Honolulu offers hikes through rain forests and snorkeling
FILE This May 23, 2013 file photo shows the Waikiki Natatorium in Honolulu.
A few glance curiously at the crumbling Waikiki Natatorium, a salt water pool built in 1927 as a memorial to the 10,000 soldiers from Hawaii who served in World War I. But the monument s gray walls are caked with salt and rust, and passers by are quickly diverted by the lure of sand and waves. The faded structure has been closed to the public since 1979, the object of seemingly endless debate over whether it should be demolished or restored to its former glory. (AP Photo/Anita Hofschneider, File)
Honolulu is a bustling metropolis with great restaurants just minutes from rain forest hiking trails and snorkeling spots. The state of Hawaii's capital, located on the pandora bracelet pendants island of Oahu, is also an excellent place to learn about World War II as well as Hawaiian history and culture.
Fans of surfing will want to see a new Bishop Museum exhibit on Duke Kahanamoku said to be the father of the ancient sport's modern incarnation. The Honolulu born waterman won five Olympic swimming medals in the 1910s and 1920s and popularized surfing while travelling the world. The display, up through Feb. 28, includes his surfboard and ukulele as well as photos and film.
Riding on a new protected bike lane on King Street is a nice way to enjoy a less touristy part of Honolulu. You can rent a bike at The Bike Shop on King Street. Heading east toward the University of Hawaii at Manoa, a good place to stop for beer is the gastropub Pint and Jigger. Next door are excellent Japanese udon noodles at Jimbo. Farther down a vegan restaurant called Peace Cafe is so delicious meat lovers are among its regular customers. A boat will take you from the National Park Service's visitor centre to the white memorial that sits atop the vessel's submerged hull. The remains of nearly 1,000 Arizona sailors and Marines killed in the attack are entombed silver pandora bracelet in the ship. A museum and stores that carry pandora jewelry video at the visitor centre tells about those on board and the history of World War II. A few elderly survivors of the attack are sometimes around to meet visitors.
The nature preserve at Hanauma Bay offers white sands fronting aquamarine waters packed with coral and tropical fish. It's a good spot for snorkeling or just enjoying the sun. Admission is $7.50 (free for Hawaii residents and children 12 and under).
A hike inside one of Honolulu's most recognizable symbols the jewel shaped volcanic crater called Diamond Head provides dramatic views of Waikiki, Oahu's green mountains and blue ocean. Much of the 1.6 mile path to the crater's rim is made of stairs. The trail is hot, so bring water and use sunscreen. Admission is $1 for pedestrians and $5 per car.
Across town, the trail to Manoa Falls takes you through a lush forest to a waterfall at the back of a verdant valley. Walk in visitors may get tickets on a first come, first served basis; reserving ahead guarantees a seat and helps you plan your day. Tickets are free, but those reserving online must pay a $1.50 per ticket processing fee.
Save money: Honolulu can be pricey, but there's lots to enjoy for nothing. Beaches are free and open to the public, for example. Just bring a towel and picnic lunch. The Royal Hawaiian Center shopping complex near Waikiki's hotels offers free live Hawaiian music and hula Tuesday through Saturday nights. During the day, it has free lessons in ukulele, lei making, hula dancing and lauhala weaving.
Explore the quiet end of Waikiki by strolling down Kalakaua Avenue to the Waikiki Aquarium, one of the few places in the world where you can see fish from the most remote atolls in the Hawaiian archipelago. A 4,000 gallon pandora beads on sale display tank has species abundant in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands but rarely found around Oahu, Maui and the other islands where most people live. The aquarium also has two Hawaiian monk seals, an endangered species.
Next door, you'll be able to peek at the ruins of a now closed saltwater swimming pool that was built to honour the 101 people from Hawaii killed in World War I and the 10,000 others from the islands who served in the conflict. Duke Kahanamoku opened the pool with the first ceremonial swim in 1927. The Waikiki War Memorial Natatorium has since fallen into disrepair and is the subject of a long running debate over whether it should be demolished or restored to its former glory.
Across the street is the vast expanse of Kapiolani Park, which initially hosted horse races when it opened in 1877.
Take a bag lunch to eat on the grass or at one of the picnic tables scattered under shady trees. If you prefer being served, try the Hau Tree Lanai restaurant at the nearby New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel. It's a great place to watch the sun set while you savour fresh ahi sashimi or sauteed mahimahi.
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