A full week on Oahu, you need a beach day.
General: DIY / How-To
|Guide Series: Oahu Vacation Itinerary
An entire week in Oahu is a dream come true for many people so check that one off your bucket list if you've made it this far. Unfortunately, it's also the point where most people are heading back to their home. If that's the case and you have an early morning flight, then we hope you had a great trip and return again soon!
If you have a late flight or are staying longer then we need to keep going and keep the Hawaiian experience trucking along. Yesterday was a late night at the Polynesian Cultural Center, especially if you did the Ha: Breath Of Life. So, today we'll be in a bit less of a rush and we'll spend more time playing in the water as well. Bring all of your beach swimwear as well as a change of clothes and let's get going.
Looks like a Disney prop but it's real.
Let's take a trip to the northwest part of Oahu, specifically to Kaena Point which offers the westernmost tip of the island if that impresses you. If not you're still in luck because it's also home to other cool things like the Ka'ena Point Bird Sanctuary that we'll access via the Ka'ena Point Trail - West Shore. While you don't need to get up at the crack of dawn for this, earlier is better as it does get hot out here!
It's like another world out here.
A bird sanctuary? I woke you up for a bird sanctuary? Now hear me out on this one. It's more than it seems and worth a trip to check it out. The sanctuary is home to the Laysan Albatross and wedge-tailed Shearwater but even if birds aren't your thing you'll find that this is a pretty special place. The views here are incredible and if it's whale season there's a good chance you'll see some whales offshore. Monk seals also make frequent appearances around here. As in all cases of wildlife, keep your distance and look but don't touch.
Nobody will complain about the views on this hike.
To get here, you'll be heading out to Waianae, and then north along the shore until you reach Keawa'ula Beach (Yokohama Beach). Park at the end of the road and hike (bring water, a hat, sunscreen, and read Hiking Safety & Essentials first). When you get to the point you'll come back the same way you hiked in. You can actually hike around to the north side of the island via the Ka'ena Point Trail - North Shore, but it doesn't loop around and the road on the north side doesn't connect to the road on the west side so go back the way you came unless you've got a ride waiting on the north route.
The other reason you're doing this hike from the west side via the Ka'ena Point Trail - West Shore is because then when you come back you can enjoy Keawa'ula Beach (Yokohama Beach). Grab your car and drive back the way you came and park in the lot right by the restrooms. I'm sure you've already read Hawaii Dangers - Read Before You Go but understand that Keawa'ula Beach (Yokohama Beach), or Yokes as the locals call it, can be very dangerous. In the winter months you won't swim here. Period. In the summer months, if things are calm talk to the lifeguard here first and ask if it is safe to swim. You may see people in here even in some rough waters but that doesn't mean it's for you.
Regardless, it's a beach you must visit, it's just that pretty around here. Note that it does get pretty busy on weekends with locals but on weekdays is virtually empty. It's a fun place to do some beachcombing and to just enjoy. If you're hot from the hike but conditions are too dangerous to swim, there's a shower by the bathrooms so go cool off and then enjoy the beach for a while.
Let's head out of Kaena Point and stop at Kaneana Cave / Makua Cave which is just a bit south. In fact, you drove right passed it on the way up here. Park on the makai (ocean) side of the road and then (carefully!) cross the street when safe and enter the cave.
By itself, it's sort of a boring little cave that only junior spelunkers would enjoy. But if you go, first read Nanaue - The Shapeshifting Shark-Man Of Makua Cave and then visit the cave. The place now takes on a whole different vibe. Go in and spend a little time near the back when it's empty. See any shadows? Hear any voices? Feel that chicken skin popping up on your arms yet?
This cave is also home to the very advanced Upper Makua Cave Hike, but I'm not suggesting that for your itinerary.
If you really wanted some beach time that included swimming and the conditions at Keawa'ula Beach (Yokohama Beach) weren't good, then let's make another stop at Pokai Bay Beach Park. This is a pretty neat beach park and also unique in that it's very well protected from the open ocean, and thus large waves, via a breakwater (wall). It's often very calm in here and a good place to take a dip and cool off. Otherwise, we have more water options coming up soon!
Hungry? Me too, let's eat! Let's head over to the Ko Olina Resort area and grab a bite to eat. This area offers quite a few dining options, though this is a resort so it's not the cheapest food. If you want to go easier on your wallet then here are some nearby options that will be a bit less costly.
Either way, when you're done with lunch you'll still want to head back into the Ko Olina Resort because we're going to spend a little time at the Ko Olina Lagoons. These are a set of similar, man-made lagoons that are all open to, but protected from, the open ocean. So they're usually calm and safe places to swim (but still not lifeguarded).
The most popular is Ko Olina Lagoon 1 (Kahola Lagoon), mostly because Aulani A Disney Resort And Spa sits here along with the Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina. If this is your first visit to Ko Olina, go for Lagoon 1 and be sure to walk through the incredible Aulani A Disney Resort And Spa at some point. Otherwise, you can swim at the similar Ko Olina Lagoon 2 (Honu Lagoon), Ko Olina Lagoon 3 (Nai'a Lagoon), or Ko Olina Lagoon 4 (Ulua Lagoon). Note that Lagoon 4 will offer the most parking spots.
Got kids or just a kid at heart? Then you'll love nearby Wet 'n' Wild Hawaii which is a very large waterpark with a zillion (give or take) waterslides, pools, a lazy river, and a wave pool. It's a fun time for kids of all ages.
We're still sticking around this area for a reason, because tonight you'll enjoy a luau. The two options in this area are the Paradise Cove Luau which is located inside Ko Olina, or the nearby Germaine's Luau which is a short drive away. The choice is yours but advanced reservations are a good idea.
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