Oahu is blessed with a temperate climate. Year-round, you're pretty much guaranteed sunny skies. The temperatures typically range from 21 degrees (not bad!) to 30 degrees (awesome!). Annually, the island receives less than 25 inches of rain; the rainiest months are November through January, so consider planning your trip around these weather patterns. Ocean temperatures vary but range between 25 degrees in the cooler winter months and 27 degrees in the summer.
2. Soft adventure
There's no shortage of soft adventure options on the island. From snorkelling, diving and surfing to kayaking and outrigger canoeing, Oahu's climate and mostly calm waters make for near-perfect conditions for light outdoor activities. Note: before engaging in any water sports, be sure to check the water conditions for that day. Most beaches post daily surf and tide updates.
Prefer turf to surf? Hike Diamond Head. Situated on the southeast coast of the island, Diamond Head is one of the most famous volcanic craters in the world. The 1-3/4-mile hike is moderately intense and will take about an hour and a half to complete. The best time of day to hike is early in the morning; you'll avoid big crowds and the intense sun. The trail is not shaded so don't forget to wear a hat and sunscreen and bring water to keep yourself hydrated. Once you reach the top, the panoramic views of Waikiki Beach are worth the effort!
3. Great accommodations
Oahu has so many great hotels, it won't be hard to find something just right for you. If beachfront is essential, Waikiki Beach is lined with options like the Outrigger Waikiki on the Beach, where the rooms are large and spacious and feel like an apartment, or the two 30-story towers of the Sheraton. These oceanfront hotels offer stunning views, not only of the beach but of Diamond Head, which dominates the skyline along the south coast. If you're looking for something more budget-friendly, Honolulu is full of other hotels that are just walking distance from the beach. The Aqua Palms and Spa, for instance, is off-beach but it's on track for an affordable boutique hotel experience. If luxury in a low-key environment is more your style, consider the JW Marriott Ihilani Resort & Spa in Ko Olina, located a short drive from the hectic pace of Waikiki. This high-rise hotel offers stylish, spacious accommodations in an elegant, family-friendly setting. The rooms feature every comfort from a state-of-the-art air purification system to deep soak tubs.
Page 1 of 24. 125 Beaches
Oahu is home to more than 125 beaches. From the massive waves on the North Shore (sometimes reaching more than 40 feet in height!) to the calm, gentle waters of Waikiki Beach, Oahu's beaches offer something for everyone. If rest and relaxation are on your agenda, grab your sarong and sandals and head for Waikiki. This two-mile-long beach is a popular spot so if you're looking for a patch of sand to call your own, get there early and mark out your territory. For a less-crowded beach experience, hit the North Shore. Known for enormous, even epic waves, the North Shore has gained global recognition as one of the world's premier spots for surfing, body boarding and body surfing. The waves can swell as high as 40 feet and while they're incredible to watch, they're also incredibly dangerous. But for a pleasant walk and an intimate encounter with Mother Nature, don't miss the North Shore.
5. Pearl Harbor
Just west of Honolulu is Pearl Harbor. If you visit Oahu, take the time to visit the USS Arizona memorial at Pearl Harbor. It's a sombre but special experience. On December 7, 1941, 1,177 men lost their lives in the attack on Pearl Harbor. The memorial spans the sunken ship, marking the final resting place of those brave soldiers. About 150,000 people visit annually, making Pearl Harbor Hawaii's most popular tourist attraction. Visitors often bring flowers, to throw into the water as a tribute. Note: Due to security restrictions, you won't be allowed to bring a purse, backpack or any other kind of bag and there are no storage facilities, so be sure to leave them behind. Cameras are allowed.
6. World-class shopping
When you're not sunning yourself on any one of Oahu's many beaches, grab your wallet and hit the shops. There's something for everyone, from casual to high-end. Situated in the heart of Honolulu, Ala Moana Shopping Center is one of the world's largest open-air shopping centres, bursting with over 200 stores for the serious shopaholic. You'll find old standbys like Macy's and Sears along with high-end boutiques like Valentino, Prada and Gucci. For something more authentically Hawaiian, visit the International Market Place. This open-air market is in the heart of Waikiki and is particularly charming at night. It's built around a 100-year-old Banyan tree and the kiosks offer up everything from jewelry to food.
7. Art galleries
Oahu is rife with art galleries. And while visiting an art gallery might not top your list of things to do in Hawaii, it's the perfect rainy day activity. So if the heavens open up and bestow a downpour, head to one of O'ahu's many galleries. The Pegge Hopper Gallery not only features a wonderful collection of original Hawaiian works but if you're interested in taking home a memento, prints are affordable. Or, head down to Chinatown, considered the hub of the island's arts and culture community – you'll find over 30 galleries to explore here. For more information, go to visit-oahu.com.
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Natalie Bahadur is a regular contributor to CanadianLiving.com and the editor of StyleAtHome.com.