Imagine a place where lush, verdant landscapes meet some of the world’s most stunning beaches – that’s Oahu’s East Shore, also known as the Windward Coast. This slower-paced yet breathtaking side of O’ahu offers a refreshing escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Join us as we dive into the wonders of the Windward Coast and unveil its best-kept secrets, from scenic hikes to mouthwatering local cuisines. Pack your bags and get ready for an unforgettable island adventure!
What Does Windward Mean?
Windward refers to the direction from which the wind is coming. In the past, “weather” was used as a synonym for windward. The windward side of a mountain typically receives more rainfall as the air rises and cools, leading to precipitation. In contrast, Leeward Coast refers to West Oahu,
Overview of East Oahu’s Windward Coast
Oahu’s East Coast, also known as the Windward Coast, is a slower-paced version of O‘ahu. This lush and beautiful side of the island boasts some of the most stunning natural beauty in Hawaiʻi.
East Oahu’s Windward Coast
On the East Side, rains carve dramatic formations into the Koʻolau Mountains, creating a breathtaking landscape. The eastern shore of Oahu makes up the Windward Coast.
- Waimanalo Beach: A serene beach with few-to-no services and no commercialization.
- Lanikai Beach: One of the world’s best beaches, Lanikai is simply stunning.
- Kailua Beach: A paradise-like neighborhood hang-out kind of beach.
Kualoa Regional Park
This park offers spectacular views down the Windward Coast.
The East Shore has a wide range of activities, including hikes, water activities, and luaus.
Hiking on the Windward Coast
- Lanikai Pillbox Hike: This scenic and popular hike is short but has a steep climb.
- Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail: A paved, mellow climb with a fantastic view.
- Olomana: A challenging 4+ mile hike with a 2,000 feet gain and three peaks to conquer.
Water Activities on the East Side
- Surfing: Catch some waves at Castles Beach in Kailua.
- Standup Paddleboarding and Kayaking: Head to Kailua Beach for some fun on the water.
Cultural Activities on the Windward Coast
- Ka Moana Luau: Experience a traditional Hawaiian feast at Sea Life Park in Waimanalo.
- Polynesian Cultural Center: Explore a large park with cultural presentations, food vendors, and more.
Other Outdoor Activities and Tours
- Kualoa Ranch: Enjoy ATV rides, ziplining, horseback riding, and mountain biking.
- Sea Life Park: Visit this marine and wildlife park, and swim with dolphins and sharks.
Must-See Places on the East Shore
- Byodo-In Temple: A beautiful temple commemorating Japanese immigration to Hawaii.
- Nu’uanu Pali Lookout: A historic battle site with the best view of the Windward Side.
- Kualoa Ranch: A place of cultural and historical significance.
- Kahana State Park: A scenic bay with hiking trails and native Hawaiian culture.
Eating and Drinking on the Windward Coast
- Keneke’s: Large and affordable plate lunches.
- Ai Love Nalo: A plant-based restaurant using local ingredients.
- Lanikai Brewery: A local brewery offering island-inspired ales.
- Buzz’s Steakhouse: Famous for their mai tais, steak, and waterfront location.
- Kalapawai Market: Grab a to-go sandwich.
- Nico’s Kailua: Enjoy fresh fish and poke.
- Shrimp Shack: A food truck with delicious shrimp and seafood plate lunches.
A Perfect 1-Day Itinerary on Oahu’s East Coast
- Sunrise: Start your day at Kailua or Lanikai Beach.
- Breakfast: Grab a bite at Kalapawai Market.
- Tour: Visit Kualoa Ranch for some adventure.
- Kahana: Explore Kahana Bay or State Park.
- Lunch: Enjoy a meal at Shrimp Shack or Keneke’s.
- Relax: Unwind at Kailua, Lanikai, or Waimanalo Beach.
- Drinks: End your day with a beer at Lanikai Brewing or a mai tai at Buzz’s.
In conclusion, Oahu’s Windward Coast offers an array of activities, sights, and flavors for visitors to enjoy. From stunning beaches to cultural experiences, there’s something for everyone on the East Shore. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore this beautiful side of the island.