There’s much more to Oahu than Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, and the big wave breaks of the North Shore. To find hidden gems that most tourists miss, venture off the beaten path. Here are some ideas on how to spend your time on Oahu, away from the crowds.
Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden
Located on the windward side of Oahu is the 400-acre (162-hectare) Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens. Plantings from the world's major tropical regions fill the garden, aptly named “a peaceful refuge.” It’s a quiet spot to enjoy hiking, bicycling, or a picnic among flowers. On weekends, take advantage of catch-and-release fishing.
For a taste of rural life on Oahu, head to the small town of Waimanalo, on the eastern side of Oahu. Tucked between the Ko’olau mountain range, the area is full of small farms, ranches, and nurseries. Catch a rodeo, play a round of golf, or watch a game of polo. Or, enjoy a quiet, white-sand beach and snorkeling among Hawaiian green sea turtles.
Explore one of the largest collections of Islamic and South Asian art in the United States at Shangri La, the Oahu home of American tobacco heiress Doris Duke. Visit the opulent oceanfront estate on a guided tour and view some of the more than 2,500 objects collected by Duke over a period of nearly 60 years.
Tucked away in the Valley of Temples, at the foot of the Ko’olau mountains, the Byodo-In Temple is smaller scale replica of a temple of the same name in Kyoto, Japan. Built to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the arrival of Japanese immigrants to Hawaii, the temple is surrounded by landscaped grounds that feature various structures, a koi pond, and a large wooden Buddha.
Not many people make it to the westernmost point of Oahu. The roads don’t go all the way, so you have to hike the final 2.7-mile (4.3-kilometer) stretch. Once you make it to Kaena Point, your reward is secluded sandy coves and stunning views of the Waianae coast, Mokuleia, and the Pacific. There is also a bird sanctuary nearby.