Windward Oahu: Must-See Sights & Stops

Head over to the windy side of Oahu for the most stunning scenery, tons of outdoor activities, and a memorable Aloha vacation

Follow along for a sun-soaked sojourn through the windward side of Oahu!

Planning a trip to Oahu can be overwhelming. With so many parts of the island that are utterly breathtaking and worth visiting, it can be difficult to decide where to start. But if you’re daydreaming of glorious beaches and soaring mountains, a trip to the Windward coast is a perfect beginning to your Hawaiian vacation.

What is the Windward Side of Oahu?

All of the Hawaiian islands have both a leeward side and a windward side. The windward coast of Oahu is the side of the island that receives the benefit of a cool, trade-wind breeze. As a result, the rain showers are frequent, although they’re sporadic and often occur at night. 

Because of the weather, Oahu’s windward coast is home to some of the best scenery in Hawaii. You’ll find the lion’s share of jungle-like, foliage-rich landscapes here, as well as waterfalls surrounded by lush green nature.

Related Post: 10 Top Things to Do in Honolulu Hawaii

But that’s not all! The windward side of Oahu is home to some of the most serene, beautiful beaches in the world. In this slower-paced side of Oahu, the turquoise ocean shimmers in the distance, and its calm waves are inviting you to enjoy a refreshing holiday.

Pro Tip: Looking for a high point to get a panoramic view of the windward coast? Check out Nuuanu Pali Lookout or the Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail. Both are set high above and offer searing views of the coastline and surrounding lush landscape.

There are many sights, stops, and attractions that will make your trip to the windward side of Oahu memorable. Below are just some of them.

Aerial view of the coast of Oahu on a sunny day in Oahu, Hawaii, USAThings to do on the Windward Side of Oahu

Kailua Beach Park

Of all the best things to do on the east side of Oahu, a trip to the island’s most beautiful beaches is top-notch! There’s Lanikai Beach, Waimanalo Beach, and Kailua Beach, to name a few. The latter is the gem of Kailua town and was named the best beach in America in 2019.

Related Post: 6 Oahu North Shore Attractions You Can’t-Miss

Kailua Beach Park is filled with picture-perfect spots and turquoise waters. The waves are calm and clear, which makes it an ideal destination for those who want to enjoy paddleboarding, kayaking, kitesurfing, and windsurfing.

There are several shops in Kailua that offer rental gear and can arrange for kitesurfing and windsurfing lessons!

Fancy a short, albeit strenuous, hike? Then, lace up those hiking boots and hit the Lanikai Pillbox trail! It is less than 2 miles but packs a punch in sweat equity and breathtaking views!

Kualoa Ranch

Kualoa Ranch is an incredible private nature reserve that has been family-owned for generations. At first sight, you might recognize its scenic valley from famous Hollywood movies like 50 First Dates, Jurassic Park, Godzilla, and Lost.

Aside from taking tons of Insta-worthy pictures with a stunning background of the Koolau Mountains, outdoor activities include horseback riding, ziplining, and ATV tours. Meanwhile, the Oahu Grand Circle Island Tour treats guests to a full lunch at the 4,000-acre ranch.

Mountains at Kualoa Ranch - Oahu, Hawaii, USA
photo credit: Kuala Ranch via Facebook

Byodo-In Temple

Byodo-In Temple is a replica of a Japanese Buddhist Temple. However, since it’s located on the Windward side of Oahu, the backdrop of the temple is entirely different from the ones you’ll see in Japan.

Related Post: Ultimate Guide to Hawaii Bishop Museum Discount Tickets, Tips, and Reviews

Imagine koi ponds, captivating waterfalls, and a Japanese garden set amidst towering mountain ranges and this side of the island’s majestic tropical trees.

Exterior View of the Valley of the Temples - Oahu, Hawaii, USAPolynesian Cultural Center

Wondering what to do in the East? Polynesian Cultural Center is a must-see while on this side of Oahu! This 42-acre family-friendly attraction features six different villages that each offer unique activities, performances, and cuisine. Everyone will enjoy learning more about Hawaii’s culture and traditions through fun-tastic immersions.

You can get a temporary tattoo, catch a fish, or join the hula. The day is yours to explore Polynesian Cultural Center. Do with it whatever tickles your fancy!

Related Post: Ultimate Guide to Oahu Polynesian Cultural Center: Coupon, Reviews, and Tips

Trying to decide between the Polynesian Cultural Center and Paradise Cove Luau? Read Paradise Cove Luau vs. Polynesian Cultural Center: Which is Better? to see a side-by-side comparison.

Polynesian man climbing a large palm tree to get yellow fruit in Oahu, Hawaii
photo credit: Polynesian Cultural Center via Facebook

Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens

There are a lot of amazing botanical gardens in Oahu, but on Oahu’s windward coast, Hoomluhia Botanical Gardens is arguably the best! The Garden is vast and contains many different kinds of gorgeous plants, trees, and flowers.

Related Post: Hanauma Bay Hawaii: Top Oahu Snorkel Spot

Everywhere you look is truly a perfect shot for the Gram, but more importantly, it’s a vibrant paradise that preserves this side of Hawaii’s tropical region. This is a can’t-miss on your list of “things to do windward Oahu!”

Ka Moana Luau

You can’t leave the island without experiencing an authentic luau! Luaus are part of the very breath of Hawaii’s culture and tradition. The Oahu windward coast takes pride in Ka Moana Luau, which is located at the beautiful Sea Life Park.

The Luau’s breathtaking backdrop of sweeping Hawaiian mountains and awe-inspiring ocean views already makes it one of the most unforgettable trips, but really, it’s the incredible dance performers and authentic Hawaiian cuisine that completes the evening.

photo credit: Ka Moana Lu’au via Facebook

Dole Plantation

If you’ve ever wondered where all those juicy Dole pineapples come from, you might be surprised to know that the Dole plantation is in Oahu! Oahu Grand Circle Island Tour includes a tour of Dole Plantation, but if you want to explore the rest of North Shore’s Dole farms, we recommend going for the North Shore Dole Pineapple Farm Tour instead. While not precisely one of Oahu’s windward coast tours, the Dole Pineapple farm is close by!

Learn how Dole plants, harvests, and packs pineapples– all guided by an expert tour guide that tells you all about the company and its history in Hawaii.

photo credit: I Love Hawaii via Facebook

Experience the Beauty of Windward Oahu

Aloha your way to Windward Hawaii if you love nature and lounge on some of the best beaches in Oahu! Overall, the windy side of Oahu is the perfect getaway for people who want to enjoy a quiet holiday surrounded by nature’s most breathtaking scenery.

Get more winward Oahu ideas from our Oahu Travel Guide before your trip! Explore the North Shore and leeward side Oahu sights, Waikiki, and Honolulu while in the “Gathering Place.” 

Still deciding which Hawaiian Island to visit? From Maui to the Big Island, we have you covered with our In-Depth Hawaiian Island Guide!

Have You Explored the Windward Side of Oahu?

What would you add to our list? Leave us a comment below!

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Written by Nicole King

There are only two things that make Nicole really happy–books and travel! When her head’s not buried in a book, she’s most likely...

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