Windward Coast

Take a short drive from Waikiki and Honolulu over the mountainous Pali Highway to the lush country landscape and white sand beaches of Oahu’s Windward Coast. On the way, be sure to stop at the historic Nuuanu Pali Lookout for a breathtaking preview of the beauty yet to come.

As you exit the tunnels on the other side of the Koolau Mountain Range, it feels as if you’re leaving one world and entering another. A turquoise ocean shimmers in the distance calling you to Kailua, a thriving beach town where you’ll find a host of eats, trendy local shops and a crescent beach that looks like it belongs in a magazine.

From Kailua town, you can head in two directions. Go clockwise around the island to Sea Life Park, Makapuu Lighthouse, Hanauma Nature Preserve and eventually Diamond Head and Waikiki.

Or spend a day exploring the Windward Coast in a counter clockwise direction as it winds lazily around the island toward the North Shore, offering interesting stops along the way.

The serene Valley of the Temples is home to an amazing Japanese Buddhist temple, while the café at nearby Heeia Kea Pier is known for a farm to table menu that’s literally “fresh off the boat.”

Driving along the two-lane highway you can’t miss Mokolii, 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 LOST and Hawaii Five-0. Fortunately, it’s not just for the stars. Visitors and locals alike enjoy horseback riding, ATV tours and host of other activities.

From here, Kamehameha Highway meanders past Kaaawa (“Ka-ah-ah-vah” and yes, there are three As in a row), gentle Kahana Bay, Laie with the Polynesian Cultural Center, the old plantation town of Kahuku 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.

  • Makapuu Beach Park

    Backed by sea cliffs, Makapu’u Beach Park (view panorama) is popular among bodyboarders and bodysurfers. Rip currents and a powerful shorebreak make for a very rough ride, perfect for adventure seekers. During the summer months the ocean is usually calmer than in the winter months (November to February), but even in the summer there are ...

  • Nuuanu Pali Lookout

    Just a 5-mile drive northeast of Downtown Honolulu, the Nuuanu Pali Lookout offers panoramic views of the sheer Koolau cliffs and lush Windward Coast. Driving up the Pali Highway through tall trees and dense forests to get to the lookout, you’ll see the city disappear and the tranquil beauty of Hawaii’s natural landscape emerge. Perched ...

  • Valley Of The Temples

    Deep in a lush valley along the 2,000-foot Koolau Range lies the Valley of the Temples. The resting place for many of Hawaii’s departed, Valley of the Temples’ hilly landscape is scattered with hundreds of freshly placed tropical flowers, like torch ginger and bird of paradise, to remember loved ones. The main attraction in the Valley ...

  • Kailua Beach Park

    Kailua Beach Park

    With a half mile of soft white sand, turquoise water and gentle breezes, Kailua Beach Park located on the Windward Coast is a local favorite. A hub for water sports, Kailua Beach welcomes visitors and locals to windsurf, body board, kayak and parasail. Conveniently, kayak rentals, dive shops and beachwear boutiques are located nearby the ...

  • Sea Life Park

    Come play with us! Where dolphins dance, sea lions sing, and penguins perform in this magical place by the sea. Sea Life Park Hawaii offers Hawaii’s most diverse array of close-up marine animal encounters. Mingle nose-to-nose with the dolphins in our Dolphin Royal Swim, Dolphin Swim Adventure and Dolphin Encounter programs. Be a sea trek adventurer ...

  • Hanauma Bay

    Staring out at the circular-shaped shore of Hanauma Bay on the southeast tip of East Honolulu, you can imagine how this beautiful cove was once a volcanic crater. Today, this crater, likely flooded by wave erosion, is home to an important nature preserve and the island’s most popular snorkeling destination. Preservation is emphasized at Hanauma Bay ...