Oahu, known as "the gathering place", is home to 75% of the state population. This island offers a lot for tourists: from Pearl Harbor, to north shore, to the various attractions of Honolulu. I've carefully chosen top 10 attractions that are unique to Oahu and are definitely worth the visit.
1. Pearl Harbor
The most important piece of Oahu lies within the capital. This harbor is a definite must see for the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial/WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument. Having been bombed by the Japanese on December 7, 1941, one must pay tribute to those who have fallen during this disastrous day.
Pearl Harbour also offers the U.S.S. Missouri Memorial and the National Cemetery of the Pacific, where 25,000 soldiers who bravely fought in the war are at last at peace. This is definitely time well spent!
Being the capital of the state, this beautiful city has much to offer. From its state buildings, ʻIolani Palace (seat of the Hawaiian Monarchy), Diamond Head, and Waikiki beach, this capital has all the big amenities including the outstanding tourist attractions.
3. Honolulu: Diamond Head
This major tourist attraction in Oahu, is a 350-acre Diamond Head crater that can be seen even from the flight into Honolulu airport. The vantage point offers some incredible panoramas of Honolulu that you will not be able to find anywhere else. There are two stair cases to the way, one being 75 steps and the other 99 steps, as well as a 225 ft tunnel to this gorgeous camera-lovers' dream!
4. Honolulu: Koko Head Crater Trail
This magnificent crater is a must see. Being on the east side of Oahu, this crater offers probably the best 360 degree view of the surrounding area including the Pacific. Koko head is an ancient tuff cone (type of rock consisting of consolidated volcanic ash ejected from vents during a volcanic eruption) and it is somewhat dwarfed by the massive Koko Crater once being an ancient volcano.
5. Ko Olina Lagoons
Even though these aren't natural, these 4 man-made lagoons are beautiful for both snorkeling and sunbathing. Multiple resorts around this beautiful area sure to entertain you and your children.
6. Iolani Palace
Being the only palace in the entire United States of America really sets it apart from everything else. This beautiful structure is actually the 2nd building on this site. Completed in November of 1882, it became the grand seat of the Hawaiian Kingdom. This National Historic site and Museum are definitely worth the visit.
7. North Shore
Situated on the northern side of Oahu is the widely known 'North Shore'. Home to world class surfing, beautiful beaches, the Dole Plantation, Kualoa Ranch, Waimea Valley and many more. Don't just sit around Waikiki beach, definitely make a trip to other parts of Oahu's north shore; don't forget to take surfing classes!
8. Makapuu Point
Makapuu Point is a beautiful, scenic spot overlooking the Makapuu Peninsula. This destination is a popular hiking spot, offering great views of Makapuu and Waimanalo Bay on one side and the KaIwi Channel on the other side.
In the winter it is a key destination for whale watching and also a departure point to the smaller islands of Molokai and Lanai. This is truly a beautiful destination.
9. Waimea Valley
Waimea Valley is an area of historic cultural significance on the North Shore of Oahu. The valley, being an important place in Hawaiian religion, includes several historical structures including stone terraces and walls constructed during the time of the Hawaiian monarchy. Also home to an amazing botanical garden and numerous waterfalls this valley sets itself apart from others.
10. Valley of the Temples
Located at the foot of the 2,000 ft. Koolau Mountains in the Valley of the Temples in Oahu's Kaneohe Region sits the beautiful Byodo-In Temple. The Byodo-In Temple was built in the 1960's to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the first Japanese immigrant workers in Hawaii who came to work in the sugar plantation fields. It is a replica of the 950-year-old Byodoin Temple located in Uji, Japan on the southern outskirts of Kyoto.
As you cross the wooden bridge to enter the temple grounds you will surely get the feeling that you are traveling to a place far different than anywhere else in Hawaii making this a destination far beyond any expectations.