Things To Do In Honululu
Honolulu is a city in Oahu, Hawaii where you can easily browse and understand history at your fingertips. A must for every holiday on the island of Honolulu is a visit to the Pearl Harbor Complex, which offers a variety of historical sites and war remembrance. One of the interesting parts of the tour is the USS Arizona Memorial. Another highlight is the "hangar" tour where you can drive to the military site of the US Navy and get a striking image of how the Marines that were stationed there used to live.
Honolulu and the site of Pearl Harbor are absolutely worth seeing. You should plan a whole day of delving into its war history. If you want to look at everything then you should consider purchasing the two-day pass. Honolulu is a city of contemplation in a very impressive way and a must-see for every traveler to Oahu.
When To Go:
The perfect time to engage in a historic tour of Honolulu is during the fall season. Ideally, the months of September to November are the appropriate time because the temperature is cool, lodging rates are lower, and airline flight deals are discounted. The weather can be between the low 70s and 80s and the inn rates and airfare deals are truly tempting. But be prepared for the occasional downpour during this time - bring your umbrella and boots and be safe during this season. Honolulu's temperatures don't get higher than the low 80s amid the winter (December – April). It is also the island's top vacationing and surfing season. If you want to experience a little humidity, you can presumably find a really decent arrangement at some point in the middle of May and August (summer season).
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These are the popular sites and top things to do in the magnificent island of Honolulu:
Pearl Harbor / WW II Valor in the Pacific National Monument
The Pearl Harbor / WW II Valor in the Pacific National Monument is a place where one breathes and relives the past at a site that is very dear to Americans. But visiting it does not mean that anyone should feel indifferent about the tragedy that this place suffered. It will always be remembered as "the day of infamy," and everyone must be aware of this part of history (young and old alike). If you are a history buff, you should not miss this visit. Go there - it’s worth it - you will experience a tour that is organized in an exemplary manner. Keep in mind that you are still inside a fully operational military base, so there are some rules to follow (but it is more than justified). For instance, if you want to get to the memorial or the monument of the fallen, you need to wear shoes and follow a dress code.
The site is a poignant reminder of World War II history and it is easy to imagine how it was during the time when the skyline was dotted with warplanes. You can also visit a submarine that is beautifully preserved. For those who know the events that happened in these places, Pearl Harbor emits a very strong emotion. It was here where the battle unleashed 'atomic retaliation’ against Japan, after which humanity was never the same again.
Pearl Harbor is an open-air museum and a place of reflection. It is where the tomb of thousands of young people lay - people who were caught by surprise, many even sleeping, in the biggest attack initiated by Japan. It became a clear reason for the declaration of war by the Americans against Japan. The visit is free and guided, but you have to be there early because tickets are limited. It is advisable to check their website and view the visiting schedules and other useful information.
USS Arizona Memorial
The visit to the USS Arizona Memorial is very well structured. It begins with an introductory video that is vivid and professional, along with the many original documentaries (with subtitles) about what happened on the ill-fated day (December 7, 1941). It explains how the attack was planned on Pearl Harbor and what happened during it. After the video, you are taken to the memorial by boat, and there you have a few minutes to see the remains of USS Arizona. The tour is free, but you have to go to the ticket office to book because the allowed visitors are divided into groups and assigned a specific time to enter. It’s done on a first come, first served basis. If you want to have the confidence to make the visit at a certain time, it is best to book online (it costs $3).
In the museum, you’ll learn about the stages leading up to the attack. You can also check out the Bowfin submarine. It is not only a museum, but also a structure in memory of the fallen - a huge cemetery where the family of the fallen can enter for free to see the names of their loved ones on the immense gravestones. When visitors see and understand this, it can be a bit sad and they may feel out of place, but it is open to all. The site is run by disciplined veterans who are strict but helpful; they accompany visitors in the various stages of the visit. It is very interesting to talk to them and hear their touching testimonies, in addition to being able to see the attack from the point of view of the local population.
Battleship Missouri Memorial
The USS Missouri is the battleship on which the surrender of Japan was signed, which ended the Second World War. The ticket price ($25) of the Battleship Missouri Memorial includes a guided tour of about 35 minutes that lets you get an impression of the ship and its history. At the end of the tour you can run free in some areas of the vessel, which have been completely restored and filled with informational panels that provide an avalanche of information. The visit can take several hours, depending on how far you can walk freely around the ship. For those who wish, there is also a more comprehensive tour which lasts about 90 minutes (and costs an additional $25). It allows you to visit some areas of the ship that would not otherwise be freely accessible.
The ship is impressive and immaculately maintained; in fact, you will always find their trusted personnel carrying out frequent maintenance. Once on board, you will be accompanied by a guide (in English) that will explain the main technical features and also tell you about various military anecdotes, including perhaps the most important time of the signing of the surrender of Japan during the Second World War. The ship is on the military base and can only be accessed by shuttle or through a package tour. It is a must-see if you come to Pearl Harbor.
USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park
Located next to the Arizona Memorial, the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park is a perfectly preserved and restored site that gives visitors an idea of how the sailors lived on submarines in the years of the second world war. It's interesting to understand how ingenuity has organized the small space for a hundred sailors to live with a minimum of comfort.
The original equipment of the submarine is all well preserved and looks almost new. The rooms (bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, engine, etc.) are perfectly preserved. The audio guide, included in the ticket price, is well done. Altogether with the audio guide, the tour takes about an hour to accomplish.
National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific
The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific is located in the crater of an extinct volcano. Near the entrance, there is a small observation deck overlooking the skyscrapers of Honolulu. This site is marked by immense peace and quiet and incredible scenery. Be sure to take lots of pictures, but keep in mind that the place is a graveyard, so try to do everything in a discreet and respectful way - especially if there are ongoing events or ceremonies. Hire the local taxi or rental car so you can stay and explore the tombstones as long as you desire.
The bus tours do not even manage to stop here; they only slowly pass through the lawns. Don’t fail to visit the Mausoleum (be sure to do so), for it is here where they buried the heroes of military Hawaiians and Americans of all great wars. The Memorial Cemetery transmits an infinite peace and looks more like a huge garden rather than a cemetery. Well worth the visit because it is free and all confined in a lovely setting.
Makapuu Lighthouse Trail
The Makapuu Lighthouse Trail offers pleasant walks with nice vegetation on a hill that is covered with prickly pear, and mixed with acacias. From the top, it overlooks the lighthouse, the jagged coast, and two small islands. The ride is not long (probably one hour) but it is worth it if you're in the area. Do not forget to bring your camera because there are lots of superb views along the way.
It is impossible not to enjoy the ocean, lighthouse, and the path. In the end, you will be rewarded with excellent views of Oahu and Makapuu Point. The road to the lighthouse is a bit exhausting but definitely worth it. Don’t forget the water and sunscreen. The pathway leading to the lighthouse is closed, but you can see it well from above. Two small viewing platforms are available for this purpose.
Diamond Head State Monument
The trail to reach the Diamond Head State Monument is a bit bumpy and offers little shade, so you should leave the flip flops in the car and have enough water in your luggage. It is also advisable to start before the tour buses as it can get quite busy otherwise. What awaits you is a beautiful view of Waikiki and Honolulu. It is one of the top sites in Honolulu with a very pleasant hike on well-maintained roads / stairs and tunnels to the summit of the extinct volcano.
It offers excellent views of the city and countryside, as well as the lighthouse below the crater. For every tourist, a visit to the state monument is a must. The passage is impressive. Inside you can arrive in the middle of the crater and then start the trail to an old military facility. Once at the top you can have a perfect view of Honolulu and the surrounding countryside.
The Manoa Falls, which can be found at the end of Manoa Road Honolulu property, have a nice short hike through the jungle and rainforest area. The trail is 4 miles (round trip). This hike that is just outside Honolulu is impossible to miss. The stretch leading to Manoa Falls is easy, but beware of slipping in the mud. Once you arrive at the falls, look on the left side that is marked with a path for the more daring. It is right in the middle of the jungle, crossing other pathways that lead to Mount Tantalus. It is very challenging, and it is advisable to use hiking boots due to the amount of mud, roots and water holes.
The journey takes about two hours, and is quite simple except for the last part which is a bit steep. The walk to the falls are all within a jungle and has lots of beautiful and breathtaking landscapes. On return, it is strongly recommended to visit the arboretum site at the beginning of the trail to the falls.
Koko Crater Trail
If you plan to conquer the Koko Crater Trail, prepare to climb about 1200 steps. They are not perfect steps, however, as they are actually the rail of a disabled tram. The trail starts easily, until the middle when it gets a bit complicated. It is very much worth the view, and the feeling of overcoming a challenging trail is liberating. Try to go early when the sunlight is not yet as strong. Find a parking space, and spend time and relax on the beach of the Hanauma Bay (which, by the way, you can see from the top of the Koko Crater).
Use the bathroom before going up because there are no restrooms along the way and none at the top. Also, bring your own water since there are no shops at the top. You can combine a visit here with the Diamond Head State Monument. The view is well worth it, but the climb is a bit exhaustive, not only from the physical effort but also because of the heat, so do not forget to bring plenty of water and sunscreen. Of course, do not forget to bring a good camera to record the beautiful scenery.
Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve
The Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve is located half an hour from the city. It is a closed beach with some coral and incredible marine life. To access the beach, you need to attend a short seminar and watch a documentary on how to interact with nature, but once you gain access to the beach you will enjoy every moment.
It is highly recommended to bring suitable snorkel equipment because you can spend hours in the water admiring the corals and the fish. The Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve is a beautiful and privileged place for snorkeling. Just steps from the beach, you can see many colorful fish. But be careful not to cross the warning flags they put in the sea to avoid the other side because when the sea hits hard it can be dangerous.
Honolulu Museum of Art
The Honolulu Museum of Art contains a diverse art collection - from European to Oriental. There are lots of paintings, sculptures, and other decorative arts. All in all, it is held in a pleasant environment with striking cloisters and courtyards. It also has an excellent collection of oriental art coming all the way from India, China, and Japan. The museum has in its exhibit halls an enormous collection of art pieces from great contemporary artists such as Andy Warhol and Francis Bacon. The museum is very well structured, with a magnificent infrastructure to welcome tourists. There is also a coffee shop with catalogs for sales. The most interesting part is the sector about the prehistoric parts of the Pacific Islands.
Honolulu is an important place to better understand the history of mankind and war - what actually happened: the explanations, facts, participants, and the buried heroes under the water. All of this can be found in Pearl Harbor within Honolulu. In some of the moments of the visit, you will be moved by the story of pain and overcoming on that fateful day. The flags are still at half mast in respect to those who died in the attack; there is no doubt that it is an interesting tour. Each vessel must be visited separately, however, like a new ride. For those who like military history, and beautiful nature, a visit to Honolulu is quite worth it.
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