Hele mai! Come! Take a drive along the rocky coast of Oahu’s southeast shorelines, where there’s a surprise waiting around each bend in the road. Swim with tropical fish or go from “here to eternity” at a very popular cove. Or, simply take in the surrounding beauty, as you leave the city behind and venture into one of the most breathtaking parts of the island.

But before you get going, make sure you have a fully-charged camera, beach stuff and most importantly, a carefree attitude. There’s nothing better than driving with the wind in your hair; roll down the windows or pop off the convertible top. Sounds super cheesy, but trust me, it’s the only way to drive in Hawaii.

The first stop off of Kalanianaole Highway (Route 72) is Hanauma Bay, the state’s first Marine Life Conservation District. This means the added protection that prohibits fishing in this ocean habitat will guarantee you get the best underwater show when snorkeling. There’s not only a lot of fish but also a lot of history in these clear blue waters and the surrounding crater. Could you see the giant lizard from above the bay?
A fishy sanctuary.
Now that you’ve met all the Nemos, Flounders and Sebastians of the sea, it’s time to check out some whales! Anytime between November and March would be the most ideal time for whale watching, as humpbacks migrate south from the chilly Alaskan waters. Stop at Halona Blowhole for the best view of these giant ocean mammals; also, it’s safer than pulling off to the side of the narrow highway, which overlooks steep sea cliffs.

While you’re at Halona Blowhole, you might notice a spouting whale right in front. It shoots ocean water high into the air before it comes crashing down onto the rocks. This happens when a wave forces water through an underwater lava tube; a stream of water “blows” out the other end for a high-flying show!
(Top) A whale of a time at Halona Blowhole. (Bottom) This little beach got famous in the 50’s.
Just to the right of the blowhole lookout, Halona Beach Cove is best known as the beach from the 1953 movie, From Here to Eternity. You know, that scene where actors Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr heat things up on its sandy shores? This can be a great beach for swimming and tanning. Just be careful getting to the cove; beach-goers take a steep, rocky from the lookout parking lot.

Your southeast Oahu explorations doesn’t stop here. Just past the blowhole, you’ll see a vast sandy beach appropriately called, Sandy Beach. It’s perfect for beach walks, shell hunting or hanging out, but unfortunately, I wouldn’t recommend swimming here. The slamming shorebreak and powerful rip currents can be dangerous.
(Top) Makapuu and (bottom) Sandy’s are both beautiful beaches with dangerous ocean conditions.
The same goes for Makapuu Beach, which is about a five-minute drive from Sandy’s. Instead of swimming, why not hike to the Makapuu Lighthouse? It’s a breezy half-hour to the top, where you’ll also get to see whales. But did you also spot the Rabbit?

SOUTHEAST OAHU • Kalanianaole Highway


  1. Lived here all my life, and never get tired of the coastal scenery along this route. Its also a really fun downhill run on a one man canoe. So either by car or ocean vessel, its a must.

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