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TRAVEL Q&A

Oahu: More Than Don Ho

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By K.C. Summers
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, November 30, 2008; Page P03

Q. We're visiting Oahu next summer and would love some hints on snorkeling and hiking, hopefully in remote areas, and on boat tours and fishing day trips. We'd like to see the North Shore and the Banzai Pipeline, but we're not sure how gnarly the waves are in summer.

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Wayne Nichols and Kathryn Brannon, Woodbridge

A. Oahu gets a bad rap. Known for crowded Waikiki Beach, fakey luaus, tiny bubbles and worse, it's actually a stunningly beautiful island with lots to do, much of it off the tourist track. Honolulu, the capital, is hip and historic, and a drive along the lush windward coast is a revelation.

There are lots of remote hiking trails on the island, says Rebecca Pang, spokeswoman for the Oahu Visitors Bureau. Check Backyard Oahu (http://www.backyardoahu.com), Oahu Hiking Trails (http://www.oahuhikingtrails.com) and the Hawaii State Parks site (http://www.hawaiistateparks.org/hiking/oahu) for photos and recommendations. Trails to avoid: Diamond Head and Manoa Falls, since they're the most visited.

For really intimate snorkeling and boat charter trips, Wild Side Specialty Tours takes visitors around the island's remote leeward coast in a six-passenger charter. A day cruise includes lunch, gear and instruction, for $159 per person. Details: 808-306-7273, http://www.sailhawaii.com/snorkel.html. For fishing day trips out of Oahu, Sportfish Hawaii (877-388-1376, http://www.sportfishhawaii.com) has lots of options, including a Night Shark Hunt for $125 per person. Or try Shack Hawaii (808-479-0020, http://www.shackhawaiikai.com/fishing.html), a restaurant/charter combo that will take you out on the water, then cook your catch for you. Half-day trips for up to six people cost $700 and include lunch and drinks.

As for the North Shore/Banzai Pipeline, there your luck runs out: The water is calm and glassy in summer. For big wave action, Pang says, time your visit for November to February. More info: Oahu Visitors Bureau, 808-524-0722, http://www.visit-oahu.com.

I'm interested in renting a hotel room near Ocean City or Fenwick Island with a view of the ocean. We need a place that will accommodate someone in a wheelchair, and we'd like a restaurant in the hotel or nearby. Any suggestions?

Jane Steimel, Bethesda

Donna Abbott, spokeswoman for the Ocean City Convention and Visitors Bureau, recommends the Clarion Resort Fontainebleau Hotel (101st Street and the ocean, 800-638-2100, http://www.clarionoc.com; oceanfronts from $79 per night double) and the Carousel Resort Hotel (118th Street and the ocean, 800-641-0011, http://www.carouselhotel.com; oceanfronts from $79). Both are open year-round, are accessible to people with disabilities and have restaurants on the premises.

Your Turn

Piloting a canal boat is not for wimps. That's what a few readers said we should have emphasized in last week's column on U.K. canal boat vacations. Chris Sylvester of Reston said some strength and physical dexterity are required to work locks and swing bridges, citing frequent on-and-off leaps required while the boat is in motion. Regarding recommendations for European river boat cruises (Nov. 9), Verna Hawk of Fairfax advises asking whether the cruise line permits smoking. She has encountered a few European lines where "the smoky atmosphere was almost unbearable."

Send queries by e-mail (travelqa@washpost.com) or U.S. mail (Travel Q&A, Washington Post Travel Section, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071). Please include your name and town.


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