Driving around Oahu: An unforgettable journey

Driving around Oahu: An unforgettable journey
Photo by Chris Reid / Unsplash

Oahu, the third-largest of the Hawaiian Islands, offers a unique and diverse driving experience. With its stunning coastline, lush landscapes, and rich cultural history, a road trip around this island is a must-do for any traveler. This comprehensive guide will take you through some of the most scenic and culturally significant spots you can explore on a drive around Oahu.

The Eastern Loop: From Honolulu to Kailua Beach

Diamond Head State Monument

Start your journey at the Diamond Head State Monument. This iconic volcanic tuff cone is not just a significant landmark for its natural beauty but also for its military history. Be sure to make a reservation in advance if you're not a Hawai'ian resident.

Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve

Just ten miles from Diamond Head, you'll find the Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve. Known for its high density of marine life, it's a paradise for snorkeling enthusiasts. The bay also offers several lookout points that provide breathtaking views of the forested peninsula.

Makapu'u Point Lighthouse

A drive along Highway 72 takes you to the Makapu'u Point Lighthouse. This historic lighthouse offers splendid views of Oahu’s southern coastline. The nearby hiking trail is an adventure in itself, providing opportunities to spot Hawaiian birds and, during certain seasons, migrating humpback whales.

Kailua Beach

Continue along Highway 72 to reach Kailua Beach, famous for its windsurfing opportunities. Here, you can also find the scenic Lanikai Pillbox hike, which leads to two graffiti-covered bunkers overlooking the ocean. Kailua town is the perfect place to enjoy a traditional rice plate or a fresh poke bowl.

The Windward Coast: Kailua to North Shore

Byodo-In Temple

In the lush Ko’olau Mountains, the Byodo-In Temple, a replica of a 900-year-old Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan, offers serene grounds with a tranquil reflecting pond and wandering peacocks. Ringing the traditional Japanese bell for good luck is a must.

Kualoa Ranch

This famous film location offers tours through its lush valleys and dense rainforests. Visitors can enjoy horseback riding, ATV tours, and a glimpse into the world of Hollywood blockbusters.

North Shore

The drive to O'ahu's North Shore is a scenic experience with lush forests, beautiful bay views, and the "country" side of O'ahu. Notable stops include the Polynesian Cultural Center and the Banzai Pipeline, famous for its large waves and surf competitions.

Haleiwa

End your day in the relaxed town of Haleiwa. Known for its surf shops, boutique stores, and art galleries, it's a stark contrast to the bustling Waikiki. Don't forget to try a shave ice, a Hawaiian staple, to cool down.

The Leeward Coast: Exploring Oahu’s Western Shores

Waianae Coast

Driving along the Waianae Coast, you'll be treated to some of Oahu’s most untouched landscapes. The area is less developed compared to other parts of the island, offering a glimpse into a more traditional Hawaii.

Makaha Beach

Makaha Beach is renowned for its excellent surfing conditions. The beach's long and wide sandy shores make it a perfect spot for sunbathing and beach activities.

Ka'ena Point State Park

At the end of the western coast, Ka'ena Point State Park offers breathtaking natural beauty. The area is known for its hiking trails, which provide stunning views of the ocean and the chance to spot local wildlife.

Read more