KANEOHE, Hawaii (Reuters Life!) - Hawaii is America’s own Eden, an island chain filled with striking mountains and idyllic beaches that sheltered President Barack Obama during his formative years and has location for several TV shows, including “LOST” and “Hawaii Five-O.”
It offers visitors the chance to try surfing, exotic seafood and hiking, just to name a few.
Reuters correspondents with local knowledge help visitors get the most out of a short stay on Oahu, Hawaii’s most populated island.
A small recommendation: rent a car, preferably a Jeep. To explore the entire island, which takes about three hours to circumnavigate, you’ll need wheels. There is great public transportation (www.thebus.org) that goes everywhere on Oahu but a car offers more freedom.
6:00 p.m. - Arrive in Honolulu, where Obama attended the world-famous Punahou School. Most major hotel chains, including Marriott, Sheraton and Wyndham, have several locations in and around the city, some on beautiful Waikiki Beach. Consider staying on Oahu’s Eastern Shore, which tends to be less crowded. (Hawaii’s tourism website, www.hawaii.com, has some good recommendations.)
7:00 p.m. - After unpacking, head to the Yard House restaurant (www.yardhouse.com) in downtown Honolulu. With dozens of beers on tap and a full bar, there is plenty to quench your thirst. For dinner try the pan-seared Ahi, a type of Hawaiian yellowfin tuna.
9:00 p.m. - Head down Lewers Street to Kelly O’Neils Irish pub (www.irishpubhawaii.com), an Irish pub filled with interesting people.
1:00 a.m. - For anyone wanting to continue into the early hours try Denny’s, which is across the street from the Yard House.
8:00 a.m. - After an early breakfast, wander to Waikiki Beach to sunbathe and swim. The water isn’t too deep, and a small reef protects much of the beach from harsh waves.
10:00 a.m. - There are numerous vendors along the beach that rent surfboards, paddleboards and tubes, and offer lessons. Group lessons cost about $40 per hour, with private lessons rising to about $70. It’s much cheaper to just rent the surfboard (about $25 per day) and go it alone. Half the fun of surfing is just trying it, anyway.
Feeling adventurous? Head down to Diamond Head point via Kalakaua Avenue and try surfing in the open ocean where the waves are big and the scenery is amazing.
A word of caution: surfboards are made from fiberglass and are very easy to damage. Be careful.
12:00 p.m. - Hungry yet? Try Teddy’s Bigger Burgers for lunch. There are four locations in Hawaii, with the closest one to Waikiki Beach is off Kalanianaole Highway. Try the Kailua-style burger: mushroom, Swiss cheese, grilled onions and teriyaki dressing. Teddy’s prides itself on being the anti-fast food, so expect to wait a little longer, but it’s worth it.
2:00 p.m. - Strap on your hiking shoes and head to the Eastern Shore of Oahu via scenic Route 72. In Kailua, off Kaelepulu Drive near the Mid-Pacific Country Club, is the entrance to a trail leading to the Lanikai bunkers, also known as the pillboxes.
During World War Two, the U.S. military built the installations as lookouts for possible Japanese attacks. Today, the short hike to the pillboxes offers visitors amazing Pacific vistas.
6:00 p.m. - Head back to Honolulu for a relaxing sunset dinner at Duke’s restaurant (www.dukeswaikiki.com), part of the Outrigger Waikiki hotel. Try the Huli Huli Chicken, a Duke’s delicacy with garlic, ginger and shoyu, a unique blend of soy sauce. For dessert, try a Hula Pie, a delicious mix of macadamia nut ice cream, chocolate and whipped cream.
8:00 p.m. - Walk around downtown Honolulu after the sun sets, stopping at some of the shops and bars. For souvenirs visit ABC Stores (www.ABCstores.com), a convenience store chain with locations all over the city.
10:00 a.m. - No visit to Hawaii would be complete without a solemn stop at the U.S.S. Arizona memorial, which sits inside Pearl Harbor. (www.pearlharbormemorial.com)
12:00 p.m. - Grab a quick lunch from a street vendor — nothing too heavy, though. Head to Oahu’s North Shore, where much of “LOST” was filmed, for some skydiving.
1:00 p.m. - Arrive at Dillingham Airfield mentally prepped to jump out of a plane. At $150 a trip, it’s not cheap to skydive, but the rush from doing a back flip out of a plane at 15,000 feet (xxx meters) is incredible, and the views once your shoot deploys are second-to-none. Ask for Papa Dop to be your tandem instructor. (www.hawaiiskydiving.com)
4:00 p.m. - Hawaii is also known for its pineapples, so the way back to Honolulu stop at the world-famous Dole Plantation off of Kamehameha Highway (www.dole-plantation.com). Explore the Pineapple Garden Maze, reportedly the world’s largest maze, and grab a light bite at the Plantation Grille. Try the kalua pork plate, and Dole Whip, an excellent pineapple treat.
Reporting by Ernest Scheyder; Editing by Patricia Reaney