While the city of Honolulu has some great beaches and attractions within the city, there is much to be seen on the rest of the island of Oahu. A driving tour of the island, often referred to as the Grand Circle tour can be done in a day. The best thing about this tour is that each stop is vastly different to the next, and you get to see how quickly the landscape changes. I would recommend renting a car and driving around, as you get to set your own pace this way. If you would prefer to go with a guided tour, there are plenty of options available.
We wanted the best of both worlds: being able to set our pace, as well as have a tour guide explain the historical and cultural significance of each site. So we chose the GyPSy Guide apps, which worked out perfectly for us. The app has pre recorded segments with information a tour guide would tell you, and it activates through the GPS on your phone. Even better, it doesn’t require you to have data coverage! We used multiple of the tours they offer throughout Hawai’i and we were very impressed with how well it worked. I would absolutely use these apps again.
So if you are looking to do a Grand Circle tour of Oahu, here are the spots you don’t want to miss out on.
This bay is one of the most popular spot on the island for snorkelling, so be prepared for some crowds. The protected bay has some very calm waters, which makes for very easy snorkelling, especially since many different species of fish also like to visit the bay.
Not only do you get some amazing views of the ocean from here, but if the conditions are right you may see the spray shoot our high from the rocks. This is most likely to happen at high tide when high winds are present. Be sure to watch your step, since the currents in this region are very strong.
Nu’Uanu Pali Lookout:
Just a little way out of Honolulu, this lookout offers some amazing views of the Northeast coast of Oahu. This was probably one of my favourite spots on the island, making you feel like you’re on the set of Jurassic Park. This cliffside was also the site of one of the bloodiest battles in Hawaiian history. Make sure to hold onto your belongings as the windspeeds in this pass can get as high as 70mph at times.
Learn all about the fruits that are grown in the region at Dole Plantation. The most popular attraction is probably the Pineapple Express Train, that takes you around the plantation. This is also a great place to grab a snack, as the pineapple slushy here is delicious!
Right on the northern tip of the island is Laniakea beach. It has earned it’s nickname ’Turtle beach’ with good reason, since sea turtles can often be spotted sunbathing here. It is illegal to touch them, and volunteers rope off areas around the turtles to give them space. Be mindful of your surroundings, and you might just spot a handful of them if you are lucky!
The Waimea valley is a historical natural park that protects and preserves an area that is of cultural significance to the people of Hawai’i. The park also helps to conserve the many native species of flora and fauna that are currently endangered. While you are here, make sure to take the short hike to the famous Waimea falls.
This replica of the historic temple in Kyoto was built in commemoration of 100 years of the first Japanese immigration to Hawai’i. This final stop on the circle tour is a pleasant way to find your zen before you head back.
Have you been to Oahu? What are your favourite spots?
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