There’s a multitude of reasons why the islands of Hawaii are referred to as America’s paradise: hundreds of surfers catching waves along the morning horizon, tranquil sea breezes blowing from blue-green waters, juicy tropical fruits melting in your mouth, and the list goes on. Many of us only dream about vacationing in Hawaii, but for those of you fortunate enough to live the dream, take advantage of the exquisite sights, activities, and cuisine Hawaii has to offer. My trip to Oahu in 2007 was life-changing, and I can say Mahalo to the following activities for doing so:
1. Surf’s up!
Close your eyes, envision the beaches of Hawaii, and what do you see? Crashing waves and surfboards. There are many surf schools in the area that are perfect for surfers at all levels, from those who’ve tried it a couple times or those learning to catch a wave for the first time. In just one session, the instructors start you off by teaching the proper surfer stances and techniques on land, helping you take on lower-intensity waves in the water, and making you feel like a pro in no time. And an added bonus of your surf experience? Bragging to your family and friends that you were able to “hang ten” on the famous Waikiki Beach.
2. Hula Dance
There’s nothing like the cuisine served at a traditional Hawaiian luau. The moment you enter the celebration, you’re armed with a lei and grass skirt, along with drink tickets for your choices of fruity Mai Tais and ice cold Piña Coladas. The flavorful, smoky meat of the Kalua pig, which is slow-cooked in an imu, an underground oven, is served with anything from Ahi (yellow fin tuna) and sweet potatoes to chicken long rice. Brave luau-goers can try Poi in the form of a purplish paste or mixed with Taro to make sweet bread. An extended list of awe-inducing entertainment accompanies your hefty meal, like fire-throwers and hula dancers. Hawaiian natives definitely know how to throw a party.
3. Pay Tribute
Probably the most serious and rewarding of experiences is a day trip to the Pearl Harbor and USS Arizona Memorial in Oahu. Over a 1.5 million people visit the destination annually to pay tribute to the American soldiers who lost their lives the fateful morning of December 7, 1941, making it the top tourist destination in Hawaii. The giant anchor, ship models, uniforms, and photographs on display are perfect for all ages; however, the fascinating 20-min film they show prior to the ferry ride across Pearl Harbor might be a little too intense for the younger crowd. Once you’re standing above the final resting place of the USS Arizona watching the oil leak from a ship that’s been sunken for 70 years, you’re bound to get chills and see why this is such an incredibly eerie, solemn, and priceless experience.
4. Take Flight
Hawaii is a place that not only needs to be explored by foot, but also by helicopter! Although this activity is on the pricier side, the exquisite views of Hawaii’s stunning rainforests and waterfalls are definitely worth it. On a helicopter tour of Oahu, you can view inside Diamond Head, oversee Punchbowl National, fly over the Dole Pineapple Plantation, spot your favorite TV and movie locales of Gilligan’s Island and Jurassic Park, and see panoramic views of Pearl Harbor. Viewing the islands from a whole new perspective will make you fall even more in love with Hawaii.
5. Savor Sunsets
The sunsets in Hawaii are the true meaning of the word paradise, where the horizon seems to go on forever and the descending sun paints an explosion of burnt yellows and oranges across the sky. Attending a Hawaiian sunset cruise is a great way to end your Hawaiian journey, because it ties together a little bit of everything perfect: sun, surf, delicious appetizers and drinks, and a rockin’ celebration. These cruises cater to everybody’s needs, from lovebirds to a large family, and are as much eventful and fun as they are romantic and relaxing. Can you say Aloha?
Bio: Molly Borter is a writer from Indianapolis, IN, who specializes in mens diabetic socks. She is a lover of family time, the outdoors, traveling, and trying out new restaurants.