You know you’re on the east side of Oahu when the air starts to feel a little fresher, the landscape a little greener and the buildings a little less obtrusive!

Welcome to my favorite side of the island, where everything seems to be just…a little better. In this continuing series of “Sights2See,” we’ll share with you some of the places you should visit while in this neck of the woods.

  • Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden
    This botanical wonder is definitely a hidden gem. Approximately 400 acres big, the garden is actually hidden behind a residential neighborhood so not many people know it exists. Visitors enjoy hiking, picnicking, fishing or just hanging out here.
  • Kailua Beach
    Soft white sand and an expanse of ocean await at Kailua Beach. As an alternative to busy Waikiki, this windward-side beach has a relaxing way about it that can’t be put into words. Beach-goers enjoy snorkeling, swimming, kayaking and kite surfing here.
  • Chinaman’s Hat (Mokolii Island)
    A basalt islet in Kaneohe bay, Mokolii sits about one-third of a mile off shore. According to Hawaiian mythology, the island is the remnants of a Giant Lizard’s tail, which was chopped off and tossed into the ocean by goddess Hiiaka. Hence, the meaning of “Mokolii” is “little lizard.”
  • Polynesian Cultural Center
    End your day on the east side with a dinner luau at the Polynesian Cultural Center (PCC). A Polynesian-themed park in Laie welcomes visitors from all over the world. It features different tropical villages, performances and history of the islands. Most of the PCC employees are students of Brigham Young University-Hawaii, located next door.