It’s not always the 7-hour hike to a glorious waterfall that yields the best parts of the island. And there are a few places worth braving the crowds. Convenience, views and history make these five my top picks:
Often a tour bus stop, the Halona Blowhole Lookout is perfect to take in spectacular views right off the highway with a dedicated parking lot. To the south is Halona Beach Cove (also known as Eternity Beach as this is the site of the famous scene in the movie From Here To Eternity & Cockroach Cove, for reasons unknown.) It’s a charming white-sand beach surrounded by lava rock where the waves come rushing in.
La’ie Point State Wayside is a treasure tucked back in a neighborhood on the north side of the island. It’s a favourite fishing spot and perfect for exploration. A granite plaque just off the road tells the legend of the five islets surrounding the point. The warrior Kana, defeated the relentless Mo’o lizard, cut his head into five pieces and flung them into the seas. The lava rock is sharp, so tread carefully and while there is no beach, the views are worth a stop.
LANIAKEA BEACH (AKA Turtle Beach)
Not to be confused with Turtle Bay, a resort nearby with public access, Turtle Beach is the best place to see, you guessed it, green sea turtles or honu. Especially if you’re not a swimmer you can see these irresistable creatures basking on the beach. Keep your distance though, 10 feet to be exact. They are on the endangered species list and even touching a turtle will result in a hefty fine. So enjoy watching, but give them their space. You wouldn’t want some two-legged giant patting you on your head or picking you up.
BELLOWS FIELD BEACH PARK (AKA Sherwood Beach)
A sign for the Bellows Airforce Base at the entrance of the beach park probably deters some visitors. But the base entrance is further up and guarded. The nickname Sherwood Beach is completely befitting. Ironwood trees (think a swaying pine tree) frame the beach. A lovely woodland with a stunning beach and plenty of room to spread out and relax.
NU’UANU PALI LOOKOUT (Pali Lookout for short)
In my search for adventure, highway lookout points rarely make the cut. But this is no ordinary lookout. Sweeping views, history and convience put the Pali Lookout on the must-do list. A 10-minute drive from Honolulu, the panorama takes in the Windward side of the island. It’s the site of the epic 1795 Nu’uanu battle in which 700 Hawai’ian soldiers plunged to their deaths. The intense winds force many to take a few quick snapshots and hurry back to their cars. This leaves the overlook relatively open to enjoy.
It’s not always necessary to traipes through dense jungle or brave sheer rock faces. Sometimes the best places are just a car ride away!