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Introduction to Windward Oahu

Facts, history, visitor attractions, and general information about the east side of the island of Oahu in Hawaii.

Hugging the 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 Lanikai, Kailua and Kaneohe. The 1,643-foot Mount Olomana is the same range that greets drivers that are descending from the 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 snow boarding.

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 immigrants.

Past 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
- Byodo-In Temple
-Crouching Lion
-Haiku Gardens
- Halona Blowhole
- Heeia State Park
-Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens
-Kahana Bay
- Kailua Beach
-Kailua Sailboards & Kayaks (kite surfing, windsurfing, kayaking)
- Kaneohe Bay
-Kaneohe Sand Bars
- Kualoa Ranch and Activity Club
- Kualoa Beach Park
- Lanikai Beach
- Makapuu Beach
- Makapuu Lighthouse Hike
- Makapuu Point
- Sea Life Park
-Senator Fong’s Plantation and Gardens
-Punaluu Beach Park
- Sandy Beach

Article provided courtesy of the Oahu Visitor's Bureau

See also:
- Attractions on Oahu
- Activities on Oahu

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