Scroll to Continue
As you drive over the sloping Pali Highway, skyscrapers and the sprawling city of Honolulu give way to lush valleys and country landscapes. Exiting the tunnels east of the Koʻolau Mountain Range, it feels as if you’re entering a different world and a turquoise ocean shimmers in the distance. A trip to the Windward Coast reveals a slower-paced side of Oʻahu, and some of the most stunning natural beauty anywhere in Hawaiʻi.
From Kailua town, you can head in two directions. Go clockwise down the coast to Sea Life Park, Makapuʻu Point Lighthouse and eventually Lēʻahi (Lēʻahi Head) and Waikīkī. Or drive north spend a day exploring the Windward Coast as it winds lazily around the island toward the North Shore, offering interesting stops along the way, like the serene Valley of the Temples, which is home to a stunning Japanese Buddhist temple.
Driving along the two-lane highway you can't miss Mokoliʻi, the tiny island pointing up from the sea. Stop at the park and stretch your legs or have a picnic. Just across the highway you’ll find one of Hawaiʻi’s most seen but least-recognized locations: Kuaola Ranch. A generations-old family-owned ranch, its scenic valley has provided the backdrop for countless movies and TV shows, including "Jurassic Park" and "Lost". Fortunately, it’s not just for the stars; visitors can enjoy horseback riding, ziplining, ATV tours and host of other activities. From here, Kamehameha Highway meanders past Kaʻaʻawa (“Ka-ah-ah-vah”), gentle Kahana Bay and around the northernmost tip of the island to Oʻahu’s North Shore, home of the best surf spots in Hawaiʻi—and some say—the world.
Sea Life Park Hawai‘i
Ho‘omaluhia Botanical Garden
Koko Crater Botanical Garden
Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve
Carved out of an extinct volcano, this scenic bay and coral reef is a fragile marine ecosystem. Learn about conservation efforts at the Marine Education Center and then snorkel among colorful tropical fish. Online reservations are required for all visitors which enables O‘ahu to better manage visitor capacity, protect the natural environment, and steward this natural resource.
Stretching across 4,000 acres of mountains and valleys to the sea, Kualoa preserves its sacred lands and celebrates its history while educating visitors about traditional Hawaiian values, reverence for the natural environment, and respect for the host Hawaiian culture. Kualoa offers UTV, ziplining, horseback riding, e-bikes, fishpond, ocean, and Hawaiian sustainability adventures to support its mission. Several tours reveal the many sites where famous movies and TV shows have been made here. TheBus offers several routes from Waikīkī hotels. Select tours feature round trip transportation for an additional $30 per person.More