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Article Source: Copyright © 2012 by Fodor’s Travel, a division of Random House Inc. All rights reserved.
A few minutes and a world away from Waikiki and Honolulu, this scenic drive shaded by vine-draped trees has frequent pullouts with views of Diamond Head and the Ewa side of Honolulu. It's a nice change of pace from urban life below. At Puu Ualakaa Park, stop to see the sweeping view from Manoa Valley to Honolulu. To start the drive, go to Punchbowl Memorial Cemetery and follow Tantalus Drive as it climbs uphill.
Queen Emma, King Kamehameha IV's wife, used this stately white home, built in 1848, as a retreat from the rigors of court life in hot and dusty Honolulu during the mid-1800s. It has an eclectic mix of European, Victorian, and Hawaiian furnishings and has excellent examples of Hawaiian quilts and koa-wood furniture. www.queenemmasummerpalace.org. COST: $6. OPEN: Self-guided or guided tours daily 9--4.
Worth a stop for its spectacular views from a bluff high above the ocean overlooking Waimea Bay, this sacred spot was once the site of human sacrifices. It's now on the National Register of Historic Places.
Here is a taste of old-style Chinatown, where you might be hustled aside as a whole pig (dead, of course) is wrestled through the crowd and where glassy-eyed fish of every size and hue lie stacked forlornly on ice. Try the bubble tea (juices and flavored teas with tapioca bubbles inside) or pick up a bizarre magenta dragonfruit for breakfast.
This panoramic perch looks out to expansive views of Windward Oahu. It was in this region that King Kamehameha I drove defending forces over the edges of the 1,000-foot-high cliffs, thus winning the decisive battle for control of Oahu. From here you can see views that stretch from Kaneohe Bay to Mokolii (little lizard), a small island off the coast, and beyond. Temperatures at the summit are several degrees cooler than in warm Waikiki, so bring a jacket along. And hang on tight to any loose possessions; it gets extremely windy at the lookout. Lock your car; break-ins have occurred here (this wayside is in the most trafficked state park in Hawaii). www.hawaiistateparks.org/parks/oahu/nuuanu.cfm. OPEN: Daily during daylight hours.
Here on Chinatown's main mauka-makai drag and on Bethel Street, which runs parallel, are clustered art galleries, restaurants, a wine shop, an antiques auctioneer, a dress shop or two, one small theater/exhibition space (the Arts at Mark's Garage), and one historic stage (the Hawaii Theatre). First Friday art nights, when galleries stay open until 9 pm, draw crowds. Many stay later and crowd Chinatown's bars. If you like art and people-watching and are fortunate enough to be on Oahu the first Friday of the month, this event shouldn't be missed.
Nestled in the bowl of Puowaina, or Punchbowl Crater, this 112-acre cemetery is the final resting place for more than 50,000 U.S. war veterans and family members and is a solemn reminder of their sacrifice. Among those buried here is Ernie Pyle, the famed World War II correspondent who was killed by a Japanese sniper on Ie Shima, an island off the northwest coast of Okinawa. There are intricate stone maps providing a visual history military history lesson. Puowaina, formed 75,000-100,000 years ago during a period of secondary volcanic activity, translates as "Hill of Sacrifice." Historians believe this site once served as an altar where ancient Hawaiians offered sacrifices to their gods. The entrance to the cemetery has unfettered views of Waikiki and Honolulu—perhaps the finest on Oahu. www.cem.va.gov/cem/cems/nchp/nmcp.asp. COST: Free. OPEN: Mar.--Sept., daily 8--6:30; Oct.--Feb., daily 8--5:30.
As you drive the Windward and North shores along Kamehameha Highway, you'll note a number of interesting geological features. At Kualoa look to the ocean and gaze at the uniquely shaped little island of Mokolii (little lizard), a 206-foot-high sea stack also known as Chinaman's Hat. According to Hawaiian legend, the goddess Hiiaka, sister of Pele, slew the dragon Mokolii and flung its tail into the sea, forming the distinct islet. Other dragon body parts—in the form of rocks, of course—were scattered along the base of nearby Kualoa Ridge. In Laie, if you turn right on Anemoku Street, and right again on Naupaka, you come to a scenic lookout where you can see a group of islets, dramatically washed by the waves. www1.honolulu.gov/parks/programs/beach/kualoa.htm.
Packed into the neighborhood of Moiliili are flower and lei shops, restaurants (Spices, Fukuya Delicatessen, Sweet Home Café), and little stores such as Kuni Island Fabrics, a great source for Hawaiian quilting and other crafting materials; Siam Imports, for goodies from Thailand; and Revolution Books, Honolulu's only leftist book shop.
On the corner of Maunakea and Hotel streets is this plaza surrounded by shops, an indoor market, and a food court. If you appreciate fine tea, visit the Tea Hut, an unpretentious counter inside a curio shop.