There are many scenic drives on the island of Oahu that offer breathtaking views of the ocean and the surrounding landscape.
Commonly dubbed “The Gathering Place”, Oahu is an enchanting destination that offers a perfect fusion of ancient, modern, and nature. Aptly known as one of the most beautiful places in the entire world, the best way to admire Oahu’s scenery is by buckling up and hitting the road.
If you’ve been doing your research, chances are you’re currently feeling overwhelmed with the number of options available. The good news, though? Most of Oahu’s scenic drives are pretty short and sweet, which means you can tackle a ton of them in a single trip!
Without further ado, here are some of the most scenic drives in Hawaii’s Oahu you’ve got to drive at least once in your life!
The Most Scenic Drives in Oahu
You’ve landed at the Honolulu Airport, and you’re ready to start exploring right away. What should you do? Where should you go? Lagoon Drive is the answer.
Located just outside of Honolulu Airport, Lagoon Drive is the perfect way to kickstart your Oahu adventure. It’s actually a super short drive that lasts just 5 minutes, but what it lacks in length, it makes up for with incredible views of teal-colored water dotted with dozens of small lush islets.
There’s a parking lot at the very end of the road where you can sit in and watch planes taking off and landing right by the gorgeous landscape, too!
Highway 3 is king when it comes to stunning views. Starting in Honolulu, this gorgeous highway will take you all the way to the eastern side of Oahu across the lush Koolau Mountain Range and take you high above the treeline of Haʻikū Valley.
Stunning mountain views are guaranteed every mile of the way, with the added bonus of the jaw-dropping vista of Kāneʻohe Bay and Oʻahu’s windward side when you get out of the tunnel’s eastern exit. Seriously, the landscape is so beautiful you’ll have to pinch yourself to make sure you aren’t dreaming!
Taking only around 15 minutes to cover, Pali Highway is a short drive that will get you to Pali Lookout, where you can see a large portion of the southeastern part of the island of Oahu.
Even though the end of the drive is the reason most visitors to Hawaii drive this road, the entire way to get there is also an experience worthy of praise. As soon as you exit the tunnels on the east side of the Koolau Mountain Range, you’ll feel as though you’ve entered a different world altogether.
The views of turquoise waters below combined with a mountainous backdrop make it one of the most beautiful vistas in Oahu and the rest of Hawaii.
Seriously, there’s nothing quite like seeing the Honolulu skyline fading away and giving way to lush valleys in a matter of minutes, so whatever you do, make sure not to miss out on this incredibly short scenic drive during your visit!
The drive up to the east coast from Honolulu to Kaneohe is probably one of the most scenic drives on the island, but here’s a little secret: Drive further north on the coast all the way up to the North Shore!
Known as the Windward Coast, this incredibly scenic road will have you winding your way through a lesser-traveled coast, where you’ll see the color of the ocean turn from very light turquoise to a dark blue as well as tiny beaches nestled inside an incredibly green landscape.
What’s best? Stopping at these secluded beaches is possible, so make sure you plan a few hours enjoying your own little piece of paradise into your itinerary.
Other interesting stops along the way include the Valley of the Temples, which houses a serene Japanese Buddhist temple, and Mokolii, a little island also known as “Chinaman’s Hat”, where you can stretch your legs, hike a bit, and have a picnic.
This drive may be extremely short, but it provides views of some of the most iconic sights on the entire island once you get to the final Tantalus Lookout Point, where you’ll be greeted with fabulous views of Diamond Head, Honolulu, Waikiki, and the Pacific Ocean!
Have you ever taken a scenic drive on the island of Oahu in Hawaii? Which one was your favorite for breathtaking views? Let me know all about it in the comment section below!
Looking for More Hawaii?
Check out these hidden gems in Oahu for more of the lesser-known places in Oahu you’ve got to check out!
And if you love to read about a destination before you visit, try these books set in Hawaii for my favorite fiction and non-fiction books.