Best Volcanoes on Oahu That Should Be in Your Bucket List

Best Volcanoes on Oahu That Should Be in Your Bucket List

Jennifer Fields

east oahu shoreline drive tour map

Shaka Guide’s East Oahu Shoreline Drive takes you past five extinct volcanoes on Oahu.

What is an extinct volcano you ask? It’s a volcano that is not expected to erupt ever again.

In fact, Oahu’s landscapes were crafted from volcanic eruptions. Here are the volcanoes you’ll see (and explore) along Shaka Guide’s East Oahu Shoreline Drive.

1. Diamond Head

overview of oahu from diamond headViews from Diamond Head Summit, Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson

If you’ve seen a picture of Waikiki, you’ve most likely seen Diamond Head in the backdrop.

This volcano was formed from a massive eruption thousands of years ago. In ancient times, navigational fires were lit on the mountain to guide canoes traveling along the coast.

In turn, the crater was referred to as a “wreath of fire,” however, the Hawaiian name is Le’ahi.

The volcano got its current name in the 1800’s when British sailors mistook calcite crystals in the lava rock for diamonds.

The name stuck and it’s still referred to as Diamond Head today! Hike to the top in about two hours to see views of Waikiki and the island’s east coast beaches. 

2. Hanauma Bay

beach coastline

Hanauma Bay is a 101-acre, white-sand beach surrounded by lush green cliffs. This wildlife haven was formed from a series of volcanic eruptions centuries ago.

The bay is now home to over 450 types of sea life. You can snorkel with these animals and experience the beauty of Hanauma Bay up close. 

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RELATED: Hanauma Bay Travel Guide

3. Koko Head Crater

mountain with crater and sea below itSandy Beach with views of Koko Head Crater, Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson

Drive along Oahu’s Kalaniana?ole Highway and you’ll see Koko Head standing proud in the distance.

This crater is home to a nearly two-mile hike that is known, and revered, for its difficulty.

It’s a steep climb to the top but once you’re there you’ll have views of Hanauma Bay and nearby Hawaii Kai. 

4. Makapu’u 

oahu sea overview from lighthouseMakapu’u Point Lighthouse Hike, Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson

Makapu’u may not have the fame of Diamond Head or Koko Head, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth a visit.

This dormant volcano is the site of the 2.5-mile walking trail. As you trek to the summit, you’ll take in views of Oahu’s rugged landscapes, including Kokohead, Makapu’u Beach, and Rabbit and Shark Fin Islands. 

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RELATED: Makapuu Point Lighthouse Trail Travel Guide

5. Ko’olau Mountain Range 

Oahu is truly a volcanic island and the Ko’olau mountains are proof of this. The slopes that you see today are actually just a portion of the Ko’olau Volcano — a massive volcano that dominated the island.

You’re probably wondering where the other half of the volcano went. Well, a cataclysmic event caused it to slide into the Pacific Ocean. But don’t worry — this was millions of years ago. 

Please note that there are no active volcanoes on Oahu. If you’re looking for lava, you’ll have to go to Big Island. And we’ve got you covered there too, check out our Volcanoes National Park Tour

oahu tour bundle


Grand Circle Island Tour, East Oahu Shoreline Drive, Honolulu's Backyard Rainforest Tour, Legendary North Shore Loop, Heart of Waikiki Walking Tour, Historic Downtown Honolulu Walking 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 our East Oahu Shoreline Drive Itinerary and Know Before You Go article.


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