Encircle O’ahu, Hawai’i

Honolulu is fabulous! But O’ahu has much more to offer you along its 225 miles of coastline. So, arrange for transportation to explore the recommendations in this second travel guide of O’ahu, Hawaii. Your journey begins at Pearl Harbor.

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USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor near Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii - Encircle Photos

1 USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor near Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii

It is a somber boat ride from Pearl Harbor out to the USS Arizona Memorial. This building is where the battleship was sunk by the Japanese on December 7, 1941. After crossing the gangway, you enter a room overlooking the remains of the submerged ship. The names of the 1,177 crew who died on the USS Arizona are inscribed on a marble wall in the shrine room. Most of the servicemen are still buried below the sea.

1 Arizona Memorial Pl, Honolulu, HI 96818
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USS Arizona Mast and Oil Slick at Pearl Harbor near Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii - Encircle Photos

2 USS Arizona Mast and Oil Slick at Pearl Harbor near Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii

At about 8:00 a.m. on December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. The “date which will live in infamy” resulted in the deaths of over 2,400 Americans, including 1,177 men on the USS Arizona. This view of the sunken ship’s mast is from the memorial. Look closely and you will see an oil slick still forming on the water.

1 Arizona Memorial Pl, Honolulu, HI 96818
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USS Missouri at Pearl Harbor near Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii - Encircle Photos

3 USS Missouri at Pearl Harbor near Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii

Since the USS Missouri was commissioned in 1944, the ship saw action during World War II, the Korean War and the Gulf War. The Mighty Mo was also the venue for the Japanese surrender ceremony on September 2, 1945. In 1998, the final battleship built in the U.S. was donated to Pearl Harbor.

63 Cowpens St, Honolulu, HI 96818
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USS Bowfin Submarine at Pearl Harbor near Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii - Encircle Photos

4 USS Bowfin Submarine at Pearl Harbor near Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii

A bowfin is a fish with ancestors from the Jurassic Period. It has the unique characteristic of having bimodal respiration. This means it can breathe below and above the water. The prehistoric fish inspired the naming of the USS Bowfin. The submarine was first launched in 1943. She was credited with the sinking of at least 16 enemy ships during WWII. After being decommissioned in 1971, the USS Bowfin was transferred to Pearl Harbor and became a museum.

11 Arizona Memorial Rd, Aiea, HI 96701
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Hawaiian Humpbacks Mural by Robert Wyland in Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii - Encircle Photos

5 Hawaiian Humpbacks Mural by Robert Wyland in Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii

Among his many accomplishments, Robert Wyland is a very prolific muralist. Number Six in his series of 100 Whaling Walls celebrates the Hawaiian Humpbacks. This is a detail of the artwork that is 235 feet wide and 151 feet high. The mural was originally painted in 1985. The giant artwork was recreated in 1999 at the Pacific Airport Center in Honolulu. Estimates suggest about 10,000 of these once endangered whales now winter around the Hawaiian Islands.

3049 Ualena Street, Honolulu, HI 96813
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Humpback Whale Tail and Honolulu Downtown Skyline, Oahu, Hawaii - Encircle Photos

6 Humpback Whale Tail and Honolulu Downtown Skyline, Oahu, Hawaii

Like many snowbirds, humpback whales will travel thousands of miles in order to spend their winter months in Hawaii’s warm, tropical climate. Numerous whale watching cruises are available across the islands, including some that leave from the Honolulu Harbor. You might see numerous mothers with their calf. This cow, which can grow to 50 feet and over 25 metric tons, put on a great display of breeching, blowing and slapping her tail with the downtown skyline in the background.

1125 Ala Moana Blvd B1-C, Honolulu, HI 96814
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Rubber Ducky Statue on NCL Pride of America Ship in Honolulu Port, Oahu, Hawaii - Encircle Photos

7 Rubber Ducky Statue on NCL Pride of America Ship in Honolulu Port, Oahu, Hawaii

Although the rubber duck has been swimming in bathtubs since the late 1800s, its fame and popularity made a big splash thanks to Sesame Street. This iconic yellow duck with sunglasses is standing under a giant showerhead on the Pride of America. The Norwegian Cruise Line ship makes weekly tours of the Hawaiian Islands. The NCL ship was docked at a pier beside the Aloha Tower Marketplace in Honolulu. In the background is one of the twin One Waterfront Towers. They are high-rise condominiums.

521 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96813
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Animal Mosaic at Zoo Entrance in Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii - Encircle Photos

8 Animal Mosaic at Zoo Entrance in Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii

This colorful mosaic at the front entrance of the Honolulu Zoo showcases some of the 900 animals from 220 species you will see as you walk through the 42 acres in Queen Kapi’olani Park. The zoo specializes in birds, reptiles and mammals from tropical regions. The art was designed in 2011 by Honolulu native Leah Rigg.

151 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815
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Female Asian Elephant at Zoo in Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii - Encircle Photos

9 Female Asian Elephant at Zoo in Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii

Nestled at the eastern end of Waikiki Beach and in the shadows of Diamond Head is Queen Kapi’olani Park. Here you will the Honolulu Zoo. Among the nearly 1,000 animals are two female Asian elephants. Mari was born in 1975. This one out for a stroll in the setting sun is Vaigai who is ten years younger. Both are from India. They roam in an exhibit built for them in 2012.

151 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815
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African Spurred Tortoise at Zoo in Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii - Encircle Photos

10 African Spurred Tortoise at Zoo in Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii

If you like tortoises, then you will love visiting the Honolulu Zoo because they display 13 species. This is an African spurred tortoise. He originates from the Sahara Desert in northern Africa. This largest mainland species weighs 100 to 200 pounds. They also live 100 years or longer. So, chances are good he will be there when you finally check Hawaii off of your bucket list.

151 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815
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Two Ring-tailed Lemurs Sitting in Sun at Zoo in Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii - Encircle Photos

11 Two Ring-tailed Lemurs Sitting in Sun at Zoo in Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii

Like tourists who love soaking up the Hawaiian warmth, the ring-tailed lemurs often sit upright and expose their bellies to the sunshine. The primate from southern Madagascar has a long, black and white striped tail that outstretches its body by six or seven inches. The enlarged eyes improve their night vision yet they are most active during the day. Their troop size averages from six to two dozen and are dominated by the female. This pair looks like they are taking a time out after an argument.

151 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815
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Reticulated Giraffe Walking at Zoo in Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii - Encircle Photos

12 Reticulated Giraffe Walking at Zoo in Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii

It is impressive to watch this reticulated giraffe’s huge strides as it walks along at the Honolulu Zoo. A male’s height to the top of his ossicones or head bumps can reach 19 feet. His neck can measure eight feet. They weigh between 2,400 to 4,200 pounds and eat about 75 pounds of leaves a day. Surprisingly, the world’s tallest mammal only drinks water every other day.

151 Kapahulu Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815
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Diamond Head in Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii - Encircle Photos

13 Diamond Head in Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii

About 200,000 to 300,000 years ago, a massive eruption occurred for just a few days along the southeast shore of O’ahu. The explosive event formed the iconic landmark known as Diamond Head. Also called Lē’ahi, the dormant volcano is now a 475 acre State Monument Park. Diamond Head is probably the most photographed subject on the island.

Leahi Park, Diamond Head Rd, Honolulu, HI 96815
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Diamond Head Lookout View in Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii - Encircle Photos

14 Diamond Head Lookout View in Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii

It is an easy drive from Waikīkī Beach to the visitors’ center at Diamond Head State Monument Park. You will admire several great vistas along the way like this one of the southeast side of O’ahu. But to reach the summit, you will need to invest an hour to walk up the .8 mile trail that ascends about 560 feet. You will be rewarded with a glimpse of the saucer-shaped crater plus stunning vistas of Honolulu and the Pacific Ocean coastline.

Kahala Lookout, Diamond Head Rd, Honolulu, HI 96815
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Panoramic View of Waikīkī Beach in Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii - Encircle Photos

15 Panoramic View of Waikīkī Beach in Honolulu, O’ahu, Hawaii

Rent a car and drive around any of the eight Hawaiian Islands and you will be delighted by the endless number of gorgeous beaches. Some are in lush coves, others at the base of volcanic cliffs and a few have miles of pristine, white sand. Each one has its own beauty and unique characteristics. A few are so remote that you can enjoy paradise in solitude. The most iconic, however, is the 1.5 miles of sandy beach called Waikīkī with the famous profile of Diamond Head. It used to be called Sans Souci Beach which means “Without Worries.”

2255 Kalakaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815
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Elevated View of Hanauma Bay on O’ahu in Hawaii - Encircle Photos

16 Elevated View of Hanauma Bay on O’ahu in Hawaii

This elevated view of Hanauma Bay shows an ancient volcanic crater at the base of a sea cliff. It is filled with crystal-clear water flowing over a bed of coral called a fringing reef. The name is derived from two Hawaiian words: hana means bay and uma translates to curved. This gorgeous seascape greets you at the park’s visitor center. The entrance fee is very reasonable.

101 Hanauma Bay Rd, Honolulu, HI 96825
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People Enjoying Sandy Beach at Hanauma Bay on O’ahu in Hawaii - Encircle Photos

17 People Enjoying Sandy Beach at Hanauma Bay on O’ahu in Hawaii

One look at this pristine, sandy beach shows why Hanauma Bay is one of the most popular destinations for swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving along the windward coast of O’ahu just 20 minutes from Honolulu. The average temperature for the aquamarine water is 74°. In the background is the Ko’olau Mountain Range. The impressive mount was formed by a series of volcanic eruptions. The last one occurred about 40,000 years ago.

7455 Kalanianaole Hwy, Honolulu, HI 96825
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Underwater Marine Ecosystem at Hanauma Bay on O’ahu in Hawaii - Encircle Photos

18 Underwater Marine Ecosystem at Hanauma Bay on O’ahu in Hawaii

Hanauma Bay is a nature preserve and marine life conservation area. The sanctuary harbors over 450 species of tropical fish plus green sea turtles, Hawaiian monk seals, spinner dolphins and humpback whales. In an effort to protect this wonderful ecosystem, you are required to watch a ten minute movie to learn how to enjoy but not disturb this treasured underwater environment.

7455 Kalanianaole Hwy, Honolulu, HI 96825
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Koko Crater View from Hanauma Bay on O’ahu in Hawaii - Encircle Photos

19 Koko Crater View from Hanauma Bay on O’ahu in Hawaii

Dominating the landscape at the southeast corner of the Island of O’ahu is the Koko Crater. The Koko Head has been dormant for over 30,000 years and reaches an elevation of 1,208 feet. To put that height into perspective, this volcanic tuff cone is almost three times taller than the biggest skyscraper in nearby Honolulu. It is seen here along the beach of Hanauma Bay.

7455 Kalanianaole Hwy, Honolulu, HI 96825
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Sandy Beach Park on Windward Coast of O’ahu, Hawaii - Encircle Photos

20 Sandy Beach Park on Windward Coast of O’ahu, Hawaii

Sandy Beach Park is well named because it is one of the few stretches of sand along the southeastern tip of O’ahu. The dramatic waves make this a favorite among surf and body boarders. But it also dangerous. The shoreline is volcanic rock formed by the eruption of nearby Koto Crater. The surface has a very sharp, glass-like texture. And the hard-breaking waves create strong rip currents.

8483 Highway 72, Honolulu, HI 96825
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Elevated View of Halona Beach Cove on Windward Coast of O’ahu, Hawaii - Encircle Photos

21 Elevated View of Halona Beach Cove on Windward Coast of O’ahu, Hawaii

This view of Halona Beach Cove from the Kalaniana’ole Highway is so inviting you will immediately park your car and grab your bathing suit. Also strap on good shoes because climbing down the cliff is tricky. Or, you can simply enjoy the scenery from the Hālona Blowhole Overlook seen in the upper left corner.

8483 Highway 72, Honolulu, HI 96825
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Swimming at Halona Beach Cove on Windward Coast of O’ahu, Hawaii - Encircle Photos

22 Swimming at Halona Beach Cove on Windward Coast of O’ahu, Hawaii

Swimming in the warm, calm water at Halona Beach Cove can be a heavenly way to spend a sunny afternoon along the windward coast of O’ahu. This tiny inlet will feel like your secret hideaway just as it was during the love scene between Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr in the 1953 movie “From Here to Eternity.” That is why it is nicknamed Eternity Beach.

8483 Highway 72, Honolulu, HI 96825
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Makapu’u Point Lookout on Windward Coast of O’ahu, Hawaii - Encircle Photos

23 Makapu’u Point Lookout on Windward Coast of O’ahu, Hawaii

The easternmost shore of O’ahu is Makapu’u Point. Below the 647 foot cliff is a 1,000 foot beach and a lush coastline that fingers into the Pacific Ocean. This spectacular view is seen from an overlook off of the Kalaniana’ole Highway at the Makapu’u Point State Wayside Park. If you are ambitious, you can also follow the 1.75 mile walking trail to a lighthouse.

Makapuu Lighthouse Rd & 72 Waimanalo, HI 96795
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Kailua Beach Park on Windward Coast of O’ahu, Hawaii - Encircle Photos

24 Kailua Beach Park on Windward Coast of O’ahu, Hawaii

Kailua Beach Park’s 2.5 miles of white sand and calm turquoise water is always a top-rated beach on the Island of O’ahu. In 2019, Dr. Beach named it the best beach in America. The 35 acre park has bathroom and shower facilities plus a picnic area for when you need a break from swimming, sunning, napping, kayaking and windsurfing.

12 Kailua Rd, Kailua, HI 96734
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Couple Walking Kailua Beach on Windward Coast of O’ahu, Hawaii - Encircle Photos

25 Couple Walking Kailua Beach on Windward Coast of O’ahu, Hawaii

This couple on a romantic stroll is enjoying a perfect afternoon on Kailua Beach near the town of the same name. Their scenery includes the Flat Island on the left and the Mokulua Island on the right. Both are seabird sanctuaries.

12 Kailua Rd, Kailua, HI 96734
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Byodo-In Temple in Kahaluu, O’ahu, Hawaii - Encircle Photos

26 Byodo-In Temple in Kahaluu, O’ahu, Hawaii

Byodo-In Temple opened in 1968 on the centennial anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaii. It is a replica of a similar Buddhist temple in Uji, Japan. It is located in the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park at the base of the Ko’olau Mountains. Swimming in the reflection pool are large koi carp.

The Byodo-In Temple, 200 Kahekili Hwy, Kaneohe, HI 96744
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Sacred Bell at Byodo-In Temple in Kahaluu, O’ahu, Hawaii - Encircle Photos

27 Sacred Bell at Byodo-In Temple in Kahaluu, O’ahu, Hawaii

The bonshō is a large bell rung before entering a Japanese Buddhist temple in order to clear the mind and bring peace and happiness. This scared bell at Byodo-In Temple is brass, six feet tall and weighs seven tons. The wooden striking log is suspended from the red rafters of the bell housing called kanetru-ki-do.

The Byodo-In Temple, 200 Kahekili Hwy, Kaneohe, HI 96744
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Amida Buddha at Byodo-In Temple in Kahaluu, O’ahu, Hawaii - Encircle Photos

28 Amida Buddha at Byodo-In Temple in Kahaluu, O’ahu, Hawaii

This Amida Buddha is inside the Hoo-do Hall at Byodo-In Temple. The nine foot sculpture was carved by Masuzo Inui. Amida Buddha is in the meditation or serenity position with the legs in the double lotus posture. This celestial Buddha, also called Amitābha, is common in the Pure Land sect of East Asian Buddhism.

The Byodo-In Temple, 200 Kahekili Hwy, Kaneohe, HI 96744
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