Experience “Local Hawaii”
It’s only 25 miles from Waikiki to Oahu’s Leeward Coast, but it may as well be in another universe. Located on the coastal side of the Waianae Mountain Range, the Leeward Coast is everything Waikiki is not: untamed and wide open.
It doesn’t require a leap of any kind to discover the beauty of Oahu’s west side. While few visitors make the trip to the Leeward Coast, those who do are rewarded with a generous taste of “local Hawaii.”
Hawaii’s Plantation Village
A worthwhile stop in Waipahu is Hawaii’s Plantation Village, an outdoor museum that tells the story of life on Hawaii’s sugar plantations. Here, restored buildings and replicas of plantation structures form a sort of living museum. Between 1852 and 1946, approximately 395,000 people from Japan, Korea, Portugal, China, Puerto Rico, and other places came to Hawaii to work in the sugar fields and lived in “camps” or villages just like these.
The climate is generally dry and sunny, and the coastline offers pristine white sand beaches that are prime spots for swimming, snorkeling, and fishing. The Leeward beaches also provide the best seat in the house for the island’s most spectacular free show: sunset.
The winter months bring some of the world’s best surfers to the Leeward Coast, as large waves roll toward Makaha and Yokohama beaches. One of Hawaii’s best-known surfing spots, Makaha Beach offers great action for both surfers and boogie boarders. Yokohama Bay, the last sandy beach on the Leeward Coast, represents one of few places on Oahu completely unspoiled by development.
Geologists conclude the Waianae mountains were formed about three million years ago. Its tallest peak, Mount Kaala, rises 4,017 feet from the ocean, making it the highest point on the island.
Leeward Oahu includes the communities of Waipahu, Ewa, and Nanakuli to the coast of Maili, Waianae and Makaha.