Admiring the "Mokes" off Lanikai, Oahu. 

Photo: Dana Edmunds/Pacific Stock

Take a day trip to Oahu's picturesque Kailua and Lanikai

Grab your camera and hit the road for this lovely drive.

You’ve rented a car. It’s a gorgeous day. Put on sunscreen, grab your camera and hit the road! The concierge at your hotel can provide details about the activities and attractions that are mentioned.  

From Waikiki:
Take the H-1 Freeway west to the Pali Highway exit. Go north on Pali Highway, which merges into Kailua Road. Continue on Kailua Road into Kailua town.

Drive time without stops:
45 minutes

Sights along the way: 
Pali Lookout, Maunawili Falls, Ulupo Heiau State Monument

Kailua Beach and nearby Lanikai Beach have been named “America’s Best Beach,” an honor bestowed annually by “Dr. Beach,” Dr. Stephen Leatherman, director of the Laboratory for Coastal Research at Florida International University. They’re fabulous playgrounds for all sorts of water activities, including windsurfing, kayaking, boogie boarding and stand-up paddling. Lessons, guided tours and equipment rentals are available from several companies close by, including Twogood Kayaks and Kailua Beach Adventures.

Kailua Beach is a mecca for windsurfers.
Photo: David Croxford

Dozens of cool boutiques and art galleries beckon shoppers, and there are great restaurants on every block. Early risers, take note: Kailua is home to four of Hawai‘i’s best breakfast spots: Cinnamon’s Restaurant, Crepes No Ka Oi, Boots & Kimo’s Homestyle Kitchen and Moke’s Bread & Breakfast. If you’re in town on Thursday, plan on lingering for the early evening farmers’ market, which offers ono edibles ranging from produce, coffee and breads to pastries, cheese and seafood.

The mile-long Kaiwa Ridge Trail in the neighboring community of Lanikai climbs 600 feet up a ridge to two bunkers that were built during World War II to protect Oahu from coastal attacks by Japanese troops (that never happened). The reward: spectacular views of Lanikai, Kailua, the Mokulua islets and the Koolau mountain range. Wear comfortable walking shoes with good tread grooves as the path is steep, rocky and often slippery.

A version of this story appeared in the Winter/Spring 2011 print issue of Huakai, a bi-annual publication published by aio Media in partnership with Starwood Properties.