Must Visit Oʻahu State Parks
Oʻahu has an almost unfair abundance of natural beauty - pristine beaches, ancient volcanic cones, and towering, green mountains. From the sandy shores to the ahupuaʻa of the windward coast, beautiful views and outdoor adventures await in these natural theme parks. For the best of the island’s raw resources, here are the must-visit state parks of Oʻahu.
We’ve organized parks by categories, with special attention paid to Oʻahu’s State Parks and State Wayside Parks, but be sure to read on for more state designated spots that are great for a quick tour or picnic destination.
Due to COVID-19, parks mentioned may close at any time. We recommend checking City and County of Honolulu or State of Hawai‘i mandates and individual attractions for operating hours, updates, and safety protocols before your visit. Please travel responsibly by treating Hawai‘i’s trails, creatures, sacred sites, residents, and areas of ecological restoration with respect. Refer to Hawai‘i’s Department of Land and Natural Resources website for additional hiking etiquette and safety preparedness information.
Ahupuaʻa ʻO Kahana State Park
Located 26 miles north of Honolulu on the windward coast, Ahupuaʻa ʻO Kahana State Park is Hawaiʻi’s only public ahupuaʻa, a pie-shaped land division extending from the highest regions of the uplands down to the seashore. An ahupuaʻa generally encompasses all of the resource zones needed for subsistence, which makes this state park an excellent place to learn about native Hawaiian culture and crop production. See stunning views of Kahana Bay (pictured above) and check out the historic sites, cultural programs, and public hiking trails in the park to learn more.
Heʻeia State Park
Heʻeia State Park is situated on an elevated peninsula just 13 miles south of Ahupuaʻa ʻO Kahana State Park. The park includes 18-acres of bayfront land, with unobstructed views of the Ko'olau Mountains and the ancient Heʻeia Fishpond. The park offers an array of activities, including both guided and self-guided walking tours, Makahiki games from October through January (the ancient Hawaiian version of the Olympics), and waterfront eco-ventures programs like kayaking and sailing.
State Wayside Parks
Laʻie Point State Wayside Park
The small scenic lookout on the windward coast is an excellent place for a quick stop to admire the offshore seabird sanctuary and unique sea arch (pictured above). The rocky coast of Laʻie Point State Wayside Park may look familiar, it was the location of the cliff diving scene from the rom-com film, Forgetting Sarah Marshall.
Nuʻuanu Pali State Wayside Park
Only five miles from Honolulu, Nuʻuanu Pali State Wayside Park offers panoramic views of Kaneʻohe, Kailua, Mokoliʻi Island, and the coastal fishpond at Kualoa Point from 1,200 feet high in cliffs of the Koʻolau Range. Park and stand near the cliff’s edge to feel the intense winds making their way through the mountains, which some say are so strong you can lean against them as if they were a wall.
Puʻu ʻUalakaʻa State Wayside Park
See sweeping views from Diamond Head to Pearl Harbor at Puʻu ʻUalakaʻa State Wayside Park. The forested park sits atop an ancient cinder cone and is home to the ‘Ualaka‘a Loop Trail, a 1-mile long loop trail which can be reached via the beautiful Tantalus Drive.
Oʻahu has many more state parks in the State Historic Site, State Monument, State Palace, State Recreation Area, and State Scenic Shoreline categories, of which we’ll list below.
State Historic Sites
Puʻu O Mahuka Heiau State Historic Site
Ulupo Heiau State Historic Site
Royal Mausoleum State Monument
Queen Emma Summer Palace
State Recreation Areas
ʻAiea Bay State Recreation Area
Keaiwa Heiau State Recreation Area
Malaekahana State Recreation Area
Sand Island State Recreation Area
Waʻahila Ridge State Recreation Area
Wahiawa Freshwater State Recreation Area
State Scenic Shorelines
Kaiwi State Scenic Shoreline
If you’re going to visit Oʻahu’s state parks, you’ll need a ride. Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel’s on-site transportation partners include Avis/Budget® Car Rental and Zipcar ride-sharing vehicles. Valet parking services are also available. Now for a limited time, guests can receive spacious accommodations, a compact car rental from Avis/Budget® Car Rental, and free daily valet parking with our Snooze-n-Cruise Room and Car special offer.
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