Windward Coast Oahu

Take a short drive from Waikiki and Honolulu over the mountainous Pali Highway to the lush country landscape and white sand beaches of Oahu’s Windward Coast. On the way, be sure to stop at the historic Nuuanu Pali Lookout for a breathtaking preview of the beauty yet to come.

As you exit the tunnels on the other side of the Koolau Mountain Range, it feels as if you’re leaving one world and entering another. A turquoise ocean shimmers in the distance calling you to Kailua, a thriving beach town. From Kailua town, you can head in two directions, go clockwise around the island to Sea Life Park, Makapuu Lighthouse, Hanauma Nature Preserve and eventually Diamond Head and Waikiki or spend a day exploring the Windward Coast in a counter clockwise direction as it winds lazily around the island toward the North Shore, offering interesting stops along the way.

Tour Map of Oahu Island

Explore Oahu by region: HonoluluNorth ShoreLeeward CoastCentral Oahu.

Download Tour Map of Oahu Island

Island Highlights

- Waikiki: Once a playground for Hawaiian royalty, this historic hot spot is now a gathering place for the world.
- Pearl Harbor: This National Historical Landmark features five historic sites memorializing the December 7, 1941 attack.
- North Shore: During the winter months, this legendary surf mecca attracts the best surfers in the world.
- Iolani Palace: The only official state residence of royalty in the United States and home to the Hawaiian Kingdom’s last two monarchs.
- Hawaii Regional Cuisine on Oahu: Get a taste of some of Hawaii’s most famous Hawaii Regional Cuisine chefs on Oahu.

Kailua Beach Park

Kailua Beach Park Oahu

Kailua Beach with a half mile of soft white sand, turquoise water, gentle breezes and proximity to several small islands makes it a hub for water sports — windsurfing, body boarding, kayaking and parasailing. 

Kailua has a laid-back environment different from Waikiki. Consistently rated one of the best beaches in America, Kailua Beach is a great family getaway less than 30-minutes away from Honolulu.

Location: Kailua on the Windward Coast, 30 minutes from Waikiki.

Makapuu Point Lighthouse

Makapuu Point Lighthouse Oahu

On the eastern most point of Oahu sits the Makapuu Point Lighthouse, a shining beacon built in 1909 on a 600-foot sea cliff overlooking Makapuu Beach — a stretch of sand known as one of Oahu’s best body surfing beaches — and family friendly Sea Life Park.

The Molokai Channel runs right past the Makapuu Lighthouse so this is also a great place to spot whales using on-site telescopes during whale watching season between December and May.

Location: Eastern most point of Oahu overlooking the Windward Coast.

Nuuanu Pali Lookout

Nuuanu Pali Lookout Oahu

The Nuuanu Pali Lookout offers panoramic views of the sheer Koolau cliffs and lush Windward Coast. Driving up the Pali Highway through tall trees and dense forests to get to the lookout, you’ll see the city disappear and the tranquil beauty of Hawaii’s natural landscape emerge.

The Pali Lookout is a site of deep historical significance. Named “Pali” meaning ‘cliff’ in Hawaiian, and is the site of the Battle of Nuuanu, where in 1795 King Kamehameha I won the struggle that finally united Oahu under his rule. This fierce battle claimed hundreds of soldiers’ lives, many of whom were forced off of the Pali’s sheer cliffs.

Location: Pali Highway between Honolulu and Kailua.

Valley of the Temples

Valley of the Temples Oahu

Deep in a lush valley along the 2,000-foot Koolau Range lies the Valley of the Temples. The resting place for many of Hawaii’s departed, Valley of the Temples’ hilly landscape is scattered with hundreds of freshly placed tropical flowers, like torch ginger and bird of paradise, to remember loved ones.

The main attraction in the Valley of the Temples is a Japanese temple called Byodo-In, which translates to the “Temple of Equality.”

Location: On the Windward Coast, west of Kaneohe.


Kailua Town Oahu

Turquoise water and fine white sand have made Kailua Beach a favorite of locals and visitors alike. Add a dash of city chic, and you have Kailua Town. The main part of Kailua Town consists of a few blocks of trendy boutiques, popular restaurants and kamaaina (locals) hangouts, like the Thursday evening farmers’ markets.

Of course the biggest draw to this buzzing seaside community is Kailua Beach.

Location: On the Windward Coast, 30 minutes from Waikiki.

Oahu Adventure Tours

Oahu ATV Tours Hawaii Oahu Dolphin Watching Tours Hawaii Oahu Eco Tours Hawaii Oahu Helicopter Tours Hawaii Oahu Land Tours Hawaii Oahu Pearl Harbor Tours Hawaii Oahu Sightseeing Tours Hawaii Oahu Whale Watching Tours Hawaii
ATV Tours Dolphin Tours Eco Tours Helicopter Tours Land Tours Pearl Harbor Tours Sightseeing Whale Watching

Popular Oahu Activities

Oahu Sunset Dinner Cruises Hawaii Oahu Sports Fishing Hawaii Oahu Golf Courses Hawaii Oahu Horseback Riding Hawaii Oahu Kayaking Adventure Hawaii Oahu Scuba Snuba Hawaii Oahu Surfing Hawaii Oahu Zipline Hawaii
Dinner Cruises Fishing Golf Horseback Riding Kayaking Scuba & Snuba Surfing Zipline

Memberships and Certification

 Hawaii Tourism Authority

Certified Hawaii Tourism Authority 'Destination Expert'.

A member of Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau and the Hawaii Tourism Authority.

 Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau

Acknowledgements & Credits


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Island Guides: Tips & Fun Things To Do