Hawaii Ruby On Rails Conference - Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii - October 4-6 2009

Many of our attendees will be creating an extended trip from the conference, taking advantage of the many wonderful sites and experiences Hawaii has to offer. We think Hawaii, and Oahu, has something for everyone, and encourage all attendees to stay extra days to experience the real Hawaii.

Of course, everyone has their own idea of what their perfect vacation is. If you have specific questions, don’t hesitate to ask us for advice or tips.

Hawaiian Islands

There are eight main islands in the Hawaiian Islands chain, including Oahu, Hawaii, Maui, Kahoolawe, Lanai, Molokai, Kauai, and Niihau. However, the complete Hawaiian Islands chain is comprised of numerous atolls, islands, and undersea mounts stretching 1500 miles.

Hawaii is the 50th state in the United States, and 2009 marks the 50th anniversary of statehood.

Oahu - The Gathering Place

Aloha on Rails is held in Waikiki, one of the world’s most famous beaches. Waikiki is on the island of Oahu (The Gathering Place). Honolulu, the state’s capital, is also on Oahu. Oahu is the most populated island in the Hawaiian island chain.

We consider Oahu to be the most well rounded island, offering a little bit of everything.

Must See Sites

If you’re coming all the way out to Hawaii, we recommend getting out of Waikiki and experiencing the broad range of the full Hawaii experience. We really like the flexibility of Oahu. You can make your trip as much of a spa/relaxation or hiking/adventure as you please.

While on Oahu, when you’re not relaxing at the beach or pool, you’ll probably want to check one some of these options:

  • Diamond Head - An easy and rewarding hike up a crater, with views overlooking Hawaii Kai, Waikiki, and up and down the sourthern side of Oahu. Very close to Waikiki, it’s easy to get to and the views are spectacular. Bring water and tennis shoes. Best advice is to go early to avoid the sun.
  • Surf Lesson - The beach boys of Waikiki make it fun and easy to learn to surf. Waikiki is the best beach to learn how to surf, with small and gentle waves and a shallow beach. Surf board rentals and lessons can be found right on Waikiki beach. The boards are very big (making it easier to stand up) and your personal instructor will set you up on the wave and get you going.
  • Pearl Harbor - This memorial to the attack that brought the US into WWII is a somber reminder of “the day that will live in infamy.” Our advice is to get there incredibly early, as there are always lines at this popular memorial. There is a movie and a boat ride out to the USS Arizona.
  • North Shore - One of the world’s most famous surf spots, the North Shore is a surfer’s paradise during the summer months. Even if the waves aren’t firing, there are numerous famous beaches (Sunset, Pipeline) for swimming. Stop in Haleiwa for a shrimp plate from the shrimp trucks and explore the shops. Snorkel in Shark’s Cove (bring your underwater camera!)
  • Circle Island Drive - One way to the North Shore is to follow the east coast (windward side) Kalanianaole Highway. This drive is beautiful, as you follow the coastline up through quiet towns on your way to the North Shore. You will get a completely different experience from the hustle and bustle of Waikiki. When you’re ready to come back, you’ll take H2 through the old pineapple fields in the middle of the island.
  • Kailua - On the windward side of the island is the small town of Kailua. Here you’ll find shops and restaurants and the world famous Kailua Beach. We recommend Lanikai Juice for a smoothie made with local fruits, a stroll along Kailua Beach, and dinner at Buzz’s Steakhouse (right on the beach park.)
  • Kayaking - Take sea kayaks out from Kailua Beach to the Moke’s in front of Lanikai Beach. You’ll be skimming over coral reef looking for sea turtles. You can rent kayaks and get training right right at Kailua Sailboards and Kayaks.
  • Waterfall Hikes - Manoa Falls hike is quick and easy, and ends at a waterfall pool. For the those looking for a little more adventure, we recommend Maunawili Falls hike. This hike, on the windward side, ends at a waterfall and swimming pool.
  • Fine Dining - No trip is complete without a trip to Duke’s, a great bar and fresh seafood right in Waikiki. For a taste of locally inspired Fusion dining, we recommend Roy’s or Alan Wong’s.
  • Shopping - Waikiki has a tremendous amount of luxury shops. The Ala Moana mall, next to Waikiki, is a huge open air mall with every conceivable shop and restaurant.
  • Hanauma Bay - This marine preserve is a perfect place for snorkeling. Not open Tuesdays, and we recommend getting there early to avoid the mid-day sun.
  • Kids Activities - The Zoo and the Aquarium are right in Waikiki, and are perfect for the keiki (children.)

Outer Islands

Each island has a unique personality. It’s a very short plane ride (30-45min) to one of the outer islands, and we recommend that you consider visiting another island during your stay. Check out Hawaiian Air and go! Airlines for inter-island trips and fares.

If you’re tired of the hotels, or want the amenities of a real house, try Vacation Rentals By Owner (we have no affiliation with vrbo.) We’ve had excellent luck finding rental houses when we visit outer islands.

At a minimum, you might want to visit the volcanoes at the Volcano National Park on the Big Island.

Some tips include:

  • Big Island - While here, check out Volcano National Park. Hike dormant volcano craters, drive the chain of craters road, explore a lava tuby, and drive down to active lava fields. We recommend getting down to the lava fields around dusk. Stop at the ancient petroglyphs, and then head to the coast line to watch the lava pour into the sea by night fall.
  • Kauai - The “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” is on Kauai. Some of the ridges are so vast, and the waterfalls so big, that helicopter is the only way to truly appreciate this island.