Sea Life Park acquaints clients with a wide range of maritime creatures. // © 2017 Sea Life Park
Feature image (above): The trail to Makapuu Lighthouse provides stunning views of the ocean and islands off Oahu’s easternmost point. // © 2017 Hawaii Tourism Authority/Tor Johnson
Kalanianaole Highway may be hard to pronounce, but it’s the most direct way to take time off from Waikiki and head east. Within minutes of driving along this coastal route, visitors find themselves shedding “city mode” and entering a blissful world of astounding natural beauty.
Whether they’re craving activity and adventure or just a beach without crowds, clients can make a satisfying day of it as they explore the southeastern tip of Oahu. Following are five great things to do once they get there.
Way back when Oahu’s volcanoes spewed, some of their molten lava dripped into the ocean and hardened into tubes. One result is Halona Blowhole, a fascinating rock formation. As waves rush toward shore, sea spray shoots up through the tubes, blasting as high as 30 feet into the air. The frothy spectacle is easy to see from a cliffside lookout just off the highway. In between bursts, clients can savor panoramas of the eastern coastline and, on clear days, the neighboring islands of Molokai and Lanai.
A 25-minute drive from Waikiki, this natural aquarium is teeming with 400 types of fish species. Created tens of thousands of years ago, the volcanic crater evolved into a protected marine life conservation area in 1967. The waters are so pristine that simple knee-deep wading leads to views of tropical wonders, from Moorish idols and yellow tangs to the humuhumunukunukuapuaa (Hawaii’s state fish). First-time visitors are asked to watch a short video about snorkeling responsibly and safely.
Makapuu Point Lighthouse
Oahu’s easternmost point plays home to this 46-foot-tall beacon. Built in 1909, it features the largest lighthouse lens in the U.S. Clients can reach it by hiking up a 1-mile paved path. Once at the top, the vista from a 600-foot-high sea cliff is tough to beat. It’s a swell spot for snapping photos of nearby Rabbit Island, which looks like a swimming bunny, as well as smaller or more distant islands. In winter, breaching and spouting humpback whales put on a show offshore.
Sea Life Park Hawaii
This splashy attraction enjoys a perfect perch overlooking the coast. Clients can keep busy here for hours as they peruse the 300,000-gallon Hawaiian reef aquarium; stroll by the monk seal habitat and seabird sanctuary; and watch performances by dolphins, penguins and sea lions. Visitors can interact with the park’s residents during activities such as dolphin swims and educational talks with trainers. The park’s luau entertains guests as the sun sets.
A quiet coastal town, Waimanalo lays claim to one of Oahu’s longest beaches, which stretches 5 miles. Clients can access the sand from Waimanalo Beach Park, Waimanalo Bay State Recreation Park or Bellows Beach Park. The fluted Koolau mountains provide a dramatic backdrop to the area’s swimmable, turquoise waters. When it’s time for a break from the beach, clients can grab a bite from a few casual eateries that serve plate lunches, poke and local favorites.