Beautiful Places on Oahu That Locals Love and Are a Must for Newcomers

Updated on March 28th, 2023

Reading Time: 6 minutes

One of the six major islands of Hawaii, Oahu is known for being home to the state’s capital city of Honolulu and its fantastic access to the outdoors and nature. Home to around 1 million people, there are many beautiful and unique locations on the island that locals love to explore. If you are looking for an exciting place to check out, look no further, we reached out to locals to share their favorite beautiful places on Oahu. So whether you’ve just moved into an apartment in Waikiki, a house in Kailua, or just want to know where to go, be sure to check out this list.

a large mountain and an inlet fom the ocean on the island of Oahu

China Walls

Located in the Hawaii Kai area of East Honolulu, China Walls offers spectacular sunsets, lava flows, and several places just to relax.

“I like China Walls because it’s a great spot to surf, hang out with friends, and watch the sunset,” shares local photographer Jonathan Moeller.

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Sandy Beach

Sandy Beach is located on the South Shore of Oahu. It’s a great place to check out the waves crashing against the shore due to the strong currents.

“One of my favorite places on Oahu is Sandy Beach, notes Oahu Photography Tours, a photo tour company that takes you around the island. “It is a beautiful spot to watch the sunrise and powerful waves. The waves are powerful and close to shore, so most people are not allowed in. The locals have perfected body surfing at this beach, and it is worth the visit to see them ride the massive waves.”

Waimea Bay

Waimea Bay is located on the North Shore of Oahu and is best known for its big waves.

“My favorite beach on O’ahu is Waimea Bay. During the winter it’s incredible to watch the best surfers in the world ride massive waves. During the summer there’s an amazing rock to cliff jump into the calm ocean,” reveals Hawaii elopement photographer Aloha Zoe Photography.

Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail 

The Wiliwilinui Ridge Trail is a 4.7-mile moderate out-and-back trail located near Honolulu. It is best to go during the early morning so you can get to the top before the clouds burn off.

“It’s unique because it’s wild and seems untamed, yet there is a clear path to follow among misty mountains. While hiking, you’ll see a staircase jutting up into the clouds. When you climb the staircase and look down, you can see the distant city of Waikiki, the vastness of the ocean, and feel like you are truly on top of the world,” raves wedding photographer Fern & Fountain.

A couple in a canyon

Photo courtesy of Fern & Fountain

Hūnānāniho (Waimanalo Bay Beach Park)

Waimanalo Bay Beach Park is a hidden destination filled with beautiful turquoise waters and soft white sand.

“Waimanalo Bay Beach Park (recently renamed Hūnānāniho) is a stretch of white sandy beach, azure water, and nice waves to swim. It’s the kind of place you have to blink to make sure you’re not dreaming,” raves Jeanne Marie Photo who’s lived on Oahu’ for 16 years.

Kualoa Regional Park

Evermore Creation, a portrait business says “My favorite place on Oahu is Kualoa Regional Park on the east side of Oahu. It has the most stunning up-close view of our jagged mountains. It’s also the only spot you can sit on the beach and view the Ko’olau mountains with the ocean in front of it.”

If you’re lucky, as the sun is setting in the west, you’ll witness streaks of light peaking through the clouds, jetting across the mountains in bright diagonal stripes.

“Kuoloa Regional Park is also home to many Hollywood productions,” reveals Hawaii Wedding Minister. “It’s everything you would want to see on an island, sandy beaches, dramatic lush mountains, and swaying coconut trees are viewable in every direction. 

He also shares that there are many activities to do from lounging on the beach, kayaking to a little uninhabited island, or going on a rewarding hike.

A large field with trees at sunset

Photo courtesy of Evermore Creation

Wahiawā Botanical Gardens

The Wahaiwa Botanical Garden is a 0.9-mile loop that takes you through a magical, tropical forest.

“One of my favorite spots to take a break from the ‘big’ city of Honolulu is the Wahiawā Botanical Gardens,” shares wedding photographer Studio 3511. “If you are lucky enough, you can catch the jade vine in bloom on the fence by the entrance, find the ‘ohi’a lehua, wiliwili trees or the loulu palms while viewing other native Hawaiian plants.”

Oahu Wedding Villa (formally Hale Koa Estate)

“Nestled in Hau’ula, Hawai’i lies the beautiful Hale Koa Estate, a unique place for a wedding. Make the most of the estate by inviting your loved ones to stay over the weekend to enjoy the great garden area, pool/jacuzzi, and grand kitchen. Every corner of the estate represents Hawai’i from the front gate to the koa wood accents throughout the home,” says locals Kiilani Gallary.

Not to mention, the estate is right next to the beach.

A villa

Photo courtesy of Ki’ilani Gallery

Kailua Beach

Kailua Beach is considered one of the most beautiful beaches on Oahu. Located on the east shore, Kailua features beautiful turquoise waters and soft white sand. 

“I may be a little biased because I grew up a couple blocks away, but my favorite place on Oahu is Kailua beach,” shares wedding photographer Ikaika Pidot. “With a protective outer reef, the waves are always small and inviting, making it a great place for families and kids. There tradewinds blow almost daily as well, which makes it perfect for any wind sport enthusiast, novice to advanced.” 

Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden 

Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden is considered part of the Honolulu Botanical Gardens. It’s a great way to see the different landscapes of Hawaii, and open year-round with the exception of Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. 

“One of my favorite places on Oahu is the stunning Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden which has so many beautiful vantage points and is away from the hustle and bustle of the city,” shares local photographer Michelle Jost. “From the majestic mountain range to the romantic lake setting, this picturesque spot has something for everyone to enjoy.” 

New Wave Photography, a local family photographer adds, “You can either walk or drive through the botanical gardens and see tropical plants from all around the world. The plants are great, but my favorite part about Ho’omaluhia is the jagged Ko’olau mountain range that runs along the exterior of the gardens. When it rains, massive waterfalls flow between the mountain’s crevices.”

A family poses in a large field

Photo courtesy of New Wave Photography

Lanikai Beach

Lanikai Beach is often considered the most beautiful beach on Oahu. It has spectacular views and great scenery, and is a fantastic place to view the sun and moon.

Brittany Hamann, an intimate wedding photographer specializing in elopements on the Hawaiian Islands notes, “One of my favorite spots on Oahu is Lanikai Beach. It is an absolutely gorgeous beach on the windward side of the island. The water is always calm and clear, and the sand is incredibly soft. You can see the Mokulua Islands from the beach, and there are always lots of dogs here too.” 

Koʻolau Summit Trail 

The Ko’olau Summit Trail is a challenging 56 mile hike across the island of Oʻahu that provides beautiful views of the mountain range’s rugged beauty to the ocean thousands of feet below.

“My favorite beautiful place on O’ahu is the Koʻolau Summit Trail (KST), which is a cross-island hike,” reveals Noah Lang Photography. “It’s rugged, it’s raw, and it’s more challenging than any mainland hike I’ve come across by far. If I had to pick one spot along the summit trail, I would probably choose Kōnāhuanui. It’s the tallest summit in the mountain range, and I love the summit area itself, which is home to unique plant species that exist nowhere else on earth.” 

If you are represented by an agent, this is not a solicitation of your business. This article is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for professional advice from a medical provider, licensed attorney, financial advisor, or tax professional. Consumers should independently verify any agency or service mentioned will meet their needs. Learn more about our Editorial Guidelines here.

Ryan Castillo

Content Marketing Manager

Ryan is part of the Content Marketing team and enjoys writing about market trends and local insights. His dream home would be a large cape cod-style house by the beach.

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