Here’s the truth- I love Waikiki. Sure, some things are frustrating such as the crowd, the overpriced items in ABC stores, high cost of living, and the tourists who drop in on your wave ALL.THE.TIME. But I still love it. It’s beautiful, convenient, jam-packed with free events, full of amazing restaurants and fun nightlife. It’d be easy to stay in Waikiki (or Turtle Bay) during your Hawaii vacation, but I want to pull you away from your comfort zone a tiny bit. Because Oahu is full of beautiful secrets.
First secret: Waianae.
When I first moved to Oahu, I was discouraged to visit Waianae due to reports of frequent petty theft/crimes. But I figured that can happen anywhere in the world and my stubbornness got the best of me. I ventured out to the far West side of Oahu at the first chance. I’m glad I did, because West side immediately became my favorite part of the island. The crystal clear, refreshing blue waters, untouched nature, thriving wildlife, and unbeatable views from Makua mountains quickly won my heart over.
I wrote “Waianae” as the first secret topic, but I actually want to discuss all of West side from Kahe Point Beach to Yokohama Bay.
Hands down, Kahe Point Beach (AKA Electric Beach) is by far my favorite place to snorkel. This part of the ocean is teeming with wildlife due to clean warm waters spewing from the underwater tunnels from the nearby electric power plant.
What an incredible feeling to be surrounded by beautiful creatures.
If you’re lucky, you may have some unexpected visitors such as these guys. You might have to venture out further away from shore, but it is absolutely worth it.
Just few minutes away from Kahe Point Beach lies Nanakuli Beach. Right next to this beautiful beach with pristine waters lies amazing rock formations which leads you to these hidden underwater caves.
So much natural beauty.
Look how BLUE!
Pink pillbox (Pu’U’Ohulu Kai) located in Waianae is a fairly easy hike with incredible views at the top. Apparently a group painted the pillbox PINK to raise breast cancer awareness. Pretty amazing.
Cheers, West side. I love you so.
Second secret: Hawaii Kai.
I simply wrote Hawaii Kai, but I am talking about all of the South part of the island. The drive from Hanauma Bay to Makapu’u Beach is magnificent. The big waves of Sandy beach, clear waters in the Makapu’u tidepools, stunning views from mountaintops, skilled bodyboarders at Makapu’u beach, and calm waters of Waimanalo beach encompasses the south part of Oahu.
Here’s one hike you probably shouldn’t do. Dead Man’s Catwalk. This hike has the most astonishing views but it is very much illegal. Sure, a lot of hikes in Oahu are illegal, but this hike has HPD guarding the front gate now!
But don’t fret- there are three wonderful hikes on this side of the island.
One of my favorites are Wiliwilinui Ridge hike. Completely doable, great views, and awesome workout all rolled into one!
Another one is Kuliouou Ridge, a little more popular, a little more challenging, but nonetheless, breathtaking views.
We all know about the Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail, but did you know this hike can lead you to these tidepools?
The tidepools are deep enough to dive in head first, but be careful of the rogue waves. It can sweep you into the sharp rocks or pull you under the rough ocean waters.
Makapu’u beach is popular for body boarders but the waves can get dangerous so beware!
Wrapping up the south side of Oahu is this long stretch of beautiful beach called Waimanalo beach.
Third secret: Secret Island.
Yes, there is a place called Secret Island! Surprisingly, it’s really not much of a secret. It’s actually a popular wedding venue and people from all over the world flock to this “secret” location. On the East side (Windward side) lies an island called Mokoli’i Island (AKA Chinaman’s Hat).
On the far right from this beach lies the Secret Island. You can sit on the dock and marvel at the view of Ko’olau mountains.
Sun does set on the west side, but the sunsets can be beautiful on the east side as well. I love the beautiful colors painted in the skies during sunset.
Fourth secret: Yup, you guess right. The North Shore.
You’ve heard of the big waves that comes crashing down on the shores of the North side during the winter months. Pipeline, Haleiwa, Sunset beach- all ring a bell? That’s right, surf competition. But did you know during the summer months, the north shore waters are calm and flat as a board? It’s a spectacular spot for snorkeling at Sharks Cove, Three Tables, and Waimea Bay. And my favorite thing about the north shore? HALEIWA BOWLS. This small acai bowl stand in Haleiwa town serves up absolutely divine acai bowls.
After you get your acai bowl, I guess you can return to your comfort zone and watch the fireworks (every Friday at 7:45pm) in Waikiki.
Or you can continue to explore the island— as there are so many hidden secret spots you might discover!
Oahu, my gem, my second home.