Hawaii September 12, 2017
This 55-Mile Drive Is the Best Way to See Hawaii’s Stunning Coast
You will undoubtedly find breathtaking natural beauty wherever you look across the Hawaiian Islands, and the best way to witness these incredible views for yourself is to take a drive along one of Hawaii’s most scenic roads and highways. While there are some wonders that can only be seen via strenuous hiking trails, or even helicopter tour, there are others that simply require a vehicle – as well as a camera and killer driving playlist.
From breathtaking beaches and roadside restaurants to lovely lookouts and picturesque parks, this 55-mile stretch of highway along Oahu’s southeastern and windward coasts — from Diamond Head Beach Park to Kahuku — is easily the best way to experience the beauty found along Oahu’s coast.
Does it get any prettier than this? I'm not sure I've ever experienced a scenic drive quite as pretty as this stretch of Oahu highway.
Our day begins in Waikiki with Diamond Head Beach Park, a positively dreamy slice of paradise. From here, hop on Kalanianaole Highway and head east towards Makapu’u Point. As you begin your drive, you will find awe-inspiring rock formations, lush valleys, and picturesque scenery to the left.
But it’s looking out to the right where you will find the real magic: the vast Pacific Ocean, breathtaking beaches, and rad rock formations.
Even without the phenomenal views, this winding road that was built to hug every curve of the island is just plain fun — especially if you ride a motorcycle or decided to rent mopeds in Honolulu for a fun day of exploring.
Don’t forget to stop at any of the amazing lookout points you’ll pass along the way. You don’t want to miss the Lanai Lookout, Halona Blowhole and Cove, or Makapu’u Point Lookout.
Pictured above is the stunning Makapu'u Point Lookout. If you'd like to get in a workout on your long scenic drive, consider hiking the 2-mile Makapu'u Lighthouse Trail. The paved trail is perfect for those of all skill levels, and the views are absolutely second-to-none.
Pro tip: take the time to hike down to the beautiful Halona Cove. Situated between Halona Point and the Halona Blowhole, this small rocky cove is perfectly picturesque, and has been featured in films like Pirates of the Caribbean and 50 First Dates.
The Makai Research Pier, found shortly after you round the corner from the southeastern coastline to the eastern coast, is certainly a worthy stop.
Want to get out and stretch your legs with a walk along the beach? You have a plethora of beaches to choose from, but Sandy Beach Park, Hanauma Bay, Waimanalo, Bellows, Lanikai, Kualoa, Pounders, and Kahana Bay are just a few of our favorites.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its role as a training ground for ancient Hawaiian chiefs, Kualoa Beach Park (above) is a true wonder. With fine sand and glistening waters, this beach is perfect for swimming, beach-combing, picnics, and camping.
Photographed from above is the famous Hanauma Bay. Perhaps one of Oahu’s most visited tourist destinations is Hanauma Bay State Park, and rightfully so – it is one of the island’s premier spots if you want to experience Hawaii’s beautiful sea life by way of snorkeling. Swim amongst the coral reef, vibrantly colored fish, and even honu (green sea turtles)!
While you can take as many — or as few — stops as you would like, there is one scenic spot towards the end of your coastal drive you won’t want to miss: the beautiful Laie Point State Wayside.
End your quintessential Hawaiian day with one of the best meals you’ll find on Oahu - dinner from one of Kahuku’s famous shrimp trucks.
Kahuku is known for its plethora of roadside shrimp shacks and epic food trucks. If you aren’t sure where to stop, we recommend Giovanni’s: this is by far the most famous spot here, and the perfect eatery for a casual dinner while traveling along Kamehameha Highway.
This scenic coastal drive is not only excellent to complete with visitors, but is a fun way to rediscover the beauty of Oahu on your next day off.
What are you waiting for? Pack up the cooler and beach bag, grab your camera, and head out on a magnificent adventure exploring Oahu’s beautiful coast.
Want to continue your scenic seaside drive? Check out
this road trip that stretches from Turtle Bay to Haleiwa.