It's really hard to say "this island" or "that island" is "better"........hey.......they are ALL
"better"! Here's my "take" on the perfect trip to Hawaii; fly to Honolulu; Hotel, condo, whatever; I stayed at the Hotel Ilikai right by the Marina on Waikiki Beach. Absolutely loved it. What to do.............? Here's a tip no one else ever seems to mention; there is only ONE "bargain" on Oahu: The bus line ! Here's why..........Oahu is app. 28 miles long, by maybe 22 miles wide; and it's ALL
covered by the Honolulu Bus Line. The bus is "dirt cheap", you can transfer from one bus to another, ride all over the island, all day long, for just a few bucks! (A rental car is even better, but obviously they cost MUCH more.) What to see? My "must see" list is:
1. Foster Botanical Gardens; downtown Honolulu: no other spot on planet Earth has as many species of trees and plants, from tropical rain forest, to temperate climate. the reason is simple......it's the only place on Earth this many things will grow. It's been there a long time, and many people miss it; don't be among them!
(Lotta reasons for that)
2. Diamond Head; I went on the bus; (one hell of a walk before you start climbing) The "climb" to the top is really just a lot of stair steps; but it's more than worth the effort; the "view from the top" is......World class, awesome, amazing,spectacular, a great vantage point for the best photos, etc etc etc. ( If you're "there", don't miss it ! )
3.Hanauma Bay; a free (or almost free) sheltered "bay", "cove", whatever, where you can safely swim / snorkle among the most colorful tropical fish; this place is world famous, and it doesn't belong to any big "tourist trap"; a fabulous place for the whole family. (you can get there on the bus, but a rental car is better) Great place to swim among colorful tropical fish, and not become a "meal" for one of them.
4. The mountains; The very best thing to see is..............the island it's self ! With a family, I'd definitely rent a car, if only for a few days; you hear many people saying Oahu is "too big city", "too many tourists" etc. etc. etc. 99% of those people have never bothered to explore the whole island; sure, Honolulu IS
a big city, (so is Waikiki Beach) but you can't "see" Oahu unless you take a bus (or a car) and get OUT of the city. When I went to Oahu, I had a "special deal"........free air fare, free place to stay, ( Hotel Ilikai) and I could stay as long as I wanted. My plane ticket was for two weeks; I ended up staying two months ! (And I barely "scratched the surface" as far as really "seeing" Oahu. There is much to see on any one of the Hawaiian Islands; Far too much for any vacation of less than a few years in MHO; Oahu is the one island that has the huge diversity of things that interest me.
5. Buildings; I freely admit it; I'm a building nut; I LOVE world class buildings ! And boy, Oahu sure does have spectacular, world class buildings ! Far too many to even mention.
6. The weather I don't recall anyone ever "bragging" about the weather as an "attraction"...........which really is too bad, when you consider that: Hawaii really is in a very unique "spot" relative the rest of "Planet Earth"; it's actually one of the most "remote" spots on earth, ( in terms of distance from the major land masses of the world ); partly because of this remoteness, and because of it's latitude, the Pacific Ocean, and a few more things, Oahu has "weather" like no other place I'm aware of; in the 8 weeks I was there, it never fell below 75 degrees F. and never went above maybe 85 degrees. It rained every single day, (usually for about 5 to 10 minutes), you never get "hot", you never get "cold", it's ALWAYS "just right" ! Sunny every single day, rains 5 minutes, 5 minutes later you see absolutely no puddles, no standing water, just gentle warm breeze all the time, I almost forgot........rainbows ! Everyone loves rainbows! Oahu has rainbows every single day, sometimes 2 or 3 times a day ! (and no rain clouds !) (Why don't more people notice this?)
7. Pearl Harbor ; being a former Navy guy, I went to Pearl Harbor; I'm glad I did, but I don't see it as a "tourist attraction"; (neither do I see Arlington National Cemetery as a tourist attraction) The Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor is exactly what the name implies; it's a memorial to the 1,200 dead American sailors whose remains are just a few feet below the waves, ( and below your feet) when you visit it, and just like any memorial, it ISN
"T a place where you make a lot of noise, and dis-respect those who lost their lives there. Unfortunately, there are many "visitors" to the Arizona Memorial who seem "oblivious" this fact. Were I ever to visit "ground zero" at Hiroshima, I would conduct myself in an appropriate manner. (Enough said on that matter)
8. Koko Crater; This place is not far from Hanauma Bay; not a whole lot of tourists go there, but being interested in trees and plants, I'm very glad I did; it's actually in the crater of an extinct volcano, and it's where the City of Honolulu grows all of their gorgeous plumaria trees, the petals from which all of the beautiful "leis" are made; they have more species of plumaria growing there than I ever knew existed! Prettiest flower in all of Hawaii !
From the standpoint of, say, a meteorologist, Oahu is a strange place; I think they said the mean-average rainfall at Koko Crater is like a desert, while just 12 or 14 miles away in the mountains, it's like a couple of hundred inches per year. Tropical rain forest !
For anyone interested in surfing, I suppose a trip to Waimea Bay (on the North Shore) is a "must"; in the winter months, they have some of the biggest waves anyplace, but in the summer it's just where everyone goes to scuba dive, ( shark cove), (so named I'm told because of it's "shape" rather than from it's "inhabitants")
In any case, the north shore is a definite "must see"; the road runs along side the base of those fabulous mountains, and on the other side is the Pacific Ocean; just a few hundred yards from the beach, in very shallow water, there are two small islands, one known a "Chinaman's Hat", and the other as "Rabbit Island"; both look EXACTLY like their names ! I'm told it's possible to wade out to either at low tide, but I didn't try to do it.
One more thing; birds............ I like birds; always have, always will; we have a lot of birds where I live; but not like Oahu! again, because of it's climate, and it's almost lack of natural preditors, Oahu has a very diverse, and very interesting bird population. And most species came from "some place else"; the single most common bird is a type of mynah bird; rather colorful, very bold, and all over the place ! From some place in Asia; Another very common bird is the Brazilian Cardinal; from, Brazil ! Rather light blue, with lots of red on their wings; again, all over the place. My very favorite was a small species of dove; I forget where they came from, but they have one "trait" which really "endeared" them to me: they like people ! Especially people who carry around a bag full of "goodies" to feed them; it takes like 2 seconds to "train" them to eat, sitting in your hand. ( Even my birds out in the back yard won't do that ! )
Here's an idea; take a look at a large globe; find the Hawaiian Islands; check out what's "close" to them; you'll see what I mean.
Stupidity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result; Albert Einstein