Things to Do in Oahu - page 4
If it’s a rainy day in this island paradise, or you forgot your bathing suit at home, the Waikele Center is a sprawling sanctuary of classic retail therapy. Located in Waipahu in Central Oahu, the outlets here provide an affordable alternative to the larege scale malls in town. You’ll find global classics such as Armani, Converse, Adidas, and Michael Kors, as wells as shops with island flare like the Local Motion surf shop. There’s a popular food court for re-fueling so you literally don’t shop ‘til you drop, and even a trolley connecting the two sides of this sprawling commerce compound.
Stretching from just behind Honolulu to Oahu’s Windward (eastern) coastline, the Ko’olau Range is not actually a mountain range at all. Instead, the undulating green and vertical slopes which top out at 3,100 feet, are just one side the ancient, massive Ko’olau shield volcano. The other half of the volcano collapsed into the ocean millennia ago. The Ko’olau Range acts as a wind block for points inland, stopping clouds along the coast and causing regular rains. But here, rain is a good thing: Residents and locals delight as the Ko’olau’s creased face fills with hundreds of thin white waterfalls and Hawaii’s iconic rainbows arch across the sky.
The best places to experience the grandeur of the Ko’olau Range are themselves elevated. The Pali Road, connecting Kailua to downtown Honolulu, winds up, into and, in some instances, through, the Ko’olaus via tunnels bored directly into the cliff face. Be sure to stop and take in the view from several scenic stop-offs along the way.
He'eia State Park is located on Oahu's eastern shore, right on the popular Kaneohe Bay. The park covers about 18.5 acres, with one side on Kaneohe Bay and not far from the town of Kaneohe. It's between the He'eia Fish Pond and a small harbor called He'eia Kea. There are picnic facilities, including some with covers, and walking trails.
From He'eia State Park, you can see not only Kaneohe Bay but also the Ko'olau mountains. There are sometimes walking tours available, as well as kayaking and snorkeling tours and occasionally classes on canoe building.
Named after Hawaii’s legendary surfer and the official “Ambassador of Aloha,” this Waikiki Beach was voted “Best Beach in America” in the 2014 rankings. Dozens of palm trees spring from the sand to provide natural shade from the sun, and young children love splashing and lounging in the protected saltwater lagoon. The ocean here isn’t nearly as busy as at the main Waikiki Beach, and since the offshore reef manages to break up the waves, inflatable rafts meant for lounging in the sun replace surfboards, SUP boards, and canoes.
When standing on the wide, white sand beach, iconic Diamond Head looms to the left on the far side of Waikiki. To the right, the Ala Wai Boat Harbor houses mariners from all across the Pacific, and the famous Hilton Hawaiian Village Resort lines the entire shoreline. The beach—as you can imagine—is very popular, so it’s a good idea to arrive early and stake out a good patch of sand.
For an island that’s only 28 acres, Coconut Island has a grandiose history that belies its tiny size. Originally used by Native Hawaiians for traditional fishing and farming, this palm-covered islet in Kane’ohe Bay would eventually be purchased by Christian Holmes—heir to the Fleischman yeast fortune. In addition to expanding the island’s size from 12 to 28 acres, Holmes built everything from a saltwater swimming pool complete with a slide and diving board, to a private residence with outdoor bars and a collection of exotic animals.
After Holmes’ death in 1944, troops stationed at Kane’ohe Marine Base would use the island as a recreation retreat between their tours of duty. It would be purchased by another private family, host a long list of celebrities and future or former presidents, and even feature on the opening scene of the TV show, Gilligan’s Island.