Like all the Hawaiian Islands, Oahu is full of natural attractions, and there are many ways to enjoy them. A walk on the beach is free, of course, but there are also a number of very interesting organized attractions well worth experiencing. Here are some places of interest to consider:
Waikiki Aquarium 2777 Kalakaua Ave. Honolulu 923-9741 http://waquarium.mic.hawaii.edu
The aquarium is located in Kapi'olani Park near the eastern base of Diamond Head and is maintained by the University of Hawaii. The aquarium's exhibits include hundreds of marine species, including monk seals, jellyfish, reef sharks, colorful tropical fish, and living corals. There is an “Edge of the Reef” exhibit that replicates coastal habitats such as tidal pools and reefs.
The aquarium is open daily from 9 A.M.-4:30 P.M. It is closed Christmas Day and has special hours on Thanksgiving and New Year's. Admission rates are $7 for visitors, $5 for Hawaii residents, senior citizens, military, and students, $3.50 for youths (aged 13–17) and disabled people. Kids 12 and under are free.
The aquarium is within reasonable walking distance of Waikiki Beach. The Waikiki Trolley (Red and Blue lines) stops at the aquarium, and TheBus #2 will get you there as well.
Honolulu Zoo 151 Kapahulu Ave., Honolulu 926-3191 www.honoluluzoo.org
You'll find animal favorites, such as elephants, zebras, chimps, hippos, and ostriches, along with a nice variety of tropical birds and exotic plants. There is a Children's Zoo, too, where kids get to meet such creatures as llamas and monitor lizards. The zoo is open daily from 9 A.M.-4:30 P.M. General admission is $6, $4 for Hawaii residents, $1 for children 6–12 years old, and kids age 5 and under are free.
The Honolulu Zoo is in Kapi'olani Park near the base of Diamond Head. Take TheBus #4, #8, #19, #20, or #42 toward Diamond Head or the Red or Blue line of the Waikiki Trolley.
Sea Life Park 41-202 Kalaniana'ole Hwy., Waimanalo 1-866-365-7446 www.sealifeparkhawaii.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Sea Life Park is reminiscent of SeaWorld in San Diego and other similar oceanic theme parks with their many fun and educational attractions. Among other attractions, you'll find sea turtle and stingray lagoons, dolphin shows, and a reef aquarium. The park also offers special interactive opportunities that let you actually get into the water and have personal encounters with dolphins, stingrays, or even a big tank of reef fish and sharks!
The park is open daily from 9:30 A.M.-5 P.M. and on Friday until 10 P.M. Admission prices are $24 for adults, $12 for adult Hawaii residents and children 4–12 years old, and $6 for local kids of the same age.
The park is located west of Honolulu at Waimanalo around the corner and past Diamond Head. E Noa's “Ocean Coast Line Tour” operates a round-trip shuttle service from a few pickup points in Honolulu. You can also get to the park on the Waikiki Trolley's Blue Line.
Want to learn to surf? There are several schools that will teach you. The famous Hans Hedemann school offers group and private lessons: 924-7778 www.hhsurf.com. Other schools include the Hawaiian Fire Surf School, where the teachers are real firefighters ( 1-888-955-7873, www.hawaiianfire.com) and lifeguard Sunset Suzy's school on the North Shore ( 781-2692 www.sunsetsuzy.com).
Real Hawaii 524-4944 1-877-597-7325 www.therealhawaii.com email@example.com
This organization offers ecocultural excursions led by native Hawaiians. The company offers three outings on Oahu: “Real Wet,” “Real Tropical,” and “Real Sacred.” Prices range from $44 to $69. Not recommended for children under age 7.
Oahu Nature Tours 924-2473 www.oahunaturetours.com firstname.lastname@example.org
The motto of this tour company is “Conservation Through Education.” Oahu Nature Tours conducts several different excurions that illustrate the island's natural history. The staff includes a crew of professional nature guides trained to make your ecotour safe and rewarding.
Oahu is home to several major botanical gardens. They present you with a convenient opportunity to stroll through grounds of sheer beauty and to learn about, or simply enjoy, flora that includes Hawaii's beautiful array of flowers.
Senator Fong's Plantation and Gardens 47-285 Pulama Rd., Kane'ohe 239-6775 www.fonggarden.com email@example.com
Hiram Fong is a former U.S. Senator from Hawaii. His 725-acre park offers visitors a chance to get acquainted with a magnificent variety of Hawaii's botanical and other natural offerings. You can take a 45-minute tram tour of the site, and the gardens also offer a lei-making class.
Open daily except Christmas and New Year's. Tram tour costs $10 for adults, $8 for seniors (65 and over), and $6 for children ages 5–12. Lei-making classes are $6.50.
Located on the windward side, about 45 minutes from Waikiki. TheBus #55 Kaneohe-Circle Isle (from Ala Moana Center) will take you to the gardens, and the #55 Honolulu-Ala Moana will bring you back.
Foster Botanical Garden 50 N. Vineyard Blvd., Honolulu 522-7066 www.co.honolulu.hi.us firstname.lastname@example.org
The Foster Garden was opened in 1853. It covers 13.5 acres and includes sections dedicated to orchids and tropical plants, some of which are rare or endangered.
There are guided tours available Monday through Friday at 1 P.M. Admission is $5 for individuals 13 and older, $3 for locals, $1 for children 6–12, and free for children 5 and under. The garden is open from 9 A.M. until 4 P.M. every day except Christmas and New Year's.
The garden is located in Honolulu. Take TheBus #2, #4, or #13. You can also reach the garden on the Waikiki Trolley's Red Line.
Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden 45-680 Luluku Rd., Kane'ohe 233-7323 www.co.honolulu.hi.us email@example.com
Located on Oahu's windward side, the garden's 400 acres are home to species from all over the Pacific as well as India, Sri Lanka, and Africa. A visitor's center offers additional information. You can reach the garden on TheBus #55 Kaneohe-Circle Isle from Ala Moana Center and return on the #55 Honolulu-Ala Moana.
Harold Lyon Arboretum 3860 Manoa Rd., Honolulu, HI 96822 988-0456 (call for reservations) www.lyonarboretum.com
The arboretum is part of the University of Hawaii at Manoa and specializes in Hawaiian and other tropical plants.
It's open to the public from 9 A.M.-3 P.M. Monday through Saturday. Closed on Sundays and all public holidays. Public tours are available on Tuesdays at 10 A.M. and Saturdays at 1 P.M. Call for reservations. You can reach the arboretum on TheBus #5, Manoa Valley.
Wahiawa Botanical Garden 1396 California Ave., Wahiawa 621-7321 www.co.honolulu.hi.us firstname.lastname@example.org
The Wahiawa Garden is located on a high plateau in central Oahu, where different species thrive in this tropical rainforest environment. Tours are available. You can reach the garden on TheBus #62, Wahiawa Heights, from Ala Moana Center and return on #62, Honolulu-Ala Moana.
The Foster, Hoomaluhia, and Wihiawa botanical gardens are all part of the Honolulu Botanical Gardens. Koko Crater Botanical Garden, located inside Koko Crater to the east of Honolulu, and the Liliuokalani Botanical Garden on N. Kuakini St. in Honolulu also belong to this group. For more information, call 522-7060 or visit www.co.honolulu.hi.us/parks/hbg.