Waikiki, Hawaii Activities: Oahu offers the pleasures of the ocean amidst the amenities of a city
Atlantis Submarine Tour
For a stay-dry underwater experience, perfect for kids as well (NOTE: Children must be a minimum of 36" in height to ride the submarine), take an Atlantis submarine tour -- going down to 100 feet. You'd need SCUBA gear to do that, but for those not ready to dive, these specially constructed machines do the diving for you. Fish really do come up to the windows. It may not be the scores of brightly colored fish in the ads, but it is fun. Each of the three Atlantis Hawaii tour locations (Waikiki, Kona, Maui) feature distinct characteristics. The Oahu tour that we took included sunken ships, remnants of hurricane swept airliners, pyramid structures have created as an underwater playground for marine life. Nicely narrated for additional information and background. When you board you get a guide to the marine life inhabiting the reef as you board, a map of the dive site, and an explanation of why the color changes and everything seems to turn blue as you dive deeper.
World War II History
US Army Museum of Hawaii
We discovered this intriguing museum while walking the edge of Waikiki. US Army Museum of Hawaii is located in historic Battery Randolph at Fort DeRussy near the military Hale Koa Hotel not far from the Hilton. It predates WW2, having been constructed in 1911 as a first line of defense against attack by sea. Almost invisible from the ocean, it blends in with what had been long stretches of sandy beach.Made of steel reinforced concrete walls up to 12 feet thick, it originally sported 14-inch rifles on disappearing carriages capable of firing a 3/4 ton projectile 14 miles. Today they are located outside the battery and represent a nice photo op for visitors. Inside, the museum nestles between the original concrete gun mounts documenting the role of the US army, the military history of Hawaii and the contributions of Hawaii and the people of Hawaii to the national defense. The museum is well worth a visit, and is quite a bargain with its free admission. Voluntary contributions are, of course, welcomed, or purchase something in the gift shop to provide financial support. I bought a beautifully illustrated and excellent book on the history of Hawaii - Yesterday in Hawaii: A voyage through time.
World War II History at Pearl HarborAlthough the attack on the US fleet stationed in Pearl Harbor was unexpected, it was the culmination of a years of deteriorating relations between Japan and the United States over the status of China and the security of Southeast Asia. The objective was to immobilize the Pacific Fleet so that the United States could not interfere with these invasion plans.
The Pearl Harbor site has grown over the years and is far more than the USS Arizona Memorial. You can easily spend a whole day there. In addition to the USS Arizona Memorial, there's a fascinating 23-minute documentary film on the December 7, 1941 attack, and an opportunity to tour the USS Bowfin Submarine. Just off the grounds is the USS Missouri Battleship, and Pacific Aviation Museum on historic Ford Island (which occupies World War II-era hangars). These are stops on the shuttle that takes visitors to and from the Pearl Harbor complex.
Explore the History and Culture of Hawaii
Honolulu Museum of Art and Doris Duke
Polynesian Cultural Center
Located about an hour outside of Waikiki, Polynesian Cultural Center is a popular destination for anyone wishing to explore the diversity of Hawaiian heritage. Enjoy regular presentations of the crafts, and heritage of the seven island nations of Polynesia. Try your hand at activities such as tree-climbing and spear-throwing. As the sun sets, enjoy an evening luau.
One other attraction lies outside of the hustle of Waikiki and Honolulu, the Waimea Valley. The real lure is the gentle walk (about 3/4 mile on paved path) through the botanical gardens to the beautiful waterfall and the small lake it forms. There's a lifeguard and some swim toys available, or bring some of your own. Changing rooms and picnic tables are available. You may also want to bring water shoes for the rocky beach and water bottom.
The Waimea valley actually stretches from the mountains down to the ocean and there are other paths to explore beyond the paved way to the waterfalls. You can also participate in cultural activities. Enjoy a bit of a vanishing tropical paradise.