The servicemen of Pearl Harbor's naval base were taking some much-needed R&R between early-morning repairs inside Hangar 37 when suddenly they heard a buzzing overhead. With the humming of their own planes and battleships periodically filling the air, this rapidly approaching sound wasn't foreign to their ears, but this instance proved to be drastically different. Thunderous explosions soon overtook Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona struggled to stay afloat as the Imperial Japanese Navy delivered a surprise military strike, which resulted in one of the most devastating attacks on American soil. With a mission to preserve the history of this tragic event, Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor opened that very same hangar to the public, hundreds of feet from where ships burned and men courageously fought more than 70 years ago.
Hangar 37's 42,000-square-foot space currently houses many of the museum's artifacts, which include a World War II?era B-25B bomber, Japanese Zero, and naval planes such as the SBD Dauntless. Also open to the public, Hangar 79 displays the actual bullet holes that pierced its windows during the attack, while an authentic WWII maintenance shop contains an exhibit that explains how planes ran on Lucky Strike cigarette materials. Visitors can experience the museum's ever-evolving collection of exhibits??which has included segments dedicated to the Korean War's MiG Alley and the Flying Tigers??through guided tours in both hangars and submerse themselves in the virtual world of the museum's combat flight simulator.
Hawaii’s lush beauty is too abundant to be experienced solely on foot, which is why Botanical World offers up-close-and-personal views of the Big Island's meticulously kept botanical gardens with services including ziplines and Segway tours. Segway riders speed past swaths of exotic plants, trees, and scenic waterfalls as they explore the garden's meandering pathways during self-guided or guide-guided tours. Elevated zipline trips, meanwhile, send guests soaring over the Hanapueo Streams falls, showing off trees’ receding hairlines as well as stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and the nearby Mauna Kea volcano.
Elsewhere in the garden, guests can explore the arboretum, which houses a sampling of Hawaii's vast array of trees, whereas the paved quarter-mile Rainbow Walk contains a cactus garden, perennial plants, and a wall of orchids. Adventurous young ones can attempt to navigate the world's second-largest permanently-planted maze, covering a space as large as a football field.
On the windward side of Oahu, the majestic Mokulau Islands embellish the sun-drenched horizon that faces Kailua, a beach town nestled directly below the Koolau Mountains. Here the aptly named Windward Watersports makes its home, under the direction of Jeff Tobias, a professional kitesurfer who helped to pioneer the sport locally. He and his staff leave the region's fragile ecosystem undisturbed as they lead passengers in exploring it via kayak, kiteboard, standup paddleboard, or surfboard. Patrons can rent the vessels for self-guided adventures into a bay teeming with as many sea turtles as a marine biologist's bathtub, or follow guides on kayak tours to surrounding points of natural splendor such as the "Mokes," only 45 minutes away. Strategically located, Windward Sports takes advantage of year-round trade winds and a temperature perpetually hovering around 80 degrees. Kailua serves as the ideal spot for kitesurfing, standup paddleboarding, and surfing lessons. Jeff and his sporty employees craft lessons that cater to all abilities and focus on safe, fun recreation atop frothy crests.
On Race World Hawaii's track, kids of all ages race each other in tiny, rainbow-hued box cars?all of which run without fuel. Instead, the simple cars are powered by gravity, which pushes them down the track during open-track racing, field trips, and special events. All the while, track marshals supervise, making sure that drivers have the correct safety gear?including helmets, sport shoes that cover the entire foot, long pants that touch shoes for those under 18, and a ship's anchor they can drop to slow down.
Sequestered between the rolling waves of the South Pacific and the primordial beauty of Kahana State Park?s rainforests, Kualoa Ranch is the Platonic ideal of paradise. There, experienced guides lead expeditions into 4,000 acres of serene valleys and hills, stopping by famed movie sites from Jurassic Park or LOST, peering into an 800-year-old fishpond, and stopping horses or ATVs so that explorers can soak up the expansive views of southern O'ahu. Even the ranch itself is magnificent. Pavilions serve as pristine settings for guests to celebrate or yell at the sunset, nestled at the bottom of lush green mountains and on the edge of cliffs that overlook the tranquil waters of Kane'ohe Bay. Across that glimmering surface, a private, white-sand beach where guests sunbathe and lounge rests among mangroves and hau trees.
Regardless of their exact coordinates, the Ranch?s visitors experience Kualoa's rich history firsthand. A prime example of the benefits of continued preservation, Kualoa has been everything from a family getaway to a World War II airstrip, but the owners have always sought to maintain the beauty that set it apart. The tradition continues today, as employees participate in community-work projects focused on restoration, taro planting, and fostering a sense of Hawaiian pride for every visitor.
Sheltered from the outside world by the rock walls of a secluded valley, Maui Hawaiian Village preserves ancient cultural traditions by living them. It takes a drive and a short hike to reach the village itself, which provides a glimpse into the the history of island life. Guests have the opportunity to watch reenactors go about daily chores?using wauke bark to make clothing, constructing shelters, and roasting food in a traditional underground oven?and learn about the uses and cultural significance of native plants naturally growing nearby. Hands-on activities allow visitors to personally experience the lifestyle. Groups can smash taro for preparing poi, participate in traditional games and recreational activities, and even sample small bites of freshly picked food from the land.