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honolulu aquarium

kualoa ranch in hawaii where scenes from Jurassic Park were shot

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waikiki trolley in hawaii

surfers walk down the main street in honolulu

The Island of Oahu

Oahu is the most popular of the islands and it is easy to see why ... there is so much to do!

The world famous Waikiki in Honolulu is one of the most popular holiday destinations in the world - with good reason. A short drive out of town in any direction will bring you to wonderful beaches, tropical green valleys and beautiful scenery that will show you the true diversity of this amazing island.

Honolulu's history can be seen everywhere, from the incredible collection of artifacts at the Bishop Museum to the Iolani Palace, home to the last reigning Hawaiian monarch, Queen Lili'uokalani. A walk through Chinatown provides the flavour of the street life and architecture of the turn of the 20th century when the Aloha Tower was the tallest building for 2,500 miles.

Exquisite dining and exciting nightlife draw people to Oahu again and again. You will find the best choices in Honolulu, with plenty of restaurants, bars, clubs and entertainment on offer. There is a fabulous range of Honolulu hotels suitable for families, couples and independent travellers. This is also the place to hit the shops. The massive Ala Moana Shopping Centre has over 290 stores including some of the big names such as Macy's, Nieman Marcus, Sears and Nordstrom. Hint: if you are including a stopover in mainland USA do some of your shopping there. Because of the distance everything must travel Hawaii tends to be a bit more expensive than the rest of America.

If spending more than a couple of days in Honolulu it is well worth renting a car and heading out of the city to explore the island. Surfers will want to head to the world famous North Shore to try the waves for themselves or just watch the experts at work. Movie-buffs will enjoy the Kualoa Ranch, the location for literally hundreds of movies and TV shows. Younger children will love riding the "Pineapple Express" steam train at the Dole Pineapple Plantation while the older ones will be prepared to let them in return for some more of that really delicious pineapple ice-cream!

Oahu's Highlights

North Shore - a laid back, seaside resort town world famous in winter for its great waves and surfers.

Waimea Valley - enjoy the 3.5 mile nature walk through the rain forest and botanical garden on Oahu's northern shore to see rare and endangered Hawaiian flora and fauna. You will be rewarded with a beautiful view of the 40 foot Waimea Falls.

Pearl Harbour - following a presentation about the fateful events which took place at Pearl Harbor on 7 December, 1941, a US Navy shuttle boat will transport you to the poignant USS Arizona Memorial which sits above the famous battleship, final resting place of over 1,000 souls. Also at the same location, tour the Pacific Aviation Museum, the USS Missouri Memorial and the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum, which features a restored World War II sub.

Iolani Palace - tour the building and grounds that served as the royal residence until the dethroning of Hawaii's last monarch, Queen Liliuokalani, in 1893. Now restored to its royal magnificence, it is the only royal palace in the USA. Amazingly, Iolani Palace had electricity before both Buckingham Palace and the White House!

Nu'uanu Pali Lookout - this is one of Oahu's best lookouts, with sweeping views of the windward (eastern) side of the island. King Kamehameha I from the Big Island and his warriors defeated O'ahu's armies here by forcing them over the steep cliffs in 1795. He went on to conquer all the independently ruled islands to form one unified Hawaiian kingdom.

Diamond Head State Monument - take the gentle climb (less than a mile) to the top of Le'ahi (Diamond Head) crater and enjoy panoramic views of the leeward (westward) side of Oahu.

The Byodo-In Temple was built in the 1960s to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the first Japanese immigrant workers in Hawaii. It is a replica of the beautiful 950-year-old Byodoin Temple located in Uji, Japan on the southern outskirts of Kyoto. It contains the largest wooden Buddha carved in over 900 years.

Other Popular Attractions: -

•  Polynesian Cultural Centre
•  National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific
•  Sea Life Park
•  Honolulu Zoo
•  International Market Place
•  Kualoa Ranch
•  The Mission Houses Museum

Photo credits: HTA, Tor Johnson, Aloha Holidays, HTA Japan,