Spending time in Oahu was really incredible. It was five days spent with great friends and I really took advantage of my time there. I did lots of exploring but also found time to relax while taking in the island’s beautiful scenery. The following is a list of some of my favorite outings and ones I definitely recommend making some time for while on Oahu:
I cannot recommend this hike for sunrise enough. It was incredible. I woke up at 4:30 AM in the darkness, quickly got my belongings together and was on the road by five. The time the sunrises changes throughout the year though, so check and plan accordingly. Watching the sun rise over the waters of Lanikai and the Mokulua Islands was unreal. No matter what way you look there is beautiful landscape for miles.
The hike is named after the pillboxes, or metal bunkers, at the top that were used as military lookout points during WWII. It isn’t a super difficult hike. I would say it’s of easy to medium difficulty. It is on the shorter side, but is steep and a little more strenuous in areas. The hike is about a mile round trip and takes about an hour to complete. You’re definitely going to want to give yourself some time at the top to take in the views and get some amazing photographs. There are two pillboxes; stop and rest at the first before continuing up to the second for even more stunning views.
The hike is fairly easy to get to and easy to find. If you are staying in or around Waikiki, it is about a 30 minute drive each way. If going on a weekday morning, allow yourself some time for traffic. The beginning of the hike can be found across from the Mid-Pacific Country Club. There is plenty of signage and there will be handfuls of people parking and walking to the trail-head.
Waimea Falls is located within Waimea Valley and is fairly easy to get to. The Valley is a cultural and archeological site and is made up of gorgeous botanical gardens. An entrance fee of $16 is required and complimentary tours are included. It is more of a trek, rather than a hike, to the falls though. It is a relatively flat walk, about 1.2 km or just under a mile each way, on paved paths through the gardens. For those that are not capable of walking that far, a shuttle is available for a small fee. I opted out of a tour but I recommend taking your time to wander the gardens on the way there. If you are under a time constraint, the walk takes about twenty minutes each way if done at a brisk pace.
The falls are about 13.7 meters tall and the waters are part of those flowing from the Kamanui Stream. The whole area is absolutely stunning. There are restrooms available for changing and swimming in the falls is allowed. Lifeguards are on site and require you to wear a provided life jacket (free). The water is checked regularly for bacteria, but as always, it is probably best to avoid freshwater if you have any open cuts. It was a rather hot and humid day when I went and a swim in the falls was a great way to cool down and refresh before the walk back.
Kaniakapupu was built in 1845 as a palace for King Kamehameha III and Queen Kalamato to escape the summer heat, as well as western influence. It was a place where entertainment was provided to Hawaiians in the form of luaus and other celebrations. It’s most famous for hosting a luau in 1847 that had over 10,000 people in attendance. The palace was short lived though and was already labeled as ruins on a map in 1874. The “palace” consisted of a single room with four walls surrounded by a porch and gardens, a separate kitchen house, and temple. The ruins are on private property and although they are not monitored, you are risking a trespassing citation by going. They are frequently visited despite this and if you do decide to go, please keep in mind that these are the ruins of a royal residence and are considered scared. Please be respectful and don’t walk on any structures or remove anything from the area.
The trail starts at an opening in the bamboo, located across from the water tower, but before the paved driveway on your left. Upon entering the bamboo forest, you’ll see two paths. To the right is the waterfall. It’s at the very beginning of the trail and easy to miss. I wandered around for about an hour looking for it, not realizing I had walked right past it upon entry. The waterfall is on a separate piece of privately owned land, so please enjoy from afar. The path to the right will lead you to the ruins. At the time when I visited, the path was marked with orange tape tied to the bamboo stalks. It was fairly easy to follow the tape all the way around, where you’ll find a pretty stream near the back of the property. It’s a really easy trek but be mindful of what direction you are going. Although, it’s not a huge area, it is easy to get lost and I didn’t have cell service. I would also come armed with plenty of bug repellent!
Hawaii is an absolutely gorgeous place with a little something for everyone. I can’t wait to return and explore more of the islands!