Travel Oahu - Explore Hawaii like the Locals!
by Michelle Linden
Every year millions of visitors from Japan, mainland USA and beyond land at Honolulu International Airport ready to begin their vacation in paradise. Soon after landing, most visitors hop in a cab or bus sent from the hotel and begin the journey past downtown Honolulu and on to their reservation at a Waikiki hotel.
The allure of Waikiki is immediate. The packed streets, sounds of the beach, and exotic histories call to the traveler who soon hits the streets. Venturing out in Waikiki can be quite exciting. The streets are filled with foreign languages, throngs of tourists are dressed in their beach best, and the beginning of surf history can be seen at the end of the street. Waikiki can be so exciting that many visitors never escape its imaginary borders. Approximately 6 million of these visitors miss the very sites that locals find so endearing, remaining within the two square miles of Waikiki.
For those travelers interested in seeing Oahu through its residents' eyes, please read on.
Magic Island Beach Park - This popular park is located just west of Waikiki, across the street from the Ala Moana Shopping Center. The park includes two beaches, a three mile jogging path, tennis courts, and more. A walk around the park will expose the center of Hawaiian culture - the family. Large extended families gather around hibachis, spending the day together with a good food and plenty of sun. The beaches are significantly less crowded, so for a great day, grab a barbecue and head down to the beach at Magic Island!
The Contemporary Museum Honolulu - This small museum is located high on a ridge at Makiki Heights Drive. The drive up the ridge offers amazing vistas that would otherwise be missed by most Oahu visitors. The relatively small museum offers changing exhibits in its five galleries. After traversing the galleries, visitors can wander out onto the sculpture gardens. This is where the true glory of the museum is revealed. The 3.5 acres of sculpture and meditative gardens are open to the public and offer some of the most amazing views of Honolulu.
Leong's Cafe - Many visitors look to a lu'au for more than entertainment; they are after some great Hawaiian food. However, if you're interested in real local style Hawaiian food, you can't beat Leong's Cafe located at 2343 North King Street. As a favorite for plate lunches, kalua pig, lu'au stew, lomi lomi, and more, locals have been visiting this cafe for over 50 years!
Champion Malasadas - The local treat called Malasadas are so popular that Fat Tuesday has been re-christened Malasada Day throughout the Hawaiian Islands. One of the best and most famous bakeries is Champion Malasadas located at 1926 South Beretania Street. These light portuguese hole-less donuts come with and without filling and are absolutely worth the effort in getting them!
Honolulu Chinatown - A walk through the streets of Chinatown in like a walk into another time and place. Whether you are looking for dim sum, fresh produce, handmade leis, or the new hip lounge, you are sure to find it in Chinatown. The streets and shops are exotic, offering items not found in a typical american grocery. Guided walking tours are available for this historic district, but often the best way is to simply meander through the streets, stopping whenever your interest has been piqued.
If you are interested in seeing Oahu through a local's eyes, be sure to spend some time outside of Waikiki. Stop by some or all of the spots listed above and see some of what truly makes Hawaii special.
For more information and photos of Oahu, check out our Lanikai Beach site and our Honolulu Chinatown site and our Travel Photo Gallery.
For more exciting destinations check out our Trip of the Week Site
About the Author
Michelle is a travel, art, and architecture buff who has recently moved to Seattle after living in Honolulu, Chicago, Gloucester Massachusetts, and Delft Netherlands. In between studying and working in design, she dreams travel and works to help others compare and select vacation options via the Your Life Passion Website!