Diving & Snorkeling#5 in Best Things To Do in Honolulu - Oahu
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The Hawaiian Islands boast 1,200 miles of coral reef, so it's hardly surprising that two of Oahu's most popular activities are snorkeling and scuba diving. Dive into the island's surrounding turquoise water and you'll likely find an array of colorful fish (think: bright yellow tang, rainbow runners and reef triggerfish), plus bigger marine creatures like dolphins and sea turtles.
Past travelers loved snorkeling for free at public beaches like Sans Souci Beach Park (by Waikiki Beach) and Makaha Beach Park (on the Leeward Coast), citing the ample marine life and clear water as reasons to return. But keep in mind that loaner equipment fees vary by shop and rental period. Popular options include Snorkel Bob's, Aqua Zone Scuba Diving & Snorkeling and Hawaii Beach Time. Other regions, such as Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, are best explored during a snorkeling excursion via tour operators like Snorkelfest Snorkel Hanauma Bay and Hanauma Bay Tours. These half-day trips – which include round-trip transfers and the use of a mask, fins and a snorkel – generally cost $25 to $30 per adult (or about $20 for each child 12 and younger), plus taxes and an additional $7.50 preserve entrance fee for adults.
Divers can check out Witch's Brew at Hanauma Bay or other locales, such as Shark's Cove (on the North Shore) and the Sea Tiger and Corsair wrecks (near Waikiki and the Windward Coast, respectively). Oahu Diving, Reef Pirates Diving and Living Ocean Scuba are just a few scuba companies that offer diver-approved excursions. Expect to pay $115 to $150 per two-tank morning or afternoon dive. All organized dive trip prices cover equipment rentals, and some rates also include transportation to and from your hotel, instruction from a certified diver, digital photos and snacks. For additional information about snorkeling and diving on Oahu, visit the Hawaii Tourism Authority's website.
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#1 Waikiki Beach
Nineteenth-century Hawaiian royalty used to come to the Honolulu neighborhood of Waikiki to relax and surf, just as scores of tourists do today. That's because this area's famous beach (which is a string of several beaches dotting the island's southwest coastline) is the go-to spot for its soft, honey-colored sand and the high waves that lap the shores during the winter months. But you don't have to be a surfer to appreciate Waikiki Beach; just lie back on a beach towel, relax and gaze up at the majestic Diamond Head State Monument in the distance.
When you need a break from the beach itself, there are scores of shops and restaurants lining the adjacent Kalakaua Avenue. The street is home to some of the world's most exclusive (read: expensive) designer boutiques, including Cartier, Coach, Hermès and Louis Vuitton. Many of the best Oahu hotels also overlook Waikiki Beach.
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