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One-Day Scenic Hawaii Driving Tour

This one-day tour takes you west to the leeward and northwestern sides of the island and beaches and Kaneana Cave. It includes a stop at Hawaii’s Plantation Village and Wahiawa Botanic Gardens, plus the Healing & Royal Birthing Stones, Schofield Barracks, and the Del Monte Variety Garden.

Day 1 & Only

From Waikiki, take H-1 past Pearl City to junction with 90 at Waipahu. Take it west to Hawaii’s Plantation Village, (808) 677-0110, for self-guided tours. The village is a living museum of the diverse cultures and lifestyles of Hawaii’s eight ethnic groups, recreated on three acres of land with 29 dwellings reflecting the early days of plantation life.

Stay on 90 west until it joins up again with H-1. Continue until Exit 1 and experience one of Oahu’s visitor attractions, the Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park. The park includes a wave pool, two and three-person inner tubes, two 65 foot tall slides and much more. After your adventure at the water park, return to H1, heading West where it becomes 93, the Farrington Highway.

Continuing northeast along the coastline, you pass all the leeward side beaches and communities beginning with Kahe Point. This Leeward Coast area of the island is where most of the ethnic Hawaiians and “locals” live. Even though the Hawaiian Electric power plant is nearby, the Hawaiian Electric County Beach is one where beginning surfers test out their skills and boards.

Nanakuli Beach, just south of the town of Nanakuli has life guards on duty daily and swimming is safe, except in high surf. On the northern end of this beach in calm surf, snorkeling is great. Four other beaches stretch along the coastline. Ulehawa Beach, with picnic tables on the beach is a nice stop. Near Maili, the beach is divided into three sections and, strangely, vanishes in the winter. Maili Beach has areas where the snorkeling is good. Check with locals for the best places to enter the water.

Lualualei Beach is mostly scenic, with no swimming areas. Pokai Beach, outside of Waianae, is considered one of the best and most attractive beaches on the coast and therefore draws lots more people and boats. Boats for fishing are available out of Waianae’s harbor. Makaha Beach is where Hawaiian surfing competition began. Neat area and people are found here. There is a 17th century temple, Kaneaki Heiau, next to the resort that was restored by the Bishop Museum. You can stop and ask permission to visit it.

Further on near Makua, where the Farrington Hwy ends is Kaneana Cave. According to Hawaiian legend, Kaneana, the Sharkman God, made his home here. The cave formation is volcanic and coral. If you are up to a two-mile hike that is not difficult, park and hike to Kaena Point for a view of some of the island’s biggest surf.

Optional Route to Schofield Barracks: take 93 back to Waianae and the Waianae Valley Road to Schofield Barracks via Kolekole Pass. After climbing up the Waianae Range, you will come to a manned military sentry box. Public access stops here, but by identifying yourself – if anyone is at the station – permission is given to proceed to Schofield via Kolekole Pass. The view is breathtaking.

If you choose not to take the “high road,” return on 93 to H-1 and exit on 750 north (Kunia Road) to junction with 99. Take it left to Schofield Barracks and the 25th Infantry’s Tropic Lightning Museum. The museum exhibits memorabilia of this famous fighting unit dating to the War of 1812.

Back on 99, go to the junction with 80 and the Del Monte Variety Garden, where you can discover the history and process of the pineapple industry in Hawaii.

Take 80 south into Wahiawa and the exotic 27 acres of Wahiawa Botanical Gardens, 1396 California Avenue, open daily, except Christmas. Look for the HVB Warrior (it identifies sites of cultural and historical significance throughout the island) marking the parking lot. The Gardens has trees and plants gathered from around the world and stimulate both your sense of sight and smell. It is free and self-guided.

Also in the area at California Avenue and Kaalalo Place, are the healing stones whose mystic powers are said to have cured various human maladies. The HVB Warrior marks the stones, located in a small chapel. Follow 80 through Wahiawa about a mile to the traffic light at the corner of Whitmore Avenue. Take the dirt track to the right that leads into a grove of eucalyptus trees and you will see the Royal Birthing Stones. This is where royal wives of ruling ali’i would come to give birth to their noble children.

Continue south on 80 to junction with H-2 and H-1 for the return trip to the Waikiki area.