As he has in past years, President Obama is set to head off on a Christmas vacation to Hawaii later this month.
We've seen in the past that the President is a creature of habit while wintering on Oahu, the island where he spent much of his chindhood. While he's there, we can probably count on the President stopping into Island Sno for at least one helping of shave ice, as well as enjoying dinner at Alan Wong's Restaurant and hitting the links at Mid Pacific Country Club (or maybe at the Klipper Golf Course on the Marine Corps Base.)
President Obama has also previously visited Sea Life Park near Hanauma Bay and the USS Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor. So, perhaps those will make the itinerary again. No word on whether or not POTUS will indulge in a little SPAM musubi again this year.
For anyone interested in visiting Oahu, but who lacks the President's local expertise, we've rounded up a few fun things to do on the island -- SPAM included.
1) Attend A Luau
Sure luaus can be super tourist-y, but sometimes there's nothing wrong with indulging touristic curiosities. And, what visitor doesn't want to go to a luau just a little bit? There are plenty of places to experience the tradition. A few options include The <a href="http://www.polynesia.com/dining_and_luau.html#.ULkGs-Q71vE">Ali'i Luau at the Polynesian Cultural Center</a>, the <a href="http://paradisecovehawaii.com/">Paradise Cove Luau</a>, and <a href="http://www.germainesluauoahu.com/">Germaine's Lua</a>u.
2) Snorkel With The Dolphins
There are a handful of places in the U.S. where one can swim with dolphins, but most are in artificial habitats. The waters off Oahu, however, are a great place to encounter them in the wild. Sure, there's no riding or tricks by the animals, but it's way cooler to say you swam with dolphins (or sea turtles, or tropical fish) in their natural habitat. Check out companies like <a href="http://www.koolinaoceanadventures.com/">Ko Olina Ocean Adventures</a> or <a href="http://www.dolphinexcursions.com/learn.html">Dolphin Excursions</a> to take a snorkeling outing.
3) Visit The North Shore
Hawaii is considered the birthplace of modern surfing, and Oahu's North Shore is one of the most famous destinations for hard core wave riders looking to tackle the notorious <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Banzai_Pipeline">Pipeline</a>. <a href="http://www.gonorthshore.org/visitor_beaches.htm">The surfing is best in the winter</a>, while the other months are perfect for the less intrepid sunbathers.
4) Take A Helicopter Tour
A great way to appreciate the beauty of this volcanic island is to get a bird's eye view by helicopter. Companies like <a href="http://www.makanikai.com/tour.html">Makani Kai Helicopters</a> and <a href="http://www.bluehawaiian.com/oahu/tours/">Blue Hawaiian Helicopters</a> offer tours.
5) Visit Pearl Harbor
Consider it a patriotic duty to visit <a href="http://www.pearlharboroahu.com/">Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona Memorial</a> while on Oahu. The 1,177 crew members of the USS Arizona who died on December 7, 1941 are among the first causalities of the war in the Pacific. The memorial stands above the sunken ship and her fallen men.
6) Eat Like A Local
No trip is ever complete without sampling the local delicacies. And, in Hawaii, that likely means SPAM -- they're crazy for it. SPAM can be found in all sorts of dishes, one of the most iconic being SPAM musubi (SPAM on rice wrapped in seaweed.) Other local favorites include the everything-but-the-kitchen-sink plate lunch (usually featuring the carb-on-carb combo of macaroni salad and rice) and the gut-busting loco moco (a hamburger patty and egg atop rice, drenched in gravy.) To fully appreciate all that culinary Hawaii has to offer, <a href="http://www.hawaiifoodtours.com/">consider taking a food tour</a>.
7) Tour A Pineapple Grove
If you've ever been curious as to where your pineapples might come from, <a href="http://www.dole-plantation.com/">consider a trip to the Dole Plantation</a>. Here, visitors can tour the plantation gardens, or take a ride on the Pineapple Express, to learn all about the tropical fruit and Hawaii's agricultural history. The tours cost a small fee, but admission to stroll the grounds is free.
8) Visit Iolani Palace
History buffs will enjoy a tour of <a href="http://www.iolanipalace.org/">Iolani Palace</a>, the official home of Hawaii's monarchy. The house was built in 1882 by King Kalākaua, and was also home to his sister Queen Lili‘uokalani.
9) Hike Diamond Head
Diamond Head crater (technically speaking a volcanic tuff cone) sits near the eastern edge of Waikiki. Outdoors enthusiasts might enjoy a hike along the The 1.6 mile round-trip trail <a href="http://www.hawaiistateparks.org/hiking/oahu/index.cfm?hike_id=2">to learn about both the geological and military history of this formation</a>
10) Take A Side Trip To Japan
Built in 1968, the <a href="http://www.byodo-in.com/">Byodo-in Temple</a> commemorates the 100th anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaii. It is a scaled replica of the Byodo-in Temple of Uji, Japan. The non-practicing Buddhist temple and its grounds (featuring a large reflecting pond, meditation niches, and small waterfalls) are a peaceful place to spend a leisurely afternoon. Oh, and it was also featured on TV favorites "Hawaii Five-O," "Magnum, P.I.," and "Lost." Speaking of which...
11) Find "Lost" Filming Locations
Fans of the TV show "Lost" will certainly want to take at least some time to track down some of the Oahu locations made famous by the ABC show. There's even a website, <a href="http://www.lostlocations.com/">Lost Locations</a>, that's dedicated to the pursuit.