West Oahu: Exploring the Leeward Coast
When people think of Oahu, they often think of the bustling city of Honolulu and the famous Waikiki Beach. However, there is another side to the island that is just as beautiful and worth exploring – the Leeward Coast, also known as West Oahu.
Before you plan your visit to the Leeward Coast, it’s essential to understand its unique characteristics and attractions. This will help you make the most of your time in this beautiful part of the island.
Some of the main attractions on the Leeward Coast include the luxurious Ko Olina resort area, the Paradise Cove Luau, Wet n’ Wild Hawaii water park, and the picturesque Makaha Beach and Yokohama Bay. There’s also the breathtaking Kaena Point hike, which offers stunning Pacific Ocean views.
West Oahu’s Leeward Coast Overview
The Leeward Coast is located on the northwestern portion of the island and is known for its rural landscapes, picturesque towns, and beautiful beaches. It is a less developed and less crowded area compared to other parts of Oahu, making it perfect for those seeking a more peaceful and authentic Hawaiian experience. The Eastern side of Oahu is known as the Windward Coast.
Popularity & Safety
Despite its many attractions, the Leeward Coast is the least visited area on Oahu. This is partly due to its reputation for having higher crime rates, particularly car break-ins at beach parking lots. To ensure a safe visit, it’s essential to take precautions like not leaving valuables in your car and parking in well-lit areas.
Activities & Attractions
There’s no shortage of things to do on the Leeward Coast. Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy hiking, beach-hopping, snorkeling, and boat tours. Farming initiatives in the area provide opportunities for visitors to learn about sustainable agriculture and sample fresh produce. Nature lovers should not miss a visit to Ka‘ena Point, a seabird sanctuary and nature preserve. For a breathtaking view of the coast, hike up to Maili Pillbox. And for an unforgettable ocean experience, join Dolphin Excursions or Dolphin Star for snorkel tours with wild dolphins.
Leeward Coast Region Description
Ko Olina Resort Area
Ko Olina is the Leeward Coast’s premier resort area, offering luxury accommodations, world-class dining, and a wide range of water sports and activities.
Paradise Cove Luau
The Paradise Cove Luau is a must-visit attraction on the Leeward Coast. It features a beautiful and elaborate presentation of Hawaiian culture, including hula dancing, music, and fire dancing. Guests can also enjoy a delicious feast of traditional Hawaiian dishes.
Wet n’ Wild Hawaii Water Park
For those looking for a fun-filled day with the family, the Wet n’ Wild Hawaii water park is an excellent choice. The park features a wide variety of water slides, pools, and attractions for all ages.
Makaha Beach and Yokohama Bay
Makaha Beach and Yokohama Bay are two of the most beautiful beaches on the Leeward Coast. Both offer pristine white sand and crystal-clear turquoise waters.
Kaena Point Hike
The Kaena Point hike is a must-do for nature lovers visiting the Leeward Coast. The trail takes you along the island’s rugged coastline, offering breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and the chance to spot native seabirds and other wildlife.
Leeward Coast Attractions
Disney Aulani Resort
The Disney Aulani Resort is a popular destination for families visiting the Leeward Coast. This magical resort offers a unique blend of Disney magic and Hawaiian culture, with a wide range of activities and amenities for guests of all ages.
Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park
Another fantastic attraction for families is the Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park. This exciting water park features thrilling slides, wave pools, and a lazy river, providing hours of fun in the sun.
For a taste of local nightlife, dining, and entertainment, head to Kemo’o Pub. This lively spot offers a relaxed atmosphere, delicious food, and live music, making it a favorite among locals and visitors alike.
Waikele Premium Outlets
Shopaholics will love the Waikele Premium Outlets, where you can find discounted prices on designer brands such as Coach, Michael Kors, and Kate Spade. This shopping center is a great place to score deals on everything from clothing and accessories to home goods and more.
Leeward Coast Beaches
Ko’Olina is a series of four beautiful man-made lagoons, perfect for swimming and sunbathing. The calm waters make it an ideal spot for families with young children or those looking for a more relaxed beach experience.
Pokai Bay Beach Park
Pokai Bay Beach Park is another excellent beach option on the Leeward Coast. This sheltered bay offers calm waters for swimming, snorkeling, and paddle boarding, making it a favorite spot among locals.
Leeward Coast Paradise Cove Luau
Elaborate and Well-Planned-Out
The Paradise Cove Luau is a truly memorable experience. From the moment you arrive, you’ll be immersed in the sights, sounds, and tastes of Hawaii. The luau is well-planned and offers a variety of activities and performances to keep guests entertained.
Features Beautiful Hula Dancing, Music, and Fire Dancing
The highlight of the Paradise Cove Luau is the incredible performances by talented dancers and musicians. The show includes traditional hula dancing, live music, and an exciting fire dancing finale that will leave you in awe.
Serves Tons of Food
No luau is complete without a delicious feast, and the Paradise Cove Luau does not disappoint. Guests can enjoy a buffet-style meal featuring traditional Hawaiian dishes such as kalua pig, poi, and lomi salmon.
Revered as One of the Best Luaus on the Island
The Paradise Cove Luau is often regarded as one of the best luaus on Oahu, thanks to its beautiful location, outstanding performances, and delicious food.
Centrally Located on the Leeward Coast
The Paradise Cove Luau is conveniently located on the Leeward Coast, making it easily accessible for visitors staying in the area.
Leeward Coast Best Restaurants
As mentioned earlier, Kemo’o Pub offers a fantastic dining experience for those looking to enjoy a meal on the Leeward Coast. With its laid-back atmosphere, delicious food, and live entertainment, it’s a great place to unwind after a day of exploring the area.
Where to Stay
Disney’s Aulani Resort
As previously mentioned, Disney’s Aulani Resort is a top choice for families visiting the Leeward Coast. With its unique blend of Disney magic and Hawaiian culture, it’s sure to be a memorable stay.
Marriott’s Ko Olina Beach Club
Another excellent option for accommodations on the Leeward Coast is the Marriott’s Ko Olina Beach Club. This luxurious resort offers spacious villas, a beautiful beachfront location, and a wide range of amenities and activities for guests to enjoy.
Four Seasons Resort or AOAO Beach Villas at Ko Olina
For those seeking an upscale experience, the Four Seasons Resort or the AOAO Beach Villas at Ko Olina are both excellent choices. These high-end properties offer luxurious accommodations, top-notch service, and stunning oceanfront views.
Hawaiian Princess Resort
For a more budget-friendly option, consider staying at the Hawaiian Princess Resort. This property offers comfortable accommodations and a beautiful beachfront location at an affordable price.
Where to Shop
Waikele Premium Outlets
As mentioned earlier, Waikele Premium Outlets is a must-visit for shoppers looking to score deals on designer brands.
Kapolei Mall is another great shopping destination on the Leeward Coast. This shopping center offers a wide range of stores, restaurants, and entertainment options, making it a convenient place to spend an afternoon.
Kapolei Commons is a popular shopping and dining destination in the heart of Kapolei. Here, you’ll find a variety of national retailers, local boutiques, and delicious eateries to explore.
Ko Olina Center
For those staying in the Ko Olina area, the Ko Olina Center offers a range of shopping and dining options, including clothing boutiques, gift shops, and restaurants.
Pacific Shopping Mall
The Pacific Shopping Mall is another shopping option in the area, offering a diverse range of stores and eateries to explore.
For those staying in the Waianae area, the Waianae Mall offers a variety of local shops and eateries to choose from.
Things to See
As mentioned earlier, Wet’n’Wild Hawaii is a must-visit attraction for families on the Leeward Coast. This exciting water park offers a wide range of water slides, pools, and attractions for all ages to enjoy.
Leeward Coast Things to Do
Climate and Weather
The Leeward Coast experiences a warm and sunny climate year-round, making it an ideal destination for outdoor activities.
Makaha Beach, as previously mentioned, is a popular spot on the Leeward Coast for beach lovers. Its long stretch of golden sand and clear waters make it perfect for relaxation and play.
Hiking in Waianae and Makaha Valley
The Waianae and Makaha Valley areas offer beautiful landscapes and challenging hiking trails for outdoor enthusiasts.
Snorkeling and Whale Watching in Waianae Boat Harbor
The Waianae Boat Harbor is a great starting point for snorkeling and whale watching adventures on the Leeward Coast.
Consolidated Theatres Kapolei
For a more leisurely activity, catch a movie at the Consolidated Theatres Kapolei, which features comfortable seating and the latest movie releases.
Extreme Sports Complex
For adrenaline junkies, the Extreme Sports Complex on the Leeward Coast offers a variety of thrilling activities, such as paintball, ziplining, and rock climbing.
Scenic and Sacred Spot
Kaena Point, located at the westernmost tip of Oahu, is not only a scenic spot but also holds significant cultural and spiritual importance for Native Hawaiians. The area is home to a variety of native plant and animal species, making it an ideal destination for nature lovers.
Legend of Ancient Hawaiian Souls Jumping Off to Spirit World
According to Hawaiian mythology, Kaena Point is the place where the souls of the deceased leap into the spirit world. This sacred site is a fascinating destination for those interested in learning more about Hawaiian culture and history.
Most Popular Beach on Leeward Coast
As mentioned earlier, Makaha Beach is the most popular beach on the Leeward Coast, known for its golden sand and crystal-clear waters. It’s an ideal spot for sunbathing, swimming, and surfing.
Largely Undiscovered by Visitors
The Waianae region, stretching from Ko’olina to Kaena Point, remains largely undiscovered by most visitors to Oahu. This area offers a more authentic Hawaiian experience compared to the more touristy parts of the island.
Rural Towns and One Luxury Resort Area
In the Waianae region, you’ll find rural towns and agricultural landscapes, as well as the luxurious Ko Olina resort area.
Coastal Side of Waianae Mountain Range
The Waianae region is located on the coastal side of the Waianae Mountain Range, offering stunning views of the ocean and the lush mountains.
Wild and Remote with Beautiful Beaches
The Waianae region is known for its wild and remote character, with beautiful beaches and rugged landscapes waiting to be explored.
Waianae Town Area Challenges
While the Waianae region offers many natural attractions, visitors should be aware of the challenges in the area, such as limited public transportation and fewer tourist amenities compared to other parts of Oahu.
Climate and Weather
Similar to the rest of the Leeward Coast, the Waianae region experiences a warm and sunny climate, making it an ideal destination for outdoor activities.
Pristine White Sand Beaches for Fishing, Snorkeling, and Swimming
The Waianae region is home to several pristine white sand beaches, perfect for fishing, snorkeling, and swimming.
Affordable Alternative to Waikiki or Honolulu
For budget-conscious travelers, the Waianae region offers a more affordable alternative to the popular tourist areas of Waikiki and Honolulu.
Caution Must Be Taken When Exploring the Area
While the Waianae region is a beautiful destination, visitors should exercise caution when exploring the area, particularly in remote locations. Be sure to follow safety guidelines and respect the local community. If you want to read more about other places in Oahu, check out our article about the North Shore, take a trip to Kualoa ranch, or the Polynesian Cultural Center.
In conclusion, the Leeward Coast, or West Oahu, offers a unique and authentic Hawaiian experience. With its beautiful beaches, stunning landscapes, and rich cultural history, it’s a must-visit destination for anyone looking to explore a different side of Oahu. Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or a deep dive into Hawaiian culture, the Leeward Coast has something for everyone.