by Kim Papole

Ride da bus. Meet da' kine locals.

A day's drive -- you'll need two days if you use the killer 85 cent bus -- lets you sample the Oahu many miss outside Waikiki and Honolulu. Rent your car or scooter early -- even the night before if it's a 24 hour rental -- to avoid the morning jams and head out past Diamond Head on Kalakaua Ave, Diamond Head Road and Kahala Ave. as the sun rises. If you're stiff, try the steep hike up to Diamond Head and reflect on wars past with a walk through the National Cemetery of the Pacific in the Punchbowl. The road dead ends at the Waialae Country Club so you need to head back north on Kalanianaole Highway past the Nui Valley toward Koho Head. It's not far to Hanauma Bay Road and the wonderful State Underwater Park and Beach.

Hanauma Bay's worth the walk and the new fees.


When you're water-logged from Hanauma Bay, continue past the Lanai, Molokai and Blowhole Lookouts and Sea Life Park. There's fishing off Makai Pier and the "Magnum, P.I. House" lurks just before Waimanalo Beach State Park. The Highway circles back to Honolulu over the Pali past Queen Emma's Summer Palace that's a dandy stop, if you're not bused or rushed. But most one day circumnavigators continue right on the Kamehamea Highway past a host of State Parks and beaches worth the stopping.

The Windward Shore presents a bunch of fruit stands, a bouquet of orchid and other nurseries and a school of aquaculture operations where, in years past, we've bought shrimp and such for the barbecue. Factor in State Parks, azure bays, the Forest Reserves in the mountains and other reasons to dawdle and it's tough to round the island in a day. For example, if you have the time, take an hour's walk up through the Forest Reserve. Unfortunately, as elsewhere, you can't leave gear in unlocked cars and it's not wise to stick around on unpopulated beaches, and not safe to swim if the surf's up or rips run fast.

Past the upscale diversions of the Turtle Bay Hilton, it's surf city, with Sunset Beach, Pipeline, Chun's Reef and Waimea worth a stop if "surf's up." Further on, Haleiwa, a fine historic town, offers an eco-tourism information center at Great Pacific Patagonia in the North Shore Marketplace and, if you're "bentoed out" what most consider the best burgers in the islands at Kua Aina Sandwich. 

Most bus or drive back toward Honolulu on the Kamehamea Highway past the Dole Pineapple plantation. However, there's a nice drive out Farmington Highway on weekends if there's polo at the Mokuleia Polo Grounds. Legal highs include tandem parachute rides and sailplane flights before the road turns to dirt rough enough to void car rental contracts.

The alternative route back to Honolulu, Highway 930, runs past Schofield Barracks where the 25th Infantry Division Museum deserves a look. Just across from the Barracks' entrance, Wahiawa has a nice reservoir if you care to fish. You end up back on the Kamehameha Highway near Pearl Harbor.

Several sites offer Parasailing.



However, it's usually time to head back to downtown as the last show and tour starts at 3 p.m.. Save the three or four hours it takes to experience the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial National Historic Park until 7:30 a.m. another day and avoid the mid-day crush. Don't miss the nearby U.S.S. Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park either. These, and a side trip out past Pokai Bay and Makaha Beach to the most rural side of Oahu cut the miles and can fill the day before a Paradise Cove or Germaine's Luau.

Take the time to leave downtown. Stop where it looks interesting. Try a treat at a local shop. Share a seat with a Hawaiian lady on the way to her second job. Meet the locals. You'll find them a major treasure of the islands too well hidden from the tourists downtown for our taste.