1. Byodo-In Temple
Located at the base of the Ko’olau Mountains, the Byodo-In Temple is a small-scale replica of a famous temple in Japan that is more than 950 years old. The non-denominational shrine was dedicated in 1968 to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants in Hawaii. The beautiful grounds include stunning statues, a large reflecting pond, meditation areas, and small waterfalls. It is a wonderful spot to reflect, relax, and take in Hawaii’s natural beauty.
2. Kaneohe Sandbar
The Kaneohe sandbar, located in the middle of Kaneohe Bay, features crystalline turquoise waters, fine white sand, and plenty of fun. At high tide, you can comfortably stand waist-deep in the water, while at low tide, the sand is completely exposed.
3. Friendship Garden
This beautiful garden got its start in the 1920s as “Hawaii’s first multi-racial community, called Kokokahi ("of one blood"), a place where people of all ethnic backgrounds would come together to live, work and play,” according to the Friendship Garden website. The tranquil space is open daily to the public free of charge, and features 0.6 miles of easy hiking trails and some phenomenal views.
4. Haleiwa Joe’s
An iconic Hawaiian seafood restaurant, Haleiwa Joe’s second (and we’d argue, prettier) location can be found in windward Oahu at the Haiku Gardens, a slice of absolute paradise. The peaceful setting, incredible food, and unrivaled ambiance make this a popular spot for date nights, wedding parties and special events.
5. Kualoa Ranch
From horseback riding and ATV tours to boat excursions and ziplining, Kualoa Ranch has an activity perfect for everyone. Oh, and did we mention the stunning natural beauty and countless movies filmed there? Those films include 50 First Dates, Jurassic Park, Soul Surfer, Along Came Polly, The Hunger Games, Godzilla, and George of the Jungle, as well as several television shows.
6. Pyramid Rock Beach
An epic beach for sunrise-watching, surfing, boogie boarding, and snorkeling when it’s calm, Pyramid Rock is picturesque, to say the least. This gem is on the Marine Corps base, but for all of those who don’t have base access, don’t worry - there’s another public beach listed below.
7. Pu’u Ma’eli’eli Digging Hill Trail
This 1.5-mile round trip hike provides simply stunning views of windward Oahu, but be warned that there are a few steep hills, and the trail can get pretty slippery after it rains. The summit is home to two World War II bunkers that were a part of Camp He’eia, a military training area that supported approximately 4,500 military personnel during the war.
8. Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden
This beautiful 400-acre botanical garden is a tranquil spot for a leisurely stroll, a scenic drive, or even a fishing and camping destination. Part of the Honolulu Botanical Gardens, this natural oasis is open daily and free to the public.
9. Paradise Bay Resort
Surrounded by palm trees and nestled into a quiet residential neighborhood just five miles from Kaneohe Town and eleven miles from Kailua Beach, Paradise Bay resort is a low-key haven for anyone looking to get away from it all.
10. Mokoli’i Island
Also known as Chinaman’s Hat, this small island lies off the coast of Kaneohe Bay, and is part of Kualoa Regional Park. Mokoli’i translates to “little lizard” in Hawaiian, and according to Hawaiian mythology, the island is what remains of a giant lizard whose tail was chopped off and thrown into the Pacific by Hi’iaka, a Hawaiian goddess. The island can be visited by kayak, boat or surfboard during daylight hours.
11. Local Boy Sushi
This local sushi joint is known for their catering, but also offers mouthwatering sushi and ono grinds for takeout.
12. Bay View Mini-Putt + Zipline
This family-friendly establishment features two 18-hole mini golf courses, a 400-foot zipline, and snack bars. We guarantee you won’t find a prettier golf course of the mini variety anywhere in Hawaii.
13. Kualoa Beach Park
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its role as a training ground for ancient Hawaiian chiefs, Kualoa Beach Park is a true wonder. With fine sand and glistening waters, this beach is perfect for swimming, beach-combing, picnics, and camping.