A hike to the top of Diamond Head is rewarded with a spectacular view of Waikiki Beach. The park opens at 6:00 am, and it closes at 6:00 pm promptly. We went on a Sunday morning, which is said to be less crowded. The official parking lot is small and was already full when we arrived; signs should have been posted at the main entrance on Diamond Head Road advising the lot was full, but that didn't happen. So we had to drive all the way back to the main entrance, where we found parking at a small vacant lot on Diamond Head Road. From there, we walked back to the main entrance and found a taxi to take us to the ticket booth near the official parking lot. The taxi fare was $7 one way for six people, well worth it, and there were taxis waiting to take us back to the car after our hike. If you're fortunate to find parking in the official lot, it's $5 per car, plus $1 per person admission. The hike is about 1-1/2 miles round trip. At the beginning, there's a 'teaser' in the form of a wide, paved path that suddenly gives way to uneven gravel and dirt all the way up. Be careful of ruts - there are many. Toward the top, the path will fork - to the left is a longer, easier way to the top. To the right, there are many stairs, and although this path is much more strenuous, we chose it to lessen our time in the sun. One staircase has 99 steps. The viewing platform on the top is small, so hikers may have to wait their turn to be able to stand there for the view and photos. On the ground, there are restrooms , snacks, and water just past the ticket booth, but be advised none of these services are provided on the trail, nor at the top. Be careful of the sun; even in the morning, the heat is intense, and there is little shade. Bring plenty of water. There are also very few benches to stop and rest on the way up. Use caution if walking up in the rain - the path will be very slippery. The round-trip can be made in two hours or less, and hikers are cautioned to finish their hike before the gates close at 6:00.
This marketplace underwent a major change after a complete shutdown and renovation, and it re-opened in August 2016. Instead of the various booths of yesteryear with shell jewelry, native foods, and crafts, operated by individual vendors, the marketplace reopened last year as an upscale venue with retailers like Saks, Burberry, and Michael Kors. If you want lower-priced merchandise, with both essentials and souvenirs, look for an ABC store, one of which is located right next to the International Marketplace.
This beautifully renovated palace is absolutely worth a stop; this was once the royal residence of the rulers of the Kingdom of Hawaii. You can book a guided tour - mornings only - for $21.75 per adult - or an audio tour for $14.75 throughout the day. You should have a reservation for the guided tour, but it's not as necessary for the audio tour. Call ahead to be certain. Admission includes the basement gallery exhibits. Allow at least two hours. Be aware that parking around the palace is very limited and is either restricted for permit holders or coin-metered, but the metered parking was for one hour or less. We were able to find parking at a business center called Alii Place, on Alakea Street across from the palace. Its garage is open to the public, and we paid just $3 for two hours of covered parking.
This is the most-visited destination on the island of Oahu, and with good reason. There are many tours that include Pearl Harbor, the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific at Punchbowl Crater, and a city tour. If you have tickets and plan to drive, it's easy to visit the cemetery and Pearl Harbor on the same day. (Please note that bus tours are not allowed to stop in the cemetery - they can drive through only. If you have a car, you can park and walk around. We saw three military funerals taking place when we were there.) We heard parking was plentiful at Pearl Harbor, but the lot was full when we arrived. We found parking just beyond the main lot near the Rainbow Bay Marina. There is no public parking in the marina lot, but there was street parking adjacent to it with no restrictive signs. (Ask to be sure.) Pearl Harbor tickets include a documentary movie and a boat ride to the Arizona. Be aware that the boat will not go out in high winds, and your visit would then be restricted to the exhibits on shore. Boat ride and time on the Arizona will be about 35-40 minutes total, and this is strictly regulated by the Navy operators. You will not be able to linger at the memorial, but you can visit the exhibits on shore for as long as you like.
This is a beautiful, tropical spot in the interior of Oahu. A modest admission gets visitors into this historic valley and botanical garden. There are restaurants and restrooms just inside the entrance. It is well worth taking time for the moderate hike, ending with a rushing waterfall that feeds a pond. Swimming is allowed here, one of the highlights, and mandatory life jackets are distributed for free. Peacocks and roosters roam the grounds along the way, along with many other native 'residents.' This natural location is the essence of Hawaii for many visitors.