HONOLULU (Reuters) - The islands making up the state of Hawaii are an American paradise, filled with striking mountains and idyllic beaches whose most famous resident, Barack Obama, grew up to become the first black president of the United States.
Oahu is the third largest island with the state capital, Honolulu, nestled on the southeast coast. Waikiki Beach is the city’s most popular neighborhood, boasting an array of resorts overlooking the Pacific Ocean and its rolling waves, which are perfect for surfing.
Reuters correspondents with local knowledge help visitors get the most out of a short stay in Honolulu.
6:00 p.m. - Most major hotel chains, including Marriott, Sheraton and Hilton, have several locations in and around the city, including Waikiki Beach.
7:00 p.m. - After unpacking, try some authentic Hawaiian cuisine at Ono Hawaiian Foods, a family-run ‘hole in the wall’ restaurant that has been in the neighborhood for 50 years. Dishes like Kalua Pig and Laulau wrapped in taro leaves are not something you’ll easily find anywhere else, and the little old lady serving you will happily explain how to eat it.
9:00 p.m. - Take a stroll on Waikiki’s main strip, Kalakaua Avenue, which runs the entire length of Waikiki. Named after the last reigning king of Hawaii, the avenue is lined with shops, restaurants, hotels and bars. Everything from upscale boutiques and art galleries to duty free stores can be found and street performers keep visitors entertained.
10:30 p.m. - Stop in at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, also known as the Pink Palace due to its color. Order your favorite umbrella drink at the hotel’s Mai Tai Bar. Sit down and relax, or get up and enjoy the live music.
9:00 a.m. - Grab an early breakfast and get to the Honolulu Zoo before it gets too hot. View the orangutans and chimps in the primates section, lions, rhinos and giraffes in the African Savanna and Sumatran tigers and Indian elephants, which reside in the Tropical Forest section.
12:00 p.m. - Head over to the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach resort, whose grounds and interiors provide various locations for the TV crime drama “Hawaii Five-O.” Grab lunch at any of the restaurants on the grounds or the adjoining village, which includes everything from sushi at Hatsuhana to American fare at CJ’s New York Style Deli.
1:00 p.m. - Enjoy the resort’s beach, which was once known as the spot legendary surfer Duke Kahanamoku often strolled through. Sign up for one of the fastest growing water sports -- stand-up paddle boarding. Both an overall body exercise and a relaxing way to meditate on water, it’s no wonder stand-up paddling is favored by celebrities, such as Jennifer Aniston, Matt Damon and Rihanna.
4:00 p.m. - Take a submarine ride with Atlantis Submarines. Its Atlantis XIV departs from the Hilton and is the world’s largest passenger submarine with 64 seats.
Travel well below 100 feet (30.5 meters) through a man-made reef containing sunken ships, airplanes and other structures. Don’t be surprised to see green sea turtles, stingrays and even dolphins as you cruise underwater.
7:30 p.m. - After a shower and change of clothes, head to upscale Alan Wong’s for some Hawaiian regional cuisine using organically farmed ingredients from the local islands. First-timers should opt for the five-course menu sampling that includes everything from seafood lasagna to the Kalua Pig Sandwich. Drinks have unusual twists such as the Honey Mimosa, made from Wong’s hive in the Adopt-A-Beehive with Alan Wong Program.
10:30 p.m. - After a full day fall into bed and instantly fall asleep.
6:00 a.m. - Take a hike up to the summit of Diamond Head, a long inactive volcanic crater that is now a state park. Begin your journey on a paved walkway that eventually turns into a dirt and rock trail. Walk through tunnels and climb steps until you reach the summit lookout with 360-degree panoramic views. Don’t forget your camera!
9:00 a.m. - When you get back to the bottom stop at the Health Food Bar to replenish yourself with everything from smoothies to salads to fresh fish.
10:00 a.m. - Head to Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve for some scuba or snorkeling. This cove is a protected conservation area with a large coral reef and diverse marine life ideal for viewing. Round trip transportation from Waikiki hotels and snorkel equipment are available for a fee.
1:00pm - Have a quick bite to eat from the park’s concession stands.
2:00 pm - No visit to Hawaii would be complete without a solemn stop at the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor. While there, check out the USS Missouri, also known as The Mighty Mo, which plays an important part in the grand finale of this summer’s action film “Battleship,” which was shot on the island.
5:00 pm - After a event-filled weekend, head to the airport. Aloha!
Reporting By Zorianna Kit; editing by Patricia Reaney and Kenneth Barry