5 Oahu Scenic Drives + Other Tips You’ll Want To Know

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5 Oahu Hawaii scenic drives and lookout points. Windy roads, blowholes, and ocean views. Plus other tips you’ll want to know before your trip.

Oahu scenic drives

Sometimes you want to pack into the car and see what you can find. And while we were living on Oahu, that’s exactly what we use to do.

We’d load up two babies and two big dogs and hit the road. But a drive in Oahu is not like a drive stateside. First off, there is usually one way to get there. Second, traffic is traffic and you won’t find any side streets to avoid it. Instead you’ll find one way roads and become confused. (trust me, we’ve been there)

But if you know what you’re doing you can have a really great adventure.

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Oahu scenic drives

So if you’re looking for some good views, lookout points or just want to take a cruise, check out some of our favorite Oahu scenic drives.

5 OAHU SCENIC DRIVES AND LOOKOUT POINTS

Pali Highway

The Pali Hwy takes you through the mountains to the other side of the island but the part you really don’t want to miss is the Nu’uana Pali lookout.

The lookout has a beautiful view of the windward side of the island. You’ll see the mountains up close, the town below and the gorgeous windward coast.

Pali Highway lookout
  • From down Honolulu catch the Pali Hwy. You’ll be headed away from the city and up to the mountains.
  • A few miles up the road you’ll see sighs for the Nu’uana Pali lookout. They have a parking area but it can fill up depending on the time you go.

THE SOUTHEAST COAST

The Kalanianaole highway takes you along the coast of the Southeast side of the island. There are several lookout points along this road to take in the views, so don’t get too nervous if the first pull off is full.

Makopu'u lookout point

View from Makapu’u lookout.

  • From downtown Honolulu hop on H1 east. H1 turns into the Kalanianaole highway.
  • Just after it turns from a two lane highway to one lane you’ll be able to see Koko Head on your left with its old railroad ties leading up the creator.
  • Around the corner on the right is Hanauma Bay. Pull in and pay the dollar to park. Once you park you can take the stairs to the walkway that will give you a beautiful view of Hanauma Bay.
Oahu coast line

-Note- The Hanauma Bay parking lot fills up fast. If it’s full just continue down the road.

Back on the main road turn right and take it slow around the curves. The road will hug the cliffs for the most breathtaking views! If you’re the one driving pay attention. 

There are a few places to pull over in small parking lots along the way. One of the last parking lots before you head up to Makapu’u lookout is the Halona blowhole. The higher the waves that day the higher the water shoots up.

Continuing on you’ll pass sandy beach. The road will start to curve to the left and your coming up to Makapu’u lookout. The first larger parking lot on your right is for the Makapu’u lighthouse trail. Pull over at the second parking area just after the lighthouse trail. From the lookout you can see the windward coast below, the mountains and rabbit island. 

H3 THROUGH THE MOUNTAINS

It might not sound like much but I promise you it does not disappoint!

This route takes you on a highway through the mountain and once you exit the tunnel you are met with a stunning view of Kaneohe and the coast.

Waterfalls off of Oahu mountains
  • From downtown Honolulu merge onto H1 west.
  • Take exit 19B onto 201W towards Fort Shafter, Aiea. After 2 miles take exit 1D and merge onto H3 east.
  • You’ll follow this up the mountain and into the Tetsuo Harano tunnel. Once through the tunnel you’ll see a view like none other.

TANTALUS LOOKOUT / ROUNDTOP DRIVE

The Tantalus lookout/Roundtop drive is a switchback road that can offer some great views of the city.

  • Head towards Punahou st. up to Nehoa st. At Nehoa st. take a left. Take your second right onto Makiki st. and your second left onto Roundtop Drive.
  • Continue on Roundtop Dr. until you reach Pu’u Ualaka’a state park on your left.
  • Head into the state park and enjoy the gorgeous view of the city.

-Note- Please remember to be respectful and cautious around these turns. The road is narrow and it does go through a residential neighborhood.

KAMEHAMEHA HWY WINDWARD SIDE

If you’re looking for a nice long drive along the coast check out the Kamehameha Highway on the windward side of the island.

  • Hop on H3 and go through the Tetsuo Harano tunnel.
  • Take exit 9 onto the Likelike hwy. Stay to the right and merge of to the right onto Kahekili hwy 83.
  • A few miles down it catches up to the coast. On the right you’ll see an island called Chinaman’s hat.

Just before you reach Kualoa Ranch, on the right you’ll see Tropical Farms macadamia nuts. Stop in! Grab yourself a coffee sample and take a crack at cracking your own macadamia nuts.

-Note- This drive will take you all the way up to the North shore. It’s a long drive so put on some good music, sit back and relax.

Driving around Oahu is absolutely beautiful. I hope these scenic drives help get you started along your adventure and that you find a few other great places along the way.

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