8. Oahu: Grand Circle Island Self-Guided Audio Driving Tour
Start by downloading the Action Tour Guide app, which will function as your personal tour guide, audio tour, and map. Purchase one tour per car, not per person. Everyone listens together! NOTE: This 90-mile-long tour covers the essentials of Oahu Grand Circle in 3 - 5 hours. With an app that functions as your guide, audio tour, and map all in one, explore Oahu and the vibrant city of Honolulu that offers a little bit of everything, from lush greenery to the most stunning beaches in the world. Cruise around this tropical paradise, hike its best trails, and learn about its incredible conflict-strewn history, all from the comfort of your own vehicle. As an added perk, enjoy animated videos allowing you to visualize what you cannot see, such as snapshots from different centuries or interior rooms, along many of the tour stops. After downloading the tour app (download instructions sent via email after booking), start your Oahu adventure at the Pearl Harbor National Memorial where you’ll begin to learn about the unexpected history of Honolulu. Next is Aloha Tower, one of the city’s most iconic attractions. Continuing on, see Iolani Palace, the extravagant former home of Hawaii’s monarchs, as well as a statue of King Kamehameha the Great. The first beach on the Oahu tour is Ala Moana Beach, a pristine stretch of sand that was once used for something else entirely. Then, visit Waikiki Beach, where surfing superstar Duke Kanahamoku got his start before he transformed the world of surfing forever. Leaving the beaches for a moment, get an up-close look at Diamond Head State Park, an enormous volcanic crater and Hawaii’s most popular park. Head toward the volcanic China Walls next, where you’ll hear the dramatic tale of Kamehameha’s rise to power and his rival, Kalanikūpule, who was willing to do the unspeakable to take control for himself. At the Hanauma Bay Lookout, find some of the most spectacular views; be sure to have your camera at the ready. For a less crowded spot, follow the route to the next lookout, which most visitors miss. After passing some seriously scenic shoreline, spot Rabbit Island just off the coast and learn about the utterly failed rabbit farm that once operated here. Then come to Waimānalo Beach, the perfect stop for anyone seeking a little seclusion. As you approach the town of Kailua, hear a dramatic account of the Battle of Nu’uanu. If you’re a kayaker, you won’t want to miss Kailua’s beach. Up next, catch a glimpse of the last remaining Heiau on Oahu. These ancient temples were deeply sacred to the Hawaiians and still hold a great deal of significance today. Find a trail to one of Oahu’s famous waterfalls. If you’re craving more nature, the Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden will be just ahead, offering a staggering 400 acres of carefully cultivated flora. You might not expect a huge Buddhist temple in Hawaii, but that’s the next stop! After checking out the Byodo-In Temple, reach the Kualoa Ranch that’s become a Hollywood favorite. Wildlife enthusiasts will love what comes next: a huge wildlife refuge and Turtle Beach, frequented by the enormous Hawaiian green sea turtles. Then, head to Sunset Beach, the perfect spot to catch the day’s final rays of light. Later, head to the historic Dole Plantation, where the tour concludes.