10 Things Your Military Family Will Love About Fort Shafter

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Home to more than 27,000 active military personnel, families and civilians, Fort Shafter is the headquarters of the United States Army Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii.

Aloha! If you’ve recently relocated to Fort Shafter — or are planning to — you’ll be welcome with open arms. Fort Shafter is located on the Hawaiian island of Oahu, known as “The Gathering Place.” It’s the third-largest of the Hawaiian Islands and about two-thirds of the Hawaiian population live there.

New to the Hawaiian islands? Check out our list of 10 things to do near Fort Shafter.


1. The Bishop Museum

There’s no better way to learn the ins and outs of Hawaiian culture than visiting the largest collection of Hawaiian artifacts in the state. The Bishop Museum is dedicated to preserving the history and culture of Hawaii, and the Pacific at-large. Explore more about Polynesian cultures, and royal family heirlooms of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, a descendant of King Kamehameha I.

Children can enjoy the planetarium and learn how explorers used the stars to navigate the Pacific.  There are interactive exhibits and an informational center for all members of the family. Get to know your new home in the best way at The Bishop Museum.


2. National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific

This moving tribute and final resting place honors and commemorates the soldiers of 20th century wars, including those lost during the attack at Pearl Harbor. The National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific sits in a long-extinct volcano called Punchbowl Crater. Visitors can walk the grounds, taking in the panoramic Honolulu view from atop the rim of Punchbowl Crater.

Notable Hawaii heroes, Medal of Honor recipients and the names of almost 29,000 heroes from Vietnam, the Korean War and World War II who were designated Missing in Action are honored here.


3. Waikiki

Live like royalty and explore Waikiki. This vibrant city is home to most of Oahu’s resorts and hotels, world-class dining, entertainment, shopping and more. In addition to walking the main drag for food and shopping, you’ll learn more about culture along the way on the  Waikiki Historical Trail.

Take in a surf lesson along the shores of Waikiki, just like Olympian Duke Kahanamoku: The Father of Modern Surfing. A true Hawaiian legend and surf champion, Duke’s statue welcomes visitors of Waikiki with open arms.


4. Leahi (Diamond Head)

Unmatched panoramic views of Honolulu await you at the summit of Diamond Head. This 300,000 year-old,  760-foot tuff crater is one of Hawaii’s most famous landmarks. Diamond Head is part of a series of landmarks known as the Honolulu Volcanic Series, results of eruptions by the Koʻolau Volcano.

It’s a moderately challenging hike, with 175 steps to get to the lookout point. Be sure to check out visitor guide information before planning your trip. See you at the top!


5. Dole Plantation

Calling all problem solvers and pineapple lovers. The Dole Plantation is the ultimate pineapple experience in Hawaii. The grounds are home to the 2008 World’s Largest Maze as featured in the Guinness Book of World Records. Adventurers can journey through the maze to solve mysteries and explore eight secret stations.

All aboard the Pineapple Express! This 20-minute train ride through the grounds gives visitors an overview on the history of the pineapple, agriculture in Hawaii, and the life of James Dole. Your visit is complete with an up-close walk through the many gardens, exploring local fruits, flowers and other native plants. Exploration, food and fun await!


6. Honolulu Museum of Art

Keep the history and culture coming with a visit to the Honolulu Museum of Art. Combine the museum’s rich local and traditional Hawaiian art with the international caliber of Hokusai, van Gogh, Gauguin, Monet, Picasso and Warhol.

Visitors can explore galleries, exhibits, theater, cafes, shops, concerts  and gardens on three historic properties.


7. Pearl Harbor

Explore five historic sites that honor the events that occurred on December 7, 1941. Learn about Pearl Harbor in an up-close and personal way through first-hand accounts from survivors of the historic day on Battleship Row. Visitors can also witness the airplane hangar and ship hull that still bear visible scars.

Visitors can experience Pearl Harbor at each of these historic sites: the WWII Valor in the Pacific (USS Arizona Memorial),  Battleship Missouri Memorial, USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park, USS Oklahoma Memorial and the Pacific Aviation Museum.


8. Honolulu Zoo

The Pacific is a beautiful place with rich landscapes and exciting animals. Meet your new neighbors at The Honolulu Zoo!The 42-acre zoo is home to more than 1,000 different animals from the tropics. Learn more about unique animals like komodo dragons, orangutans, elephants and tropical birds.

Twilight Tours, Zoo Camp and other events are ways to explore the zoo outside of just a normal visit. Take a walk on the wild side with the family at the Honolulu Zoo.


9. Polynesian Cultural Center

Immerse yourself in Hawaiian culture with an authentic luau and more at the Polynesian Cultural Center. Located on Oahu’s North Shore, the Polynesian Cultural Center has 6 island villages representing the unique island cultures of Hawaii, Fiji, Aotearoa (New Zealand), Samoa, Tahiti, and Tonga.

Guests learn all about Hawiian royalty and culture while enjoying authentic Polynesian food and entertainment. The Polynesian Cultural Center has the region’s most authentic luau – “Ha: Breath of Life” – which features more than 100 performers and the excitement of Samoan fire knife dancing.


10. Kualoa Ranch

Any Jurassic World fans in your family? Kualoa Ranch is a private nature reserve that has been a location in over 70 Hollywood adventure movies. Ever wanted to have a similar adventure to the ones seen in Jumanji, Kong Skull Island, Jurassic Park, Jurassic World or Magnum P.I.? Kualoa is the place.

UTV tours, kayak adventures and horseback tours are all available ways to tour the beautiful 4,000 acre property and take it all in. Tour the movie sites, explore the grounds on an ATV or zipline down Jurassic Valley. For the more adventurous in your family – Kualoa is not to be missed.


Whether you explore the rich culture and deep history, or tap into your adventurous side with hikes and ziplines, there is no shortage of things to do near Fort Shafter.


More Ways to Enjoy Life in the Pacific

Exotic Escape: Family Trip to Bali

MilFam Travel: 10 Things to Do Near Naval Base San Diego

5 Ways to Stay Present Through a PCS, and Beyond

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