There are several wonderful day trips that you can take around the island of Oahu. We enjoyed taking several throughout our week, some for the full day... others just for a couple of hours some morning or afternoon. Regardless of how much time you may have, there is time enough to get out and see a bit more of Oahu that you may otherwise have thought. Here are just three suggestions based on what we have enjoyed while on Oahu.
Pali Highway (Route 61) - Nu'uanu Pali State Park/Wayside:
This is also known as the Pali Lookout and is where King Kamehameha fought his last battle to unify the Hawaiian Islands. Overlooking the Nu'uanu Valley, you will have a wonderful view of the northern part of the island. The cliffs are sharp and remarkable here. Be sure to take a sweater or light weight jacket, as there will most certainly be cooler temperatures coupled with high winds. Through this area at 1,200 feet, the trade winds funnel through the gap in the mountain, creating rather significant wind chills for Hawaii. On the day we were up there, two men lost their baseball caps over the edge to high winds.
This is about a two hour round trip from Waikiki.
Tantalus & Round Top Circle Road Drive:
From the "Oahu Revealed" book we learned of this 10-mile road trip up in the high hills above Honolulu. Curving around at an altitude of 1,600 feet, you will see citywide views of Waikiki that are breathtaking. From edge to edge you will have a view of over 25 miles across Oahu! The drive itself will be through areas that are dark and dense with vegetation. You will truly feel like you are in the jungle as you wind around on single-lane hairpin curves. There is also a small state park near the top called Pu'u Ualaka'a State Wayside Park. The view of Pearl Harbor in the distance is pretty cool, too.
We thoroughly enjoyed this hour long trip but beware! This is a bit of a “lovers’ lane” as we saw several cars pulled off with men receiving “service” from women in the front seat. We later heard that prostitution was known to exist up in the area and that there had been a police sting only weeks before. Obviously nobody was worried about being caught, as we witnessed at least three couples “in the act” as we drove by.
”The North Shore” - Surf's Up!
The North Shore of Oahu is known for its winter surf conditions. It is in December each year that the big surfing competitions are held. We were at Sunset Beach the week that competition was taking place. The surf was especially high at Waimea. There is a nice park there, too, so you can stop, enjoy the beach, and watch the surfers. They encourage novices and tourists to really stay out of the water in this area during the winter. Waves were between 10 and 20 feet during our time out on the beach! In and around Haleiwi (known as SURF CITY USA), there are several nice beach parks where you can enjoy the sun and water. Kaiaka State Park is probably your best bet for a relaxing day at the beach.
Plan for a full day for this trip, especially if you plan on getting out to enjoy the beaches (which we highly recommend!). There are also very nice restaurants for lunch or dinner. We really enjoyed our day on the north shore.
Ko Olina Lagoons – Marriott Resort
Head west on H1, just past the end of the highway. This is a great find, thanks to the tour guidebook "Oahu Revealed" by Doughty and Friedman (page133). We loved lagoon #2 so much that we returned 2 days later and gave lagoon #3 a whirl. There are four man-made lagoons in this newly developed resort community. It is gated and secure, but if you tell the person on duty that you're coming to use the lagoons, they will provide you with a visitor's day pass.
The first day in lagoon #2 the snorkeling was very good, and I even swam with a turtle!! The second time, however, was disappointing, as the water was cloudy and not good for snorkeling. Lagoon #2 had nice beach umbrellas free for use by visitors, providing great shade if that is something you are interested in. Lagoon #3 had no shade opportunities but did have very nice chaise lounge chairs that were available to visitors. We felt that was a nice trade-off. They also have small cabana chaises for rent, as well as canoes and large rafts.
There are Showers and flushing toilets at all lagoons. Lagoon #3 also has resort food/beverage services available to visitors.