Sunday, February 25, 2024

9 Things To Do In Kaneohe: Complete Guide To This Quiet Oahu Gem

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There are many reasons why Oahu should be everyone’s next Hawaiian vacation, and one of those reasons is Kaneohe. This quiet and beautiful residential gem is just 12 miles from the busy streets of downtown Honolulu. With ample options for outdoor adventure, dining and shopping—there are so many fun things to do in Kaneohe.


From spending the day in the middle of Kaneohe Bay on a natural sandbar, exploring He’eia State Park or Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden to golfing, ziplining, or shopping at the Windward Mall, travelers have so many varied possibilities for entertainment. One of the most unique attractions in Kaneohe is the Byodo-In Temple. Its stunning architecture and lush landscapes make it one of the most beautiful Buddhist temples in the world.

Kaneohe is definitely a destination worth visiting. Here is our complete guide and list of things to do in Kaneohe, Oahu.

Top Things To Do in Kaneohe

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Town of Kaneohe, Oahu

There are so many things to do in Hawaii, and many of the most unique things to do are in Kaneohe!

14 Explore The Kaneohe Sandbar

Boat near the Kaneohe Sandbar in Oahu. 
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Boat near the Kaneohe Sandbar in Oahu. 

In the middle of Kaneohe Bay is a natural sandbar, only exposed at low tide. When the tide is high, the sandbar hides beneath the water. Tourists can catch a boat to the sandbar, rent a kayak or paddleboard, or even snorkel to the unique location. Keep eyes peeled for sea turtles.

Captain Bob’s Picnic Sails offers four-hour tours to the sandbar. Their tours include swimming, snorkeling (gear provided), a fresh grilled barbeque lunch, sandbar volleyball, and a variety of beverages.

  • Hours: Daily (except Sunday), 10:30 AM to 2:30 PM
  • Cost: $169 per adult; $148 for children aged 3 to 11.

13 Go Golfing

Man wearing blue shorts and a blue t-shirt playing golf in warm weather.
Photo by Courtney Cook on Unsplash

Man wearing blue shorts and a blue t-shirt playing golf in warm weather. 

Kaneohe has two beautiful golf courses. They are the Pali Golf Course (public) and Bayview Golf Park (private, but open to the public). Both offer 18 holes and stunning scenery.

Pali Golf Course

  • Address: 45-050 Kamehameha Highway, Kaneohe
  • Cost: $86 per person for an 18-hole round.

Bayview Golf Park

  • Address: 45-285 Kaneohe Bay Dr, Kaneohe
  • Cost: $45 to $70 per person for an 18-hole round

12 See The Byodo-In Temple

Byodo-In Temple in Kaneohe
Christian Joudrey on Unsplash

Byodo-In Temple in Kaneohe

The spectacular Byodo-In Temple is nestled in the Valley of the Temples. The temple was built in the 1960s to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the first arrival of Japanese immigrant workers to Hawaii.

The temple is a replica of an 11th-century temple in Uji, Japan, and it’s been featured in popular TV shows, like Lost, and Magnum P.I. Tourists can expect to see a giant Buddha and lots of wildlife, including hundreds of koi fish swimming in ponds, black swans, and peacocks.

Related: 10 Things To Know Before Visiting Byodo-In Temple

11 Bay View Mini-Putt And Zipline

Aerial view of Kaneohe, Oahu.
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Aerial view of Kaneohe, Oahu.

With two mini-golf courses and a 400-foot long zipline, this popular spot is fun for all ages. And with views of the Koolau Mountains and Kaneohe Bay, tourists couldn’t possibly get a more gorgeous setting.

The two golf courses are different, with one a little more challenging than the other. Guests can choose one or opt for both. The zipline starts in a treehouse and is a dual-track system, meaning two people can ride side-by-side.

  • Address: 45-285 Kaneohe Bay Dr, Kaneohe

10 Shop At The Windward Mall

View of the outside of Windward Mall

At the Windward Mall, tourists can shop until they drop. Literally. There’s a great selection of stores, including Macy’s, Claire’s and many local Hawaiian shops. And there’s lots to eat here as well. Enjoy local culinary treats and then check out some entertainment, like the Aloha Line is Dancing on Thursdays, craft fairs, and free ukulele lessons.

Explore the Windward Mall family-friendly events list for unique attractions.

  • Address: 46-056 Kamehameha Hwy, Kaneohe

There’s also a farmers’ market every Sunday and Wednesday. Stock up on fresh fruit for picnics on the beach!

9 Visit Kaneohe Bay

Kaneohe’s most popular attraction is its beautiful bay. It’s pretty big at 8 miles long and almost 3 miles wide, and it’s protected by a big barrier reef in the north, so the water is tranquil and still.

The bay contains five small islands and has been featured in a number of popular movies and TV shows, such as Pearl Harbor, 50 First Dates, and Gilligan’s Island.

Be aware, though, that the bay is a breeding ground for hammerhead sharks. Thousands are born in the bay every year (usually May and June) and spend the first few months of their lives swimming around the shallow waters.

8 Picnic At He’eia State Park

View of the beautiful Kualoa Mountains from He'eia State Park on Oahu
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View of the beautiful Kualoa Mountains from He’eia State Park on Oahu

On the west side of Kaneohe Bay is He’eia State Park. This beautiful spot overlooking the bay is perfect for picnics. Open seven days a week from 7 AM to sundown, this 18-acre property showcases a picturesque setting of the Koolau Mountains meeting Kaneohe Bay.

Tourists can relax, breathe in the fresh ocean air, and enjoy the views. Or they can take a self-guided walking tour to explore the park and discover various types of flora throughout the property.

  • Address: 46-465 Kamehameha Hwy, Kaneohe

7 Witness The Waipuhia Falls

Pali Highway in Oahu.
Photo by Miguel Manzo on Unsplash

Pali Highway in Oahu.

Oahu has so many unique experiences, and this one tops the list. Although there is a trail to Waipuhia Falls, it’s on private property, so the best way to see the incredible falls is by car. What makes Waipuhia Falls a must-see attraction is that while the waterfall cascades down a cliff into a body of water, the waterfall also (sometimes) blows upwards, creating an upside-down waterfall. It really is an attraction tourists have to see to believe.

The phenomenon is created by winds hitting the water at speed, so as one might guess, the weather must be just right! The good news, though, is that trade winds at Waipuhia Falls occur regularly, so this mind-blowing sight has been witnessed quite frequently.

  • Location:
    While there’s no exact address, watch for the waterfalls when driving down Pali Highway. It’s visible on the right-hand side of the road when traveling east toward Kailua.

6 Travel Through The Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden

A road in the Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens in Kaneohe. 
Photo by Darren Lawrence on Unsplash

A road in the Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens in Kaneohe. 

This 400-acre garden was created in the 1980s to protect Kaneohe from floods. Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden is a peaceful way to spend the day. Tourists can stroll or drive through the garden and witness tropical plants from around the world.

Grouped geographically, guests can expect to see plants from India & Sri Lanka, Africa, Malaysia, the Philippines, America, Polynesia, and of course, Hawaii.

  • Address: 45-680 Luluku Rd. Kaneohe
  • Hours: Daily, 9 AM to 4 PM
  • Cost: Free!

5 Best Time To Go To Kaneohe

Mountains in Kaneohe, Oahu
Image by chant808 from Pixabay 

Mountains in Kaneohe, Oahu

Is there ever a bad time to visit Oahu?

Spring

Kaneohe is one of many great spring destinations for nature lovers in the US. Temperature highs range from the low-80s to the high-70s. Spring travelers beat the summer rush and might even see migrating humpback whales!

Summer

Kaneohe‘s gorgeous weather comes at a price. Summer is the most expensive time of year to travel to Kaneohe.

Fall

Daily highs range from the mid to low-80s. Room rates drop slightly in the fall as fewer tourists travel to the islands. Many cultural events happen on Oahu and would make a great day trip from Kaneohe. To name a few, tourists will enjoy Honolulu Fashion Week, the Hawaii International Film Fest, and Hawaiian Food and Wine Festival.

Winter

The Hawaiian Islands are a great place to spend the winter. While most of the country is freezing, tourists in Hawaii can spend the day at the beach, hike, and enjoy local cuisine outdoors. Temperature highs range from low-80s to high-70s.

For those celebrating the Christmas holidays, expect fun décor! Maybe try building a snowman out of sand? Mele Kalikimaka!

4 Best Ways To Get Around Kaneohe

Pali Highway in Oahu with the ocean in the distance
Shutterstock

Pali Highway in Oahu with the ocean in the distance

Getting around Kaneohe, like the rest of Oahu, may require a car, but there are some alternatives.

Car

The Island of Oahu is only 44 miles long and 30 miles wide and easily explored from the comfort of a rental car. Tourists can pick one up at the Honolulu Airport or in Waikiki.

Book rental cars when booking flights. During busy times, rental companies may run out of vehicles.

Bus

Out of all the Hawaiian Islands, Oahu has the best public bus system. Tourists can get to most places by bus, but with all the stops, it’ll take longer than traveling by car.

3 Where To Eat In Kaneohe

Kaneohe Bay, Oahu
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Kaneohe Bay, Oahu

Kaneohe offers a variety of restaurants with great views and local ingredients.

Breakfast

Kaneohe Pancake House

Family-owned and operated since 1988, it’s no surprise that the Kaneohe Pancake House specializes in pancakes! But customers can also dine on omelets, eggs benedicts, fried rice, and more.

  • Address: 46-126 Kahuhipa Street, Kaneohe
  • Hours: Daily, 6:30 AM to 2 PM
  • Recommended: Try the Banana Pancakes, the Chocolate Chip Macadamia Nut Pancakes, or the Churro Waffles.

Lunch

Adela’s Country Eatery

This casual eatery is the perfect spot to grab food and head to the beach to enjoy a meal with a view. This dine-out-only spot is a must-try when visiting Kaneohe. All food is cooked fresh to order using local and seasonal ingredients.

  • Address: 45-1151 Kamehameha Hwy #2, Kaneohe
  • Hours: Daily, 10:30 AM to 8 PM
  • Recommended: Any of the noodle dishes!

Related: Spring Break Reimagined: Find Yourself In Paradise At These 10 Beautiful Hawaiian Destinations

Dinner

Haleiwa Joe’s

This open-air restaurant with views of the Ko’olau mountain range overlooks a tropical garden and koi pond. Haleiwa Joe’s is truly a gorgeous setting for dinner.

  • Address: 46-336 Haiku Road Kaneohe
  • Hours: Nightly from 4 PM to 9 PM
  • Recommended: Grilled Fish with Macadamia nut pesto, lobster cream sauce, and garlic mashed potatoes.

2 Where To Stay In Kaneohe

Lush green valley near Kaneohe, Oahu.
steheap via Adobe Stock

Lush green valley near Kaneohe, Oahu.

Kaneohe is the largest residential community on the windward side of Oahu. While there is one fantastic hotel in Kaneohe (Paradise Bay Resort), many travelers opt to rent private properties through Vrbo.

Through Vrbo, travelers can find exactly what they’re looking for. A condo with a pool? A house that sleeps 15? No problem. Tourists can find the perfect private property to plan the perfect trip to Kaneohe.

Alternatively, travelers can stay in neighboring towns and simply enjoy the day in beautiful Kaneohe. Popular tourist destination Waikiki Beach is only about a 15-minute drive from Kaneohe.

Luxury

Paradise Bay Resort

The Paradise Bay Resort overlooks the Koolau Mountains and Kaneohe Bay. The hotel is a piece of paradise and the perfect place to relax, swim in the pool or lounge on one of the floating docks. The resort offers free yoga and meditation classes and free kayak and snorkel equipment.

  • Address:
    47-039 Lihikai Drive, Kaneohe
  • Amenities: Complimentary newspapers; 24-hour front desk; water sports facilities on site; outdoor pool; Free Wi-Fi; fitness center; flat-screen TVs.
  • Cost based on double occupancy:

    $$

Related: Escape To Paradise At These Top 10 Exquisite Luxury Resorts In Honolulu

Mid-Level

Courtyard by Marriott Oahu North Shore

The Courtyard by Marriott Oahu North Shore is right off the Kamehameha Highway, making a drive to Kaneohe very easy.

Budget

Ala Moana Hotel by Mantra

Just a short 12 miles to Kaneohe Bay, the Ala Moana Hotel by Mantra is a good budget option for travelers looking to stay in a busier area and simply spend the day in Kaneohe.

  • Address:
    410 Atkinson Drive, Honolulu
  • Amenities: Outdoor pool; fitness center; bar/lounge; coffee shop; spa and wellness center; restaurant; free Wi-Fi.
  • Cost based on double occupancy:

    $

Related: Best Hawaiian Islands To Visit For First Timers

1 How To Spend The Perfect Day In Kaneohe

Kaneohe Bay and Kualoa Ridge, Kaneohe

The perfect day in Kaneohe starts at the Kaneohe Pancake House. Enjoy the Chocolate Chip Macadamia Nut Pancakes and a large coffee to get the morning off to a great start! While there are so many things to do in Kaneohe, the most popular and one of the most unique attractions is the Kaneohe Sandbar. And there are a few ways to get there.

For the more active traveler, try snorkeling or kayaking out to the sandbar. Or, for a more relaxing afternoon, catch a boat with Captain Bob’s Picnic Sails. This four-hour tour still lets tourists swim (and snorkeling gear is provided!), but this trip includes a grilled barbeque lunch, a little volleyball in the sand, and maybe a beer or two.

After exploring the sandbar, check out the Byodo-In Temple for spectacular sights or Bay View Mini-Putt and Zipline for tourists up for a little more adventure.

In the early evening, pick up a few souvenirs at the Windward Mall, maybe grab a snack, and possibly check out some local entertainment. For dinner, dine at Haleiwa Joe’s and soak up the beautiful views of the Koolau mountain range. This place is a real treat!

But for something a little more casual, pack a picnic dinner. Get take-out from Adela’s Country Eatery and enjoy local Hawaiian cuisine while watching the sky change colors as the sun dips down out of sight.

FAQ

Q: What is Kaneohe known for?

Kaneohe is mostly a residential community. There are so many cool things to do on the island of Oahu, and a visit to Kaneohe is right at the top of the list. One spectacular attraction in Kaneohe is the Byodo-In Temple. Another popular attraction is the Kaneohe Sandbar. A trip to Kaneohe will not disappoint!

Q: Do people swim in Kaneohe Bay?

Yes! Kaneohe Bay has five beautiful beaches. Tourists and locals alike can swim, snorkel and surf. Just be aware that the bay is also a breeding ground for hammerhead sharks. Many baby sharks will spend their first few months in the shallow waters of the bay.

Q: Is Kaneohe worth a visit?

Of course! Kaneohe is simply stunning. The beautiful bay and the nearby mountains are so picturesque that tourists will feel like they’re in paradise. Hawaii has so many beautiful beaches, and the beaches at Kaneohe are some of the best.

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