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Oahu’s Scenic Drives: Driving Hawaii’s Southeast Coast Route

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One of the best Oahu scenic drives of the island is Hawaii’s Southeast Oahu coastal route.

One of the best Oahu scenic drives of the island is the Southeast Oahu coastal route. Here’s reasons to visit Southeast Oahu

Oahu’s Scenic Drive: Driving Hawaii’s Southeast Coast Route

Immerse yourself in the captivating beauty of Oahu as we embark on a journey along the Southeast Oahu coastal route, one of the most breathtaking Oahu scenic drives. This winding path winds its way beside the gentle Koko crater mountains, revealing dramatic lava cliffs meeting the deep turquoise embrace of the ocean. Join us as we explore the Southeast Oahu coastal route, uncovering hidden gems and must-visit spots.

Reasons to Explore Southeast Oahu:

1. Hanauma Bay

Hanauma Bay Nature Reserve

Begin your adventure at Hanauma Bay, a snorkeling paradise and a highlight of Oahu’s scenic drives. Discover the vibrant marine life in this protected nature reserve, all while taking in the stunning views along the Southeast Coastal Route.

  • Hiking Bonus: Enhance your experience with a 1.5-mile hike along the upper crater, offering panoramic coastal and cliff-side views.
  • Tip: Don’t forget your reef-friendly sunscreen – a must in compliance with Hawaii’s ban on harmful sunscreens.

🤙🏾Make your way around the entire island and stop at all the top viewpoints from Hanauma Bay, Halona Blowhole, Haleiwa and more with the Circle Island Experience

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hanauma bay

2. Lanai Lookout

Pause at Lanai Lookout to witness crashing waves and catch glimpses of the neighboring Hawaiian island of Lanai. The ample parking makes this lookout point easily accessible, providing a perfect opportunity to soak in the Southeast Oahu views.

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3. Halona Blowhole

Explore Halona Blowhole, a captivating lookout point where ocean spray shoots through the blowhole geyser during high tide. Exercise caution and marvel at the stunning lava cliff lookout. Next, visit the adjacent Halona Cove, famously known as From Here to Eternity Beach, offering a picturesque setting visible from the road.

🤙🏾Save money on your trip and get the Go Oahu: All Inclusive Pass –  1-7 day discount book with 34 attractions

4. Halona Cove (From Here to Eternity Beach or Cockroach Beach)

Explore Halona Blowhole, a captivating lookout point where ocean spray shoots through the blowhole geyser during high tide. Exercise caution and marvel at the stunning lava cliff lookout. Next, visit the adjacent Halona Cove, famously known as From Here to Eternity Beach, offering a picturesque setting visible from the road.

Read Best Beaches in Hawaii.
eternity beach hawaii oahu
eternity beach hawaii oahu

5. Wawamalu Beach next to Sandy Beach

Sandy Beach is at the base of the first coastal descent. It is not a particularly beautiful beach and it often has choppy and dangerous breaks, making it popular for bodyboarding, but not swimming. The parking lot is small, while Sandy Beach Park is long. Keep driving down Sandy Beach Park to the second parking lot.

Continue to the second parking lot near Sandy Beach to discover the hidden gem of Wawamalu Beach Park. This small, stunning tide pool beach features smooth lava rock formations and small pools. Exercise caution due to choppy tides and rough seas, creating a striking contrast against the dark lava rocks.

  • Pro Tip: Immerse yourself in Hawaiian culture with a Luau at Sea Life Park – a perfect addition to your Southeast Oahu coastal drive experience.c
Wawamalu Beach Park sandy beach hawaii
Wawamalu Beach Park sandy beach hawaii


🤙🏾 Tip: Experience a Hawaiian Luau at Sea Life Park with Dinner & Show

6. Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail & Tidepools

Hit the Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail, an easy uphill hike with paved paths leading to a lighthouse and epic views. Spot whales during whale-watching season or explore the Makapu’u tide pools below. Exercise caution when descending to the tide pools, as the cliffs can be rugged – a perfect adventure for seasoned hikers. before descending, as there have been deaths during high tides. Take water and sunscreen, because it is hot and there is no shade. These tide pools are not for children

The Makapu’u Point Lighthouse sits on the top of a windy 600-foot sea cliff with a great view of the Windward coast.

Parking: There is a small parking lot before the trail.

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makapuu point lighthouse view-grrrltraveler

7. Alan Davis Beach

Tucked below the Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail, Alan Davis Beach offers a secluded cove surrounded by lava rock formations. Ideal for light snorkeling and a short hike from the Makapu’u Point Lighthouse parking lot.

Discover the charm of Pele’s Chair, a massive rock formation offering a spectacular view of the beach, especially during sunset. Embarking on the journey to the beach adds a touch of adventure – starting from the Makapu’u Point Lighthouse parking lot, a well-trodden dirt pathway winds through the wild brush landscape. The beach is a short 8-minute hike from the parking lot, with convenient parking available at the Makapu’u Lighthouse parking lot or along the highway.

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alan davis beach

🤙🏾 Tip: Don’t forget your reef-safe sunscreen. Hawaii has banned sunscreen with harmful chemicals to our coral waters. Read my reef-friendly sunscreen guide.

8. Waimanalo Beach

Conclude your Southeast Oahu coastal drive at Waimanalo Beach, a three-mile stretch of white sands perfect for a leisurely stroll. Located where the coastal drive ends and residential country living begins, Waimanalo Beach represents the true essence of Hawaiian living. It’s one of the most beautiful beaches on Oahu, a local beach park set against the picturesque Ko’olau mountain range.

Waimanalo is protected Hawaiian Homestead land and is the most Hawaiian Hawaii can get. Be respectful of the laid-back local culture as you pass through.

Beach Tips for Hawaii

  • Respect Marine Life and Coral Reefs: Hawaii boasts diverse marine ecosystems and vibrant coral reefs. When snorkeling or engaging in water activities, maintain a safe distance from marine life and avoid touching or standing on coral. Some marine life are endangered species and you can go to jail if you touch it!
  • Apply sunscreen every two hours: Ensure thorough coverage by applying sunscreen generously to all exposed skin, and don’t forget often-overlooked areas like the ears, back of the neck, and tops of feet. Don’t be a red blob walking in Waikiki, who cannot put their arms down. We locals see those all the time and we hurt for you.  A burn is not a tan. Reapply sunscreen every two hours or more frequently, especially after swimming or sweating.  –> Use Reef Safe Sunscreen to Comply with Hawaii regulations. Here’s  some   popular  ones:
  • Follow Leave No Trace Principles: Always dispose of trash responsibly, and if you bring food or snacks, pack them in reusable containers. Be mindful of the environment, and avoid disturbing local wildlife or plant life. Help keep our beaches clean.
  • Check Ocean Conditions and Heed Warnings: Before heading into the water, check local weather and ocean conditions. Hawaii’s beaches can experience strong currents, high waves, or unpredictable weather. Pay attention to warning signs, lifeguard instructions, and any posted advisories. Always prioritize your safety and that of others when enjoying the ocean.

Getting Around in Hawaii

There’s three ways to do this route:

First and best option: Every traveler whose crossed my path, I recommend to rent a car. For a day or two at the very least.  You will be able to see more and stop whereever you please. Oahu has over 120 beaches. Many of the small, crowd-free ones are not listed on tourist maps, but you’ll see them from the road.  Book from Expedia or check out Discount Hawaii Car Rental . They have some of the cheapest prices I’ve seen!

Second, consider a Circle Island Experience or a Oahu Sights & Bites tour that takes you around the island while offering guided local insight and experiences.

Third, take the public bus circle route. See more on Getting around Oahu

Where to stay on Oahu

Hilton Hawaiian Village. Luxury. Large resort with spacious luxury rooms and gorgeous high-rise views, a private lagoon and free Friday fireworks. The man-made lagoon is an easy and safe experience for children and is next to the beach.

Disney Aulani Hotel. Family. Ko’Olina Resort Area on the East Oahu. It’s a bit of a drive from Honolulu, but the area has lovely and tranquil family-friendly beaches. The resort hotel has a plethora of activities from wet slides and tubing to snorkeling and more.

Beach Waikiki Boutique Hostel. Budget. Great location, walk to Waikiki Surf beach. Dorm rooms are as low as $35/night. You cannot beat that deal for a central spot in Waikiki.

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