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USATourist News Magazine by Elizabeth Blair
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USATourist News Magazine

July 2012 - Oahu, Hawaii

In this issue:

Welcome to the July issue of USATourist News Magazine. This month we’re taking a look at one of the seven Hawaiian Islands, Oahu. As the most densely populated of the islands, the residents come from a number of cultures which helps contribute to the diversity of foods and goods on this festive island.

Waikiki Beach

Waikiki beach looking towards Diamond Head
Photo by Ryan Tutmarc

Hawaii in general is one of the most scenic places on the earth. Expect to spend most of your visit outdoors and make plans to explore the natural wonders of Oahu. One “don’t miss” is Diamond Head, the 200,000 years old volcano and famous landmark that sits on the eastern edge of Waikiki's coastline. Diamond Head State Monument covers over 475 acres. If you’re interested in hiking to the summit, expect a 1.5 to 2 hour visit, but easily quicker if you’re fit. The trail isn’t very long but has sections that are steep, uneven, and includes stairs and a lighted 225-foot tunnel.

Every Hawaiian island has an individual vibe, scenery and offerings. But Oahu is likely the island that appeals to a wide selection of budgets. Airfare is normally less expensive when flying into Honolulu, plus many flights stop in Honolulu before connecting to the other islands. Another perk that visitors find helpful is Oahu’s affordable and visitor-friendly bus transportation and nice selection of tour buses, which means you may be able to skip the rental car depending upon your activities.

Oahu also has a wide selection of lodging options for every budget. You can spend a minimal fee for a campground (keep reading) or opt for a luxury suite with all of the top amenities. This is where your research skills will come in handy! Be sure to price compare and you’ll be sure to find something that makes your wallet happy.

Pearl Harbor

Pearl Harbor is one of the island’s most historical spots. Tours take guests to the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center and USS Arizona Memorial. The Orientation in Aloha Court is where visitors can plan their day. You purchase tickets at Pearl Harbor immediately upon entering the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center.

USS Arizona Memorial

The USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor
© Photo by Victor-ny

Hiking Hawaii

Besides packing your swimsuit, sunglasses and sunscreen be sure to pack your hiking boots because Oahu has eight hiking trails in the several State Parks. You’ll want to bring your camera, too since these trails have beautiful scenery. Four of the parks also have campgrounds ($12/night) if you bring a tent. Beach camping can be found at Ahupua‘a o Kahana State Park and Malaekahana State Recreation Area whereas Keaiwa Heiau State Recreation Area offers a mountain setting above Honolulu and Sand Island State Recreation Area has shoreline camping which isn’t very far from Honolulu.

Oahu Landmarks

If there’s one word you should know when visiting Hawaii, it’s Aloha! Used for “hello” and “good-bye” the term is also part of a popular landmark: Aloha Tower is located at a docking port on the Honolulu Harbor in Downtown Honolulu.

The tower was constructed in 1926 to welcome visitors and was the tallest building on the island for several decades. Today the area has grown into a 170,000- square foot Aloha Tower Marketplace where you can dine and shop. As for the Aloha Tower, it’s still welcoming visitors. In fact, guests may visit the 10th floor Observation Deck to enjoy the beautiful views.

Meet Hawaii’s Beloved King

King Kamehameha I was Hawaii’s first king and a beloved leader who is known best for uniting the Hawaiian Islands into one royal kingdom in 1810. The Nuuanu Pali Lookout is the site of the Battle of Nuuanu. While this spot offers some of the most amazing views, it’s also one of the most historical locations in Oahu, as it’s the spot that King Kamehameha and his warriors defeated the O'ahu armies in 1795.

There are four commissioned statues honoring King Kamehameha I. The most famous and photographed sculpture is the 18-foot tall bronze work that stands at Aliiolani Hale (home to the Hawaii State Supreme Court). June 11th is Kamehameha Day. Every year the statue is draped in flower leis in honor of the former king.

Tip: Don’t miss a luau! Luaus are a traditional celebration featuring a fest of poi, kalua pig (roasted underground), fresh fruit, mai tai cocktails and a number of other island-inspired dishes. Entertainment of dancing, music, and theatre usually coincide with the meal which may be buffet style or served family style.

Statue of King Kamehameha I

Statue of King Kamehameha I, standing in front of Ali'iolani Hale in Honolulu.
Photo by J J Messerly

Hawaii’s Pineapple Experience

Dole Plantation (yes, the famous fruit brand) provides free admission to their massive grounds. The pineapple cutting demonstration and a fish-feeding pond are free to attend and there are several other activities that do have a minimal fee, including the “World's Largest" Pineapple Garden Maze, the Pineapple Express Train Tour, and Plantation Garden Tour.

China in Hawaii?

Yes, it’s true, there’s a Chinatown in Oahu and it’s worth a visit. Chinatown covers fifteen-blocks in the historic district of downtown Honolulu. It is known as a gateway to Hawaii for many immigrants and it shows in the variety of cultures that are presented through restaurants and shops. Expect to also see other influences besides the Chinese including: Vietnamese, Laotian, Japanese, Thai, Filipino, Hawaiian, Korean and Caucasian.

Honolulu Zoo

The Honolulu Zoo sits on 42-acres in Queen Kapi’olani Park in Honolulu. It has over 1,230 animals in specially designed habitats and is open every day (except Christmas) from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. General admission (age 13 and up) is $14; $6 for children 3 to 12 years old).

Tip: A popular attraction at the Honolulu Zoo is the Komodo Dragon, the world's heaviest living lizard that can grow as long as 10 feet (over 3 meters) and weigh over 200 lbs (91 kg.).

Learn the history

Learning about Hawaii’s history is part of the joy of visiting the islands. The Hawaii Sugar Plantation Village of historic Waipahu is an outdoor living history museum that retells the story of Hawaii's 1850-1950 sugar plantations and their workers. The Village features restored buildings, over 25 furnished historical homes, and botanical gardens. Guided tours (about 1 ½ hours) take place Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m; general admission is $13.

Thank you for reading USATourist News Magazine this month. We hope you enjoyed reading about beautiful Hawaii. Be sure to stop by our forum to discuss travel in the Unites States, we have a wonderful and helpful community. Aloha!

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Written by: Elizabeth L. Blair

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