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Discussion Starter #1
I'm not bringing the Ridgeline. I have reserved a 4 door Jeep Wrangler, hopefully rag-top. I am staying at Turtle Bay for a family reunion in Kahuku.

One of the things I was planning to do was to drive around the island as close to the edge as possible. It looks like 72 and 83 would have fantastic views of the ocean. It looks like there are military bases and observation centers at the SW side of the island and I saw in another thread here that you need permits to travel in certain areas. Is this true? Where do you get the permits?

Any information you can give would be really appreciated.

If you want to share other information with a first time visitor to Hawaii/Oahu that would also be greatly appreciated. Like where to buy food for a reasonable price, must see things while there, cheap beer/liquor stores, etc.

Oh, to get from the airport - HNL to Turtle Bay and back, is it about the same distance and time to take H1 or 83?
 

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We just did this in January. We ran pretty much the length of the coast. You dont need any permits unless you want to actually go onto the military base at the north end of the island, i cant remember what its name was.

There is only one grocery store in waikiki, its called the food pantry. Inside of it is a little steak sandwich place which is really good. We ate there more than once. Chucks Cellar also has good prime rib. The shrimp trucks driving around the island are supposed to be really good as well but we didnt stop at any. Dukes is a good touristy place to eat.

As for tourist stuff the only thing we did that really stood out was the submarine ride. Spring for the bigger one with the bigger windows and ask about discounts. They offered a military one but didnt mention it unless you asked. Dont go on their dinner cruise though, that sucked.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
We just did this in January. We ran pretty much the length of the coast. You dont need any permits unless you want to actually go onto the military base at the north end of the island, i cant remember what its name was.
How did you do the trip around the island? Used a map or just tried to stay on the road closest to the ocean. It looks like Hwy 930 - Farmington Hwy ends at the Kuaokala forest. There are just dots from one end of 930 before the forest to where it picks up again by Kaena Point State park. It does seem to go right by Hidden Beach. I wonder if you can travel whatever the dots are on the Google map.

I have never been to Hawaii and for all I know I may never go back. I don't know why, but I have gotten it in my head that I have to drive around the island while on Oahu. I do want to take the most scenic route possible.

I did a submarine ride in the Cayman Islands when I did a cruise a couple years back. I think that may have been the best part of the whole cruise. I didn't even realize they had the rides in Hawaii. I will have to look into it.

Thanks for the information haar.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Pearl Harbor is a must see thing IMHO.
That is one of the two things we have planned along with the downhill bike ride. I also want to visit the Polynesian Cultural Center for the luau, but we will be with locals so they may not want to go. I figure that would be like me going to a Louisiana or Houston cultural center.
 

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How did you do the trip around the island? Used a map or just tried to stay on the road closest to the ocean. It looks like Hwy 930 - Farmington Hwy ends at the Kuaokala forest. There are just dots from one end of 930 before the forest to where it picks up again by Kaena Point State park. It does seem to go right by Hidden Beach. I wonder if you can travel whatever the dots are on the Google map.

I have never been to Hawaii and for all I know I may never go back. I don't know why, but I have gotten it in my head that I have to drive around the island while on Oahu. I do want to take the most scenic route possible.

I did a submarine ride in the Cayman Islands when I did a cruise a couple years back. I think that may have been the best part of the whole cruise. I didn't even realize they had the rides in Hawaii. I will have to look into it.

Thanks for the information haar.
We just rented a convertible for the day and used the google map thing on the Iphone and went. A lot of the way around theres only one road to go on so its pretty easy. You can almost just follow the other tourists. you'll know them by the convertible mustangs, Dodge Chargers and 4 door Jeep Wranglers. If your into the tv show Lost theres a botanical garden where they filmed a lot of it included the waterfall thing. I dont watch but the park lady told us about it. Also for planning timewise the speed limit hardly ever is aboove 45 mph. I think with the 3 stops we made we took about 5 hours.
 

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You can basically nearly circumnavigate Oahu along the coastline. The big hang-up is the Ka'ena Point on the North-Western tip. You can hike it, but the road connecting the two sides washed into the ocean years ago. The drive from Eva Beach/Nanakuli out to Makaha and the point is pretty, but there is only one way in and out. There is a road on the maps that cuts over the mountain, but it is part of the Naval base and is not open to the public. There are trails that you can access with a permit that go over the radar station close to the point, but they are rough and I doubt they'd let you in the gate with a rental vehicle (aside from the obvious no-no that the rental agency will tell you. Sure, it's a Jeep, but don't take it off-road).

As for access to Turtle Bay, it is probably faster/easier to get there via the H1 to the H2, and then East along the North Shore. That is mostly freeway. Kam Highway is a beautiful drive along the Windward side, but is 1 lane in each direction, and averages about 35 MPH. The good news is, Turtle Bay is awesome. The bad news is, it is almost the longest drive from nearly anywhere on the island.
 

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The short list of places to see on Oahu, and time to spend there:
  • Makaha beach/ Leeward coastline: Some pretty areas, but the Leeward side is generally dry. Factor in half a day and go in the morning, which will put you against the flow of rush hour traffic.
  • Pearl Harbor/ Pacific Aviation Museum: Plenty to see for history/military buffs, and close to Pearl City mall for food and things to keep the "rest of the family" interested. 1/4 to full day, depending on interest. Arizona Memorial does not allow bags, purses, etc inside, and the parking lot is notorious for theft, so travel light and plan accordingly.
  • Downtown Honolulu: There are several old buildings, including the palace and early colonial buildings. Traffic and roads in "town" and Waikiki are horrible, parking is scant, and expensive when you do find it. If you can plan it right, catch The Bus. Fares are reasonable and it is very tourist-friendly. Ala Moana mall between Honolulu and Waikiki offers lots of free parking and is a major hub for The Bus.
  • Waikiki: If you're coming to Oahu, you might as well spend a day in Waikiki, since that's all your friends are going to ask you about when you get home anyways, right? Take a shuttle or Bus in, and just spend the day walking. Walk the boardwalk to say you've been to the beach, and then hit up the shops or just walk through the nice hotels. The snorkling and other beach activities will be just as good, and probably better, at Turtle Bay so skip the crowds when you can.
  • Hikes & scenery - town side: Punchbowl national cemetery, Tantalaus/Round-Top drive, and Diamond-Head crater. The access to Puncbowl is on Tantalaus drive, which winds up a mountain ridge through the watershed area, and then loops back down the next ridgeline as Round-Top drive. There is a park on Round Top with a great picnic area and a roughly 220 degree panorama view of Honolulu & Waikiki that's hard to beat. 2-3 hours if you stop to take lots of pictures.
    Diamond Head is iconic, and quite a good hike. There's a fee for parking, so if your legs are strong, park outside the crater and walk in. There has been a lot of construction lately to upgrade the trail.
  • From Hawaii-Kai to Waimanalo: As you pass Koko-Head crater leaving Hawaii-Kai, the entrance to famous Haunama Bay is on your right as you crest the hill. It is closed every Tuesday, so the fish can have a day of rest. It was hit hard by Hurricane Iniki in the 90's, and still hasn't fully recovered. The snorkeling is good, but not my favorite. There is a roughly 30 minute mandatory ecology video at the visitor's center before you may enter the bay. There they tell you not to stand on coral, not to feed the fish Doritos or call them bad names, and not to pee in the big pool.:act062:
    A little further down the highway is "toilet bowl," where the incoming waves/tidesrush in and out through an old lava tube and swirl in a spot in the rock about the size of a large hot tub. People have been beaten, scraped, drowned, and sucked completely out to sea there by the unpredictable actions of the ocean. Warning signs are a good thing.
    Next is "Blowhole." Best to catch at high tide, it works like toilet bowl, but is about the size of a softball, so incoming waves shoot a small geyser of water into the air.
    Sandy Beach is next (I know. Creative naming process, right?). The beach is a favorite for bodyboarders, as it creates good waves, but they break right onto the shore. There are some mean waves and tides. Lots of guys get broken bones, and last weekend a bodyboarder completely vanished. Just past the parking lot for Sandy Beach are some minor sand trails to play in that meander through the bushes along the ocean. It's legal and nobody will bother you. Just keep an eye out for sharp rock in the sand.
    The next landmark is the Makapu'u lighthouse. The view is nice, but the hike is deceptively long. Just beyond the lighthouse is Sea Life park, which is like a 1/2 price version of Sea World, only they charge you full price.
  • There's not much to see in Waimanalo except the scenery itself. As the road winds up the hill it will take you inland slightly. You then have the option to steer toward Kailua, or skirt around it near the mountains.
  • Kailua: You can actually see very little of the ocean from the road in Kailua, but there is a lot of nice beach to visit. The bulk of the popular access is at Kailua Beach park, although there are beach access points every several hundred feet along the coast.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Wow, rebturtle, THANKS !!!!

Great information. I quickly read over your posts and will have to sit down and read it later with a map in hand.

Couple of questions just from the first read through:

1) Does 83 - Kam highway always average 35 miles and hour or just during the rush hours? If not in a hurry is it worth it to take it for the scenic value. My Garmin said that to take H1 from Honolulu airport to Turtle Bay was approximately the same mileage and time as taking 83.

2) Where is your favorite place to snorkel? I am bringing my gear (provided I can bring it and keep my bag under 50 pounds). The best snorkeling I have seen was in the Cayman Islands.
 

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Pearl Harbor, and all the places Rebturtle sugggested are Great and a must see.
Hey Rebturtle how come no mention of a Luau?
I only saw one, but compaired to the others reports from fellow passengers on the cruise ship, we got the best deal. IT was in Maui at Old Lahasna Luau.
Enjoy. Oh you will want to go back!!
 

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My wife and I were there in November and drove around the island in a rented, and well worn Jeep Wrangler. It's actually not that hard to go around the island. We did it on an afternoon. Turtle bay is a nice place. We stayed in Waikiki. If I go again, we likely will go to Kona or the big island. It was our experience that the locals seem to cater more towards the Japanese tourists than the Americans, Canadians and Australians. I'm sure some would disagree with that, but it's what I saw.
 
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