P a r k s & N a t u r e
ALA WAI CANAL
While you wouldn't want to take a dip in the dubious waters of the Ala Wai, the 1.4-mile paved path alongside the canal is perfect for a scenic walk or jog. From February through September you can pull up a piece of grass in Ala Wai Park and watch the canoe paddlers practice, on weekday evenings and weekend days.
Where: Along Ala Wai Boulevard, mountain side of Waikiki
BEACHES Hawaii Vacation
All beaches in Hawai‘i are open to the public. Water temperatures reach 78 degrees in the summer and 74 degrees in the winter. Pay close attention to posted warnings; the shore break on many beaches (especially the North Shore during the winter) is dangerous to even experienced swimmers. Visit our beach section.
THE BLOW HOLE (HALONA LOOKOUT)
This natural ocean geyser is caused by breaking surf being forced through an L-shaped lava tube, exploding upward from the pressure. Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr shared a famous beach kiss ("From Here to Eternity") in the small cove next to the Blow Hole.
Where: About 2 miles past Hanauma Bay on Kalaniana‘ole Highway (East coast of O‘ahu)
If you decide to wade out to this small island (500 yards offshore), wear old sneakers or reef walkers to protect your feet from the sharp coral. Be respectful to the droves of birds that call the island home. Though it's also known as Mokoli‘i ("small reptile"), one look at this conical island will explain how it got its more common name.
Where: North Kane‘ohe Bay (windward side), off-shore from Kualoa Regional Park
You can pick up hiking maps from the Department of Land and Natural Resources (Forestry and Wildlife office). The office has seven sectional maps of hiking trails on O‘ahu. Also visit our camping section.
Where: 1151 Punchbowl St., Kalanimoku Bldg., Room 131, Honolulu
Hours: 7:45 a.m.-4:40 p.m., Monday-Friday (except holidays)
Info: (808) 587-0166
MAKAPU‘U LIGHTHOUSE ACCESS ROAD
A moderate hike with spectacular ocean views. The lighthouse uses prism glass in its lamp and has been functioning for more than 100 years. The bunkers near the top were constructed during World War II and are referred to in James Jones' novel, "From Here to Eternity." Offshore is Rabbit Island. Although it is shaped like a rabbit, the island is so named because a rancher released rabbits there to breed in the 1880s.
Where: Overlooks Makapu‘u Beach Park on O‘ahu's easternmost point
A popular rain forest hike, easy to moderate depending on how muddy the trail is. The mile-long trail ends in a freshwater pool and waterfall.
Where: End of Manoa Road in Manoa Valley
This 26-acre urban park on the Damon Estate is open to the public and perfect for picnicking, with aged monkeypod trees shading the vast green lawns. The grounds boast two streams, a taro patch, a carp pond, and a group of ancient petroglyphs. Admission is free.
Where: A few miles northwest of Honolulu, just off the Moanalua Freeway; take the Tripler Army Hospital exit
Hours: Opens, 9 a.m., mostly on weekends
Info: (808) 833-1944 to arrange self-guided walk; (808) 839-5334 for free guided walks
NU‘UANU PALI LOOKOUT
Photo by HVCB
The Pali (meaning "cliff" in Hawaiian) rises 1,186 feet above sea level, offering a panoramic view of windward O‘ahu. Keep a tight hold on hats (and small children), as it gets very windy up there.
This is the spot where King Kamehameha the Great drove opposing armies over steep cliffs (to their deaths) in the Nu'uanu Pali Battle for the island of O'ahu. This secured a victory in his quest to unite all of Hawai'i.
Where: Up Highway 61 (Pali Highway); look for the turnoff toward the top
QUEEN KAPI‘OLANI PARK
Named after Queen Kapi‘olani, wife of King David Kalakaua, the park boasts jogging paths, bike paths, and a whole lot of open space for recreational pursuits. The Royal Hawaiian Band plays at the bandstand every Sunday, 2-4 p.m.
Where: Diamond Head end of Kalakaua Avenue
SUNSET AT KUHIO BEACH
At sunset every evening, enjoy a torch-lighting ceremony and hula dance by the statue of legendary beach boy Duke Kahanamoku.
Where: Along the beach near the intersection of Kalakaua and Kapahulu avenues, Waikiki
Photo by HVCB/Jack Hollingsworth
All the free entertainment you could ask for on this two-mile stretch of sand. Start at the Hale Koa Hotel and make your way to the Natatorium War Memorial (the largest saltwater pool in the United States), or do it in reverse. An especially nice walk at sunset, as the tiki torches outside the hotels are lit and evening entertainment begins to warm up.
While whale-watching tours are memorable, many visitors don't realize that these gentle behemoths can often be seen at play from the shore, even without binoculars. Look for them between December and April, when they're most active. Note: drive carefully on this narrow road and look for a safe place to pull over before you let your eyes wander to the sea.
Where: Along Kalaniana‘ole Highway (east coast of O'ahu)
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R e c r e a t i o n
FLY BOYS (AND GALS)
On any day of the week, come by and watch all the pretty birds in the sky: biplanes, gliders, hang-gliders, ultra-lights and skydivers use this place as a playground. Skydivers land at the west end of the airstrip; gliders, planes and hang-gliders take off from the east end (toward Ka‘ena Point).
Where: Dillingham Airstrip, Mokule‘ia (North Shore)
Waves can reach up to 30 feet during the winter months -- not good for swimming, but ideal for watching the best surfers in the world. Expect national TV crews, promotional tents and an air of excitement when a tourney is on. Events depend on wave size and other conditions that change on a daily basis.
Where: North Shore (from Hale‘iwa to Sunset Beach) and West O‘ahu (Makaha Beach)
When: The Triple Crown (Pipeline Masters, Hawaiian Pro and World Cup of Surfing) is held between mid-November and mid-December on the North Shore. Buffalo's Big Board surfing classic runs December through February at Makaha Beach. Makaha World Surfing Championships starts mid-February at Makaha Beach. Bodyboarding competitions at the Banzai Pipeline (North Shore) take place in January.
There are 181 free courts on the island, at 47 different locations. Courts operate on a first-come, first-served basis.
Info: Reservations: (808) 971-7150