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  • Keijah Pa‘e

The best activities the Leeward Coast has to offer

The west side of Oʻahu is highly underrated. From the food, beaches, and hikes, I would say we have some of the best on the island. There is something for everyone in the family to enjoy. Waiʻanae is the perfect place for activities of any kind. There are a variety of beaches, countless caves, hikes, and restaurants for you to explore.

1. Hikes

For active individuals, Māʻili Pillbox is a great hike to consider. Mountains surround the hike and overlook the shores of Waiʻanae. The Pillbox hike extends along the ridge between the Nanakuli and Māʻili suburbs (Sea Country) and can be spotted from Farrington Highway. The start of the hike can be found after the 9th light pole on the right-hand side of the road. There are multiple routes to the top of the mountains and the five pillboxes. There’s a straightforward switchback path or you can opt to climb up some steep areas if you want to tap into your adventurous side. On average, it takes about 45 minutes to complete the trail. 

The Kaʻena Point trail hike is another breathtaking activity you should consider heavily. The trail goes along a former rail bed and dirt road. Here, the sights of open water, beaches, tidal pools, cliffs, coastal plains, and dunes are indescribable. The hike is nearly 4.5 miles and could be split into two sections. On the Wai‘anae side, the trailhead is located at the end of Farrington Hwy. , and is about 2.5 miles to Ka‘ena Point. On the Mokulēʻia side, the trail begins at the end of Farrington Hwy at Keawaʻula Beach (popularly known as Yokohama). This section is 2 miles from Kaʻena Point. Don't forget to bring your water bottle; it could get pretty hot on this side of the island. 

2. Beaches

Besides hiking, there’s also some of the most secluded beaches on Oʻahu. Located in Mākaha, Keawa‘ula Beach is one of the best spots for surfers. The simplicity and pristine beauty capture what Wai’anae is genuinely like. The waves get quite large, so it wouldn't hurt to freshen up your swimming skills before heading to the water. Along the shore are ponds created by dips within the reef that are ideal for younger children. The drive to Keawa‘ula Beach could be lengthy, but luckily, you can choose from plenty of other beaches. 

Another beach I highly recommend visiting is Pōkāʻi Bay Beach Park. Unlike Yokohama, the water at this spot is very calm and flat, perfect for a family day. Not to mention, it is the most protected beach on the leeward coast. My favorite childhood memories come from spending the day spotting Hawaiian monk seals. I will always recommend this spot to anyone with keiki. 

3. Food

For a savory meal, Barbeque Kai is a local joint where you'll find the best plate lunches. They offer a variety of choices, including chicken katsu, loco moco, short ribs, and shrimp. Their portions are considerably huge and will always have you satisfied. They don't offer dine-in, but picnic tables are spread throughout the area for you to enjoy your meal. 

If you have a sweet tooth like me, check out Kalo Bombs. Their ice cream and fresh pa’i’ai combinations will have you craving for more. You will always see a line formed outside their shop, but the wait is well worth it. Besides the popular ice cream combos, they also sell batches of fresh pa’i’ai and acai bowls. Their shop can be found on the right side of Farrington Hwy., in the same complex as Countryside Cafe. 

Waiʻanae might be the furthest from the popular and overcrowded beaches or food spots everyone raves about, but don't count us out. Our locally owned businesses will have you fiending for more, and our beaches will supply the best memories that will be talked about for years. This community has so much more to offer, but my words will only do so much convincing. To grasp the full effect, go and check it out for yourself.

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