As the most populated island in Hawaii and home to the state’s capital, Oahu receives over 10 million visitors every year, making escaping the crowds a rather tough challenge. As a matter of fact, the island is commonly nicknamed “the Gathering Place” for that very reason!
Home to a shoreline that is 227 miles long, two shield volcanoes, and natural wonders few places in the world can tackle, Oahu is a dream come true for those looking to visit a destination that combines nature, beach goodness, and culture.
If you’re the type of traveler who prefers to stray away from the tourist traps and visit secret spots not usually found in guidebooks, here’s a list of lesser-known places in Oahu you’ve got to check out!
Kaena Point State Park is located precisely where the West and North sides of Oahu converge.
Even though Kaena has enough to keep visitors entertained for days and a wide array of striking natural landscapes, the park is much lesser visited than many others on the island, making it stand high above the crowds when it comes to hidden gems in Oahu.
Here, you’ll be treated to striking vistas of the volcanic coast, get to see natural rock arches up close, explore inside caves, and see first-hand what a tide pool looks like. If you get there in the morning, you may also get to see pods of dolphins swimming close to the shore!
The only downside to Kaena is that its beaches aren’t great for swimming due to strong tides, but it does happen to be an excellent hiking area if you’re feeling adventurous. There is a 2.7-mile trail that goes along the shore and gives access to some of the best scenery the park has to offer!
If you want a pretty fantastic and completely off-the-beaten-path experience that doesn’t require a tour, Electric Beach is Oahu’s biggest secret.
This peculiar beach got its name because its stands right across the street from a power plant. This may not sound very romantic, but that’s exactly what makes it the fabulous snorkeling spot it is.
Warm water is cast into the ocean from the plant, which has attracted tons of marine life from other parts of the island who love hanging out here.
Snorkeling here means you’re guaranteed to see plenty of marine life swimming about without making too much effort, especially if you stay near the water pipe!
If you’re on the lookout for a beautiful beach that is great and safe for swimming, Kawela Bay in North Shore Oahu is often deemed the most secluded beach on the island.
The entire beach is dotted with coconut trees and the waters are as turquoise blue as they can get, making Kawela feel like an actual paradise on earth.
Here, you can spend your days walking along its beautiful shore, sunbathing over soft white sand, or swimming. The waters at Kawela Bay are calm year-round, but due to murkiness, they’re not great for snorkeling.
As an insider tip, there is a small forest right behind the bay where you can find a humongous banyan tree. Many movies like Pirates of the Caribbean and shows like LOST have been filmed at this location!
White Plains is a super low-key beach only locals know about and perfect if you want a quiet day spent swimming, lounging on the beach, or strolling along the coast.
Despite it being rather underrated, you can still find rentals and a few amenities here, so you can enjoy quiet time away from the crowds without sacrificing comfort and ease.
Moreover, there are surfing lessons available here, which makes it a perfect spot if you want to learn the sport without feeling smothered by other learners!
You won’t exactly find goats at Goat Island, but it does make for a prime spot to head to if you’re into bird watching as it is a protected bird sanctuary!
Moku’auia Island (as it’s officially named) is a flat islet on Laie Bay that is made up of lithified dunes, which makes for a pretty rare sight.
This tiny island is located quite close to the Malaekahana State Recreation Area, which means you can reach it on a paddleboard or bodyboard. Swimming over is also an option, but make sure you don’t try walking as there is a coral reef on the way.
Once you reach the island, you’ll get to choose from three different beaches. We recommend checking out the one on the left side of the island, as the water here is very calm and offers stunning views of the mountains of Oahu.
Do note that due to Goat Island’s protected status, visitors are not encouraged to visit the center of the islet. This is where seabirds lay their eggs, so human interaction is a huge no-no.
Commonly nicknamed Eternity Beach, Halona Beach Cove is a great destination to visit if you want to spend a day at the beach in complete solitude and don’t mind making a little extra effort to get it.
The beach was made famous because of its appearance in the 1953 movie “From Here to Eternity”. Despite the fact that it is widely known due to this, it still remains very unvisited because you cannot access (or even see) it from the road.
What attracts most visitors to the area is the famous Halona Blow Hole. A popular attraction in Oahu that visitors flock to in order to see this natural wonder.
However, the beach itself is only accessible via a hike that is not very well-marked, so most people who come to check the marine geyser out don’t bother to make it down to the shore.
Do keep in mind that swimming at Halona Beach Cove is pretty dangerous and there are no lifeguards available, making this beach exclusive for hiking, solitude, and over-the-sand activities.
No tour buses and development have made it to Makua Beach yet, making it one of Oahu’s biggest secrets only locals and intrepid travelers know of.
Makua is backdropped by the Waianae Mountain Range and the Makua Valley and features soft white sands and striking blue waters, making it look straight out of an Oahu postcard.
The beach itself is located inside Kaena Point State Park, so you can easily combine the trip with another hidden gem in Oahu if you also want to hike and explore nature.
As a warning, there are no lifeguards here, so make sure you stay close to the shore if you want to swim and only do so if you consider yourself an expert, as the beach isn’t protected by offshore reefs and the current can get very powerful.
Makua Beach is also an excellent destination for expert surfers keen to ride high waves, especially between the months of November and April.
A small replica of the Byodo-In Temple in Japan, Oahu’s version was built in Kahaluu to honor the Japanese people who lived in Hawaii for more than 100 years.
It is actually a non-practicing Buddhist temple, so all visitors are welcome and free to walk around and take pictures on the sacred grounds.
Had you ever heard of any of these hidden gems in Oahu? If you know of any other places in Oahu that are out of the usual tourism route, please feel free to recommend them in the comment section below!