Windward Coast

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Windward Coast

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 Koolau 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 Oahu, and some of the most stunning natural beauty anywhere in Hawaii. 

From Kailua town, you can head in two directions. Go clockwise down the coast to Sea Life Park, Makapuu Point Lighthouse and eventually Leahi (Diamond Head) and Waikiki. 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 Mokolii, the tiny island fondly known as “Chinaman’s Hat.” Stop at the park and stretch your legs or have a picnic. Just across the highway you’ll find one of Hawaii’s most seen but least-recognized locations: Kualoa 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 Kaaawa (“Ka-ah-ah-vah”), gentle Kahana Bay and around the northernmost tip of the island to Oahu’s North Shore, home of the best surf spots in Hawaii—and some say—the world.

Windward Coast Highlights

Makapuu Point Lighthouse

Hike to this scenic point on Oahu’s easternmost tip for incredible views and whale watching during the winter.

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Nuuanu Pali Lookout

Nuuanu Pali Lookout is one of Oahu’s most popular scenic spots, with panoramic views of the Windward Coast and the Koolau Mountains.

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Byodo-In Temple

Valley of the Temples Memorial Park houses Byodo-in, a stunning replica of a Japanese Buddhist Temple set in a lush forest.

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