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Hidden Hot Spots on Oahu

Lanikai Beach and the Na Mokulua islands

Lanikai Beach and the Na Mokulua islands.

Oahu is a busy gathering place where it can be sometimes challenging to find seclusion or hidden attractions. Along with notable places such as Waikiki Beach, Diamond Head, Pearl Harbor and the North Shore, we have previously chronicled some of the most thrilling experiences on Oahu as well as some of the essential must-do activities of the island. However, there is still a number of exciting things that can be found off the beaten path, so don your slippers (i.e., Hawaii’s name for flip flops) and get ready to go.

Art Shops: Fine art, design and sculpture fanatics will have their pick of amazing events to attend on Oahu; but one of the best experiences is the First Friday Art Walk in Chinatown. The galleries open from 5 to 9 pm on the first Friday of each month, offering a lively opportunity to talk to the artisans and to appreciate their craft. The Kim Taylor Reece Gallery located near Sacred Falls on the North Shore is a great place to see the art of hula dancing captured on camera. If you are in the area from Monday to Wednesday in the afternoon, be sure to stop by and see the photographer’s culmination of 25 years of her work immortalized on the walls. If you happen to be visiting during the months of November and December, the craft fairs held at Neal Blaisdell Exhibition Hall are well worth visiting for those who enjoy learning how Hawaiian craft works are made or who want to bring back authentic gifts of Hawaii for their families.

Secluded Oahu Beaches: Bellow’s Field Beach Park is one of the longest stretches of sandy coastline on the island. Located on an Air Force base, the beach is a great place to stake out a place for body surfing, spending some quiet time or even setting up camp for the night. For mind-boggling pictures with rugged backdrops, go to Halona Cove, the place where Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr kissed in an epic scene within waters of the evening shore break in the Academy award-winning blockbuster, From Here to Eternity. Makapu’u Beach is known for its strong surf and pounding waves, which can be dangerous for novices, but if you want to simply admire the rugged coastline and beautiful scenery, it is the place to go. Another serene beach landscape can be found near the northwestern tip of the island at the idyllic Mokule’ia Beach, which is often free of crowds. If a good beach just to swim and sunbathe is what you are looking for, try Lanikai Beach on the windward side of the island near the town of Kailua, which has been rated by some as one of the best beaches in the world. If you want to catch a glimpse of dolphins, head to Waianae Harbor on the leeward side of Oahu. Here you can get on a tour boat where you can get close-up views of these magnificent creatures.

Halona Cove at sunset.

Halona Cove at sunset.

Tasting Oahu: There is an overwhelming amount of incredible places to dine in Honolulu of all types and price ranges. One of the best hole- in-the-wall places where you can taste exotic fruit specialty desserts and scrumptious Hawaiian food is Ted’s Bakery on the North Shore. Ted’s serves decadent dishes like chocolate haupia cakes, strawberry guava fruit pies and peach Bavarian cream pies, to list a few. Tita’s Grill in Kahuku is a quaint family-owned diner where visitors can sample some of the best home-cooked food Hawaii has to offer. Whether you are in the mood for garlic shrimp or a loco moco, patrons are in for a treat. While the idea of dining on food prepared on and sold from aluminum vans might seem unpalatable to some, the dishes from mobile food vendors, such as Giovanni’s Shrimp Truck and Famous Kahuku Shrimp Truck which serve the North Shore area, will definitely show your taste buds otherwise. 

Japanese Temple: Tucked behind Kaneohe’s Valley of the Temples cemetery is a smaller scale, but equally impressive, replica of the 950-year old United Nations World Heritage Site Byodo-In Buddhist temple in Uji, Japan. This other-worldly-looking building was constructed in 1968 entirely without nails and features beautiful gardens, koi fish, gazebos, swans, peacocks and a statue of Buddha all set amid towering verdant mountains. The temple, which has been designated as a Hawaii State Landmark, has been prominently featured in television series such as Hawaii Five-0, Magnum P.I. and Lost.

Byodo-In Temple in Kaneohe, Hawaii


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