Oahu Sunset

10 Hidden Gems in Oahu You Need to Visit

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Oahu is hands down one of the most beautiful islands! Its beaches are pristine, the greenery is lush, and the views are breathtaking. But here’s a secret – the island also has plenty of hidden gems worth exploring. Of course, I’m talking about lesser-known spots off the beaten path offering unique experiences.

In this blog article, we’ll share ten such hidden gems in Oahu that you must check out. Not many people know about these places, so they’re perfect if you’re looking for an adventure. So get ready to explore Oahu like never before!

1. Makapu’u Tide Pools (Closed Indefinitely)

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  • Located on the eastern side of Oahu
  • A scenic hike to reach the tide pools
  • Crystal-clear water great for swimming and snorkeling

Hey folks, I have some important news about the Makapu’u Tide Pools. Unfortunately, they’re currently closed to the public for an indefinite period. It’s not good news, but let me explain why.

The trail leading to the tide pools is hazardous and can be dangerous, especially for inexperienced hikers. Also, the shoreline where the tide pools are located has unpredictable surf/wave surges that can easily sweep people out to sea. We hope it reopens in the near future!

2. La’ie Point State Wayside

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  • Located on the northeastern shore of Oahu
  • Beautiful coastal views and a natural rock formation
  • Great spot for whale watching during the winter season

Laʻie Point State Wayside offers stunning ocean views as it crashes against the rocky coast and the offshore seabird sanctuary – a sight to behold!

For those thrill seekers, it’s possible to check off cliff-jumping from your bucket list at this location. Additionally, movie enthusiasts may recognize this as the spot where Pete and Rachel bravely jump off the cliff into the Pacific Ocean in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.”

Remember that parking can be tricky as the entrance is at the end of a residential dead end. Be respectful of the locals when parking, and remember that the land adjacent to the park is privately owned.

It’s important to note that there are no water fountains or restrooms in the park, so make sure to bring everything you need to stay comfortable.

Trust me, Laʻie Point State Wayside is worth a visit if you’re looking for a beautiful and thrilling experience.

3. Kapena Falls

  • Located in Nuuanu Valley near Honolulu
  • A short hike to reach the falls
  • A serene and peaceful swimming area with a waterfall

Kapena Falls is an amazing hidden gem in Oahu that offers a unique experience. Located near Honolulu, it’s accessible via a short hike and features breathtaking views of Nuuanu Valley.

The falls are serene and peaceful, with crystal-clear water perfect for swimming or simply admiring its beauty. As you approach the waterfall, you’ll be greeted by lush greenery and cascading waters – indeed an unforgettable sight!

4. Waimanalo Bay Beach Park

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  • Located on the eastern side of Oahu
  • A gorgeous beach known for its calm waters and soft sand
  • Perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and picnicking

Waimanalo Bay Beach Park is a hidden gem on Oahu’s southeastern shore. This beach park offers many activities, from swimming and snorkeling to kayaking and paddleboarding.

It also features a lush green landscape with plenty of trees for shade and white sand beaches stretching for miles along the coastline. The Waimanalo Bay Beach Park bay area is especially beautiful, with crystal-clear water perfect for swimming.

Whether you’re looking for a relaxing day at the beach or an adventurous outdoor experience, this beach park has something for everyone!

5. Kawela Bay Beach

  • Located on the North Shore of Oahu
  • A secluded bay with turquoise water and a sandy beach
  • Great spot for snorkeling and paddleboarding

Kawela Bay Beach is a stunning and secluded beach near the Turtle Bay Resort on Oahu’s North Shore. It is protected by a large reef, giving it a crescent shape and calm water. Visitors can enjoy swimming, paddle boarding, walking along the beach, or simply relaxing in the sun.

The scenery is breathtaking, and there are few people around if you go early in the morning or late in the afternoon. Kawela Bay Beach is an ideal spot for those looking to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

6. Maunawili Falls Trail

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  • Located in Kailua near Honolulu
  • A moderate hike through lush vegetation
  • Leads to a beautiful waterfall and swimming hole

The Maunawili Falls Trail is a popular hiking trail located on the eastern shore of the island; the trail takes visitors through lush rainforest and up to a stunning waterfall. The 2.5-mile hike can be muddy or dry depending on the time of year, but it is always an adventure!

Along the way, hikers will enjoy beautiful views and a swimming hole at the end of their journey. Unfortunately, due to overcrowding, the trail has been temporarily closed since 2021 but should reopen sometime in 2023.

7. Ehukai Pillbox Hike

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  • Located on the North Shore of Oahu
  • A short and easy hike with stunning panoramic views
  • Features colorful graffiti art on old military pillboxes

The Ehukai Pillbox Hike is a great way to experience the beauty of Oahu’s North Shore. Located behind the Sunset Elementary School, this 2.3-mile loop trail takes 1 hour to complete and offers breathtaking views of the Seven Mile Miracle.

The trailhead begins next to the Sunset Elementary parking lot and is considered a moderately challenging hike with an elevation gain of 800 feet. It’s perfect for beginners or anyone who wants to get in some exercise without having to spend hours hiking!

8. Crouching Lion Hike

  • Located on the northeastern side of Oahu
  • A challenging hike with rewarding views of the Ko’olau Mountains and the coastline
  • The trail features steep inclines and rocky terrain

The Crouching Lion Hike is a moderate hike suitable for most people. It’s located on the Kamehameha Highway on the east coast of Oahu, about 45 minutes from Waikiki. The trailhead is at Kahana Bay, a 4-mile loop with an elevation gain of 2000 feet.

Along the way, hikers will be rewarded with panoramic views of the mountains and jungle at Kahana Bay. There are some steep sections of the trail, so it’s important to use caution when hiking this trail. However, with its stunning views and moderate difficulty level, the Crouching Lion Hike is one of the best-hidden gem hikes on the island.

9. Kaena Point State Park

  • Located on the northwestern tip of Oahu
  • A natural reserve with scenic coastal views and a rugged landscape
  • Great for hiking, bird watching, and spotting Hawaiian monk seals

Kaena Point State Park is a beautiful and remote coastline park. It allows visitors to enjoy activities such as hiking, picnicking, shoreline fishing, snorkeling, surfing (for experts), and sunbathing on the beach.

The park wraps around the westernmost point of Oahu and is considered a wahi pana, or sacred and legendary landmark by ancient Hawaiians. The Kaena Point Trail is a great place to go for sunset and wildlife sightings. Visitors can also explore the bird sanctuary located within the park. There are many opportunities to explore this natural wonderland and create lasting memories.

10. Koko Crater Botanical Garden

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  • Located in eastern Oahu
  • A beautiful garden filled with rare and exotic plants
  • The garden is situated inside an old volcano crater and offers panoramic views of the coastline

Koko Crater Botanical Garden is a sixty-acre botanical garden nestled within the 200-acre crater of Koko Head. It features a diverse selection of rare and endangered plants from all over the world. Visitors can take a two-mile loop walk to explore the cactus section, tropical flowers, and palm trees that make up this unique desert oasis.

For those who can’t make it in person, a virtual tour is available to experience the beauty of Koko Crater Botanical Garden from anywhere.

Our Thoughts

There are many hidden gems in Oahu that are waiting for you to discover. Whether it’s the awe-inspiring vistas you’ll find at the end of a hike, peaceful hideaway beaches, or simply strolling along the charming North Shore, there’s truly something for everyone. So go ahead and take the time to explore these hidden gems in Oahu, and don’t forget to share your thoughts with us! We’d love to hear about your experiences and personal favorites. Happy adventuring and mahalo!

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