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A Perfect Day in West Oahu

Pink pillbox hike in Nanakuli

Oahu’s west side, also known as the Leeward Coast, is known for its untouched beauty and relaxed charm. It’s home to pristine, uncrowded beaches, crystal clear waters, incredible mountain ranges and a laid-back attitude that’s perfect for a day of relaxation and adventure. With so much to see and do, planning your itinerary can be overwhelming. This helpful guide will curate the perfect day trip, immersing you in the natural beauty of the Leeward Coast.

a large body of water with a mountain in the background

Leeward Coast

Early Morning: Go for a hike 

Start your morning with a short and steep hike that provides 360 degree views of the beautiful coastline. Pu’u O Hulu, sometimes referred to as the Pink Pillbox hike, is a 1.3 mile out-and-back trail that leads to a cluster of old WWII bunkers. Although short, this moderately-challenging hike has some steep scrambles and is not recommended for beginners. 

Tip: Pu’u O Hulu is an exposed trail offers minimal shade, so plan your hike for the cooler morning hours. Bring a hat, sunscreen, and plenty of water to stay hydrated.

Pink pillbox hike in Nanakuli

Pu’u O Hulu (Pink Pillbox Hike)


Mid-Morning: Savor a delicious brunch

After conquering the hike, refuel at a charming eatery. Here are some local favorites that capture the essence of the Leeward Coast’s fresh flavors:

  • Countryside Cafe serves popular homemade dishes with a local twist such as kalua pork eggs benedict, banana macadamia nut pancakes and a luau omelet. 
  • The Beach House by 604 is located right on the beach and offers an incredible selection of global fusion favorites and boasts Hawaii’s Best Bloody Mary. 
  • 80 Percent What you Eat is the place to go for fresh smoothie bowls, fresh-squeezed juices, sweet shakes and healthy sandwiches.
a plate of breakfast food on a table

Countryside Cafe in Waianae

Afternoon: Unwind on a picturesque beach

The west side boasts some of Oahu’s most pristine beaches. Imagine expansive stretches of soft sand, calm turquoise waters teeming with life, and the serenity of a less crowded atmosphere. Here are a few gems to consider:

  • Makaha Beach – Makaha is a favorite among sunbathers, surfers and snorkelers alike! Makaha is a historic birthplace of big wave surfing, so if you happen to visit during a big winter swell, you’ll likely catch some of Hawaii’s best surfers in action. Most of the year, however, Makaha offers calm waters with abundant marine life.  Grab a refreshing shave ice from a food truck and soak up the rays. 
  • Pokai Bay – this family-friendly beach park is protected by a breakwater that ensures gentle waves year-round. Build sandcastles, go for a swim, or simply relax under the warm Hawaiian sun.
  • Keawa’ula Beach – for a more secluded experience head to Keawa’ula Beach, commonly known as Yokohama or “Yokes”. Nestled on the remote northern tip of the west side, this hidden gem is absolutely worth the drive if you have time. Expect a vast sandy beach and gorgeous waters backed by the silhouette of the Wai’anae Mountain Range.
  • Ko Olina Lagoons – if you’re traveling with young children, consider the man-made lagoons at Ko Olina Resort. These sheltered lagoons offer designated swimming areas, perfect for a safe and relaxing beach experience. Take a stroll along the scenic palm-lined path connecting the four lagoons.

Tip: For your safety, lifeguards are stationed daily at almost all public beaches. It’s always a good idea to check with a lifeguard for current conditions and potential hazards before entering the water. Even the most confident and experienced swimmers should adhere to the popular saying, “if in doubt, don’t go out.” 

a group of palm trees on a beach

Ko Olina Resort Lagoon outside Aulani Disney Resort

Evening: Watch sunset on a catamaran cruise

As the day winds down, experience the magic of the west from a whole new perspective. Ko Olina Ocean Adventures offers a two-hour sunset cruise aboard a luxurious 53′ catamaran. Sail along the picturesque coastline, spot marine life, and enjoy complimentary cocktails and appetizers as the sun dips below the horizon and paints the sky in vibrant hues. This west side sunset cruise is the perfect way to end your day, creating memories that will last a lifetime.

sunset catamaran cruise

Sunset Catamaran Cruise

This itinerary provides a taste of what the Leeward Coast has to offer. Whether you crave adventure, relaxation, or a delicious local meal, Oahu’s west side promises a day to remember.