Most people visiting O‘ahu put Pearl Harbor and hiking Diamond Head at the top of their to-do list, but many wonder what else can be seen outside of Waikiki.
War historians can walk from Waikiki to the oceanside U.S. Army Museum at Fort DeRussy or take a scenic ride up Punchbowl Crater to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. Punchbowl offers amazing views overlooking the city skyline and the cemetery itself tells the tales of both World Wars and salutes fallen soldiers.
The Nu‘uanu Pali Lookout is another great spot for history buffs. It offers a panoramic view of the windward side and is the site where King Kamehameha I defeated Kalanikūpule and drove 400 of his warriors over the steep cliff top to their deaths.
O‘ahu is all about history and is filled with museums ranging from the Bishop Museum, Shangri La (Doris Duke’s home), Honolulu Museum of Art and the Hawai‘i State Art Museum to name a few.
Circle Island Tours are also offered by several companies that will take visitors around the island for half- and full-day trips to see surf spots such as Waimea Bay and the Banzai Pipeline as well as surf town USA, Hale‘iwa on the North Shore. One of the more popular destinations for those wanting an experience beyond a lū‘au is the Polynesian Cultural Center, a live museum and theme park with a tremendous “Ha: Breath of Life” show that culminates with fire dancers.But you don’t have to go to the other side of the island or even drive very far for sightseeing opportunities around Waikiki. The oceanside Waikiki Aquarium is across from Kapi‘olani Park, which is also the home of the Honolulu Zoo.
Take a short bus ride from Waikiki to the corner of Punchbowl and King Street in Honolulu and, within a block in each direction, are places such as ‘Iolani Palace (the only royal palace on U.S. soil), Honolulu Hale, Kawaiaha‘o Church (made of coral from the ocean) and the iconic King Kamehameha I statue (shown in the opening credits of the “Hawai‘i Five-0” TV series).
Most Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday mornings, a giant swap meet is held at Aloha Stadium where visitors can barter for Hawai‘i gifts to bring home to family or to keep for themselves.