Located on O‘ahu’s Windward coast, Kane‘ohe is a lush, quiet community known for its laid-back feel, gentle trade winds, and spectacular views of the Ko‘olau Mountain Range. This established neighborhood offers three convenient routes into urban Honolulu—over the Pali, Likelike and H-3 highways—making it a favorite for locals who work in “town,” but want to escape city life once the workday is done.
While Kane‘ohe perhaps lesser-known than Kailua, its beachy neighbor to the south, this windward gem abounds with unique activities for those looking for a cool change of pace.
Ho‘omaluhia Botanical Garden
Tucked away in the residential neighborhood of Keapuka, the Ho‘omaluhia Botanical Garden is one of Kane‘ohe’s best-kept secrets. This lush, 400-acre nature preserve is the largest on O‘ahu and features a broad assortment of lush flora from around the world. In addition to short, easy walking trails and scenic picnic spots, the garden is a favorite with joggers, runners, and cyclists who love the winding, paved drive that boasts some of the island’s most stunning mountain views. After heavy rains, the garden is a great spot to enjoy the waterfalls that tumble down the ridges of the Ko‘olau Range.
On weekends, the public is invited to catch-and-release fishing between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.— a perfect activity for families, couples, or those looking to enjoy a quiet morning and some fresh air. Check in at the Visitor Center upon arrival to pick up some bamboo poles, bring your own white bread for bait, and be prepared for rain and mud, as the garden sits in the lee of the mountains. Guided nature walks are also available, with reservations required.
45-680 Luluku Road, Kane‘ohe, 96744
Open 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. daily. Free admission.
Located in the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park with the Koolau Range serving as a majestic backdrop, the Byodo-In Temple is a stunning replica of its nearly 1,000-year-old namesake in Japan. Built in 1968 to commemorate and celebrate Japanese culture in Hawai‘i, the entire structure is built, rather remarkably, without nails.
On your leisurely walk into the temple grounds, ring the bon-sho (sacred bell) for blessings and long life. Stroll barefoot throughout the serene temple while peacocks wander the manicured grounds. A small gift shop sells food to feed the colorful koi fish (carp) swimming in the ponds. This is a simple, perfect outing for singles, couples, and families looking for a more contemplative way to spend the day.
47-200 Kahekili Hwy, Kane‘ohe, 96744
Open 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. daily.
Admission $3 for adults, $2 for senior citizens, and $1 for children.
Windward Mall Farmers’ Market
This farmers’ market is held on Wednesdays and Sundays, and is a favorite with locals. Located indoors on the second level of the enclosed, air-conditioned Windward Mall, this bustling market has a range of products, including fresh-cut tropical flowers, ready-to-eat snacks, and seasonal local fruits and vegetables that are difficult to find in supermarkets. Bring a reusable grocery bag to fill with your finds and arrive early for the best selection.
46-056 Kamehameha Hwy, Kane‘ohe, 96744
Open Wednesdays 2:30 p.m. – 7 p.m. and Sundays from 9:45 a.m. to 2 p.m. http://www.windwardmall.com/events/farmers-market-at-windward-mall-by-nalo-farms-wednesday-sunday/
Kane‘ohe Bay Sandbar
When tides are low, a dazzling strip of sand reveals itself in Kane‘ohe Bay, offering a breathtaking view of the surrounding cathedral of mountains. This is a favorite weekend destination for boaters and kayakers, who drop anchor and enjoy an afternoon picnic, snorkeling, sunbathing and a game of frisbee in the turquoise shallows surrounding this secret “island”. Located about a mile away from the shoreline, the sandbar appears at low tide, measuring as much as one-mile-wide and six miles long depending on the tides. It offers unique views of Coconut Island, Kekepa Island and Chinaman’s Hat, and gives unique access to the coral reefs that protect Kane‘ohe Bay. Boat charters and kayak rentals are available to access this must-see natural attraction from He‘eia Kea Harbor, and many companies offer private tours with hotel pick-up in Waikiki. There are too many to list here, so we recommend a Google search for the charter that meets your needs.