Oahu for Nature Lovers: A Self-Guided Tour in Paradise
Reconnecting with nature has been shown to offer a wealth of physical and mental health benefits. As much as we love indulging in all that Waikiki has to offer, sometimes we just need to unplug and relax at the best eco-attractions in Oahu. The lush environs have something for nearly every outdoor enthusiast. Read on for a self-guided tour of our island paradise.
Due to COVID-19, activities mentioned may not be currently available. We recommend checking City and County of Honolulu or State of Hawaii mandates, facility websites for operating hours, updates, and social distancing measures before heading out on your adventure.
Rise early at Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel to capture a stunning sunrise from one of the island’s eastern nature trails. Nu’Uanu Pali Lookout offers epic views of Oahu’s windward coast from a lookout terrace at 1,200 feet. The Lighthouse Trail at Makapuu Point is perfect for families, offering a paved path and a gradual incline to 500 feet. Diamond Head is a must for first-time visitors and Koko Head Crater’s 1,000 plus step-like walking track offers sweeping views of the eastern Honolulu shoreline.
After a morning hike at a destination of your choosing, head to the Harold L. Lyon Arboretum in the Manoa Valley to view 200 acres of tropical rainforest. The gardens have been a work in progress for over 100 years, with special emphasis on endemic plants and aiding in the reforestation of endangered species. For more lush botanical gardens, visit Foster Botanical Garden in Honolulu or Waimea Valley’s botanical gardens in Haleiwa.
Located right next to the Harold L. Lyon Arboretum, Manoa Falls Trail is a 1.7 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail that brings you to a gorgeous 150-foot waterfall. For a quieter experience, take the leisurely hike to the neighboring Aihualama Falls. The small waterfall may not be as grand as Manoa, but the trek to the falls is far less crowded. To swim under one of these earthly wonders, visit Waimea Falls. The 45-foot waterfall lies beyond Waimea Valley’s botanical garden and guests are able to swim in the cool waters.
An exploration of Oahu’s natural wonders isn’t complete without a dip in the water. Waikiki Beach, Hanauma Bay, and Lanikai Beach all lie in the southeast, but for a complete tour of Oahu, we’re heading to the North Shore. The beaches along the North Shore are known for hosting a number of surfing contests because of the large waves during the winter season. Looking for something less intense? A paddle down the nearby Anahulu River on a kayak or paddleboard is quiet and you’re likely to spot a green sea turtle. (Note: Don’t get too close to these endangered animals! Touching sea turtles in Hawaii is illegal and observers must stay 30 feet away).
Oahu's inactive volcanoes
Explore Oahu’s ancient, inactive volcano ridges. Diamond Head is part of the Ko’olau Range, a 37-mile-long range on the eastern side of the island. The other extinct volcano ridge is the Wai’anae Range that comprises the western half of Oahu. Last thought to have erupted about 2.5 million years ago, the volcano range is the perfect place to end the day with views of the sunset to the west. Mt. Ka’ala is the highest peak on the island, with difficult trails that aren’t for the faint of heart.
If you haven’t yet booked your hotel stay, consider Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel, centrally-located to all the activity in Waikiki and only a short drive from the natural wonders of the island. Book a room with ocean views to enjoy stunning sunsets or of Diamond Head, the iconic symbol of Oahu. Check out exclusive offers only available on our website.