Less well known than Oahu's South and North shores, Oahu's Southeast Shore and Windward Coast features some of the island's best beaches separated by rugged rocky shores, lush green valleys and best attractions.
Whether you drive past Diamond Head and Maunalua Bay and around Koko Head Crater past Hanauma Bay, Sandy Beach, Makapuu Point and Waimanalo or begin your drive at the end of the Pali or Likelike Highway at Kane'ohe Bay, a drive along Oahu's Eastern Shore and Windward Coast makes for a perfect day trip from Waikiki.
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.
For the purposes of this feature we'll define Oahu's Southeast Shore as the area from Koko Crater to Kailua and the Windward Coast as Kane'ohe Bay all the way to just before Laie, the gateway to the North Shore.
The Kalaniana'ole Highway is the main road along the Eastern Oahu Coast. The Kamehameha Highway is the main roads from Kaneohe northward.
During the winter, temperatures reach highs of 79°F and dip to 70°F. During the summer, temperatures range from 84°F to 73°F.
Windward Oahu tends to receive more rain than elsewhere on the island as most storms approach from the east and drop their rain as they hit the mountains.
The benefit of this rainfall is that Windward Oahu is the greenest and, arguably, loveliest part of the island. It also tends to be the windiest part of Oahu.
Many of Hawaii's loveliest beaches are located along the Southeast Shore and Windward Coast.
Near Koko Head is Hanauma Bay, one of the top snorkel spots in Hawaii. Close by Sandy Beach offers spectacular, but often, dangerous waves for surfing. It's the best place to fly a kite on Oahu.
Further north you'll find Lanikai Beach, often chosen as one of Hawaii's and the world's top beaches.
On either side of the Mokapu'u Peninsula are two wonderful bays - the reef-protected Kailua Bay and Kane'ohe Bay, both worthy of a stop.
North of Kailua there are many other smaller beaches which tend to feature rougher surf.
Oahu's Southeast Shore and Windward Coast are not principal locations for lodgings. You won't find any of the large hotels or resorts that you'll find in Waikiki.
If you're interested in staying along the Southeast Shore or Windward Oahu, your best bet is to look for one of the bed and breakfasts or vacation rentals that are scattered along the coast
Finding a good place to eat can be a bit tricky on the Southeast Shore and Windward Coast. If you're making a day trip consider taking a picnic lunch.
There are, however, a number of good restaurants along the coast such as Brent's Restaurant, Cinnamon's Restaurant and Lucy's Grill N' Bar in Kailua, Buzz's Original Steakhouse in Lanikai, The Crouching Lion Inn in Ka'a'a'wa, the Punalu'u Restaurant in Punalu'u and the Rainbow Diner & BBQ in Hau'ula.
For great reviews and sample menus of these restaurants, I recommend the excellent Oahu Restaurant Guide by Robert & Cindy Carpenter.