Bird Watching: Native forest birds such as the Apapane and Elepaio can be seen on nearby Maunawili Trail. Even if one does not see an endemic bird, the beautifully melodic song of the Shama Thrush as well as many other species can also be enjoyed right in Hale Nalo's gardens.The best location to see seabirds is - quiet fortunately - nearby at Makapuu Point where Frigatebirds, Boobies, Noddies, Terns, Tropicbirds, and Shearwaters can be seen. (Birdsong recordings courtesy David Kuhn, www.SoundsHawaiian.com.)
Swim with Dolphins in the Wild: "On their terms, in their turf." This company caters to conscientious adventure seekers who want to explore Hawaii's amazing marine heritage with an eco-sensitive, respectful marine biologist guide. In addition to swimming with wild dolphins, you may find yourself snorkeling alongside native Hawaiian sea turtles ("honu") on coral reefs and encountering whales (year-round). Wonderful staff. Tip: their "Best of the West" tour rocks! Highly recommended!
Waterfall Hikes & Jungle Excursions Our favorite is the Manoa Waterfall Hike (think "Jurassic Park") that will take you though dense tropical jungles and bamboo forests. Nature and bird lovers' delight. Guide yourself using the books in the lobby library and save on "tour" fees. Tips: Be prepared to walk in mud on any/all jungle hikes and be sure to take bug spray.
Makapuu Lighthouse One of Hawaii's most familiar landmarks commanding a spectacular view of Windward Oahu. Built in 1909, this 1-mile paved trail leads to the lighthouse and offers a fantastic view of Molokai and Lanai. An easy but challenging walk because of the elevation gain. Take a bottle of water and use the restroom before going as there are no "facilities" to speak of. Located just 4 minutes south on Kalanianaole Hwy (72).
Hanauma Bay is one of the most popular natural resources in Hawaii, and lucky for us, it is conveniently located just 10 minutes south on Kalanianaole Hwy (72). It is usually calm enough to snorkel. (Closed Tuesdays.) But also consider Shark's Cove, on the North Shore, where there is even better snorkeling as long as it's calm (It is inaccessible in winter.) Tip: when you plan your North Shore trip, (if it's not winter), take your suit and snorkel gear and check it out!
North Shore Check out Hawaii's uber-cool surfer scene in Haleiwa! Check out Shark's Cove in summers, watch local surfers on huge waves at the famous Pipeline and Sunset Beach in winters. Grab a "shave ice", lunch at one of the many fine eateries. Tip: be prepared for slow traffic, especially in winter, going in and coming out.
Whale Watching Every winter, humpback whales leave their feeding grounds in Alaska and head south to Hawaii to give birth and mate. Nearby Halona Blowhole has a fantastic perch from which to view these magnificent mammals from shore, but they're visible from just about anywhere. The key is patience. If you really want to see them, we recommend setting aside a few hours. Take a hat, sunscreen, water and some snacks, then relax and enjoy the show.
Diamond Head Crater Hike the world's most recognized volcanic crater! The view from the 760-ft. summit is well worth the climb. The steep trail is mostly paved and includes two sets of stairs leading to a tunnel. Local tip: bring a flashlight!
Pali Lookout Just off the highway connecting Windward Oahu to Honolulu. From this windswept vantage point, you'll be treated to a panoramic view of windward Oahu and the sparkling sweep of Kaneohe Bay. An easy "must-see" on the road between Waimanalo and Honolulu.
Pearl Harbor The U.S.S Missouri secured its place in history as the site of Japan's unconditional surrender to the United States, bringing an end to World War II. Today the Missouri shares the harbor with the sunken U.S.S. Arizona, a memorial to all who lost their lives during the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941.
Iolani Palace The only restored royal palace in the United States. Built in 1882 for King Kalakaua, it offers a unique glimpse into the mystique and grandeur of Hawaii's regal past. This Renaissance-style building was the official residence of King Kalakaua and Queen Liliuokalani, Hawaii's last two monarchs. Located in downtown Honolulu.
Bishop Museum Established to house the extensive collection of Hawaiian artifacts and royal family heirlooms of the Princess, and has expanded to include millions of artifacts, documents and photographs about Hawaii and other Pacific island cultures.
Mission Houses The original headquarters of the Sandwich Islands Mission, a group of New England missionaries who arrived in Hawaii in 1820, determined to convert the Hawaiians to Christianity. Today the original three buildings of the mission have been restored into an outstanding museum, complete with original furnishings and curios. Local tip: the museum café is excellent.
Waikiki Historic Trail Amidst the concrete jungle known as "Waikiki" lives the very different world of the past—housing the rich and fascinating history of the Hawaiian Islands. Follow the link to a map and self-guided historical tour. Allow 4 hours. Local tip: best place to park, alongside the Honolulu Zoo.
Honolulu Museum of Art + the Contemporary Museum The Honolulu Museum of Art is all about the collection, preservation, interpretation, and teaching of the visual arts, and the presentation of exhibits, films, videos, performing arts and public programs specifically relevant to Hawaii's ethnically diverse community. Great way to spend the day after a beach day. (Tip: both museums have fabulous cafés and shops!)
Queen Emma Summer Palace This served as a retreat for Queen Emma of Hawaii from 1857 to 1885, as well as for her husband King Kamehameha IV, and their son, Prince Albert Edward. It is a now a historic landmark and museum.
Byodo-In Temple Located in the Valley of the Temples north of Kaneohe, this temple was built in the 1960's to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the first Japanese immigrant workers in Hawaii who came to work in the sugar plantation fields. It is a replica of the 950-year-old Byodoin Temple located in Uji, Japan on the southern outskirts of Kyoto.
Waikiki Aquarium Located next to a living reef on the Waikiki shoreline, the Aquarium focuses its exhibits, programs and research on the diversity of aquatic, shoreline and reef inhabitants in Hawaii and the tropical Pacific. Home to 2,500 animals representing 420 species, the Aquarium is especially proud of its world-renowned coral reef exhibits.
Hawaii International Film Festival (HIFF) (April)
The Hawaii International Film Festival is dedicated to the advancement of understanding and cultural exchange among the peoples of Asia, the Pacific and North America through the medium of film.
Honolulu Triathlon (May)
Thousands of triathletes from around the world visit Oahu each May to compete in the Honolulu Triathlon. The race features a 1.5K swim, 40K bike and 10K run that begins and ends at Ala Moana Beach Park.
Lantern Floating Hawaii Ceremony (May)
Every year on Memorial Day, thousands of people gather at Magic Island to honor ancestors and loved ones who have passed away. At sundown, more than 2,000 candlelit lanterns are set afloat on the ocean, a traditional Buddhist rite originating in Japan.
Sunday Polo in Waimanalo (May-October)
Sunday afternoons at 2:30 p.m., Waimanalo Polo Field.
Prince Lot Hula Festival (July)
Each third Saturday in July, the largest non-competitive hula event in Hawaii takes place at Moanalua Gardens. A number of Hawaii's top hula halau (performing dancers) participate each year. Highly recommended! Free. Local tip: take a picnic and sit on the grass, best view of stage area.
Gabby Pahihui Kanikapila (August)
The Gabby Pahinui Waimanalo Kanikapila (Hawaiian jam session), held each August at Waimanalo Beach Park, supports efforts to establish a museum and performance center for Hawaiian music and hula. An incredible opportunity for lovers of Hawaiian music. Free.
Aloha Festival (September)
Aloha Festivals is Hawaii's premier cultural showcase, a celebration of Hawaii's music, dance and history intended to preserve the unique island traditions.
Molokai Hoe (October)
One of the longest running annual team sporting events in Hawaii, the race starts on Molokai and goes through the infamous Kaiwi Channel, ending at the beach fronting the Hilton Hawaiian Village. The Molokai Hoe perpetuates one of Hawaii's and Polynesia's most important and historic cultural traditions, while honoring outrigger canoe paddlers around the world.
Triple Crown of Surfing (November-December)
Every winter, powerful swells cross thousands of miles of open ocean and descend upon the Hawaiian Islands, creating some of the biggest, most powerful and most challenging waves on the planet. Go watch the worlds best surfers compete for the crown!
Honolulu Marathon (December)
Thousands of runners from around the world travel to Oahu each year to participate in the Honolulu Marathon. The 26-mile scenic course includes spectacular views from world famous Waikiki Beach and Diamond Head.
ISLANDS Magazine ranks Waimanalo the "Best Summer Beach in the World" (and gives Hale 'Nalo a nod!)
New York Times Terrific article entitled "My Kailua", praises Waimanalo
Forbes Magazine "Summer Alert: Dr. Beach Picks the 10 Best U.S. Beaches of 2011"
The Food Company (Kailua. All around excellent local cuisine.)
Sweet Home Waimanalo (Waimanalo. Fresh local cuisine. Must try: fish tacos!)
Paina Cafe (Hawaii Kai/Kokohead Marina; must try: sushi bowls!)
Formaggio's Grill (Kailua. Casual/chic Euro-bistro. Fantastic food and atmosphere!)
Rai Rai Ramen (Kailua; Authentic Japanese Noodle shop. Must try: Chicken Katsu Ramen)
House Without A Key (Halekulani, Waikiki. For that special night out. Be seated at 5:00 p.m.)