With a nickname like 'the gathering place,' Oahu is a melting pot of ethnicities, activities and personalities. As the governmental and cultural capital of Hawaii, Oahu has a pulse like none other. Hawaiian vacationers seek out the rare mix of life that defines the island. In Oahu, the Pacific Rim cuisine is infused with the piping hot noodles of Japan, the easy-going island outlook is contrasted with the humble solemnity of Pearl Harbor, and Honolulu's metropolis bustles with the serene volcanic parks rising into a jade oblivion in the distance.
With several communities dappling the coasts, each region of the island offers something to fulfill any notion of a dream Hawaiian vacation. Honolulu and Waikiki flank the southern coast, which is perhaps, the most famed area in Hawaii. Honolulu, the vibrant capitol, has a spunky beat, combining the laid-back island mentality with the fast-paced veracity of the city. Waikiki has been voted one of the best beaches countless times and with Diamond Head watching over beach dwellers, it's no wonder why. At the opposite end of the island, the North Shore is widely considered the best place in the world for surfing. At any time of the year, salty surfers glide over the sparkling ocean while 20 foot waves chase them to the shore.
Here are a few additional suggestions to help you plan your trip:
-Take a surf lesson: There are plenty of excellent surfing schools along the North shore with skilled, patient teachers who can have you up and hitting the waves in no time.
-Go snorkeling in the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve: Encounter brilliantly colored fish, sea turtles and protected live coral in this spectacular preserve.
-Take the scenic drive to Makapu'u Point: Explore lively tide pools, take a beautiful hike up a paved path, and experience breathtaking views from the overlook.
-Visit the Ala Moana Beach Park: This is a great place to relax and a safe calm swimming spot for small children. Have a family picnic in this serene setting close to public facilities, shopping areas, and a jogging path.
-See the Manoa Falls: Just outside of Honolulu, take the hour long hike to the spectacular 100 foot high Manoa Falls.
-Visit the Polynesian Cultural Center: Learn more about Polynesian Island heritage with a visit to this 42-acre facility on the North Shore.
After a long day of adventures in paradise, watch the sunset from a deck of a luxury Oahu dinner cruise, and then retire to your beautiful beach condo and enjoy a relaxed evening with someone special. Rent a romantic vacation rental just a few steps from the beach, or book a sprawling, elegant vacation home with room for your family and friends. This area is a popular choice for couples planning Oahu weddings or families gathering for reunions. While you're visiting Oahu, don't miss a chance to explore Maui and Kauai as well.
As featured in USA TODAY and recommended by Travel + Leisure in its annual Villa Guide:
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