Millions of people travel to the Hawaiian Islands every year to bask in the tropical sun, sample exotic cuisines, and explore the varying and unique environments of these storied islands. Oahu is the gateway to the Islands, the place where the planes land and the ships dock, and this lush paradise holds enough interest to be the main focus of a wonderful vacation all on its own.
As the traveler nears Oahu by ship or plane, the towering peak of Diamond Head is one of the very first landmarks that catch the eye. This extinct volcano stands sentinel over the island and is visible for miles. A trip to Diamond Head combines hiking with scenic views, giving the visitor a wonderful overview of the entire island and the seas that surround it. For just a dollar admission charge, the visitor has free run of the Diamond Head park area, including the 350 acre crater itself and the surrounding paths through the tropical forest.
One of the larger formations that catch the eye from the peak of Diamond Head is Pearl Harbor. This basin is still an active naval base, hosting elements of the US Navy’s Pacific Fleet. Visitors may see huge aircraft carriers and their supporting ships as they travel in and out of the Harbor, and flights of aircraft are a familiar sight as they take off and land. But the Harbor is best known as the scene of the Japanese attack on December 7, 1941 that drew the US into World War II, and there are many reminders of the attack throughout the Harbor area.
The USS Arizona monument is a prime example of one of these war memorials. On December 7, the Arizona was anchored in Pearl Harbor along with many other units of the Fleet, and suffered a catastrophic magazine detonation after being struck by bombs and torpedoes. The ship was beyond salvage, and after the war a memorial was built over the site of the sunken ship, open to visitors daily. Its graceful white shape stands sentinel over the sunken tomb of over 1,000 sailors who died on that fateful day.
After spending a day surrounded by history, it’s time to relax. The legendary beaches of Waikiki and Oahu in general await the sunbather and swimmer, in particular Lanakai Beach in Kailua. Here the visitor will find clean white sand and sparkling blue water, perfect for a day of lazing in the sun, snorkeling and general enjoyment of the sea. Best of all, it’s free for everyone to enjoy.
No trip to Hawaii is complete without surfing. The North Shore of Oahu is known throughout the world for its challenging surf – the shape of the shore and prevailing winds cause huge waves to form and crash on the shore, an irresistible challenge for those with expertise on the surfboard. The North Shore is also noted for its laid back atmosphere, abundant wildlife and spectacular scenery, a perfect combination of all the elements that bring people back to these magical islands year after year.
Source by Michelle Eddy