HAWAII — Southeast O´ahu

This is where you will see some of the loveliest spots in O´ahu but you will need a car to get to most of them. There are some great places to swim, snorkel and surf in this area which ranges from east of Diamond Head past the exclusive residential area of Kahala around the winding Koko Head area and Makapu´u Point. The Hanuauma Bay Nature Preserve is also part of this area.

The sights found here are:
Diamond Head
Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve
Koko Head Regional Park
Makapu´u Point
Sea Life Park
Waimanalo Bay
Queen Emma Summer Palace
Nu´uanu Pali Drive

Diamond Head

Diamond Head
This is one of the most famous landmarks in Hawaii. It was originally named Le´ahi which means ‘brow of the yellowfin tuna’ which you can see if you look at it side on. It got its English name from British sailors in the late 1700s who thought they had found diamonds when they saw calcite crystals sparkling in the sunlight. Diamond Head was formed by a volcanic explosion which formed the crater you see today. You can hike the trail to the crater rim for some fantastic views but there are stairs and it can be steep in parts. If you are travelling by car it costs $5 to park but if you are walking in it will cost $1. The gates close at 6pm. Diamond Head beach is found along Diamond Head Road which is popular with surfers but there are few facilities.

Traveller's Tip

There are two tunnels you will walk through to get to the top and as there are no lights in the tunnels you should bring a torch with you.
Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve

Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve
This is one of the most popular snorkelling destinations with its shallow and accessible reef. You will find a wide sheltered bay with beautiful turquoise water and plenty of facilities for the whole family to enjoy. It was designated as a marine conservation park in 1967 and to learn how this came about there is a Marine Education Centre near the entrance to visit with its exhibits and theatre presentation. You will need to come early as it is a very popular place and gets crowded very quickly.
For information about Hanauma Bay visit the following website at: http://www.honolulu.gov/parks/facility/hanaumabay/tour.htm

Koko Head

Koko Head Regional Park
Koko Head forms the southwest side of Hanauma Bay and the area surrounding this is Koko Head Regional Park. Included in the park is Hanauma Bay, Koko Head, Halona Blowhole, Sandy Beach and Koko Crater. Koko Head forms the southwest side of Hanauma Bay and there are two craters on top that are not open to the general public but you can hike up to it on a rather steep climb. Halona Blowhole which is found a few kilometres past Hanauma Bay is a great place to visit. Water surges through a tunnel in the rock and spouts up through a hole in the ledge. If water conditions are ideal then it can be quite spectacular. On the way to the Blowhole there is a lookout with a fantastic view of the coastline. Sandy Beach found below Koko Crater is a popular beach with surfers because the surf here breaks very near shore making it perfect for body surfing and boogie boarding but it can be treacherous for swimmers. There are few facilities here. Koko Crater is an extinct volcanic crater. Inside the crater is a 200 acre botanical garden with thousands of flowering plants. All these plants have been chosen to conserve water. There are hiking trails found here as well but they can be quite difficult to hike.

Traveller's Tip

The best time to stop at the Blowhole is on a windy day at high tide. If you are here in Winter you may just see a humpback whale swim by.
  • Just left of the Halona Blowhole is Halona Cove where the famous beach scene between Deborah Kerr and Burt Lancaster in the movie From Here to Eternity was filmed.
    Makapu´u Beach

    Makapu´u Point
    Just north of Sandy Beach you will find this beautiful place with its lighthouse which is the easternmost point of O´ahu. There is a road and parking place just off the main highway but you will have to walk up to the point. From here you can see two small islands — Manana Island, the largest, and Kaohikaipu Island. This is also an excellent spot to watch Humpback whales as they travel the channel between December and April. Just a short drive from here is a lookout on the side of the road with a view down onto Makapu´u Beach which is stunning and is one of the best winter bodysurfing spots.

    Sea Life Park
    This park is found opposite Makapu´u Beach. It has a huge aquarium full of sea turtles, eels, rays, sharks as well as tropical fish. there are shows as well but the park is quite small compared to others around the world that are similar and could be a disappointment as well as being quite expensive for what it is.

    For information about Sea Life Park visit the website at: http://www.sealifeparkhawaii.com

    Traveller's Tip

    One attraction at this park that might interest you if you are willing to pay the fee of over $230 is the Royal Dolphin Swim. You will get to swim with two dolphins, holding their fins as well as the foot push, where the dolphins jet you across the water from the bottom of your feet. This will need to be booked in advance and details are found on the website.
    Waimanalo Bay

    Waimanalo Bay
    This bay has the longest continuous stretch of beach on O´ahu and there is a long coral reef offshore to protect it. There are three beaches found here which are quite beautiful to look at. The first of the beaches is Waimanalo Beach Park which is great for swimming with its beautiful white sand and crystal clear water. Just north of here is Waimanalo Bay Beach Park which is popular with surfers because of its waves. The third beach is Bellows Field Beach Park which is part of the Air Force Base found here. It is only open to the public on the weekend but it is a pretty beach and good for swimming.

    Queen Emma Summer Palace

    Queen Emma Summer Palace
    This former residence of Queen Emma who was the wife of King Kamehameha 1V is found along the Pali Highway. Inside is an interesting blend of Victorian furniture and Hawaiian artefacts including feather cloaks and a canoe-shaped cradle.
    For information about the palace visit the following website at: http://www.daughtersofhawaii.org

    Nu´uanu Pali Drive

    Nu´uanu Pali Drive
    The turn off to take this road which runs parallel to the Pali Highway is worth it. It is just like driving in a green shady forest with the trees forming a tunnel in front of you on the road. When you come back out onto the Pali Highway you will see the Nu´uanu Pali Lookout. The view from this lookout is just wonderful but beware it does get very windy here.

    Traveller's Tip

    If you fancy a hike while you are here a nice one is down the Old Pali Highway which you will find to the right of the lookout. It takes about an hour or so to walk there and back.