Day 5 on Oahu is going to be a busy one with lots to see and do.
General: DIY / How-To
|Guide Series: Oahu Vacation Itinerary
We're going to see a lot today and while you may not have time to see everything I list here, you can pick and choose the items that are most interesting to you. If you chickened out on the Lanikai Pillbox Hike / Kaiwa Ridge Trail yesterday then have no fear because today I'm going to show you three places that will give you amazing views of Oahu and none of them will require any hiking at all!
Make sure you're up bright and early today, had your breakfast, and are ready to be on the road by 7:00 AM so we can get the most out of this day. First up, let's take a fun drive via the Tantalus and Round Top Hill Drive. This awesome drive is full of twists and turns (so go slow) and takes us to our first lookout point which is Pu'u Ualaka'a State Wayside Park. Hope you brought the camera because the views up here of Honolulu and Waikiki are incredible.
When you're done enjoying the views, head back down heading in the same direction you've been going and you'll end up relatively close to where you started but it's not an exact loop. The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) should now be open so let's make a quick stop here. This is an actual cemetery so not a place to let the kids out to run around. But it is worth a stop to check out as it's an all around beautiful place. It's also home to another amazing lookout point that's worth a stop, so that's the second one I promised you for today.
Now we'll be taking a trip up the Pali Highway. If that name sounds familiar it might be from the ancient Hawaiian legend that says Don't Bring Pork Across Pali. Assuming you're not transporting pork, let's head up and over to Queen Emma Summer Palace which was the summer home for Hawaii's Queen Emma from 1857 to 1885. You can actually tour the inside and grounds and imagine what life would have been like back then, at least for royalty!
We're incredibly close to a really neat hike called the Judd Memorial Trail and Jackass Ginger Pool so let's stop there. Don't worry, you don't have to actually hike it if you don't want (though it's pretty easy). It's still worth stopping for because there is a very easy to see a waterfall that's just a few steps from the roadside where you'll park. Okay, it's not a big waterfall but it's a waterfall nonetheless. It's also a neat place to see and experience even if you're just here for 15 minutes. There's a nice, calming feeling to this place.
Now, if it is a hike you're after and want one that has a large and amazing waterfall payoff at the end, then the nearby Lulumahu Falls Hike is what you're looking for. For most, this is a relatively easy and quick hike to do with about a mile of mostly easy hiking to get to the waterfall and the same back out.
Now it's time for that third amazing lookout point I promised so head just a bit further up the Pali Highway to Nu'uanu Pali Lookout. You'll need a few dollars (cash) to pay to park here (free for residents) but it's worth it. The views are amazing and if it's windy here (it often is) it's fun to experience the wind tunnel effect that blows through here.
This is also a very sacred place as it was home to the bloody Battle of Nu'uanu. There are also some hikes here like the popular Pali Puka Hike which is for more advanced hikers and the Pali Notches Hike which is for very, very advanced hikers. But even if you're not hiking, this is a must-see attraction.
Now should be a good time to grab some nearby lunch as you head towards your next stop which will be Iolani Palace. This is the only royal palace in the United States and you can take a tour of the inside. It's a great way to learn about the Hawaiian people and culture but younger kids aren't likely to enjoy this a whole lot but they'll like the next stop.
As promised, something that the kids and adults alike will enjoy is the The Bernice Pauahi Bishop Museum. This museum mixes ancient Hawaiian history and culture along with fun and exciting hands-on science exhibits that make learning fun. It's not a huge place at all but worth a visit, with or without kids. You'll likely spend the rest of the afternoon here up until they close, which is usually around 5:00 PM. The bulk of our busy day is over but we have one more place to visit before you call it complete.
You've heard about it, you've probably read about it, and now it's time to experience Oahu's Chinatown. This Chinatown is pretty small but it's the real deal (see Chinatown History for more). I saved this for last so that you'll have a little time to walk around, shop for oddities, and to just see what it's all about.
As dinner time approaches, you'll find plenty of dining options right here in Chinatown to choose from. So find something that both appeals to you and has you a little worried because that's how you find new things and create new memories. That's a long day for sure, but hopefully, it leaves you wanting more because tomorrow is just a night away.
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