The Best of Oahu, Hawaii

If you ever visit the island of Oahu, or Hawaii in general, getting recommendations from a local is probably your best bet. There are a lot of hiking trails and picturesque spots that are unmarked and hidden. Sure, you can go to Waikiki Beach and Pearl Harbor just to say you’ve been there, but there’s so much more to the island than just those 2 places. Don’t get me wrong, they’re all awesome but if you limit yourself to only those few areas, then you’re really missing out. Visiting Hawaii is far from cheap so why not make the most out of it? Pack your activewear and hiking shoes as I’ve gathered a list of places that you can add to your own itinerary if you ever plan on visiting.

1. Hiking Trail: Pali Puka at Nu’uanu Pali Lookout (Kaneohe)

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This trail is most certainly NOT for the fainted heart and not for beginners. Please hike at your own risk. The ridges leading to the hole are very narrow and steep. Dangerous but worth it.

Here’s what the ridges look like:

From the top, you’re able to see Kaneohe on a clear day. You’re also able to see our house from up there. Not joking.

How to get there: Within the Nu’uanu Pali Lookout. There are paid parking areas. It’s free for residents. The start of the trail itself is hidden and there will be a sign saying its closed but we still went for it. 

2. Makapu’u Lookout (Waimanalo)

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Although it may look like it in the picture, this is not a trail. I just decided to climb up the rocks to get a better view and a picture without other people in it.

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Here’s what the actual lookout looks like. The place can get a little crowded but nothing too bad. Parking is available.

3. Hiking Trail: Makapu’u Point Lighthouse (Waimanalo)

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Right next to the Waimanalo lookout, if you’d rather hike it, I recommend this trail. It’s also beginner and stroller friendly.

Overall, this trail is a great and easy way to get your heart rate up without getting dirty since it doesn’t involve any climbing. There’s also parking available.

4. Hiking Trail: Crouching Lion Hike (Ka’a’awa)

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This trail is a little hard to find. Then again, so does the majority of hiking areas since there’s not really signs with their names on it and/or an actual address that you can put on the GPS. For this trail, you simply park your car on the side of the road. There’s a more descriptive guide to find the location on Google.

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The difficulty is moderate since there’s quite a lot of climbing involved but nothing too bad. It can get muddy along the way so be ready for it! I highly suggest wearing hiking shoes since it can get slippery on the way down.

5. Hiking Trail: Lulumahu Falls (Pali)

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If you’re looking to do a mix of hiking and swimming then this unmarked trail is for you. The entrance and parking to the trail itself is located right next to Pali highway. I highly recommend going with a crowd or an experienced local since it is unmarked and it’s very easy to get lost when making your way through.

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This trail is a little different since its located in the heart of a forest and not up the mountains. I suggest bringing swimwear and a pair of flip flops with you. Although there’s water involved, I still recommend wearing shoes on your way to the falls and back since the trail can get rocky and slippery. I obviously didn’t get the memo wearing leggings.

6. Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden (Kaneohe) 

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Last but not the least, the infamous Ho’omaluhia Garden. If you’re looking to unwind then this place will do you wonders. There are rest areas throughout the place if you need a short break. The walk itself is not too tiring. My family lives about 10 minutes away from it so it’s definitely one of my favorites.

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You can either walk the whole garden or drive it. The place is huge! it’s a long walk to reach the end of it but I still prefer walking since it gives you more time to appreciate the view. This place is also perfect for picnics so I suggest bringing food. There’s a gas station and shopping center nearby. Get some spam musubis (A local favorite! Google ‘Foodland Kaneohe‘) or better yet try L&L’s chicken katsu if you haven’t yet! Both my favorites.

Bonus: Valley of the Temples Memorial Park 

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If you’re looking into getting some photos in, I highly recommend this place where I took my high school graduation photos at.

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This place is right across Ko’olau Center. Keep driving until you reach the end of the road to get the best area.

Other places worth visiting:

  1. Polynesian Cultural Center
  2. Dole Plantation
  3. Waimea Valley 
  4. Byodo-In Temple 
  5. Koko Head 
  6. Tantalus Lookout

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