Daily Photo / Hawaii / Hawaii Sights

Tourist for a day: Circle Island Tour

This past weekend was my brother’s last one in Hawaii before heading back to Nebraska for school. My parents wanted to do something fun as a family, and they also wanted to show him the island because he’s always holed up in his room.

Our Roberts Hawaii bus for the day.

Our Roberts Hawaii bus for the day.

Whether you’re a local trying to get out and see what Oahu has to offer, or you’re just visiting and want to get an overview of some major places you need to see while you’re here, then Roberts Hawaii’s Oahu Grand Circle Island Tour is for you!

We woke up and got to a pickup point by 7 a.m. on Saturday morning (boy were we tired). On the Oahu Grand Circle Island Tour, there are eight stops. (Thankfully one of those included a break for complimentary coffee at a jewelry store in Waimanalo.)

After all the Waikiki pick-ups, you finally start your journey on the eastside of Oahu. Here’s a quick overview:

Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve

Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve

First stop: Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve.Β 

Hanauma Bay is closed on Tuesdays, so it might be wise to book your tour on any other day. You only get 10 or 15 minutes at this stop, so you really only have time to snap a few photos. I would definitely suggest coming back to go snorkeling. The bay is really well-kept and you can see a lot of tropical fish in it.

Halona Blowhole

Halona Blowhole

Second stop: Halona Blowhole

This is a classic must-see for tourists. The waves weren’t even big the day we went, but we still managed to get a pretty good show at Halona Blowhole. Our tour driver, Mario, said that President Obama brought his mother’s ashes to another blowhole nearby.

The Pali Lookout

The Pali Lookout

Third stop: The Pali Lookout

The good thing about this tour is that most of the places we stopped at are places you usually have to pay to get in — whether it’s a small admission fee, or paying for parking. The Pali Lookout is fun when it’s windy (that’s what it’s famous for, strong gusts. Mario told us that one guy tried to jump off on a really windy day, and the wind pushed him right back onto the ledge). Plus it offers really breathtaking views. Photo op! It’s also home to the Pali Puka hike I love so much.

Byodo-in Temple

Byodo-in Temple

Fourth stop: Byodo-in Temple

Behind a cemetery called Valley of the Kings, you’ll find this beautiful gem. I personally had never been here before and it was one of my favorite stops. It’s a Japanese temple you can enter if you remove your shoes. There’s also big bell you can ring for good luck. It’s a really peaceful place (how cliche), but you really won’t understand until you feel the energy there.

Kualoa Ranch

Kualoa Ranch

Fifth stop: Kualoa Ranch

Eventually you end up making your way north and Kualoa Ranch is your first destination. Here you’ll take a little tram ride — it’s called their Myths and Legends tour. To be honest, it’s kind of lame. I would definitely come back to the ranch for a day so you can do the Movie Sites tour — Hollywood loves this place. And you can see the valley where Jurassic Park was shot. There’s also ATV and horseback riding tours. But for now, after the lame tram ride you get to eat lunch and wander the grounds.

Tropical Farms, the macadamia nut outlet

Tropical Farms, the macadamia nut outlet

Sixth stop: Tropical Farms

Tropical Farms is a macadamia nut outlet in Kaneohe. I actually didn’t even know this place existed, and it’s one of my favorite stops. Here you get to try free samples of macadamia nuts — all different flavors. They’re delicious. You can even try your hand at cracking some nuts open outside! It’s a fun time.

Sunset Beach on the North Shore.

Sunset Beach on the North Shore.

Seventh stop: Sunset Beach

Not gonna lie, between our tour guide’s chatter, and being on the bus for a couple long hauls, it gets a little sleepy in there. The stop at Sunset Beach was a good chance for us to stretch our legs before we made the drive to the last stop. Sunset Beach had some pretty nice sets of waves to watch the day we went since it’s winter.

Pineapple soft serve at Dole Plantation

Pineapple soft serve at Dole Plantation

Eighth and final stop: Dole Plantation

Here’s a photo of my brother enjoying some pineapple soft serve, something Dole Plantation is famous for. They’re also famous for having the world’s largest outdoor maze — they set a world record. It’s something you should definitely come back for. And if you’re interested, there’s also a short train ride that takes you through some of the fields.

_____

And that’s it! Then you head home, back to Honolulu and Waikiki. It’s a pretty fun tour. I personally like the second half after lunch better because it’s more interactive and not as much quick sight-seeing stops. But if you’re visiting, I’m sure you’d get a kick out of all of it because there’s so much to see here.

Hope you enjoyed the quick overview! I’ll be doing in-depth posts about my two favorite stops in the upcoming days.

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