Touring / Exploration, Oahu
This is the next stop if you’re driving from Waikiki visiting Hanauma Bay followed by the Blow Hole.
The parking lot is very tiny and it is easy to miss, but anyway nobody drives fast on this scenic road, so you’ll have the time to pull off.
It’s a very easy hike, considering the paved trail that takes you all the way up a hill with breathtaking views on the Ka’iwi shoreline, Rabbit Island, and Turtle Island. If weather permits you’ll see Molokai island in the horizon.
The way up is augmented with smell of mesquite trees. It’s a very strong and pleasant smell of burned wood that fills the air. If you hike in the winter, November thru March, there’s a great lookout point for migrating whales. If you’re lucky you can actually see them. If you look down from that point you’ll see a very idyllic picture of a red-headed lighthouse by the ocean. And when you reach the top of the hill you can see a very big part of the “brown side” of the island.
It’s a nice and refreshing hike along the ocean where cool breeze never ends and views are spectacular.
The Northern part of Oahu offers many amazing hiking trails; Kahana Valley has several trails that are suitable for every kind on an hiker, from a beginner to a very experienced one.
Nakoa trail was a great combination of amazing views, lots of water in its endless streams, many interesting plants, trees (the smell of wild Guava will follow you everywhere), birds, and even animals (if a tiny scared mongoose counts). If you choose this trail you can pick some maps at the orientation center, they are very helpful. The trail is marked by red ribbons that are placed on trees or rocks along the streams.
At times the paths are very narrow, muddy, and slippery and you should watch for cannon ball trees. Huge, coconut sized fruit may fall on your head without a warning!
Kahana Valley is a hunting area and there are warning signs that remind you to be careful and remain on the marked trails.
There are two options for a hiking trail. First is rather short 1,5-2 miles path in the forest area. Once you reach the old bunkers you’ll have two choices, to either go left and finish your hike or to go right and walk another 1,5 miles to the pool area crossing many streams. This part of the hike is more difficult because of mosquito attacks and totally wet shoes. Water can be above your knee level and some streams are pretty strong. When you reach the pool you’ll have to cross it holding a long rope walking on a very slippery rock.
We took the long trail, which was 6 miles long and took us about 4,5 hours. It was a great, full of memories hike. Bear in mind that after such a hike you’ll be covered with mud! It took me almost an hour to clean my sneakers.
Pali Highway is considered the most beautiful road on Oahu and it will lead you to the Nuuanu Pali lookout from which you can get one of the most beautiful views on the island. The road that leads to the lookout is going through a rich forest that gives you a feeling of a 5-minute drive through a green tunnel with occasional sun rays that break through the leaves of the giant trees.
Not always has it been just a nice lookout, Nuuanu Pali is one of the most important historical points of Oahu. In 1795 King Kamehameha I and his men won a battle against the army of Oahu Island after which the islands of Hawaii were united. Kamehameha I brought the enemy to this very place and sent them to their death, falling down the steep “pali” which literally translates to “cliff” from Hawaiian. There are plenty of signs and pictures on the site that show the story of the battle.
The views from the lookout are really astonishing. On your left you’ll see endless green mountains, the mighty ocean and the China Man’s hat will be just in front of you, and on your right you’ll see the most scenic road, H-3 road, with two of its bridges (viaducts) that run through the jungle-like nature. This road is considered, by many, a real engineering achievement and, even if you’re not on your way to Nuuanu lookout, take this highway just to appreciate the beauty of it.
Nuuanu Pali is a real magnet for tourists, but it shouldn’t be avoided. To me it was the most beautiful lookout I’ve ever been to.
There are two things to remember, it is ALWAYS very windy and may be a bit chilly, so bring something with long sleeves, just in case. And, for some reason this place is full of bees, so if you’re allergic remember to carry your atropine with you.
Secreted behind the Oahu Cemetery (down a little from the Royal Mausoleum) and along a nature trail through the cool woods, you'll discover a shallow cave sheltering petroglyphs from the 1700's depicting a woman giving birth and a dog (pic#2). Further on you'll spy a small waterfall called Kapena Falls, which is about 15-18 feet high.
Once you follow this trail to the end, a natural pool appears. When we visited, dozens of young people were using a long chain fastened to a tree branch to swoop over the water and drop. Our guide said locals have been using this location for years.
Indian Banyon trees, Cook Pine (or Hawaiian Christmas Tree), African Tulip Tree and others shaded the pathway, while boulders of all sizes lined the narrow stream. It was a pleasant nature walk only about 10 minutes one way.
Hold onto your hats when you explore Pali Lookout--because the trade winds whip through this area!
This is the site of King Kamehameha's victory leading to his conquering of all the Hawaiian islands. The bones from 400 souls were found at the base of this mountain. When road construction was necessary, another 400 skeletons were unearthed. Those who lost the battle here either fell or were thrown off the mountain--as you can see it would have been a long way down!
The vista was breathtakingly beautiful! To reach Pali Lookout, we snaked along old Pali Highway passed folded mountains and through a tropical rainforest (pic #2).
At the lookout entrance, a cheeky rooster with his hens foraged in the brush( pic #3), a scene you'll only come across in the rural areas.
This chapel was built in 1865 and was once the mausoleum for Hawaii's royalty, but now Kings Kamehameah II-V are interred in underground pits on the grounds (pic #2). Surprisingly, the chapel was constructed of coral "bricks" and not stone as it appears.
The original King Kamehameah is missing from this royal depository because he was buried traditional style--his body was stripped of flesh, then his bones were hidden in caves throughout the Hawaii (the big island).
There were some unusual trees surrounding this 3 acre plot: a huge Kukui nut tree, African Sausage Tree and Breadfruit Tree. Plumeria and Bougainvillea added hues of pink and white to the landscape.
Hours are 8:00 am-4:30 pm.
In 1795, King Kamehameha defeated the armies of Oahu when he pushed them over the cliffs at Nuuanu Pali. In 1897 when old pali road was being built (the first road to connect the windward side of Oahu with the leward side, via the koolau mountains) construction workers found over 800 human remains at the base of the cliff.
Today there is a new road built that goes through the mountain instead of over. the old pali road is now a state park with a lookout that overlooks the windward side of Oahu.
The old road still remains, and u may walk down the old road for some great shots looking down on the town of Kaneohe. Check out my old pali road link...OLD PALI ROAD
9am til 4m daily
Be very careful at the lookout because of strong winds. hold down hats or any loose items. Do not climb ont he walls, or your bones may be discovered one day...
Around mile marker 11, the jagged lava coast itself spouts sea foam at the Halona Blowhole. Look out to sea from Halona over Sandy Beach and across the 26-mile gulf to neighboring Molokai and the faint triangular shadow of Lanai on the far horizon.
There are so many sculptures around the island- from The Duke in Waikiki beach, the King of Surf; to the King Kamehameha sculpture downtown. There are also the Hawaiian girl, the dolphins, the gecko, among others. Local artists are commissioned to do sculptures to depict the local tradition and culture of the islands.
This is a hike i take everyone on when they come with me to Hawaii. Its about a 2 mile hike all together which takes you all the way up to a look out that over looks the famous Makapuu Light House. Also on the hike, you can over look Hawaii Kai, look down on Makapuu Beach, and do some great whale spotting looking towards the island of Molokai.
You will want to take some water on this hike, since it can be very hot on the road up. Take your time becuase if you are lazy like me, you will get tired. There is some cool off trail hiking where you can find old military bunkers. Be very careful since it is off trail and the footing can be bad. I recommend you bring binoculars, just incase u spot some whales passing through the Molokai channel. There is a good chance you will during the winter months.
Wear covered shoes because there is sharpe lave rocks on some part of the trails.
All in all, I highly recommend this hike if u are looking for some beautiful views of the island.
For $60 a pop, P.G. and I hopped on an E Noa mini bus for the “Majestic Waterfall & Circle Island Tour”. With our Irish-Hawaiian tour guide named Shannon O’Brien (I kid you not) we were treated to a great orientation of Oahu - local style.
Now I know what you're thinking. How touristy is that!? Ok, sure, but here's my take on it. We were gonna circle the whole island, and knowing how much I complain about my boyfriend's aggressive driving habits, we would've spent most of the time arguing rather than enjoying the scenery. Nah, for this Hawaiian experience we were gonna leave it up to the pros. Added bonus was the fact that our guide was great!
So rent a car and go on your own (and risk arguing with your partner on the drive) or purchase a tour package, but circling the island is definitely a must do! And if you do decide to take the E Noa Tour, ask for Shannon, he's entertainment in and of itself. You're guaranteed a great time.
Tour highlights include meandering the island coastline, which affords you excellent scenic views, driving past pineapple fields, stopping at Waimea Valley, visiting the Byodo-In Temple, spotting turtles on Turtle Beach (if you're lucky), and many other things.
Note: Tip originally written for Jan. 2003 visit to Oahu.
Haunama Bay is real gem on the Island of Oahu. Facing the Leeward side of the Island its gorgeous crescent shape bay is a perfect spot for beginners to advanced snorkelers to enjoy its semi protected reef. The park opens at daily at 6:00 am. The bay is so popular with locals and visitors that it often fills to capacity by 9:00. The park rents snokel equipment for $5.00 $11.00. Beginners will find the :dry snorkel" easier than the wet. Be sure to bring reef shoes as much of the bay is quite rocky. The fish are brilliant colors and very friendly. You may even get lucky enough to see a turtle or two. Do not touch or step on the coral as doing so will kill the animal. Fish can been seen in even the shallowest water. Many locals are regular visitors to the bay. This is one place which should not be missed when visiting Oahu.
Something we did that was pretty fun for the whole family was a scavenger hunt in the downtown area. It took a couple hours and we had fun doing the puzzles while learning a little about Hawaii history. Its called Urban Adventure Quest and you can Google the website to check it out. You get your clues on your cell phone over the internet. The cost is per team, not per person. My family enjoyed it.
Every resort has its own special quality; so it's worth it to check them out. Differents shops, bars, restaurants and attractions can be found at each property. It's also a nice way to scout out your next hotel choice when visiting the island.
My wife and I enjoy exploring different resorts and comparing their offerings. Our most recent trip we explored several different resorts and found our next hotel stay.
Atlantis Submarine tours dive off Waikiki Beach leaving from the Hilton Hawaiian pier. The total time including transit on boat to submarine, tour and dive then back to pier is approximately 2 hours. The dive in submarine is about 50 minutes reaching depths of 120 feet. A great way to see the beautiful fish that feed and live off the reefs in Hawaii. Each seat on submarine has its own window to the sea. Tours are given in English or Japanese. The opportunity is certainly unique and very worthwile. Our dive saw turtles, sharks and thousands of brilliantly colored reef fish. Don't miss this.