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Guide To East Oahu

Updated on June 1, 2015
Kailua Beach
Kailua Beach

Windward Oahu

East Oahu is more regularly called ‘Windward’ - when they say “Windward" the locals mean everything east of the Koolau Range. Kailua and Kaneohe are only 20 minutes drive away from Downtown Honolulu when using the Pali Hwy. The life on "the other side" is different in many ways.

Although the two towns grew very fast, life in Kailua and Kaneohe is still considered somewhat country. Everything is even more laid back than in Honolulu and people live the ‘hang loose’ way of living. Not only the attitude here is different from the city , but also the climate and the vegetation. The winds and the rain come into the islands from the east and the clouds are held up by the mountain range. The result is more rainfall on the windward side and therefore a greener and more lush vegetation. The windward side offers great B&B places to stay as well as some of Oahu's nicest vacation rentals and many delights for the visitor.

Beautiful white sandy beaches line the coast, the Valley of Temples invites and a hike to Sacred Falls will take your breath away. Towards the North Shore, you will have a chance to see the Mormon way of life and visit the greatest attraction on Oahu, the Polynesian Cultural Center , where all the islands of Polynesia are showcased.

In addition the windward side has some of the best Windsurfing bays, Oahu's finest sand beach in Lanikai and numerous golf courses.


Kailua boasts some of Oahu's finest beaches, and is easy to reach with a short 20 minute drive along the Pali, if one avoids traveling during rush hours.

The famous Kailua beach park offers the best Windsurfing on the island and gear rental and a surfing school is just around the corner. Windsurfing tours can even be arranged from Waikiki, including gear and transfers.

The calm waters and the fine sand of Lanikai beach are famous for year - round safe swimming, sailing and sunbathing. Kailua is an attractive alternative for many that work in town but still enjoy the flair of living in the country. Over the years Kailua has also attracted many guests, who come every year to stay in some of the many B&B, vacation homes and vacation rentals.


Kaneohe is also called the "bedroom town", because it is home to many commuters and military personnel who work on the bases. The nicest place in this area is Kaneohe bay, a calm, clear bay protected by a big reef. The small island in the middle of the lagoon was Hollywood's location for shooting 'Gilligans Island'.

Outside Kaneohe, on route 83, you can visit the Haiku Gardens and the Valley of Temples. The Haiku Gardens were founded in the mid 1800's, and include several ponds, condominiums, many flowers and ornamental trees. Today the gardens are a popular place for weddings. Its beauty attracts many visitors who take a walk and spend some relaxing time strolling the grounds.

The Valley of Temples is a unique cemetery. Christians as well as Buddhists are buried here. A Christian Church is situated on the left hills of the sanctuary, and a Buddhist Temple is located inside the valley. It is a replica of the 900 year old Byodo In Temple of Uji, Japan. It was built in 1968, exactly 100 years after the first Japanese immigrants arrived.

Ka’aawa to Laie

The coast from Ka`aawa to the Turtle Bay Hilton is almost one continuous string of beaches. The beaches are directly next to the only road which winds along the shore, so you can easily pull over to take pictures or stay for a swim. A number of small towns line the coastal road which takes you up to the North Shore

As you drive up the Coast, make sure to stop to Kim Taylor Reece's Gallery. Like no other this photographer captures the beauty and grace of Hawaii's Hula and people in his powerful images. Watch for the sign on the left side of the road ( Tel : 293-2000 ).


Laie (Hawaiian for leaf of the vine) was founded by the Mormon missionaries. The Mormons built a temple and the campus of the well known Bringham Young University. The church runs the Polynesian Cultural Center and Mormon rules are strictly enforced, by not drinking alcohol, not smoking, not wearing offensive clothing and not drinking caffeine. The white, shrine like temple is visible from the distance. It was built in 1919 and is open to the public from 9.00am to 9.00pm.

The Polynesian Culture Center is the most popular visitor attraction on Oahu. It gives visitors a great opportunity to learn about the Polynesian Culture and Heritage. Each Polynesian Island is individually represented in the huge center. You can visit the incredible shows and outdoor exhibitions during the day, take a canoe ride on the river, or get some authentic souvenirs at the marketplace. At 7.30pm get ready for an amazing evening spectacle. In a huge dome every island group presents traditional dances and music. A must-see during your stay on Oahu.

The Cultural Center is open daily except Sundays, from 12.30pm to 9.00pm. Laie is the last stop before the North Shore with a supermarket, bank or fast food restaurants.

Beaches and Parks

Waimanalo Beach

This is the beach of your dreams. Miles of fine, white powder sand, palms and pine trees, and turquoise, calm waters make this a wonderful stretch of beach. Stop by during the early morning hours to see the sunrise. This beach is worth spending your vacation at, and the best place to stay are the Sunrise studios.

Valley of the Temples

The replica of the Bodo-Yin temple was constructed on the 100-year anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants in Hawaii. Well worth a visit, you may remember the temple from Magnum P.I episodes. The groundskeeper is always up for a joke, and he will show you his wild peacocks, fish and birds which seems to obey his every command.

Kailua Beach

This seemingly endless dream beach attracts every visitor. On the weekends it can get a little crowded, but during the week you can have the beach to yourself. The southeast end of Kailua beach is called Lanikai and is mostly frequented by families from the nearby neighborhood. The wide lawns and many trees make this part an ideal picnic spot. Many of Oahu's B&B and Vacation rentals can be found directly on or steps away from the beach.

The north end of the beach is where the windsurfing action is. The windsurfing school offers the latest equipment and professional classes. The water is crystal clear and really inviting for swimmers.

The small islands off Kailua bay are the Moku Lua islands. The smaller one is accessible to the public. Rent a kayak and paddle out there to encounter sea turtles and enjoy an island to yourself.

Kualoa Park

This beach park’s distinctive view of the coastline is worth seeing. The park was remodeled during the 80s and now features wide lawns, many palm trees, picnic tables and restrooms. The beach is a combination of coral and sand. The small island, 600 yards offshore of Kualoa Park, is Mokulii island, or commonly known as Chinaman’s Hat. This deserted island can be visited by kayak, surfboard or on rafts. The small island boasts a cave and a deserted little beach.

Kualoa Ranch

The entrance to the ranch is shortly after the Kualoa Regional Park on the mauka side. You can keep yourself busy all day, by participating in all the activities offered. They include water-skiing, scuba diving, tennis, snorkeling, mountain biking, a petting zoo and an original Hawaiian village to explore. Some scenes of the famous blockbuster movie Jurassic Park were filmed in this valley.

Maleakahana Beach Park

Just up the road from the Cultural Center. This mile long beach park is the ideal camping spot. The forest protects the tents from wind and rain, and the camp grounds offer good facilities. The beach is white and sandy and is good for swimming all year round. You have to obtain a camping permit to put up your tent. If you're not into camping, check out this one-of-a-kind vacation home on the beach. Just off Maleakahana Bay is the beautiful uninhabited island. It is commonly known as Goat Island and has three wonderful, small, white beaches. At low tide you can walk from the shore, but be careful, the conditions can be rough!



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