Frommer's Favorite Experiences in Oahu

Waikiki Beach, Honolulu Michael Alvares
The best spot for catching the rays on the world-famous beach is in front of the big, pink Royal Hawaiian Hotel -- the beach here is set at the perfect angle for sunning. It's also a great spot for people-watching. Get here early; by midday (when the rays are at their peak), it's towel-to-towel out there.
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Adventurers re-energize themselves aside the soothing and spectacular Manoa Falls. Marco Garcia
In the misty sunbeams, colorful birds flit among giant ferns and hanging vines, while towering tropical trees form a thick canopy that shelters all below in cool shadows. This emerald world is a true Eden. For the full experience, try Manoa Falls Trail (pictured), a walk of less than a mile that ends at a freshwater pool and waterfall.
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You can go eyeball-to-eyeball with exotic sea life while snorkeling in crystal clear Hanauma Bay. Marco Garcia
This underwater park, once a volcanic crater, is teeming with a rainbow of tropical fish. Bordered by a 2,000-foot gold-sand beach, the bay's shallow water (10 ft. in places) is perfect for neophyte snorkelers. Arrive early to beat the crowds -- and don't forget that the bay is closed on Tuesday. Koko Marina Shopping Center (tel. 808/395-5922), can set you up with fins, mask, and snorkel.
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You have to pay a $1 fee to climb the 1.4 miles to the top of Diamond Head, but the view from the 750-foot summit is priceless. Marco Garcia
Almost everyone can make this easy hike to the top of Hawaii's most famous landmark. The 1.4-mile round-trip goes to the top of the 750-foot volcanic cone, where you have a 360-degree view of Oahu. Allow an hour for the trip up and back and don't forget your camera.
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Oahu offers the world's raddest surfing, from the treacherous Pipeline to the 50-foot walls of water in Waimea Bay. Marco Garcia
From November to March, monstrous waves -- some 30 feet tall -- roll into Waimea. When they break on the shore, the ground actually vibrates and everyone on the beach is covered with salt spray mist. The best surfers in the world paddle out to challenge these freight trains. It's amazing to see how small they appear in the lip of the giant waves. And this unforgettable experience won't cost you a dime.
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From May to September, Hawaiians keep the tradition of outrigger canoeing alive with a series of races. Photo Resource Hawaii/Alamy
On weekday evenings and weekend days from February to September, hundreds of paddlers gather at Ala Wai Canal and practice taking traditional Hawaiian canoes out to sea. Find a comfortable spot at Ala Wai Park next to the canal and watch the canoe paddlers re-create this centuries-old sport.
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You can find all kinds of Hawaiian trinkets at the Aloha Flea Market. Yannis Lefakis
Just 50ยข will get you into this 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 Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday from 6am to 3pm.
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Kawaiahao Church was built from 14,000 coral blocks. Yannis Lefakis
Built in 1842, Kawaiahao Church, 957 Punchbowl St. (near King St.), 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, complete with Hawaiian song. Hawaiian-language services are held every Sunday at 9am and admission is free -- let your conscience be your guide as to a donation.
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You'll find leis of every color and description for sale in Chinatown. Ryan Siphers
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. Be sure to check out the lei sellers on Maunakea Street (near N. Hotel St.), where Hawaii's finest leis go for only a couple of dollars.
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Step on the deck where the Japanese surrendered and World War II ended at Pearl Harbor's USS Missouri Memorial. Marco Garcia
Standing on the deck of the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor is an unforgettable experience. On that fateful day -- December 7, 1941 -- the 608-foot Arizona sank in just 9 minutes after being bombed during the Japanese air raid. The 1,177 men on board plunged to a fiery death -- and the United States went to war. Go early; you'll wait 2 to 3 hours if you visit at midday. You must wear closed-toed shoes, no slippers.
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There's nothing like slurping up a cool cone of shave ice on a hot day. Yannis Lefakis
In Haleiwa, stop at Matsumoto Shave Ice, 66-087 Kamehameha Hwy., for a snow cone with an exotic flavor poured over the top, such as the local favorite, li hing mui (lee hing moo-ee, which is sweet, sour, and salty), or with sweet Japanese adzuki beans hidden inside. This taste of tropical paradise is very cheap too!
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Hula show at the Bishop Museum, Honolulu. Hawaii Tourism Japan
Sit under the huge banyan tree at the Sheraton Moana Surfrider's Banyan Veranda in Waikiki, order a cocktail, and sway to live Hawaiian music any night of the week. Another quintessential sunset oasis is the Halekulani's House Without a Key, a sophisticated oceanfront lounge with wonderful hula and steel-guitar music, a great view of Diamond Head, and the best mai tais on the island.
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