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Hawaii is one of those universally-known destinations. It’s paradise. It’s romance. It’s laidback. It’s surf’s up, man. But if you’ve never visited to Hawaii before, we recommend starting with Oahu. Here is our first timer’s guide to “the heart of Hawaii.”

Honolulu

The capital city of Hawaii, Honolulu, is without question the most iconic part of Hawaii. Millions of visitors traipse along the sandy shore of Waikiki each year, diving into the calm waters and catching up on rest between dips at one of the many resorts that line the shore. Waikiki also houses Honolulu Zoo and the Waikiki Aquarium, both of which provide the perfect break from sunbaking with the family. Next to Waikiki is a small town called Kapahulu. Here, you’ll be able to find the best local cuisine: think poke, sashimi, Kalua pig, and so much more.

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North Shore

Welcome to surf mecca. The North Shore is most known for its 7 miles (11km) of beach that made Big Wave surfing famous in the 1950s. If there is any area to make a special effort to visit, it’s Waimea Bay. And once you’re done roasting in the sun, take a stroll through Haleiwa. This town is a fantastic representation of the chilled out Hawaiian vibe, with local style and flare.

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Central Oahu

History buffs need to make a special visit to Central Oahu to see Pearl Harbor, which is still an active naval base. There, you are able to visit and learn at 5 historical Pearl Harbor sites: The Pacific Historic Parks, the USS Battleship Missouri Memorial, the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park, the Pacific Aviation Museum and the USS Oklahoma Memorial.

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Leeward Coast

This side of Oahu is less developed than others. Still, a handful of fantastic resorts invite travellers to visit and stay. If you’re after off-the-beaten path trails and beaches, the Leeward Coast is for you. Don’t miss the breathtaking hike up to Kaena Point, from which you’ll be able to get unparalleled views.

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Windward Coast

This part of Oahu is where the pace really slows down and visitors can focus on the pristine landscape. If you can hire a car, drive around the island. Stop at the highlight points along the way, such as Kualoa Ranch, Kualoa Ranch, Kaaawa, Kahana Bay, and wind all the way around to the North Shore.  

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