Last Update--August, 2017
Some Ideas From the Clarks
This list is not definitive, but it might give you some ideas on places to go on Oahu depending on your time and preferences. This list is primarily for visitors who have a limited time to enjoy Hawaii. Those who are going to be there for an extended stay will find many more attractions to add to the list.
You will find very few recommendations for places to eat, as this is not a priority with us. Others putting together a list might have different ideas, but these are the things the Clarks enjoy! It will start in Laie and generally circle the island in a counter clockwise direction.
We no longer live in Hawaii, so I can't check the accuracy of the list. If you find any changes, please send me an email and I will make the corrections.(
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Rentals in Laie
We often get questions about rentals in Laie, so I am adding information on some rentals that we are familiar with and would recommend. They are all on Laie Bay, with Laie1 at Hukilau Beach and the others about 100 yards down the beach. You can find more information on them on the web site VRBO.com, (Vacation Rentals By Owner) and here are the links to that site for these rentals:
You can also find many more rentals available, but be aware that if you do not know the area, you could be stuck in a less desirable location. If you send me the location you are interested in, I can tell you more about it and exactly where it is located.
The bus system on Oahu is excellent and a great alternative for getting around the island. Many of the points of interest listed below are on the bus route. You can catch a bus every hour from Laie in either direction, from around 6AM to 10PM most days. The fair is $2.50 for adults and $1 for 17 and under. If you are a senior and can show a medicare card, the cost is only one dollar, with a free transfer. Once you get off the bus, you have 2 hours to use the transfer.
With the high cost of gas, this is a good economical way to travel around the island.
There are many choices for food in Laie and on the North Shore, from Pounders in the Hukilau Market Place to numerous fast food choices near Foodland. Food trucks are everywhere with every variety of food, but I have to recommend a pie from Ted's Bakery in Sunset, especially the Chocolate Haupia..ONO!
3. Laie Point.(map)
A beautiful view of Laie Bay, Goat Island and the Koolau mountains. The access is directly across from the shopping center.
The foyer is a wonderful place to show visitors the history of Laie and a good introduction to the campus.
5. Hawaii Temple.
The visitor's center is a beautiful, serene place to relax for a few minutes. The view from the front of the temple toward the ocean is a perfect picture spot. Also, the old cemetery on the hill behind the temple has been restored and offers a good view of Laie and the temple.
6. Polynesian Cultural Center.(map)
You probably already know enough about this attraction. Just be aware that it is expensive and if you plan for the whole package, it will take you from noon until about 10 in the evening. They have recently allowed you to return to the viliages for 2 or 3 days on the same ticket. This is a good thing because it is impossible to see all the shows in each of the villiages in one afternoon.
7. Temple Beach. (photo) (map)
This is a good beach for small children and adults who don't like getting knocked around by waves. Snorkeling is also good here. It is directly across Kam Highway from the street leading to the temple.
8. Hukilau Beach.
As you leave Laie headed towards Kahuku, it is located just after the last home on the beach side of the highway. It is wonderful place to experience the joys of playing in the waves and is a good, safe family beach with something for everyone. For those who like the bigger waves, there are usually enough to satisfy them. If the waves are too big in one spot, you can find smaller waves just a few yards away. There are no dangerous undertows or drop-offs and the bottom is free of coral and rocks. For those who just like to walk on the beach, this is a perfect place . If the tide is low enough, you can walk almost 2 miles on firm sand.
9. Goat Island (Moku'auia). (map)
This charming island is located about a half mile down the beach from Hukilau Beach. If you want to take a trip "off island" without going through the airport, try a walk to Goat Island. Watch the tides and go when the tide is low. If the tide is low enough, there are some wonderful tide pools on the Laie side of the island. On the makai end are small pools where sea salt often forms The Kahuku side of the island has a small protected bay for swimming. The walk is over rough corral, so wear appropriate sneakers. Click here for tides in Laie Bay for the next 9 days.
10. Malaekahana. (map)
This beach park offers some of the same attractions as Hukilau, with the added bonus of restrooms. It has similar wave action and is a good outing for families. It is located about 1/2 mile on the Laie side of Kahuku. There is a small parking lot next to the road. This is NOT Malaekahana State Park which is across from Goat Island.
11. Sunset Beach. (map)
This famous beach is about 10 miles from Laie. The obvious time to visit this beach is at sunset, but it is also a place to watch surfers if the surf is up. It is not the best place to swim for kids and the inexperienced. Steep drop-offs and some currents make it a little tricky even in the summer, and in the winter surf, only the very experienced should enter the water.
12. Sharks Cove. (map)
About 4 miles on down the road from Sunset and across the road from the Foodland market in Pupukea is a place called Sharks Cove. In spite of the name, it is terrific for snorkeling when the waves are calm in the summer. The setting is beautiful and without the destruction of the coral that you find at Hanauma Bay, described later. When the winter surf is pounding high, it is a good place to watch the waves as they crash against the outside reef. .
13. Pu'u O Ma'huka Heiau. (map)
This ancient Hawaiian temple is a 'must see' for visitors but you won't find it on many guides. It sits high above Waimea Bay, so you not only get to view a wonderful piece of Hawaiian history but the view of the Bay is spectacular! To get there, take the road next to Foodland in Pupukea. The road has some severe corkscrew turns and almost immediately after you finish the turns, watch for a sign on the right side for the Heiau. The road in to the site is paved but very narrow. Follow it to the end where you will find the Heiau.
14. Waimea Valley.
This beautiful valley which leads into Waimea Bay is finally affordable after changing ownership. The rates are now reasonable enough that you can enjoy the wonderful scenery and vegetation, including a waterfall plunging into a swiming pool right out of a South Pacific movie.
15. Waimea Bay. (map)
About a mile down the road from Pupukea, is this beautiful bay, complete with a jumping rock for the more adventurous. The swimming is usually ok here except in the winter, but be aware that there is a steep drop-off into deep water just a few feet off shore. I wouldn't recommend it for the inexperienced or small children.
TURTLES right along the road! After you leave Waimea Bay and start down the road , there is a very popular surfing spot exactly 3 miles from the signal light at the Foodland at Pupukea and THIS is where you will find the TURTLES! There is dirt parking area on the mauka (mountain) side of the road. If there are none on the beach, you usually see them easily in the water close to shore.
This old Hawaiian village is about 2 miles down the road from the turtles. There are unique shops, including some beautiful art galleries for art lovers. Our favorite is the Wyland Gallery featuring the works of this famous "whaling wall" painter. Haleiwa is known as the surf capital of Hawaii so you might want to check out a surf shop. The surf shops near the bridge area a good place to rent a paddle board or kayak and venture out onto the bay or up the river.
17. Matsumoto's Shave Ice. (map)
This "must stop" establishment is across the road from the Liliuokalani Church in Haleiwa. Shave ice is sold in many places around Hawaii, including others in Haleiwa, but you haven't had the real thing unless you get it at Matsumoto's. Ono!!
18. Dole Plantation Store.
This commercial shop is about 5 miles from Haleiwa in the middle of the pineapple fields. It is a good place to get refreshed if you are thirsty or whatever after a long shopping day at WalMart. The Dole Whip is worth the stop! You can stop along the road and see pineapples growing in various stages and if you are lucky, you may see the pickers at work.
19. Aloha Stadium Flea Market. (map)
. The market is just down the road from the Arizona Memorial and it's a great place to pick up inexpensive t-shirts, aloha wear, shells, jewelry, etc. Open Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday from very early morning to early afternoon.
20. Arizona Memorial. (map)
About a mile down the road from the Aloha Stadium is this impressive monument to the attack on Pearl Harbor. It is a 'must see' for many reasons. It is a moving and informative look at a major event in our nations history with recently opened new visitors center and museums. You also get a good view of Pearl Harbor from the water and the monument itself is something you will never forget. And best of all, it is free!!
21. Downtown Honolulu. (map)
If you want to see what a downtown should look like, stop here. They have recently made major renovations which include several beautiful small parks. The Chinatown area is very interesting and worth visiting.
22. Aloha Tower. (map)
On the waterfront in downtown Honolulu you will find this beautiful piece of Hawaiian history. The top of the tower gives a great view of the harbor area.
Most of the area around the tower has been leased by a downtown university for classrooms and dorms.
23. Civic Center. (map)
The seats of the state, city, and county governments are all located just a few blocks from downtown. I will suggest several things here that might interest you. First of all is the large statue of King Kamehameha. Across the road is the Iolani Palace, the only royal palace in the United States. It is only open on selected days for tours and by appointment. The new state capital is a beautiful building which is designed to give the appearance of a volcano. A little further down King Street is the old Kawaiahao church and cemetery where many of the Royalty of Hawaii worshipped and are buried. Next door is the restored mission home where early Christian missionaries lived.
24. Punchbowl Memorial Cemetery. (map)
If you look mauka, (towards the mountains) from the civic center you will see an extinct volcanic crater. This crater contains the cemetery. This is another moving tribute to the many who have lost their lives defending our country. It also offers a nice view of Honolulu from the lookout area.
25. Tantalus Drive. (map)
Taking this drive on the mountain behind Punchbowl will give you a breathtaking view. You can see all the way from Diamond Head to Pearl Harbor and even a little beyond!
26. Ala Moana Shopping Center.
< A few miles from the civic center and on the edge of Waikiki, this shopping center is a terrific place to watch people even if you don't like to shop. There is a pretty good mixture of both locals and tourists and either can be worth watching. Also, the ambiance of the center is great, from the koi ponds to the entertainment on the center stage and the international foods available in the food court.
If you like thousands of tourists, this is the place to be. Otherwise, you may want to avoid the area. If you do stop here, however, a walk through the lobby of the old Royal Hawaiian Hotel all the way to the beach lanai is worth the trip. This truly elegant place was built by a Mormon contractor in 1927.
28. Manoa Falls and Botanical Gardens. (map)
If you would like a view of a waterfall after a hike through some beautiful tropical foliage, take University Avenue through the University of Hawaii Campus and follow the road all the way to the end. The hike isn't too strenuous and is about a mile in length. Very near start of the hike is the road to the Lyon Arboretum, a beautiful botanical garden. It requires some walking along well maintained trails. There are several other beautiful gardens scattered around the island, including one of our favorites, the Ho'omaluhia Botanical Garden in Kaneohe. You can drive through the beautiful foliage or take one of the many walking trails to get closer to the beautiful plants and trees.
29. Diamond Head. (map)
A hike to the top of Diamond Head is not as strenuous as it sounds. You start from inside the crater and climb on a nicely maintained trail and some stairs to the very top where you will come out on an old military bunker for an unsurpassed view. Lights have been installed so it is no longer necessary to carry a flashlight. it can get pretty warm on the hike, so some water would be a good idea. The whole hike should take you no more than 2 hours. It is better to do it as early as possible to avoid the crowds and also the temperature is better for the hike.
30. Hanauma Bay. (map)
This very popular bay is the best for easy snorkeling and underwater viewing of spectacular tropical fish. Get there early as the parking lot fills up quickly. You can see some beautiful fish with little effort within 10 feet of the shore. You don't even need to swim! You can see the fish by just wading around in the shallow water looking through your mask. The fish are wonderful to look at, but the coral has been almost totally destroyed by people walking on it. THE BAY IS CLOSED ON TUESDAYS!
31. Blow Hole. (map)
This a nice stop even when the waves aren't big enough to blow water through the hole in the reef. On clear days, you can see the islands of Maui, Molokai, or Lanai from the lookout. If you walk to the far corner of the parking lot on the Waikiki side, you can look over the railing at a beautiful small beach which was the location for the famous kissing scene in the movie "From Here to Eternity." The blow hole is a few miles past Hanauma Bay.
32. Sandy Beach. (map)
Less than a mile down the road from the Blow Hole , is an exciting place to watch the local experts ride the shore break on boards and bodies. Do NOT be tempted to enter the surf! The locals make it look easy, but it is the most dangerous beach for serious injuries in Hawaii. This beach park is also a favorite for kite flying and you may see some beautiful creations overhead.
33. Makapuu Lighthouse Hike. (map)
About 2 miles on down the road from Sandy Beach, is the gate to the road leading to the Makapuu Lighthouse lookout. It is a paved road so the walking is easy but hot on this dry side of the island. Because of the heat, mornings are best. It is about a 3 mile round trip but the view from the top is great. If you happen to do this during whale season, approximately December through March, it is an ideal place to watch these magnificent creatures.
34. Nuuanu Pali Drive. (map)
We are now going to reverse our direction and head back to Honolulu. We are ready to take the Pali Highway over the mountains. This highway heads towards the mountains directly out of downtown Honolulu. On the way up, watch for a very small sign announcing Nuuanu Pali Drive. It is a drive through some nice homes and a beautiful view of Hawaiian foliage. You drive through a virtual tunnel of overhead trees and vines for a short distance before it connects again to the Pali Highway. Well worth the 5 minute detour from the main highway.
35. Pali Lookout. (map)
A short distance after you leave the drive described above, you will come to the entrance to the Pali Lookout. This is one of the best views in Hawaii and perhaps in all the world. You can see all the way to Chinaman's Hat! The prevailing winds at the lookout are fierce at times, so watch out for hats, skirts, toupees, etc.
36. Valley of the Temples. (map)
As you continue on down the Pali Highway, you will come to Kamehameha Highway. A left turn on this road will head you towards Laie. In Kaneohe, turn left at the Windward Mall and drive to Kahekili Highway. Turn right and just a few miles further will take you to the Valley of the Temples. If location is everything, then the Buddhist Temple nestled at the foot of the Koolau Mountains in this valley is in a perfect place. It is a replica of the ancient Byo do-In Temple in Japan and is a wonderful place to see beautiful koi, birds, and of course the temple itself. It's worth spending a dollar on fish and bird food at the little store. With a little patience, you can have the birds eating out of your hand!
37. Pounder's Beach. (map)
This beach located just down the road from the Cultural Center, is aptly named. Although not as dangerous as Sandy Beach, for the inexperienced it can be hazardous. It is fun to watch though, and a short hike will take you to the top of the small cliff where you can get a bird's-eye view of the surfers as they challenge the waves.
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