Welcome to Oahu, Hawaii

East Oahu

Site Photography © Big Bamboo Stock Photography, used by permission.

East Oahu covers the stretch of eastern coastline from Waiahole to Makapuu Point, bordered by the steep Koolau mountain range on the west. As it faces the predominantly onshore winds, local residents also call East Oahu the Windward Side. Some of the best sunny beaches of the Islands - notably Kailua, Kualoa and Malaekahana - are located on this coastline. The waters here are best suited for windsurfers and sailors, as the coast is exposed to the blustery northeasterly trade winds.

On the southern part of the Windward Side, which is also the easternmost point of Oahu, is Makapuu Point and its famous lighthouse. On the hiking path up to the lighthouse is Pele’s Chair, a rock formation said to be the place from which the goddess Pele left Oahu. Once at the summit of Makapuu Point, you can have stunning views of Rabbit Island and Makapuu Beach below, and the hand-gliders above, who have taken off from the thousand-foot cliffs. The Makapuu Beach Park is below this Point, and its mighty waves have made this a popular place among body-surfers.

Across the highway from Makapuu Beach Park, is one of the island’s main attractions, the Sea Life Park. This 62-acre ocean theme park features whales from Puget Sound, Atlantic bottle-nosed dolphins, California sea lions, and penguins going through their hoops to the delight of kids of all ages. There's also a Hawaiian reef tank full of tropical fish; a "touch" pool, where you can touch a real sea cucumber; and a bird sanctuary, where you can see birds like the red-footed booby and the frigate bird. The chief curiosity, though, is Kekaimalu, the world's only "wholphin" -- a cross between a false killer whale and an Atlantic bottle-nosed dolphin. When Kekaimalu was born in May 1985, she was noticeably darker than a dolphin and had an uncharacteristically short snout. It was later discovered that her mother, an Atlantic Bottlenose dolphin, had bred with a false killer whale.

A few miles up the coast is Waimanalo Bay Recreation Area, a popular place among tourists and residents alike. The ironwood trees here provide great shade, making it a perfect place for picnicking. In the center of this 75-acre area is Waimanalo Beach. This quiet sandy beach slopes gently into the ocean providing a wonderful area for swimming and other water recreation. It is also a perfect place to learn how to surf or body board.

About 10 miles up the coast from Makapuu Point is Kailua. Kailua is the third-largest city on Oahu and has some fine shopping centers and a number of golf courses. It is also known for its stellar beach, a popular site for kayakers and windsurfers; and the eerie remains of a luakini heiau (sacrificial temple). South of Kailua Beach, over a bridge, is Lanikai Beach, with its fine, powdery sand and beautiful homes. Both Kailua and Lanikai are stunning beaches that appeal to swimmers, sailors and windsurfers alike.

Kaneohe, further north, is notable for its enormous botanical garden, Hoomaluhia Park. This park contains a lake and tropical plants from around the world. The garden offers picnicking, hiking, and camping facilities. Kaneohe is also known for the super-tranquility of the Valley of the Temples, an interdenominational Japanese-style cemetery. The jewel of this Valley is the Byodo-In Temple, which is a replica of the 900 year old Temple by the same name in Kyoto, Japan. Visitors here can stroll the grounds amidst peacocks and sparrows, view the meditation pagoda and statue of Buddha, and ring the huge temple bell. The largest shopping center on the Windward side of Oahu, the Windward Mall is also located in Kaneohe. Set against the picture-postcard background of the Koolaupoko Mountain Range, Windward Mall brings fun, food and fabulous shopping together in one place.

Along the winding road northward from Kaneohe, are some of the most beautiful stretches of shoreline and the beachfront is very near the road. You might want to take pictures of some of the most stunning views along this road.


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