Many scenic wonders await you on the beautiful island of Oahu. Listed here are sights that have no admission fee, but of course you will need a means to get there which probably means a rental car. Beaches are covered in their own section and not here. These sights are listed in geographical order starting from Waikiki and going around the island counterclockwise. Traveling in this direction affords you the safety of exiting and entering the road to your right without having to cross on-coming traffic.
Diamond Head It's about three-fourths of a mile from the parking lot inside Diamond Head crater (including about 100 rather steep stair steps) to the lookout, but the 360 degree view is worth it. Restrooms and a water fountain are located at the parking lot. Bring water, a flashlight and camera. Rest when you reach the top while enjoying a view that extends for miles. On a clear day, you can see Molokai in the east. Paths for the hike are well marked. Depending on your pace, the trek will take an hour to hike up and 45 minutes back down. Hours are 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Get there early to beat the rush and the heat. A flashlight is recommended for a couple of dark tunnels. Located off Diamond Head Road between Makapuu and 18th avenues about one mile above Kapiolani Park.
Makapuu Point From the lookout point, the beach is below on the right and Sea Life Park on your left. The view along the coastline toward Waimanalo is one of the prettiest on the island. Above your head you will frequently see expert hang gliders who have taken off from the thousand-foot cliffs.
Mokolii Island Also known as Chinaman's Hat, it can be best seen along Hokulea Beach at Kualoa Regional Park. It is located near mile marker 31.
Coastline Drive to Laie Along the winding road from Kaneohe to Laie are many beautiful stretches of shoreline and the beachfront is very near the road. No lifeguards are stationed on these beaches so be cautious. Most of the beaches and beach parks are used by locals for picnics and fishing along the reefs. You will enjoy the views and may want to take some pictures but the beaches on the North Shore are more what most tourists are looking for.
North Shore It's a one to two hour drive (depending on traffic) if you drive here directly from Honolulu. During winter, monster waves roll in unabated from Alaska. In the summer, the waves are normally similar to other Oahu beaches.
Haleiwa Haleiwa was designated a State Historic Cultural and Scenic District in 1984. Ancient Hawaiian communities were located along the Anahulu Stream. Hawaiian royalty spent time here in the summer, enjoying the cooler trade winds. Haleiwa was the site of Queen Liliuokalani's summer home. The Haleiwa Hotel was built in 1899 and Haleiwa became a vacation getaway for Honolulu residents. The hotel is gone but the town still offers history, dining, water activities, art galleries, and surf shops.
Del Monte Pineapple Variety Garden As you travel toward the center of the Island, you pass through fields of pineapple. Watch for the Del Monte Pineapple Variety Garden at one of the intersections. You can stop here to see more than 30 species of the South American bromeliad family, of which the pineapple plant is a member.
Pearl Harbor The gleaming white Arizona Memorial is built over the remains of the USS Arizona battleship which sank in the Japanese attack on December 7, 1941 with 1,102 men aboard. A free tour starts with a 20 minute video documentary followed by a shuttle-boat ride to the memorial. Open daily 8:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m. Long wait times are common. Located in the same area are a World War II submarine and the USS Missouri battleship (both have fees for tours). Since September 11th, cameras are about the only thing you can carry on the tour. Even women's purses are prohibited. Check out the Arizona Memorial web site for much more information.
National Cemetery of the Pacific
Round Top -- Tantalus Drive Beginning at the end of Makiki Street, this route circles Round Top Mountain and provides views of Manoa Valley and the thickly forested slopes of Mount Tantalus. Vistas of Honolulu and the sea are framed by ferns and philodendrons. The drive takes about two hours and returns via Tantalus and Puowaina drives to the Punchbowl area.
Nuuanu Pali Lookout Here you will find dramatic views of Windward Oahu. It's also probably the windiest place on the island when you are at the edge of the cliff. Winds are usually so intense that visitors can lean against a "wall" created by the current. It can actually be difficult to stand erect and hats, caps, and anything else not firmly attached will be blown away. Open daily 4:00 a.m. - 8:00 p.m. If you want to drive here directly from Honolulu it is seven miles northeast via the Pali Highway (Hwy 61).
Bishop Museum Recognized as the principal museum of the Pacific, it is the Hawaii State Museum of Natural and Cultural History. There is a planetarium and there are often Hawaiian craft demonstrations and special exhibits. Open daily from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. 847-3511
Hawaii Maritime Center The Falls of Clyde which is a national historic landmark is docked here at Honolulu Harbor's Pier 7. Open daily 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. 536-6373
Iolani Palace A national historic site which was the official residence of Hawaii's last monarchs between 1882 and 1893. It is America's only royal palace. Guided 45 minute tours are available. Located at King Street and Richards Street. Admission: adults $15, children (ages 5-12) $5. Open Tuesday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 2:15 p.m. 522-0832
U.S. Army Museum of Hawaii Located on north Waikiki at Fort DeRussy. It portrays the role of the U.S. Army in Hawaii, and Hawaii's contribution to national defense. Tues.-Sunday 10:00 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Free.
Mission Houses Museum Take a guided tour of historic houses and see thousands of Hawaiian artifacts. This was the home of the first U.S. missionaries to Hawaii after their arrival in 1820. The three main structures are among the oldest buildings on the islands. Located at 553 South King Street. Open 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. 531-0481