Top 5 Things to do in Kailua, Oahu

One of my favorite things about making the move to a new home is discovering all that the area has to offer. Moving to Kailua, Oahu has been no different! Clay Lucas; partner-in-crime and boyfriend, (you’ll hear more about him soon!) and I have had a blast exploring all that Oahu has to offer – and it’s a lot! For the last four months, “days off” have meant waking up at 5am for a sunrise hike, or to catch the first bus to the North Shore. There is a sense of eagerness and urgency that comes along with moving to a new place with so much to offer! After four months of exploring and adventuring, we have just reached the point to where we can sleep in – guilt free – at least until 8am. After trips to the west side, north shore, and south side, we have found that our favorite adventures – hikes, sights, and watersports, etc. – are right here in our backyard.

5. Hike to Maunawili Falls

This short, 1.7 mile, out-and-back hike leads you to a beautiful, 20 foot waterfall. On the walk, you’ll feel like you’re in the jungle. While I haven’t experienced mosquitos for the majority of my time here, the Maunawili trail is the exception. Bring bug spray and prepare to get muddy as this can trail can be the ultimate slip-n’-slide when the conditions are right. Once you reach the falls, relax in the pools and take in the views. If you sit still, you will notice little fish coming to nibble the dead skin (or nutrients?) off your toes and feet. People pay for this in Thailand! Scramble up the waterfall and jump from the spot of your choosing!

Maunawili Falls - Who's Ready for a Swim?!
Maunawili Falls – Who’s Ready for a Swim?!

4. Hike Olomana Three Peaks

Or just the first peak! The three peaks of Olomana can be seen from afar – whether you are coming down over the Pali Highway or cruising along the eastern shore of Waimanalo. The term “hike” in this instance is used loosely, as scrambling and even a bit of rock climbing is necessary to reach the summit of the first peak. This is where you will find the best views of windward Oahu! For those of us who have to push our limits to make it here, let us congratulate ourselves and take in the views before descending (the best views are seen from the first peak, after all). For those who are eager for two more peaks and traversing more open ridge-lines, continue on – brace yourself!

Views from the First Peak
Views from the First Peak

3. Stand-Up Paddleboard out to the Kailua Bay plane crash

In the mid 1900’s, a propeller plane crashed shortly after take-off from Bellows Airfield. Today, it remains in the bay just southwest of Moku Iki, resting in three separate pieces. If you’re up for an adventure, grab a Stand Up Paddleboard, a friend, and a GPS device, and head out! I say SUP out to the plane crash, because if it’s a good day for SUP, the conditions for viewing the plane crash will be superb. Check out for a wind forecast and choose your best day. Also keep in mind that visibility is best with an out-going tide. You can find more historical information about the plane crash here, as well as specific GPS coordinates. If you’re planning to find it with a smart phone, I highly recommend using a waterproof casing. As far as navigating there, Google Maps will do the trick!

Clay Getting Close-Up Views of the Plane Crash
Clay Getting Close-Up Views of the Plane Crash
Stand Up Paddleboarding to the Site
Stand Up Paddleboarding to the Site

2. Sunrise hike at the Lanikai Pillboxes

If you are a morning person, strap on your runners, grab your water, and drag your non-morning-people friends out of bed. This hike is worth it! A short walk to the top of the Pillboxes will offer you the best views of the sunrise. Be prepared to share it with 5 – 20 strangers though, as this is no well-kept secret! While I am hesitant to divulge my preferred and more serene sunrise spot – I like you guys and would never lead you astray. The last peak of the Pillbox Trail loop is guaranteed to be less busy, and more often than not, Clay and I have this peak to ourselves. This secret peak makes for a stunner sunrise where we feel like we’re the only ones watching. To get here, drive down the Lanikai loop. As you’re heading south, the access road will be the last one on the right – called Poopoo Place. (Yes, this is the real street name.) Take the first left onto Luika Place – a short and steep side road – and the trail (it doesn’t look like much!) will be directly in front of you. Prepare for a steep and slippery 15 minute scramble up and enjoy the view!

Let Me Tell You - It's Worth It!
Let Me Tell You – It’s Worth It!

1. Kayak to the Mokulua Islands

This is my all-time favorite and must do during a visit to Kailua! Grab a kayak (or a Stand Up Paddleboard) and gear up for a 2.5 mile paddle to Moku Nui. While some people make it a quick trip, I much prefer to plan and pack accordingly for a day of fun on this offshore island. Sandwiches and snacks have never tasted better than on this beautiful seabird sanctuary. You’ll want to bring reef shoes or sandals, snorkel gear, and plenty of sunscreen and water. Once you arrive to Moku Nui, there is still plenty to be explored! From the beach on, the Queen’s Bath is located in the direction of Makapu’u. This is a small, refreshing salt-water pool perfect for jumping and relaxing in. Return to the beach and walk around the opposite side in the direction of Kaneohe. This path will take you back to Shark’s Cove – a perfect spot for snorkeling and cliff jumping. Be careful as you rock scramble to reach it, as days with large swells and high tides, waves may be breaking upon the path where you scramble. Lastly, grab your snorkel gear and go for a swim right off the beach. More often than not, sea turtles can be found! This place is absolutely incredible.. prepare yourselves to handle the beauty!

Kayak to Moku Nui - the Offshore Island Pictured on the Left
Kayak to Moku Nui – the Offshore Island Pictured on the Left
Exploring Shark's Cove. This is the Popular Cliff Jumping Spot!
Exploring Shark’s Cove. This is the Popular Cliff Jumping Spot!
Taking a Dip and Relaxing in Queen's Bath
Taking a Dip and Relaxing in Queen’s Bath

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