The eastern side of Oahu is known as Windward Oahu because this part of the island faces the wind. It’s about 30 minutes by car from Waikiki and Honolulu and has some of the best beaches on the island. It’s not as busy as the other parts of Oahu, and if you’re looking for a calm vacation, this place is it. The attractions are driveable; you can hit up most of them in one day. Oahu is the busiest island in Hawaii. Sometimes it’s hard to have a chill vacation with many travelers jumping around. That’s why it’s crucial to highlight lesser-known areas but also make sure they still stay hidden enough.
Check out this list of the best five attractions in Windward Oahu. It’s filled with diverse enough options to spread out your day and enjoy what the eastern coast can bring you. You’ll find sightseeing, hiking, fantastic food, beaches, and the perfect way to watch the sun go down. Start with the Makapuʻu Point Lighthouse Trail and end with the Lanikai Pillboxes. It will definitely be a fantastic time!
Makapuʻu Point Lighthouse
Located at the easternmost point of Oahu, the Makapuʻu Point Lighthouse is a great way to start your day. It’ll be an excellent way to wake yourself up and catch views of the other Hawaiian islands on a clear day. The hike isn’t too hard, with only 2 miles of trails which should take about two hours to return. The course is paved, so it won’t be difficult for new hikers or groups with families. The lighthouse was built in 1909 and has been a staple of the Windward Oahu scene ever since then. Start your day there with some light hiking and amazing views.
The Byodo-In Temple
About 40 minutes (by car) from Makapuʻu Point Lighthouse is The Byodo-In Temple. Built in 1968 to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the arrival of Japanese culture to the island, it’s a replica of the Byōdō-in Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan. Tickets are $5; you have to check out Amida, a giant golden Buddha statue. You can go and pay your respects and learn a bit more about Buddhist culture in Hawaii. After hiking the Makapuʻu Point Lighthouse trail, it’s an excellent way to relax and reflect before lunch.
Waiahole Poi Factory
Making your way south for about 14 minutes, you’ll find the Waiahole Poi Factory. Constructed in 1905 as a poi factory, its had multiple iterations over the last few decades. Now it serves as a restaurant with traditional Hawaiian food and locally sourced ingredients. If you don’t know, poi is a traditional Polynesian food made from the taro vegetable. Having lunch at this place will give you a taste of authentic Hawaiian culture. Every penny you spend here goes back to the local community.
Waiahole Poi Factory is more of a take-out place, but we’re confident you’ll enjoy the food. Dishes like the Kanaka Nui plate (laulau, kalua pig, chicken long rice, with a beef luau, poi, lomi salmon, and haupia) will not dissapoint. Pro tip: try the ice cream. The Sweet Lady of Waiahole (warm kulolo and haupia ice cream) will make you want to come back.
Regarded as one of the island’s top beaches, Lanikai Beach is a must-visit after lunch. Its breathtaking view of Na Mokulua (two tiny isles about a mile and a half away from the beach) and the crystal clear water make this local favorite a fun stop. Swimming or admiring the beach will help you understand why locals call this place a sliver of heaven. Parking might be an issue since it’s mainly street parking, but once you’re on the beach, you’ll get why so many people treasure this spot.
For a better view of Na Mokulua, climb up the Lanikai pillboxes. It’s a pretty cool place to watch the sunset You’ll also overlook Kailua Bay and the Ko’olau Mountains. It’s about 1.7 miles back and forth and will take an hour. It might be challenging, but these views are worth the hike.
Traveling to Eastern Oahu can be condensed to one day, but the region offers much. If you’re short on time, take advantage of this list of the best five East Oahu attractions you can visit in one day. There’s more to do, but this guide will set you in the right direction. Happy traveling, and enjoy the incredible views of Lanikai and beyond.
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