Introduction to Windward Oahu
Facts, history, visitor attractions, and general
information about the east side of the island of
Oahu in Hawaii.
Koolau Mountain Range, the windward coast of Oahu begins at
Koko Head and ends at
Kahaluu, the gateway to the North Shore. Before
curling around the southern tip of Oahu,
Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve gives
a glimpse of the beauty to be seen. As seen in Elvis Presley’s movie,
Blue Hawaii, Hanauma Bay's white sandy beach stretches 2000 feet and is
lined with coconut trees. The crescent-shaped bay protects swimmers and
snorkelers so that even beginners can enjoy the vibrant sea life.
A few minutes down the road along the dramatic southeast Oahu coastline,
Halona Blowhole sometimes spouts a powerful sea spray up to 50 feet in
the air. The scenic viewing area is an ideal spot to pull over and enjoy
the show and watch the experienced body surfers and boogie boarders take
advantage of the fierce and steady waves pounding the shore.
The backdrop for
Sandy Beach is a lava outcropping of rocks known as
Pele’s chair or Pele’s throne. Madame Pele is the volcano goddess.
The chair is said to be the place where Pele departed Oahu to work
on other islands. The
paved hiking path that passes Pele’s chair
leads to the
Makapuu Lighthouse. The end of the trail reveals the
dramatic coastline for the windward side, which is lined with miles
and miles of white sandy beaches. For the less ambitious, a drive up
the scenic area unfolds a similar view.
At the lookout, two offshore islands are visible. Sixty-seven-acre
Manana Island is commonly called "Rabbit Island" because rabbits actually
inhabited this island. Its smaller sister is 11-acre Moku Hope, which
is a bird sanctuary. Below the lookout is
Makapuu Beach, which like Sandy
Beach, is well known as the island’s best bodysurfing areas.
Across the street from Makapuu Point lookout,
Sea Life Park of Hawaii
is nestled up against the Koolau Mountains offering the perfect setting
for a variety of ocean life including dolphins, sting rays, green sea
turtles, seals and much more.
The rural countryside of
Waimanalo is home to a Hawaiian community
of more than 9,000 people.
Waimanalo Beach State Park and Waimanalo
Bay are known for exceptional sunrises appearing out of the ocean.
Visitors will find that miles of gently sloped shore allow for easy,
unhampered beach walking or jogging. It is a perfect beach for families,
honeymooners and seniors.
Following Kalanianaole Highway, Mount Olomana guards the entrance to
the communities of
Kaneohe. The 1,643-foot Mount
Olomana is the same range that greets drivers that are descending from
Nuuanu Pali to Kailua.
The windward side is aptly named because of the steady and reliable
trade winds that bless the shore and provide ideal weather for wind and
kite surfing, as well as parasailing.
Lanikai Beach and
Kailua Beach Park
both have been voted "Best Beach in the Nation" and are hailed as top
spots for water adventures, especially wind and kite surfing. The newest
sport seen there is wake boarding, a cross between water skiing and
The small islands offshore from Kailua Beach and Lanikai Beach are designated
bird sanctuaries called Popoia, Moku Nui and Moku Iki (jointly called Mokulua).
On a calm day Moku Nui is just a short kayak paddle away.
Further up the windward coast is
Kaneohe, a large residential suburb,
which includes Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens, Windward Mall, Bay View
Golf Course and the University of Hawaii Marine Biology Laboratory on
Moku O Loe (Coconut Island). Northward, Oahu is at its tropical and
rural best. Scenic stops along the Kahekili and Kamehameha Highways
should include Haiku Garden, the coasts of Kaneohe and Kahana Bay,
Valley of the Temples and Mokolii Isle at
Kualoa Beach Park. The
Byodo-In Temple at the
Valley of the Temples Memorial Park is a tranquil and
stunning attraction. This replica of a 900-year-old Buddhist temple
in Kyoto, Japan, was built in 1968 to honor Hawaii’s first Japanese
Mokolii Island, popularly know as Chinaman’s Hat, Kamehameha Highway makes
a turn near the ancient 124-acre Molii Fishpond. The familiarity of the
ancient people with aquaculture was so outstanding that many fishponds
such as Molii have been restored to productivity.
In ancient times, the city of Kaneohe, in the shadow of the Koolau Range
with its beautiful sheltered bay ringed by productive fishponds and abundant
coral reefs, was a large population center on Oahu.
Kanehoalani Mountain reaches the beach at Kalaeoio Point, separating the
two traditional mokuaina, or land divisions, of Koolau Loa and Koolau Poko.
In Kaaawa Valley, where cattle graze, historic taro terraces reveal the
location of a once significant village. Somewhere on the Kaaawa face of
Kanehoalani there is said to be the entrance to an ancient burial cave.
From the Pali Highway and stopping at
Pali Lookout, the entire Windward
coast unfolds. History abounds at the Nuuanu Pali precipice, a windy
pass through the Koolau Mountains. In 1795,
Kamehameha the Great, fighting
to add Oahu to his dominions, defeated his rivals midway up the valley.
Some of the defending warriors leaped to their deaths rather than let
themselves be taken prisoner by the great invading chief from Hawaii
Island. Early travelers between Kailua and Honolulu literally had to
climb up and down a narrow footpath along the steep face of the mountain.
A carriage road was constructed in the 1860s.
During the winter, temperatures reach highs of 79°F and dip to 70°F.
During the summer, temperatures range from 84°F to 73°F. For more
information about Oahu weather forecasts, please call (808) 973-4381.
For surf report information, please call (808) 596-7873.
Sights and Visitor Attractions
Heeia State Park
-Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens
-Kailua Sailboards & Kayaks (kite surfing, windsurfing, kayaking)
-Kaneohe Sand Bars
Kualoa Ranch and Activity Club
Kualoa Beach Park
Makapuu Lighthouse Hike
Sea Life Park
-Senator Fong’s Plantation and Gardens
-Punaluu Beach Park
Article provided courtesy of the Oahu Visitor's Bureau
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