Southeast Oahu Scenic Drive
Oahu, Hawaii, United States
The very southeast edge of Oahu is a gorgeous spot where the colors of sea and greenery are at their most vibrant! Here, between Hanauma Bay and Makapuu Beach you can take a scenic drive that winds around the coast over lava rock cliffs with views of the inky blue ocean below. Koko Head, a dormant volcano, looms overhead. Here is what you'll see as you drive from west to east:
You could start your drive by picking up a snack at Koko Marina shopping center. Then drive past Hanauma Bay. If you have a few hours to visit it, do! It is a gorgeous yellow beach tucked into a volcanic crater, with calm waters filled with tropical fish (bring a snorkel). Next you can pull into a scenic lookout to watch the waves crash on the cliffs. This is what is marked on the map below and shown in the photos. To see photos of the beaches along the way, click on the links.
The next pullout is for Eternity Beach. This is one of my favorite beaches in the world. It's a steep climb down and a wild bouncy swim, but one of the best swims you'll ever have! Halona Blowhole is also at this pullout. Next you'll come to Sandy Beach where you can watch the bodyboarders and explore rock pools on the west end of the beach. Continue driving and you'll be on beautiful open road for a while with mountains above you.
The next pullout is for the Makapuu Lighthouse Hike, a strenous uphill paved walk where you can look out over the inky blue sea and perhaps see whales! At the top you have a stunning view of the east side of the island.
Continue driving and you won't believe your eyes! What a remarkable view of the east side of the island and Makapuu Beach! Sea Life Park, a really nice though expensive place to take your family to see dolphin and seal shows, will be on your left and Makapuu Beach, where bodyboarders ride the blue-green waters, will be on your right.
Next you will come to windy Waimanalo Beach where the color of the sand and water will delight you! Take a dip in the water! You could turn back at this point or continue on and explore the windward side of the island:
If you continue on to the windward side of the island, you could have lunch at upscale Kailua Town and take a long stroll on Kailua Beach or have an amazing swim at Lanikai Beach. You can take the scenic Pali Hwy (stopping at Pali Lookout) back to Waikiki if you want to make a loop.
What a great drive!
The road hugs the cliffs.
Koko Head, as seen from the scenic lookout.
The drive, between Sandy Beach and the Makapuu Lighthouse Walk.
The blue-ink ocean is right beside you.
This is an interactive map, you can zoom and move it.
Take the H1 east until it becomes Kalanianaole Hwy and then just follow Kalanianaole Hwy. Once you pass Koko Marina Shopping Center, the scenic drive begins.
Total driving time is about 45 minutes from Waikiki to Waimanalo Beach.
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