Welcome to Oahu, Hawaii

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Oahu is one of the most favorite family holiday destinations. Visitors from all over the world flock to Oahu to enjoy warm tropical weather, world-famous white sand beaches, majestic mountains, fascinating volcanoes, and the beautiful rainforests, not to speak of the amazing mix of the Pacific cultures that is evident in the Hawaiian capital Honolulu. An Oahu visit is a dream come true for any family.

For Hawaiians, the ‘ohana' (family) and the care for ‘keiki' (children) are very important. There are a variety of activities designed with the family and children in mind. Many hotels and condominiums offer special programs and activities for children, making sure that they are never bored.

The world famous Waikiki Beach is the center of attraction for any tourist. It features some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Among them, Kuhio Beach and Gray Beach are ideal for family swimming and snorkeling as the gentle shallow waters makes it safe for children. There are many other popular ocean activities that the family can enjoy. Children love the thrill of learning how to surf, or take a guided kayak tour, or watch playful dolphins on a Dolphin Sail, among many other things.

Also at Waikiki is the Waikiki Aquarium. It displays more than 300 different types of Pacific and Hawaiian marine life, with exhibits and movies complementing the interesting creatures. Nearby is Honolulu Zoo, which is noted for its incredible beauty. It houses many unique mammals, birds, and reptiles that inhabit the forests just outside Honolulu.

Pearl Harbor is one the most visited places on the island. The Arizona Memorial Visitor Center here is where an insight is gained into the history of World War II. The USS Missouri is the latest addition to Pearl Harbor and is historically very significant. It was on this battleship that the treaty between Japan and the U.S. was signed at the end of the WWII. Also in the area is the USS Bowfin Park and Submarine Museum, where your family can see one of the last World War II subs.

Another great place and a must see on Oahu is the Polynesian Cultural Center. The indigenous Polynesian cultures of Hawaii - Tahiti, Samoa, Fiji, the Marquesas, New Zealand and Tonga - are all represented in this wonderful 42-acre center. Shows, demonstrations, IMAX films, shopping and handicrafts complete the experience. There is also an impressive night show, the world's largest Polynesian revue.

A scenic drive up to the beautiful North Shore is a must. On the way, the family would love a stop at the Dole Pineapple Plantation. Here you can take a narrated train ride through the pineapple fields, find your way through the world's largest maze and learn about crops traditionally grown in the islands. Also along the way is the lush Waimea Valley. Here you can see rare and endangered Hawaiian flora and fauna, and enjoy hundreds of acres of strolling paths and hiking trails, world-class botanical gardens and rich archaeological sites.

The Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve is another popular spot. This is a sunken volcanic crater where snorkelers can enjoy a rainbow of reef inhabitants, colorful schools of fish and other sea life.

With all these exciting activities of Oahu, a tour of historical downtown Honolulu must not be forgotten. A unique historical landmark here is the Iolani Palace, the only royal palace in the United States. Until 1893, when the Hawaiian monarchy was overthrown, this was the official residence of Hawaii's monarchs. Bishop Museum is nearby. It is the largest museum of natural and cultural history in Hawaii. Its many facets include a planetarium, traveling exhibits, guided tours, demonstrations and live performances. There are several other sights with ethnic influences, like the 8-feet tall statue of King Kamehameha, that downtown Honolulu has to offer.

Oahu also offers some great family friendly dining. There is a range of dining choices suited for all ages. Besides burger joints and local favorites like Malasadas (Portuguese donuts), there are a variety of brunches and meals to choose from. To really sample a taste of Hawaii, your family must take in a luau, which is a local feast with an accent on fun.

Don't forget to enjoy some great shopping in Oahu. The Ala Moana Center is Hawaii's premier shopping center, but the International Marketplace has been an island tradition for years. This open air Marketplace is located in the heart of Waikiki and has over 130 carts, shops and artisan stands. Another great shopping experience is the Aloha Flea Market at the Aloha Stadium, which is the biggest swap meet, garage sale, flea market and crafts fair in Hawaii.

Oahu offers the best of Hawaii, and a family trip there is an experience to cherish the rest your life.