Oahu, the third largest Hawaiian island, is affectionately known as “The Gathering Place.” The island’s mountains, crisp and clear waters, radiant sunrises and legendary beaches have placed it at the top of many travel itineraries. When gazing out at the Pacific Ocean from this gorgeous island, you will feel the cool sea breeze against your face and the warm sun against your brow. While breathing in the fresh Oahu air, you will feel that you have made it and want to relax. Although unwinding is always enjoyable, Oahu has so much more to offer than simply taking it slow. When you write down your list of things to do, make sure you include these three essential spots.
Leahi (Diamond Head) - Leahi, the Diamond Head State Monument, is a massive 760-foot crater located five minutes from Waikiki. This popular hiking destination affords extraordinary panoramic views of Honolulu. Leahi is Hawaiian for “brow of the tune.” This crater received its English name from British sailors who mistakenly believed it to be a plentiful source of diamonds. Although not rich with diamonds, the crater is a jewel in its own way. Leahi towers above its surroundings and stands as an undeniable affirmation of Hawaii’s physical exquisiteness.
'Iolani Palace - Rightfully so, Oahu is distinguished for its natural beauty. But while on vacation here you shouldn’t miss the stunning architecture available. A great place to begin your journey of the island’s distinctive architecture is the National Historic Landmark, 'Iolani Palace. The majestic late 19th century 'Iolani Palace housed the final monarchs of Hawaii -- King Kalakaua and his successor Queen Liliuokalani. Forces overthrew this monarchy in 1893. Hawaiians used the 'Iolani Palace as their capital building from the time it achieved statehood until 1968. It was opened to the public in 1978 after it underwent significant renovation to account for the previous decade of neglect. Guided tours are available throughout the palace ground wherein you can contextualize the extravagance surrounding you. The whole family can behold the opulence of the grand hall, the state dining room, the music room and the throne room. The imprisonment room is also available, where Queen Liliuokalani was held captive after the fall of her government
Pearl Harbor - About 30 minutes from Waikiki, you can find Pearl Harbor, the largest natural harbor in the state of Hawaii. When Pearl Harbor was attacked on Dec. 7, 1941 -- a date which President Franklin Delano Roosevelt accurately said would live in infamy -- 2,390 died and hundreds were wounded. This tragic act of aggression plunged the United States into World War II and changed the course of history forever. The USS Arizona Memorial is a floating memorial atop its eponymous sunken battleship. You will find an educational exhibit inside that details the horrors of war and honors the deceased. The USS Bowfin Submarine Museum is dedicated to the Navy that fought in the Pacific during the Second World War. The Battleship Missouri is the vessel on which General Douglas MacArthur accepted Japan’s unconditional surrender. It is currently a memorial afloat in the harbor. You will also find the USS Oklahoma Memorial and the Pacific Aviation Museum -- somber reminders of that fateful day.