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Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Vincent Lim

Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Vincent Lim

Shaka Guide's East Oahu Shoreline Drive Itinerary

Jennifer Fields

Shaka Guide’s East Oahu Shoreline Drive has 18 stops along the island’s scenic roadways.

You can hike two inactive volcanoes, explore seven beaches, snorkel at one of the island’s most popular spots, and visit a 400-acre botanical garden.

That doesn’t include all the lookout points, historic sites, and photo ops that you’ll pass along the way! 

Our app gives you the freedom to explore at your own pace — that’s one of our favorite things about it.

However, with all these stops, you’re probably wondering how your day will look.

We’ve created this suggested itinerary to help guide you through your East O'ahu Shoreline adventure with Shaka Guide. Pick what you want to do and go explore! 

Shaka Guide’s East Oahu Shoreline Drive map

tour map east oahu tour

MORNING

Depart Waikiki EARLY

We suggest leaving around 8 a.m. if not earlier; the first few activities on this tour are some of the busiest on O'ahu.

Oh, and make sure you have a hearty breakfast to start your day. Don’t worry, we have a bunch of recommendations so you can enjoy some local eats. 

Hike Diamond Head OR Snorkel at Hanauma Bay

Approximate time: 2 hours 

Here, we recommend choosing to either hike Diamond Head OR snorkel at Hanauma Bay.

As we mentioned, these are some of the most popular attractions on O'ahu. The parking lots tend to fill up, and they each take some time.

You could definitely do both. Just be prepared to spend about two hours at each spot!

Please note: Diamond Head now requires advance reservations for non-residents and also charges both entrance and parking fees. Parking costs $10/car and entrance is $5/person. Fees are credit card only. Reservations can be made up to 30 days in advance. 

Hanauma Bay also requires advance reservations. You can make a reservation here. The beach park is open Wednesday through Sunday from 6:45 a.m. - 4 p.m. with the last entry at 1:30 p.m. There is a $25 entry fee and a $3 parking fee. Kids 12 yrs and under, military and Hawai'i residents are free.

hawaii shoreHanauma Bay, Oahu

If it helps you make your decision as to which stop to visit, there’s another hike that’s about the same difficulty level and mile count as Diamond Head later in the tour. It’s called Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail. Reservations are not required for the Makapu'u Point Lighthouse hike, and it is free.

overview of city from a mountain in oahuView from the top of Diamond Head | Photo by Christian Joudrey

Pro Tip! If you’re passing Diamond Head and headed towards Hanauma Bay, stop at Leonard’s Bakery Malasada Truck in Hawaii Kai to grab a malasada for the road. You’ll thank us later. 

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Pull Over at Halona Blowhole 

Approximate time: 10 minutes 

About ten minutes down the road from Hanauma Bay is Halona Blowhole and Eternity Beach, also known as Cockroach Cove and Halona Beach Cove.

This beach is known for providing the backdrop to the famous kiss between Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr in the movie “From Here to Eternity.”

The beach has since been featured in movies like “Pirates of the Caribbean 4: On Stranger Tides,” and “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.” 

Take a look at this stunning beach and the blowhole from a distance and then move on to the next stop.

Note: Regardless of what other tourists are doing, please obey all the warning signs and stay behind the barriers. This is for your safety. 

Watch Bodyboarders Take on Sandy Beach’s Shorebreak 

Approximate time: 15 minutes

Sandy’s is famous for its shore break, which is when waves break directly onshore.

If you stop at Sandy’s, you should definitely skip swimming (it’s one of the most injury-prone beaches on O'ahu) and instead just watch the bodyboarders —these daring individuals don’t use a board at all, just fins and their bodies to ride the waves. 

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AFTERNOON

Hike Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail

Approximate time: 1.5 hours

Prepare to see some of the bluest water you’ve ever set your eyes on while walking Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail.

This hike was formed on the site of an inactive volcano that overlooks the southeast shore of O'ahu.

On a clear day you can even see Moloka’i and Maui! And, if you’re hiking in the winter, you might see Humpback whales.

Makapu’u is considered moderately easy and is paved the entire way. 

If you’ve already hiked Diamond Head or if you’re tired from snorkeling at Hanauma Bay, you might want to skip this spot.

However, we recommend you visit Makapu’u Lookout to check out the historic lighthouse — we’ll guide you there on the tour. 

fish dishPoke Bowl; Wikimedia Commons; CC-BY-SA-4.0

Grab Lunch (and Dessert) in Waimanalo OR Head Straight to Kailua for Lunch

Approximate time: 1 hour

At this point on the tour, you’re probably hungry. If you’re looking for a local favorite, grab a plate lunch in Waimanalo at Ono Steak and Shrimp.

If you’re unfamiliar with a plate lunch, it comes with rice, meat or fish, and salad, either greens or macaroni.

We recommend the garlic shrimp and steak or the garlic ahi. 

If you want to wait and have lunch in Kailua, there are loads of eateries to choose from.

You can skip grabbing lunch in Waimanalo (which means you might want to skip Hunananiho or Waimanalo Bay too), and drive straight to Kailua Town.

In Kailua, you’ll find local cafes that serve up fresh poke, colorful acai bowls, vegan and vegetarian options, sandwiches, salads, and plate lunches.

Check out our blog post about “Where to Eat on Shaka Guide’s East Oahu Shoreline Drive,” for some Kailua restaurant recommendations! 

white sand beach with sky blue waterKailua Beach, Oahu; Photo by Daniel Ramirez, CC BY 2.0, via Flickr

Visit Hunananiho (Waimanalo Bay) OR Kailua Beach 

Approximate time: 1.5 hours

Now’s the time to hit the beach! You’ve had a jam-packed morning, full of activities and fun.

Take a moment to relax on one of East Oahu’s beaches. You have two to choose from. If you opt to eat lunch in Waimanalo, you can stop by Hunananiho, also known as Waimanalo Bay.

Note that the beach is in between Ono Steak and Shrimp and Dave’s Ice Cream, so if you get ice cream, you might have to backtrack just a little.

Or, you can wait to get ice cream after the beach. Another option is to drive to Kailua Beach Park.

Voted the best beach in 2019 by Dr. Beach, Kailua has soft white sand, clear turquoise water, and gentle waves.

This makes it perfect for kayaking or stand-up paddle boarding. If you’d like to give either sport a try, you can rent gear in town.

Other Kailua pros: there’s free parking, picnic tables, and public restrooms. 

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Visit the Historic Ulupo Heiau 

Approximate time: 15 minutes

A heiau is a temple built by ancient Hawaiians for ceremonies and spiritual worship.

This particular heiau is thought to have been constructed by the Menehunes, mystical people who some scholars believe were the first group of ancient people to live in Hawai'i.

The Ulupo Heiau may have been used for agricultural ceremonies to promote crop fertility and later dedicated to promoting wartime successes.  

Follow the small path to right of the rock platform, and you can explore a traditional taro patch.

Taro is an important part of Hawaiian culture. It represents the origin of humankind and is used to make poi — a beloved local food.

Remember, a heiau is a sacred place for Hawaiians and must be treated with respect.

road to botanical gardens with signageHo’omaluhia Botanical Garden; Photo by Daniel Ramirez on Flickr ,CC BY 2.0, via Flickr

Explore Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden

Approximate time: 1 hour

Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden offers a change in scenery from all the coastlines you've seen throughout the day.

Greenery fills this garden oasis while the Ko'olau Mountain Range provides a picture-perfect backdrop. Ho’omaluhia spans 400 tropical acres.

In addition to native plants, there are a variety of plants from all around the world including:

  • Africa
  • Polynesia
  • Sri Lanka
  • India

Ho’omaluhia means “to make a place of peace and tranquility,” and we hope this is exactly what you find as you’re winding down your day. 

Keep in mind that Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens closes at 4:00 p.m.

If you really want to explore this spot, we suggest you choose one of the following:

  • hike Diamond Head
  • snorkel at Hanauma Bay or
  • hike Makapu’u

...it will be difficult to do two of these three activities and make it to the garden before it closes.

Or, come back the next day to visit the garden. Your purchase never expires and you can do the tour as many times as you please!

Stop at the Pali Lookout and Judd Trail 

On your way home, stop at the Pali Lookout. You’ll see the spot where King Kamehameha fought to seize the island of O'ahu to form one united Hawai'i. 

If you’re looking to hike one more time before your drive home for the day, head to the Judd Trail.

This one-mile path runs parallel to the Old Pali Road, a small stretch of the original roadway that connected Honolulu to O'ahu’s east side.

You’ll walk through lush jungle passing streams and a small waterfall along the way.

Once you reach the end of the trail you’ll come across a swimming hole — feel free to jump in!

This hike is family-friendly, but you’ll have to cross a stream to get to the waterfall, and it can get muddy and slippery if it’s been raining. 

Return to Waikiki 

After you’ve finished hiking we’ll guide you back to Waikiki with stories and music along the drive.

Once you get back to the city, head to Waikiki Beach to watch the sunset. It’s the perfect way to end the day! 

When you’re in Hawai'i, we ask that you act respectfully toward the locals, land, and wildlife. 

Please pick up your trash; never touch any marine life, plants, or other animals; and avoid spots that are unsafe.

Hawaii’s natural resources are precious. It’s up to all of us to help preserve these resources.

If you want to do everything on the tour —

  • hike every trail
  • visit every beach
  • explore Ho’omaluhia
  • snorkel at Hanauma Bay, and stop at every point

— you should expect to spend about 10-12 hours.

You’ll also want to depart Waikiki around 6 a.m. to cover everything before Ho’omaluhia closes at 4:00 p.m.

It will be a long day, but you’ll get an in-depth look at Oahu’s Eastern Shore! 

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Ready to take the tour? Check out Shaka Guide's East Oahu Shoreline Drive Tour!

We hope that we’ve given you all the information you need to make the most of your day. Your vacation is extremely important to us so if you have any questions feel free to reach out at aloha@shakaguide.com.

For more detailed information to help you plan, check out Shaka Guide’s East Oahu Shoreline Drive Know Before You Go article.

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