Palm trees, sandy beaches, warm water, nearly perfect weather. You don't need any more reasons to abandon your parka and mittens and take that vacation you've been promising yourself on Hawaii's island of Oahu.
No passport needed. Just pack your swimwear, sunscreen and camera.
At this time of year, beaches are among the biggest reasons for visiting the tropical island that is home to Honolulu, Pearl Harbor and Diamond Head.
Click on the dots on the map at HawaiiWeb -
- to see whether you want to visit the beach at Ala Moana, just west of Waikiki; the popular eastern shore surfing beach at Ma'ili; or maybe Ka'ena Point at the island's far northwest corner. Keep this Web site in mind for picking up data on Oahu's towns, activities and sightseeing.
A side note: Barack Obama grew up in Honolulu, and he vacationed on Oahu last summer with his family, visiting, among other places, the Pearl Harbor memorial, Hanauma Bay, Ala Moana Beach Park, and the Pali Lookout.
If you're concerned about safety, the Hawaiian Lifeguard Association has profiles of guarded beaches -
- with advisories of spots where jellyfish might turn up. Curious about toothier ocean life? Go to the lifeguards' home page -
- and click on "Sharks of Hawaii." Choose beaches close to your planned travels around the island by clicking on the map at Alternative Hawaii -
- which also provides photos.
Depending on how long you stay, you might want a break from the beaches. Oahu is mountainous as well as tropical, and Oahu Hiking Trail -
- has guides to several routes, from urban (Honolulu) to rugged (Malaekahana Ridge), on an interactive map. Backyard Oahu -
- doesn't have the slick interactive map, but it has 84 trails and links to more info.
Why bother taxing your leg muscles on an island vacation? Check out the photos at Hawaii Hiking Gallery -
- to see a few of the reasons.
Don't worry, you don't need to hike, surf or swim to enjoy the scenery. But you should worry about having enough memory cards for your camera. Take a look at Web photo-sharing sites such as Flickr -
- PBase -
- or SmugMug -
- which let you type "Oahu" into a search box to see vacationers' favorite shots.
There are some spots that show up on almost every visitor's itinerary, such as the Bishop Museum -
- in Honolulu, with its exhibits of Hawaiian history and culture, and the Iolani Palace -
- the former official state residence of Hawaiian royalty. And you wouldn't be a tourist if you didn't visit the Polynesian Cultural Center -
- for a luau and show.
A defining moment in Hawaiian and U.S. history is captured at the USS Arizona Memorial -
- at Pearl Harbor. The Battleship Missouri Memorial -
- is within walking distance.
And you can immerse yourself in natural splendor with a single visit to Senator Fong's Plantation & Gardens -
- a 700-acre preserve near Kaneohe Bay on the Windward shore. Or, for a completely different take on nature, visit the Dole Plantation -
- home of tons of pineapple in the middle of the island.
If you have extra time, the Oahu visitors' bureau -
- will show you the way to more things to see and do, and help you find a place to stay. Check out its link to vacation packages, and take time to browse the video library.
With bicycle sharing, Oahu travelers could hop on a bike in Waikiki and drop it off at Ala Moana Center, Aloha Tower, or downtown without worrying about where to park.
The Momentum B-cycle project, a privately funded pilot program with a start-up cost of about $400,000, would allow people who pay for the service to check out and drop off the company's bikes at various island locations.
Momentum B-cycle is targeted to launch June 1, according to the Honolulu Advertiser, and it could eventually have bike racks across Oahu and within a five-mile radius of rail stops. No rack locations have been secured yet.
The first half-hour of ride time would be free. The next half-hour would cost riders $2, and the next 30 minutes, $5. Billing would stop at $100, but if a bike wasn't returned within 48 hours, the user's credit card would be billed for $900, the cost of the bike. Passes good for a day or week would be available.
To start, 100 bikes would be available at 10 solar-powered bike racks with locks released with the swipe of a bike-share pass or credit card.
The city will monitor bike sharing because it could help both tourists and residents connect with Oahu's buses, boats, and future rail system, said Chris Sayers, bicycle coordinator for the Honolulu Department of Transportation.
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