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The USS Arizona Memorial and Visitor’s Center at Pearl Harbor

The USS Missouri watches over the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor

The USS Arizona was sunk during the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Navy was unable to raise it and unable to recover many of the sailors that were on board when the ship went down. The consecrated it and left it as a place of remembrance where those who served aboard the ship could be commemorated. It is still leaking fuel, which can be smelled at the water’s surface. The visitors’ center, movie and tour of the Arizona are free. Read more about Pearl Harbor. For more on Oahu, click here.

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Photos from the Oahu Photography Tour Guide

Penny Penguin at sunrise

Oahu Photography Tours offers an additional perk of having your guide take professional photos of you and your group. If you take this option, make sure to ask for photos and always volunteer. Here are some of the photos we received. Others we left out because our tour friends were in them.

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Oahu Photography Tours: Oh, the Places You’ll Go

Penny Penguin enjoying Oahu

With Oahu Photography Tour’s Circle Sunrise Island Tour, the first stop is the sunrise! There are few sites as beautiful as watching the sun come up on the horizon. Learning how to properly photograph it is a bonus. For us, we learned about exposure times while Koko Crater stood behind us. (Pro Tip: Underexposure is better than overexposure because it can be fixed.)

Sunrise
Sunrise shot

Rabbit Island was named because a business man released rabbits to feed his employees, and they bred faster than the employees could eat them. The rabbits are no longer there because of the damage they did to the environment, but the name stuck. Nearby Shark Island was named for the number of sharks found on the island… Okay, not really. It was named for its shark fin shape that comes out of the water. Makapu’u lighthouse sits in the background.

Rabbit And Shark Island
Rabbit And Shark Island

Waimanalo Bay is where we met “Sergio” and his amazing limo. This is also the place for the “portrait tree.” A stop for the great breakfast burrito at Kalapawai Market was accompanied by a local celebrity sighting! The Byodo-In Temple allowed us to feed birds from our hands!

We went through Sunset Beach, where the waves were too dangerous for the professional surf competition being held that week. We also went to the best shrimp place on the island – Fumi’s. We jumped over Chinaman’s Hat, saw where “Gilligan’s Island” was filmed, and finished with the kitsch that is the Dole Plantation. (So many pineapples, so little time.)

Every group will do something a little different depending on weather and the inclinations of the individuals in the group. A smaller tour group has its advantages, especially when they are all friends. If you want to know what places you’ll visit with Oahu Photography Tours, you’ll have to sign up and go!

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Is the 3-Day Go Oahu Card Worth It?

Polynesian Cultural Center Luau

Yes, and it depends. As with any discount card, you have to take into account what type of vacation you want to have and how much time you have. If you choose to just sit at the beach and relax in the sun. Don’t get the Go Oahu Card. It’s not for that type of vacation. Relaxing in the sun on the beach is free, still. That’s about the best discount you can get.

However, if you know that you want to experience some of the culture of Hawaii, a Go Oahu Card can help you do that. For example, we knew that we wanted to do a luau. They run north of $100 per person, and the best-rated Luau is at the Polynesian Cultural Center, which is about $120. We also knew that we wanted to visit Pearl Harbor. Its place in history makes it an important spot to visit for anyone who wants to think about warfare and understand human nature better. The activities there run about $40, but the Arizona Memorial and its related movie is free. The two combined activities add up to $160, which meant we would need to find an activity or two that would add up to about $40.

Not knowing that Pearl Harbor was a full day tour, I was still concerned that we wouldn’t be able to do enough activities to make the Go Oahu Card worthwhile. A lot of the activities take place in the morning because it gets too hot in the afternoon to do anything. We decided to do the 8 am Diamond Head Hike ($18) and the afternoon tour with Makani Catamaran (about $100). We didn’t have a car, so I wasn’t sure that we could make the catamaran, but we signed up for it anyway. There was plenty of time, so we got our money’s worth.

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Go Oahu Card: Makani Tours Afternoon Sail

Makani Catamaran

Going into the Pacific with Makani Tours is a pleasurable,relaxing experience. The catamaran is bigger than it looks from the dock, and many of the smaller tourists (children) will take a seat on the netting at the front of the boat. Smart adults who don’t experience motion sickness will also sit on the netting, but use the bean bags as back rests. (Those who experience motion sickness may want to head toward the back of the boat where the least amount of motion is, or look at a fixed point just above the horizon in an attempt to trick the brain into believing that you aren’t moving.)

Don’t worry about the number of people on the dock; your boat will fit them all and still give you enough room to move around comfortably. You’ll be able to go from the front to the back and from side to side with little problem – unless wildlife is spotted. When everyone moves to the right side to see the whales, the shorter guests may have a hard time seeing them if they aren’t at the rail (guests or whales). Sea turtles are easier to see because they don’t move as quickly as whales. Trigger fish and tangs will be enticed to surface with an offering from the first mate. Sitting at the front of the boat will give you the best opportunity to see flying fish,too.

The cruise took us out past Diamond Head, which we hiked in the morning. It was cool to see the other side of it and look at the size of it from a vantage where it actually looked like a crater. The trip comes with a free drink, and the first mate talks about and points out the wildlife and will happily take your picture.

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Go Oahu Card: Diamond Head Hike with Kaimana Tours

The most hiked trail in Honolulu -- Diamond Head State Park

Kaimana Tours provides transportation from your hotel to the Diamond Head trail head. As part of the deal, you get a bottle of water and a printed guide for the trail. On the way to the crater floor, the driver will tell you interesting facts about the area, including the way it got its name. (Explorers mistook calcite for diamonds.)

The hike itself is relatively easy. At .8 miles up, it’s not as daunting or difficult as the hike to the sixth floor in my condo complex. Or at least, it didn’t seem as difficult – maybe because I wasn’t carrying grocery bags, maybe it’s because the scenery is amazing. Bring sunscreen and take your time, the two hours allotted by Kaimana is enough to get up, take photos all along the way, get down and still buy souvenirs while waiting for the bus. Some older people found the hike more difficult, but some toddlers were happy on the way down.

At one point in the hike, you can choose the easy way to the left or the hard way, a bunch of stairs, to the right. Someone might think of that as a church metaphor with the difficulty of choosing the right to head towards heaven, but in this case, both choices lead to the same destination, which others might also see as an afterlife metaphor. If you’re literally minded, you don’t have to think of it either way. We went left and didn’t regret a thing. I see enough stairs at home.

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Oahu Photography Tours: Oh, the People You’ll Meet

New friends on Oahu Photography Tours photo bomb

With Oahu Photography Tours, you can book a private tour and get all of the attention of the professional photographer who leads the tour. It’s a great way to learn about the island, see the best scenery and get the best one-on-one instruction available.

However, if you’re travelling with just one or two other people, booking a regular tour may be your best bet. You still get a great amount of attention, but you also get to meet other people from all over the world who are interested in photography and taking better pictures.

Our group was an amazing part of our tour, and it all started with our guide, De-Jay. He pulled the group together and made everyone feel comfortable. Within minutes of sitting in the van, we were all old friends ready to talk about anything and everything while focusing on the subjects we were there for – Oahu and photography.

Of course, De-Jay is also the guy who knows the locals. When the 1935 Lincoln Royale Limo pulled into a parking lot we were leaving, De-Jay knew the driver, talked to him, and it wasn’t long until we were all photographing this stretch limo that once belong to Howard Hughes and chauffeured his lawyer around. (You can rent it if you want!( 808)699-0699) At Kalapawai Market, we saw the guy who made the salsa and has it bottled all over the island. We wouldn’t have known about the local celebrity because his baby photo is on the bottle!

Exotic - 1935 Lincoln Royale Limousine
NOT the tour vehicle!

Even normal interactions have a flare all their own in Hawaii. De-Jay knew many of the Hawaiians and was able to introduce the culture to us without giving us a lecture. We saw what happened, and he explained what it was afterwards. From Talk-Story to surfing, De-Jay covered it all throughout the course of the day.

When you spend 10 hours with seven or fewer other people,you get to learn more about then and their cultures. We had two Canadians, an Australian, our guide, my wife and me on our tour, and a great time was had by all!

Check out our other articles about Oahu Photography Tours and Oahu!

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Oahu Photography Tours: Oh, the Things You’ll Know

Chinaman's Hat using my monochrome setting!

I’ve had my Canon IXUS for over two years. It’s the point and shoot that I use for all of my website and YouTube needs, which is basically photos and videos. The only thing I don’t always use it for is penguins because my wife is in charge of most of those photos. I have never messed with any of the settings. I didn’t know what they were for or what to do with them.

At our first stop, De-Jay, our guide, showed me the different options available, even though I was using a point and shoot! I had expected that maybe I would be treated differently because I was the only one without a DSLR, which would’ve been okay because the tour was for my wife. However, no one cared that I was using a point and shoot. It was an equally viable photo taking apparatus for all concerned.

I learned how to use the multi-shoot, how to manipulate the f-stop and what that means, how to find the monochrome and live features, and most importantly, how to be more comfortable with my camera. Because everyone was encouraged to experiment, even those things that De-Jay didn’t show me, I learned because of the safe space I was allowed to practice. If I messed up, I could get the shot again, and De-Jay would be there for guidance if I needed it. The safety nets of time and expertise are amazingly freeing, especially when that expertise is backed with kindness and a willingness to say that he doesn’t know.

Taking the Oahu Photography Tours’ Circle Sunrise Tour has given me the ability to choose how I use my camera. That alone would be worth the price. However, we also learned about Snapseed, an app to edit photos. De-Jay told us about local hot spots and here to get the best fish tacos on the island (Ono’s Steak and Shrimp Shack). We also learned about the history of the island, local surf competitions, and where the turtles would be on calmer days. If you want to have a good time exploring the island with friends, even some you haven’t made yet, Oahu Photography Tours is the way to go.

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Oahu Photography’s Circle Sunrise Tour

Koko Crater at Sunrise
Sunrise on Oahu

Oahu Photography’s Circle Sunrise Tour takes its guests on an all-day adventure where guide and participants become fast friends. A smaller group and De-Jay’s, the guide, openness make these friendships possible. Full of humor, knowledge and a genuine sense of love for the state and the people he is showing it to, De-Jay provides and easy entry into the sights of Hawaii and how to photograph them. Be prepared for lots of dad jokes and a modicum of movie-based humor.

Groups are purposefully kept small, which allows each person to receive as much or as little personal interaction and instruction from the guide, who is also a professional photographer. The tour itself can be adapted within set parameters to accommodate different impulses of the guests, and there’s never any rush to get in and get out of the van. If someone wants to spend a little more time taking photos of a certain area, they are welcome to do so. This flexibility also allows the group to adjust to local weather patterns and ensures that everyone has the opportunity to get his or her perfect shot.

When you come to Hawaii, give yourself a couple of days to adjust to the climate and relax. Then take this tour. That way, your photos will be better than ever for the rest of the trip, and you’ll have the inside scoop about where to eat from someone who lives on the island. Don’t forget to purchase the photo package ahead of time to get photos of you and your group (or loved one), both candid and posed, from a pro!

For more about Oahu Photography Tours, check out our Oahu page.