Oʻahu's Southeast Shore and Windward Coast features some of the island's best beaches separated by rugged rocky shores, lush green valleys and wonderful attractions.
In Hawaii, windward refers to the eastern side of an island and leeward the western side. The prevailing winds in Hawaii blow east to west as opposed to the mainland where winds tend to blow west to east.
Whether you drive past Diamond Head and Maunalua Bay and around Koko Head Crater past Hanauma Bay, Sandy Beach, Makapuʻu Point and Waimanalo or begin your drive at the end of the Pali or Likelike Highway at Kaneʻohe Bay, a drive along Oʻahu's Eastern Shore and Windward Coast makes for a perfect day trip from Waikiki.
For the purposes of this feature we'll define Oʻahu's Southeast Shore as the area from Koko Crater to Kailua and the Windward Coast as Kaneʻohe Bay all the way to just before Laie, the gateway to the North Shore.
The Kalanianaʻole Highway is the main road along the Southeastern Oahu Coast. The Kamehameha Highway and the inland Kahekili Highway are the main roads from Kaneohe northward.
In order to explore Oʻahu's Southeast Shore you'll need to drive past Diamond Head towards the residential area of Hawaii Kai and past Koko Head Crater.
For more information on the attractions along Oʻahu's Southeast Shore, please read our detailed Profile of Oahu's Southeast Shore.
Assuming, however, that you drive from downtown Honolulu north on Pali or Likelike Highway, you will begin the next part of your trip at the beginning of Oʻahu's Windward Coast.
Look for signs to the Kahekili Highway. The Kahekili Highway parallels the Kamehameha Highway, but a bit inland.
If you take this road you will come to the Valley of Temples and the Byodo-In Temple. This temple is a precise replica in concrete of a 900 year old temple in Uji, Japan. The grounds of the temple are lovely. Chances are you'll see a wedding either going on or about to begin.
After you rejoin the Kamehameha Highway you'll come to the intersection of Pulama Road. Up the road to the left you'll find the plantation and gardens of Senator Hiram Fong. Born in China and immigrated to Hawaii, Senator Fong became a successful lawyer, businessman, and U.S. Senator for seventeen years.
After 35 years of planning and planting his property was opened to the public in 1988 and still may be seen only from a tram with a tour guide who does, however, make frequent stops.
Proceeding north on the Kamehameha Highway you will pass Mokolii Island, more popularly known as Chinaman's Hat, for obvious reasons.
Before you reach the town of Laie and the North Shore of Oʻahu, you'll come to Kualoa Ranch. Many motion pictures and TV shows have been filmed on the ranch's property including LOST, Jurassic Park and 50 First Dates.
The ranch offers over 15 outdoor activities including ATVs, horseback rides, target shooting, helicopter rides and a ranch and movie set tour. Many choose just to relax at Secret Island, the ranch's secluded beach.
I recommend that you read our feature Exploring Kualoa Ranch and the Ka'a'awa Valley of Oahu.
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