With its warm tropical climate, clear blue waters, excellent surfing and watersports, and rich cultural and historical heritage, it is no wonder that Hawaii remains one of the most popular vacation destinations for people all over the world. While not the biggest island of the archipelago, Oahu is the most populated, and the more popular destination for vacationers looking for sun, fun, shopping, and just lounging on the beach. Indeed, more than 75% of the population of the state of Hawaii lives on Oahu, with more than 75% of those living in Honolulu and its suburban areas. Today, more than 7 million people annually travel to Oahu for Hawaiian vacations. Because of its central location in the island chain, the location of Honolulu as the traditional capital city, and its popularity with vacationers, Oahu has become known as “The Gathering Place.”
Along the south shore of the city of Honolulu is the neighborhood of Waikiki that is where you would find you Honolulu vacation rental property. Waikiki is separated from the city by a canal that drains wetlands that used to make up that part of the island. Waikiki is lined with lush, sandy beaches and warm tropical waters. The reefs and ocean shelf off of the south side of the island create large, rolling breakers that make some of the best surfing in the world.
Waikiki has been a vacation destination since at least the 1800s, when it was a retreat for the royal family that ruled over the Hawaiian Islands. The first resort hotels opened in the 1880s, and ever since then the neighborhood has been a mecca for Hawaiian vacations, with luxurious resort hotel and condo buildings looking out over the bay and down to majestic Diamond Head, an extinct volcano on the Island of Oahu’s southern tip.
There is another reason that Oahu is known as the Gathering Place. There is so much to do on the island that Waikiki Vacations just aren’t complete without a visit to some of the great attractions and cultural events that Oahu has to offer. Because there is so much to do on Oahu, a hotel room is far from the ideal way to see and do everything. If you are going to go out and really experience the island of Oahu, your best bet is to invest in one of the luxurious vacation rental properties right on the beach in Waikiki. That way, you not only have a base of operations from which to see and do everything you want, but if you happen to look out over the blue ocean of Waikiki beach one morning and decide to forget your plans, you can spend the whole day just lounging on the beach, only a few minutes from your Honolulu vacation rental on Oahu.
Some of the sites and experiences that Hawaiian vacations are incomplete with out include:
Attending a Luau — Luaus are traditional Hawaiian feasts or parties. Luaus are typically held outdoors (even at night, the air in Hawaii is so warm and mild that you can walk around in shirtsleeves), and can be held either near or on the beach. Traditional Hawaiian foods such as poi, kalua pig, poke, lomi salmon, opihi, and haupia, are served, along with beverages ranging from papaya juice to beers and wines. Luaus also host performances of traditional Hawaiian song and dance, including impressive hulas and war dances. There are many different luaus offered by Hawaiian businesses and resorts. Some of the most popular commercial luaus are the Paradise Cove Luau and Germaine’s Luau, both held in Kapoeli, which is a few minutes west of Honolulu. If you want to stay near your Waikiki rentals, you can attend the Waikiki Starlight Luau at the Hilton.
Learning About Hawaiian History — Hawaii is one of the most culturally unique and historically interesting states in the country, and much of that history and culture is on display in Honolulu. Though there is evidence of Polynesian settlement in the Honolulu area as far back as the 12th Century, Honolulu has served as the capitol of the Hawaiian Islands since 1804, after King Kamehameha I moved his royal palace to what is now downtown Honolulu. Indeed, Hawaii is the only state in the country that has ever had a royal palace. The historic parts of Honolulu are a short walk from downtown and only a few minutes from the Waikiki Banyans hotel. Captain Cook Resorts offers the most amazing Honolulu vacation rental.
Visiting the North Shore — Because of the monster waves rolling in at all times of the day, Oahu’s North Shore is widely regarded as the surfing capital of the world. Surfers come here from all over the world to ride the breakers and navigate the pipes in some of the best surfing ever seen. The North Shore is about an hour’s drive from the Waikiki Condos, and is worth every minute of travel to see it. If you want to learn to surf, there are plenty of willing instructors who will help you go from being a wannabe to a kook, even if they can’t turn you into a veteran. Even if you don’t want to be a surfer, there are few things more thrilling than watching them ride the Banzai Pipeline. Just don’t be a hodad.
Exploring the Bishop Museum — The Bishop Museum is the largest natural and cultural history museum in the Hawaii Islands. The museum is a wealth of information about the geological and oceanic wonders in and around the Hawaiian archipelago. It is also the largest repository of Polynesian and Hawaiian historical and cultural artifacts in the world. The Bishop Museum is a wonderful place to spend a day if a tropical rain happens to make it difficult to spend the afternoon on the beach. The museum is located downtown, just a few minutes north of the vacation rental properties on Waikiki.
Hiking to Makapu’u Point — Makapu’u Point is the eastern most point on Oahu, and a small lighthouse stands sentinel over the Pacific shoreline at the end of the trail. The hike to Makapu’u Point is about two and a half hours. If you take the hike, try to do so in the morning, while the sun is low behind a cliff face and not in your eyes. Makapu’u Point offers great views of Waimanolo Bay to the north, and Sandy Beach and Koko Head to the south. Humpback Whales come to Hawaii during the winter months of December to May to court and give birth to calves (you’re not the only one who enjoys tropical Hawaiian vacations). Makapu’u Point is on the eastern tip of the island of Oahu, about and hours drive northeast from the Waikiki Banyans vacation rentals.
Visiting the Pearl Harbor Memorial — The USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor is the most popular tourist attraction in Hawaii, with more than 1.5 million visitors annually. The Pearl Harbor memorial commemorates the day of December 7th, 1941, when Japan launched a surprise attack on the United States, dragging the country into World War II. The USS Arizona Memorial is built directly over the sunken battleship, where nearly 1200 sailors are still entombed. You can also visit the USS Bowfin, a WWII attack submarine that now serves as a museum, as well as the USS Missouri, a Battleship that served from World War II until 1992. Pearl Harbor is just up the beach from the Waikiki vacation rentals, and is within a short drive or walking distance.
Climbing Diamond Head — Diamond Head, also known as Le’ahi to locals, is a large dormant volcano cone south of the Waikiki rentals on the beach. Diamond Head was named by 19th Century British sailors, who mistook volcanic calcite crystals in the rocks for diamonds. There is a popular trail that leads to the summit of Diamond Head from the west side near the Waikiki condos. The trail is less than a mile, but goes uphill the entire way, and includes a number of steep steps and unpaved trails, so don’t go unless you are looking for a workout. The climb is worth it though, for the views of the ocean and rental properties on the beach in Waikiki. Fans of the show Lost will recognize Diamond Head as the famous Black Mountain in that show. Lost was filmed entirely on Oahu, and many filming locations are marked on tourist maps.
Shopping in Waikiki — Waikiki and the Waikiki Vacation Rentals are some of the most popular parts of Honolulu for tourists. Not just for the Waikiki Banyan rental packages, but also for the beaches and of course the shopping. There are several shopping options within walking distance of your Waikiki condos. The Royal Hawaiian Center is the largest shopping center in Hawaii, boasting over 150 stores and restaurants on four levels. The Waikiki Beach walk is the newest shopping complex; just a few minutes walk from the Waikiki Banyans, with more than 20 shops and restaurants on two levels. The DFS Galleria boasts luxury boutiques such as Tiffany & Co., Yves Saint Laurent, and Gucci, all with duty-free prices.