Oahu isn't just any other beach destination. It has a wonderfully rich, ancient history and culture, and people who are worth getting to know. If you want to meet the "local" folks who live on Oahu, check out the following:
- Watch the Ancient Hawaiian Sport of Outrigger Canoe Paddling: From February to September, on weekday evenings and weekend days, hundreds of canoe paddlers gather at Ala Wai Canal and practice the Hawaiian sport of canoe paddling. Find a comfortable spot at Ala Wai Park, next to the canal, and watch this ancient sport come to life.
- Attend a Hawaiian-Language Church Service: Kawaiahao Church is the Westminster Abbey of Hawaii; the vestibule is lined with portraits of the Hawaiian monarchy, many of whom were coronated in this very building. The coral church is a perfect setting to experience an all-Hawaiian service, held every Sunday at 9am, complete with Hawaiian song.
- Buy a Lei from Vendors in Chinatown: A host of cultural sights and experiences are to be had in Honolulu's Chinatown. Wander through this several-square-block area, with its jumble of exotic shops offering herbs, Chinese groceries, and acupuncture services. Before you leave, be sure to check out the lei sellers on Maunakea Street (near N. Hotel St.), where Hawaii's finest leis go for as little as $3.50.
- Observe the Fish Auction: There is nothing else quite like the Honolulu Fish Auction. Fishermen bring their fresh catch in at 5am Monday through Saturday, and the small group of buyers bids on all manner of fish. The auction lasts until all the fish are sold. It is well worth getting up early to enjoy this unique cultural experience.
Get a Bargain at the Aloha Flea Market: For $1 admission, it's an all-day show at the Aloha Stadium parking lot, where more than 1,000 vendors sell everything from junk to jewels. Go early for the best deals. Open Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays 8am to 3pm.
Feel History Come Alive at Pearl Harbor: On December 7, 1941, Japanese warplanes bombed Pearl Harbor, forcing the United States to enter World War II. Standing on the deck of the USS Arizona Memorial—the eternal tomb for the 1,177 sailors trapped below when the battleship sank—is a profound experience. You can also visit the USS Missouri Memorial, where the Japanese signed their surrender on September 2, 1945.