Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Waianae, HI

  • Published 2023/04/13

Situated on the leeward coast of the island of Oahu, the charming community of Waianae is sometimes called the Waianae Coast.

Waianae is a census-designated place in Honolulu County, Hawaii.

The community boasts pristine white sand beaches, crystal clear waters, breathtaking vistas, Hawaiian farms, and excellent shopping and dining.

It is an ideal holiday getaway from the city hustle.

Swimming, snorkeling, sailing through the waters, whale and dolphin watching tours, and surfing in the winter are everyday activities.

Outdoor enthusiasts can also take a challenging hike because Waianae is home to the tallest mountain on Oahu, Mount Ka’ala.

Plan a trip to this tropical oasis and explore its hidden gems that make for the perfect island relaxation.

These are the best things to do in Waianae, Hawaii.

Enjoy Water Activities at Pokai Bay Beach Park

Daytime view of Pokai Bay Beach Park

E.J.Johnson Photography /

Pokai Bay Beach Park is the ultimate destination in Waianae for exciting water activities with your whole family.

When you set foot on the shores of this 15-acre beach, you’ll know why it’s popular among visitors and families with young children and dogs.

Known as the most protected beach on the west coast of Oahu, this lovely beach is calm year-round with gentle waves and splendid water, coastline, mountain, and sky views.

Trees at Pokai Bay Beach Park

Malachi Jacobs /

It’s an ideal place for kids and beginning swimmers and surfers, with most people swimming on the calmest part of the beach towards the southern section of Pokai Bay.

Apart from swimming and surfing, you will also enjoy picnicking, fishing, kayaking, canoeing, and snorkeling.

There are showers, restrooms, and parking facilities at Pokai Beach and a beautiful reef in the middle of the bay.

Aerial view of Pokai Bay Beach Park

JJM Photography /

Catch the Sunset at Lualualei Beach Park

If you prefer a more private and peaceful beach, head to the 18-acre Lualualei Beach Park.

This secluded beach is relatively small and is often quiet since most people flock to the neighboring Pokai Bay Beach Park.

The beach is narrow and sandy, with a rocky limestone shelf along the shoreline, which may be why it’s mostly empty.

However, Lualualei Beach Park is famous for fishermen who cast their lines from the rocks.

You can also enjoy snacks on one of the picnic tables, take scenic walks, and catch the spectacular sunset.

In addition, the beach has public restrooms, freshwater showers, parking, and six campsites available with permits.

See Marine Wildlife with Wild Side Specialty Tours

If you want to discover the wild side of Oahu, Wild Side Specialty Tours can provide a fun and memorable experience.

In 1996, Tori Cullins, a marine biologist, founded this company with her dive master husband and licensed boat captain, Armin Cullins.

The award-winning tour agency offers intimate journeys, including guided sea turtle and reef fish snorkeling, swimming with wild dolphins, and whale-watching.

All tours are limited to up to six passengers to give their guests the best possible adventure tour.

You’ll also learn about Hawaii’s marine environment as expert crews of wildlife marine biologists give talks and answer your questions.

If cruising and marine wildlife encounters have been on your bucket list for so long, tick them off now and head to Wild Side Specialty Tours in Waianae Boat Harbor.

Grab a Bite at the Beach House by 604

Offering the best waterfront dining in Waianae, the Beach House by 604 is not something you should miss.

This family restaurant is passionate about serving exceptional traditional American cuisine featured on its diverse menu and island favorites.

Try their fish and chips, poke nachos, loco moco, grilled ahi club, furikake ahi, ultimate country fried steak, and world-famous clam chowder.

You can also choose from their daily specials and get their tasty Bloody Mary since many customers are raving about it.

Nestled in a military recreation area in front of Pokai Bay, it’s the perfect place to unwind or end the day at the beach with a delightful meal and stunning ocean and sunset views.

The restaurant also features live music and a shop to buy hats, tees, and hats.

The Beach House by 604 has indoor and outdoor seating for hosting parties, company meetings, and other special occasions.

Take a Selfie with the Israel Kamakawiwo’ole Statue

You can’t miss the Israel Kamakawiwo’ole Statue, a small monument along Farrington Highway in Waianae.

Also known as Bruddah Iz or simply Iz, Israel Kamakawiwo’ole was a Hawaiian musician born in Honolulu, Hawaii.

He was famous for capturing the hearts of many people worldwide with his iconic rendition of “Somewhere Over The Rainbow” before dying in 1997.

With his voice, ukulele, and incorporating of other genres like reggae and jazz, he remains influential in Hawaiian music.

Consider snapping a quick photo with Israel Kamakawiwo’ole Statue.

Spend a Fun Summer Day at Makaha Beach Park

Beach waves at Makaha Beach Park

nicspixels /

Another famous beach on the west coast of Oahu is Makaha Beach Park.

This white sand beach is an ideal getaway because it offers exciting water activities like swimming, snorkeling, surfing, bodyboarding, and fishing.

Swimming is better in the summer since the ocean is calmer, while a decisive shore break and rip currents in the winter attract advanced surfers.

If you’re unsure about the current ocean conditions, you can ask the lifeguards on duty, who are there to ensure the safety of swimmers, surfers, and other beachgoers.

Meanwhile, offshore Makaha Caverns is a well-known spot for divers.

Whether you want to experience water adventures, come to picnic, soak up stunning views, or relax under the sun, Makaha Beach Park has something fun to offer.

Spot the Dolphins and Whales with Dolphin Excursions Hawaii

Oahu’s west coast is well known for its clearest and calmest waters around the island, making it a perfect playground for dolphin and whale-watching excursions.

For over 20 years, the company has served and guided its guests on one-of-a-kind adventure tours and experiences where they can make memories that will last a lifetime.

Climb aboard Dolphin Excursions Hawaii‘s state-of-the-art rigid inflatable boat that measures 34 feet, which will take you on an ocean safari with its experienced and certified crew.

They accommodate only 15 guests on their boat per tour; they let you take incredible photographs of your encounters with marine life.

Besides spinner dolphins and humpback whales, you can also enjoy snorkeling with sea turtles and tropical fish and swimming with wild dolphins.

If you’re excited about these scenic excursions, book your unforgettable tour at Dolphin Excursions Hawaii.

Play Tennis at Waianae District Park

Situated along Farrington Highway, Waianae District Park is an ideal place to go for a stroll and spend a little break.

It is an excellent spot for those who love playing the timeless game of tennis, as it has many superb tennis courts.

The park also has an enormous indoor gym and is home to many classes and activities, including martial arts and tournaments.

After breaking a sweat, watch the sunset in front of Pokay Bay or grab a bite at a nearby restaurant.

Spend an afternoon at the Waianae District Park.

Read a Book at Waianae Public Library

Visit the Waianae Public Library to spend some quiet time during your Waianae visit.

Charles Windstedt built this small library, which opened in 1966.

This library houses a good selection of books you can read alone or with your kids.

Catch its family-friendly programs and activities, like storytimes, art and crafts, and reading lists for all ages.

It’s not hard to locate the Waianae Public Library because it is near the Waianae Fire Station and the Waianae District Park.

Explore Kaneana Cave

Entryway of Kaneana Cave

Danne_l /

If exploring caves is interesting, consider adding Kaneana Cave to your itinerary.

Also known as Makua Cave, this mysterious site on the leeward coast of Oahu is believed to be 150,000 years old, with many ancient legends telling its history.

One legend says that it was here that humanity was born from the womb of the earth goddess, which is how the cave got its name.

Kaneana translates to Cave of Kane, named after Kane, the Hawaiian god representing the god of creation.

Sitting atop the base of a cliff, the cave is sacred to locals; it has been used as the site to perform rituals and religious ceremonies.

It is along Farrington Highway, and you’ll know you’re near when you’ve passed Makaha Beach Park.

Before heading out into the cave, bring a flashlight and sturdy shoes because it’s dark inside and slippery.

Hike the Mount Ka’ala Trail

For those seeking a challenging hike, the Mount Ka’ala Trail is an excellent choice to explore.

Mount Ka’ala is the tallest peak on the island of Oahu, featuring a rugged climb with 3,500 feet of elevation gain.

The Mount Ka’ala Trail includes a paved road, slippery conditions, massive climbing boulders, steep grades, sketchy ropes, and a narrow boardwalk.

The trail starts at the end of Waianae Valley Road, where the parking lot is located.

When you park there, make sure not to leave valuables in your car.

When you reach the summit, the adventure rewards you with amazing views of the Waianae Valley and the ocean in the distance.

After your challenging ascent and well-deserved break, you can go back down.

Don’t forget to wear good hiking shoes and bring plenty of water, snacks, and gloves for the rope sections.

Shop and Dine at Waianae Mall

For avid shoppers, go to the heart of retail on the scenic west coast of Oahu: Waianae Mall.

It conveniently and strategically sits along Farrington Highway, attracting locals, neighboring areas, and those passing the major highway through the western part of Oahu.

The 171,600 square feet shopping mall is home to various retailers, excellent restaurants, and other businesses that offer exemplary services.

It has a mix of national and local tenants like Starbucks, Jamba Juice, Burger King, Pizza Hut, American Savings Bank, Jeans Warehouse, and Longs Drugs.

Explore the neighborhood shopping center for a fun afternoon of gift-buying, delicious dining, or shopping trips.

In addition, catch the Waianae Farmers Market held every Saturday morning, featuring fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables, meats, poultry, baked goods, prepared foods, eggs, handmade arts and crafts, and many more.

Enjoy a Farm-to-Table Tour and Hearty Meal at Kahumana Organic Farms & Cafe

Kahumana Organic Farms & Cafe is a fabulous place for farm-fresh, organic, healthy food and a down-to-earth dining experience in Hawaii.

Nestled in the heart of Lualualei Valley in Waianae, Kahumana Organic Farms was founded in 1978 and is one of Oahu’s largest organic farms.

They offer field-to-fork tours of their 31-acre farm property that indulge its guests with Hawaiian agriculture and culinary traditions.

During the tour, you’ll have beautiful opportunities like tasting exotic fruits, harvesting and learning about crops, meeting the farmers, and feeding the farm animals.

Likewise, you’ll also delight in a three-course farm-to-table meal at their onsite cafe.

The best thing about your visit to the farm is supporting Kahumana’s nonprofit mission, which includes housing homeless families, feeding hundreds of youth, and providing services for adults with intellectual disabilities.

If you want to enjoy healthy food in a laid-back atmosphere with spectacular landscape views, this local hidden gem is undoubtedly well worth a visit.

Book a Tee Time at Makaha Valley Country Club

Perched in the charming lowlands of Makaha Valley and not far from Waianae, Makaha Valley Country Club is a fantastic place for those who love golf.

The challenging 18-hole golf course was designed by William F. Bell, who designed the Torrey Pines South Course that hosted the 2008 U.S. Open.

The beautiful layout features rolling terrain, well-groomed fairways, dense trees, tropical plants, doglegs, and elevation changes.

After your game, treat yourself to a satisfying meal or grab a drink and enjoy the stunning scenery at this spot.

Makaha Valley Country Club is an excellent destination to add to your trip.

Soak up the Sun at Maili Beach Park

The waters of Maili Beach Park

Nagel Photography /

Stretching 40 acres, Maili Beach Park is a long, narrow beach along the west coast, bordering Farrington Highway in Maili.

The pretty beach features white sand, turquoise blue waters, and scenic mountain views.

Activities here include surfing, snorkeling, bodyboarding, swimming, and soaking up the sun.

Its famous surf sites are the Green Lanterns near the mouth of Mailiili Stream and Tumbleland in the center of the beach.

Trees at Maili Beach Park

Danita Delimont /

It also has a playground, plenty of grassy space perfect for picnics and playing ball games, and campsites for those wanting to camp on the beach.

Other amenities at the beach are public restrooms, showers, ample parking, and even a workout area.

Maili Beach Park is only a few minutes away from Waianae.

Aerial view of Maili Beach Park

Danita Delimont /

Final Thoughts

Exploring Oahu’s leeward side leads you to discover the beautiful community of Waianae.

The place boasts a chill atmosphere that makes for an ideal escape from the city hustle.

Plan your visit today and take advantage of the best things to do in Waianae, Hawaii.

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