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Article Source: Copyright © 2012 by Fodor’s Travel, a division of Random House Inc. All rights reserved.
Dolphins leap and spin and penguins frolic at this marine-life attraction 15 miles from Waikiki at scenic Makapuu Point. The park has a 300,000-gallon Hawaiian reef aquarium, the Hawaiian Monk Seal Care Center, and a breeding sanctuary for Hawaii's endangered honu sea turtle. Join the Stingray or Dolphin Encounter and get up close and personal in the water with these sea creatures (don't worry, the rays' stingers have been removed) or go on an underwater photo safari. www.sealifeparkhawaii.com. COST: $30. OPEN: Daily 10:30--5.
The Pearl Harbor visitor center, recently reopened after a $58 million renovation and now part of the World War II Valor In the Pacific National Monument, is the starting point for visitors to this historic site. The site is a must-see for many, but there are things to know before you go. Consider whether you want to see only the Arizona Memorial, or the USS Bowfin and USS Missouri as well (the latter two sights charge admission fees). Allow approximately an hour and 15 minutes for the USS Arizona tour. Arrive early—the free, first-come, first-served tickets for the Arizona Memorial can disappear quickly. There are restrictions on what you can bring with you, including purses, backpacks, and camera cases (although cameras are allowed). Baggage lockers are available for a small fee. Also, don't forget ID. www.nps.gov/valr/. COST: Free (timed tickets required for Arizona Memorial). OPEN: Daily 7--5; Arizona Memorial tours daily 8--3.
This lovely park is the site of the internationally acclaimed Prince Lot Hula Festival on the third weekend in July. Throughout the year, the Moanalua Gardens Foundation sponsors 3-mi guided hikes into Kamananui Valley, usually on Sunday; call for times. Self-guided tour booklets ($5) are also available from the Moanalua Gardens Foundation office. To reach Moanalua Gardens, take the Moanalua Freeway westbound (78). Take the Tripler exit, then take a right on Mahiole Street. Pineapple Place is just after Moanalua Elementary School. www.mgf-hawaii.org. COST: Free, guided hikes $5. OPEN: Weekdays 8--4:30.
Tucked all the way back in Manoa Valley, this is a gem of an arboretum operated by the University of Hawaii. Hike to a waterfall or sit and enjoy beautiful views of the valley. You'll also see an ethnobotanical garden and one of the largest palm collections anywhere—all within a park-like setting. Its educational mission means there are regular talks and walks with university faculty. Docents give 60- to 90-minute tours weekdays at 10 am. There are also self-guided audio tours. www.hawaii.edu/lyonarboretum. COST: $5 donation. OPEN: Mon.--Fri. 8--4; Sat. 9--3.
Encompassing 4,000 acres about 45 minutes by car from Waikiki, this working ranch offers a wide range of activities—from ATV and horseback tours to hula lessons or jungle expeditions in six-wheel-drive vehicles. The mountains, which serve as the backdrop of this scenic ranch, may seem familiar as the ranch has served as the set for movies such as Jurassic Park andWind Talkers, and TV shows Magnum PI and Lost. From the grounds, you'll have a wonderful view of the ocean and Chinaman's Hat. www.kualoa.com. COST: Admission varies based on activity. OPEN: Book activities 2--3 days in advance.
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