Are you the type of vacationer who likes to get to your destination and immediately just relax – maybe pull up a chair by the pool and plan to not leave until it’s time to go home? Or, are you the vacationer who likes to get out and explore, being on the go nonstop, seeing all there is to see? Maybe you are a little of both? I am definitely a bit of both, but when I travel I am always anxious to see as much as I can, after all, that is one of the best ways to get perspective on a new place and immerse yourself into your new space. Even pre-pandemic, when I was traveling for work and a lot and often making quick trips, I made time to squeeze in a walk to explore, or a visit to a local cultural spot. I feel like I have learned so much from all the exploring I have done on my travels – not only about the place I am visiting, but also about myself.
Depending on where you’re going, the time you’ll be spending there and the transportation you’ll have, exploring can sometimes be challenging. When I visited Oahu, Hawaii I only had 3 days, but I knew I wanted to make the most of that time. I didn’t want the hassle of getting a rental car just to explore for one of the days, so the best option was a guided tour. Tours can take away the headache of figuring our directions for a new place, plus they give you loads of information along the way. The Oahu Grand Circle Island Tour by Polynesian Adventure was the best option for Oahu! It was a full day tour that picked up right near my hotel, with a great guide (I hope you get Kaleo on your tour, he was FANTASTIC, full of knowledge and dad jokes), lots of great information about the islands history and culture, beautiful sites to see and more. Never once did I have to open a map, worry about GPS, or stress about timing – I just got to sit back, learn and enjoy the sites. And speaking of sites, Oahu has a lot of them – here are a few of the highlights you’ll see on the Circle Tour…
- Diamondhead Volcano: While this tour doesn’t take you up to the top or into the volcano, you go around the base of it. It’s quite impressive to see the size of a volcano up close. Plus you’ll hear how these volcanoes formed the islands, and you’ll get stunning views out to the sea and nearby swimming holes.
- Nu’uanu Pali Lookout: This tour takes you all over the island, even up the mountains into the rainforest. From this lookout you’ll have absolutely stunning views of the island far below and the sea as far as you can see (literally, it’s like 2,500 miles to the mainland). It’s also where King Kamehameha united Oahu under his rule in 1795.
- Dole Plantation: Can you come to Oahu and not visit the Dole plantation? I think not! Pineapple is something Hawaii has always been known for and Dole was a big part of that. While they still grow pineapple for the islands, they no longer ship to the mainland, so to get a true Hawaiian treat, and the freshest pineapple, you’ll want to visit this spot. If you’re a Dolewhip fan, they have you covered too.
- Chinaman’s Hat: There is something about seeing a massive piece of land or rock in the middle of the ocean. As you drive along, admiring the coastline, you’ll come across this big beauty out in the middle of the ocean. You may have guessed, this landmark got it’s name from the hats that Chinese immigrants wore many years ago.
- Waimea Valley: When you think of Hawaii you likely think of the ocean and the jungle/rainforest. During your visit, I highly recommend seeing both. The two different landscapes are just incredible. This valley is so picturesque and immerses you right into the jungle. This is the lunch stop on the tour, which was authentic Hawaiian, and very yummy. It’s also a good time in the tour to stretch your legs, as you can hike to a stunning waterfall. You can even swim under the falls. (You can also take a golf cart to the falls, just be prepared to pay.)
- Byodo Temple: Nestled in the Valley of the Temples on the slopes of the Ko’olau Mountain Range, among koi ponds and roaming peacocks, you’ll find this stunning temple. It truly looks like a painting with the mountains as a backdrop. The temple is a replica of one in Japan and was built to commemorate the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaii. Fun fact, it was built with no nails! It’s a tranquil stop on the tour, one where you can send a prayer to Budha or make a wish on the giant gong.
- We also stopped at a macadamia nut farm, drove along the North Shore where the big surf is sought by the worlds best surfers, saw celebrity homes – including the one Barack Obama is building, and much more.
Travel Tip: Always look for tours on sites like Groupon or Viator. It’s a great way to see the options available in the area you’ll be visiting, plus you can save a little bit of money. Just be sure to read the reviews and the fine print.
The Circle Tour is probably the best tour of Oahu and Honolulu, and the most comprehensive too. Be sure to check out my other Oahu posts for more info on this beautiful island. (Hawaiian Adventure: Part 1 – Honolulu/Oahu & Where to Stay in Honolulu)
Signed with Style,
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