. If you drive, take H-1 Freeway west toward Waianae, three miles past the Campbell Industrial Park exit take the Ko Olina exit into Paradise Cove. The Cove runs a motor coach from Waikiki to the site. Call for schedule and pickup points.
Take 92 to Diamond Head Road and visit Diamond Head State Monument. Hike to the observation platform that was used during WWII by the military as a lookout.
From here, connect with the scenic Kalanianaole Highway, 72, along Maunalua Bay to Koko Head and Koko Head Crater. Continue to Hanauma Bay State Underwater Park. Back on 72, you will pass Halona Blowhole on your way to Makapuu Point and Beach Park and the incredible Sea Life Park Hawaii, (808) 259-2500, fee. Here you will see all varieties of tropical plants and species of marine life.
Continue on 72 along beautiful Waimanalo Bay past Bellow Air Force Station and junction with 61, the Pali Highway – a breathtaking drive. Take it left to the Pali Lookout for an unobstructed view of Honolulu.
Continue on the Pali into beautiful Nuuanu Valley and Queen Emma’s Summer Palace, 2913 Pali Hwy, (808) 595-3167, fee. It is not a palace, but a beautiful retreat for the last of the Hawaiian royalty before they were elected, lots of authentic, early Hawaiian memorabilia and history here. Proceed to junction with H-2 Freeway and to Honolulu.
Atlantis Submarines, 800-548-6262 or (808) 973-9800, fee, offer a two-hour ride under the crystal clear waters of Waikiki. The ride explores the undersea world of artificial reefs and shipwrecks attracting exotic tropical fish to the area.
Head out via 63 and 83 for an unforgettable afternoon and evening of spectacular adventures, excellent native food, and entertainment at the Polynesian Cultural Center, 800-367-7060, in La‘ie on the windward side of the island. It is a dazzling show telling the history of the island and its people.
Take the Likelike highways, 63, over the Ko’olau Mountains to the windward side of the island. Follow 83, Kahekili Hwy, along the coastline to the North Shore and Waimea Valley, home of Waimea Falls & Park, (808) 638-7766, for the day and evening. Another “must see” attraction when on the island, this breathtaking 1,800-acre offers cliff diving and other fun experiences (the park runs a free shuttle from Waikiki. Check your Best Western host on schedule).
When driving to the North Shore, visit the replica of Japan’s 900-year-old Byodo-In Temple in the Kane‘ohe’s Valley of the Temples Memorial Park and Kahana Beach – once home of an old Hawaiian community. From Waimea, take 83 to the Kamehameha Hwy, 99, to H-2 Freeway, into Honolulu.
Visit the always impressive USS Arizona National Memorial Visitor Center & Memorial as well as the Battleship Missouri Memorial Museum at Pearl Harbor by taking H-1 west to 99 – about one mile south of Aloha Stadium. Signs are everywhere pointing the way. You can also catch a shuttle from Waikiki or your Best Western host property to the memorial. The visitor center is a joint operation of the National Park Service and U.S. Navy.
The memorial marks the site of the death of 3,581 Americans and six warships from the surprise attack on December 7, 1941 by the Japanese to begin World War II in the Pacific. No admission charge. A Navy shuttle takes visitors to the Arizona shrine itself. Not open on Mondays. Given volume of daily visitors, go before 9:30 a.m., it opens at 8 a.m. In the bookstore you are given a number. When called, you enter the theater for a 20-minute film before boarding a launch to the memorial.
The USS Bowfin, a WWII submarine nearby, can be toured. Visiting the Bowfin brings a new appreciation for those who serve on them. Fee is charged; open from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tickets for the Battleship Missouri Memorial Museum, (877) MIGHTY-MO, are available at the Bowfin Memorial. The Battleship Missouri was originally built in 1942 and is best known as the ship where Gen. Douglas MacArthur ended WWII with the acceptance of Japan’s surrender in Tokyo Bay in September 1945.
The Pacific Submarine Museum, (808) 423-1341, is reached through the Nimitz Gate. Get a pass at the gate. Open Wednesday through Sunday, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Returning to Waikiki on H-1, exit for the Punchbowl National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, (808) 532-3720, for a beautiful panoramic view of Pearl Harbor, Honolulu, and Waikiki. It is the final resting place for over 25,000 military personnel who served in WWII, Korea, and Vietnam. The American Legion leads tours in the afternoon.
The U.S. Army Museum at Fort DeRussy, (808) 955-9552, is another interesting stop. Located close to Waikiki Beach at Kalia and Saratoga roads – call for hours of operation. Take Paradise Cruise’s Star of Honolulu, 800-334-6191, for a glorious sunset and romantic evening dinner cruise along Waikiki coastline to Diamond Head and return. This will be a highlight of your visit. Call for schedule and reservations.
Spend the day at beautiful Kualoa Ranch on the windward side of the island for biking, hiking, horseback riding, jet skiing, wind surfing, snorkeling, scuba diving, and boating to Secret Island. Privately owned, the ranch was once held for the ruling chief, and is considered to be one of the most sacred places on Oahu as a refuge. It has an intriguing cultural history and is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Today, with most of its pristine character intact, Kualoa offers visitors a wide array of activities in the midst of incredible beauty. The ruins of Kualoa Sugar Mill, once operated by the owners’ family, are nearby, as is Chinaman’s Hat Island. Take either Likelike, 63, or Pali, 61 to 83, the Kamehameha Highway and go north about 14 miles. Look for the red ranch sign (they have their own transportation service with pick-ups at 15 hotels in the Honolulu area). Call 800-231-7321, or when on the island, 237-7321, for reservations, what clothing to bring, and a schedule. It’s a full day of fun and relaxation you will not forget.