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Welcome to the island of Oahu, Hawaii, the third largest island in the Hawaiian Islands and home to two-thirds of Hawaii’s population, almost one million people. Hawaii has a special place in my heart as I studied at the University of Hawaii at Manoa for four months, touring and living the island life!
The Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve is one of Hawaii’s most popular snorkeling spots. The preserve takes immense pride in their environment and animals, inviting guests to learn about the park through video demonstrations and closing the park every Tuesday for fish feeding. Take a dip in the underwater park and open your eyes to a work of color, life and nature.
Take a day and get away! The north shore of Oahu has so much to offer besides a quiet break from Honolulu. Visit any of the pristine beaches or watch surfing competitions during the winter month’s swell. Haleiwa is a small tourist town with cute niche shops and restaurants. Don’t forget to stop at Hawaii’s famous shave ice store, Matsumoto Shave Ice to get a refreshing, colorful treat that melts in your mouth (I suggest getting shave ice with sweetened condensed milk on top, who would have thought!).
The Diamond Head hike is a popular activity for tourists of all ages. This one-mile hike takes you to the summit of a 300,000-year-old crater providing stunning views of Honolulu and the blue ocean. This hike is perfect any time of day and requires strong legs as the end of the hike is steep and strenuous as it leads you to the summit, home to a Fire Control Station and old military bunkers (perfect for pictures!).
Get out on the water and kayak to the twin Mokulua islands on the eastern side of Oahu. The larger, more popular island to kayak to, Moku Nui, is an active state seabird sanctuary so many activities are not allowed. Exploring the small island is still allowed to an extent though and there are many great swimming holes, seal sightings and bird watching to do. Take advantage of the views from the island and the exercise to and from the beaches.
The Lanikai pillbox hike or Kaiwa Ridge Trail is the perfect hike to see Oahu’s beautiful sunrises. The trailhead is a bit hidden so make sure you research where to begin and where the hike ends. Besides that, this intermediate hike rewards you with amazing views of the sunrise over the Ko’olau Mountains, Lanikai beach, Mokulua islands and Oahu’s windward side of the island. After the hike head towards the water to Lanikai beach, ranked one of the best beaches in the world, for calm surf, white sand beaches and miles of quiet blue water.