Oahu is one of the islands of the American state of Hawaii. It contains the capital, Honolulu, and is the most populated of the Hawaiian Islands. Oahu has both touristy places like Waikiki in Honolulu as well as less populated areas where you can experience the untouched beauty of this incredible island! Oahu is more urban than the other islands which is both a positive and a negative; on the one hand, you are never far from modern conveniences, but on the other hand you may get caught in Oahu’s notorious rush-hour traffic.
During my weekend in Oahu, my family and I spent a lot of time at the beach, soaking up the January sun. But we also spent a few days driving around the island and stopping in at any place that looked interesting. On one of our drives we stopped at the Waimea Botanical Gardens on the North Shore. The gardens are home to thousands of species of native plants and animals, including wild roosters, boars, and even peacocks. They have a shuttle to the Wailele waterfall which you can swim in. Admission to the park is $16 and a round-trip ride on the shuttle is $10. Besides their beautiful grounds, they also host events such as luaus and workshops about conservation. The calendar is available on their website.
The biggest tourist attraction in Oahu is Pearl Harbor, the historic site of the bombing by the Japanese in 1941. There are several different memorials and museums that you can visit at Pearl Harbor including the USS Arizona Memorial, the Bowfin Submarine Museum, and the Pacific Aviation Museum. I went to the Aviation Museum which was fun and educational. They have a 15 minute video that explains the lead up to and fall-out from the Japanese attack. In the museum, they have actual airplanes that were used in the war and lots of other historic artifacts like uniforms and medals. They even have a flight simulator where you can test your fighter pilot skills.
The North Shore of Oahu is less touristy and developed. I drove out there one day to explore the little towns. There are many cute shops and old-timey cafes and there were even food trucks that served everything from coconut shrimp to snowcones.
Speaking of food, Hawaii is known for the traditional dish Moco Loco which is a beef burger patty over rice topped with gravy and a fried egg. However, you can find all types of food in Oahu. Hawaii is almost equidistant between America and Asia so many Japanese and Korean dishes like sushi and bibimbap are available all over the island. To the left is boba, a Japanese drink with tapioca balls in it, and a refreshing acai bowl I got from the food trucks. Below is bulgogi bibimbap.
On another of our drives, we stumbled upon Kualoa Ranch, a 4000 acre private nature reserve. It’s famous as a prolific filming location with movies such as Jurassic Park, Godzilla, Skull Island and more were filmed. They have memorabilia from the movies throughout the park as well as replica dinosaur skulls used in the Jurassic Park and Jurassic World movies. There are many activities such a zip-lining, horseback riding, and ATV tours that you can do to explore the park.
One last tourist stop on Oahu is the Dole Plantation. The Dole Plantation started as a pineapple stand in 1950 but has grown into a “Pineapple Experience.” The Plantation includes a Pineapple Express Train Tour, Plantation Garden Tour, and the Pineapple Garden Maze.
Hawaii is a slice of Paradise in America. Whether you want to explore the upscale shopping district in Waikiki, go on a zip-lining adventure through the jungle, or just soak up the year-round sunshine on the beach, Oahu is the place to go.