Palm trees, sandy beaches, warm water, nearly perfect weather. You don't need any more reasons to abandon your parka and mittens and take that vacation you've been promising yourself on Hawaii's island of Oahu.
No passport needed. Just pack your swim wear, sunscreen and camera.
At this time of year, beaches are among the biggest reasons for visiting the tropical island that is home to Honolulu, Pearl Harbor and Diamond Head.
Click on the tiny icons on the map at HawaiiWeb to see if you want to visit the beach at Ala Moana, just west of Waikiki, the popular eastern shore surfing beach at Ma'ili, or maybe Ka'ena Point at the island's far northwest corner. Keep this Web site in mind for picking up data on Oahu's towns, activities and sightseeing.
A side note: Barack Obama grew up in Honolulu, and vacationed on Oahu last summer with his family, visiting, among other places, the Pearl Harbor memorial, Hanauma Bay, Ala Moana Beach Park and the Pali Lookout.
If you're concerned about safety, the Hawaiian Lifeguard Association has profiles of guarded beaches with advisories of spots where jellyfish might turn up. Curious about toothier ocean life? Go to the lifeguards' home page and click on "Sharks of Hawaii." Choose beaches to go with locations of your planned travels around the island by clicking on the map at Alternative Hawaii which also provides a pictorial sampling.
Depending on how long you stay, you might want a scenic outdoor activity break from the beaches. Oahu is mountainous as well as tropical, and Oahu Hiking Trail has guides to several routes from urban (Honolulu) to rugged (Malaekahana Ridge), handily located on an interactive map. Backyard Oahu doesn't have the slick interactive map, but it claims 84 trails and has links to more info.
Why bother taxing your leg muscles on an island vacation? Check out the photos at Hawaii Hiking Gallery to see a few of the reasons.
Don't worry, you don't need to hike, surf or swim to enjoy the scenery. But you should worry about having enough memory cards for your camera. Take a look at Web photo-sharing sites like Flickr and PBase or SmugMug which all let you type "Oahu" into a search box to see other vacationers' favorite shots.
There are some spots that show up on almost every visitor's agenda, like the Bishop Museum in Honolulu, with its exhibitions on Hawaiian history and culture, and the Iolani Palace the former official state residence of Hawaiian royalty. And you wouldn't be a tourist if you didn't visit the Polynesian Cultural Center for a luau and show.
And you can immerse yourself in natural splendor with a single visit to Senator Fong's Plantation & Gardens a 700-acre preserve near Kaneohe Bay on the Windward shore. Or, for a completely different take on nature, visit the Dole Plantation home of tons of pineapple in the middle of the island.
If you have extra time, the Oahu visitors' bureau will show you the way to more things to see and do, and help you find a place to stay. Check out their link to vacation packages, and take time to browse the video library.