8 Best Road Trips near Honolulu

Welcome to Honolulu, the vibrant heart of Hawaii where the ocean meets the sky, and the spirit of adventure is as endless as the horizon. This city is more than just a tropical paradise; it’s a starting point for road trip enthusiasts eager to explore the breathtaking landscapes and cultural gems scattered across Oahu. Whether you’re yearning for serene beaches, lush mountains, or historic landmarks, the island’s diverse offerings are best explored on the open road. So, let’s buckle up and embark on the 8 best road trips near Honolulu, each promising an unforgettable journey into Hawaii’s soul.

1. The Iconic North Shore

Journey to Surf Heaven
Our FAVORITE things to do on O'ahu's North Shore (Hawaii)

Just an hour’s drive from Honolulu, the North Shore is a surfer’s paradise, famous for its towering waves and laid-back vibe. Start your journey early, cruise along the Kamehameha Highway, and witness the majestic surf breaks at Banzai Pipeline and Waimea Bay. Don’t forget to stop at the historic Haleiwa town for some shave ice and local shopping.

2. Windward Coast Adventure

Embrace the Windward Beauty
21 Best Things To Do On The Windward Side Of Oahu - 2024

The Windward Coast, with its dramatic cliffs and turquoise waters, is a feast for the eyes. Take the Pali Highway (Route 61) out of Honolulu and prepare to be mesmerized by the views at the Nu‘uanu Pali Lookout. Continue to the lush Byodo-In Temple and the pristine beaches of Kailua and Lanikai, perfect for a mid-journey dip.

3. The Road to Waimanalo

A Slice of Local Life
The road to Waimanalo by Michael Felcyn

Experience the island’s local charm by driving to Waimanalo. This less-traveled route offers stunning ocean views and access to some of Oahu’s most beautiful beaches, including Waimanalo Bay. It’s an ideal trip for those looking to escape the crowds and enjoy a more laid-back vibe.

4. Cultural Exploration to the Polynesian Cultural Center

A Journey Through Polynesia
The Connection Between The PCC (Polynesian Cultural Center) & BYU-Hawaii |  by BYU–Hawaii | BYU-Hawaii Journal | Medium

Head north from Honolulu to Laie, home to the Polynesian Cultural Center. This drive offers not only scenic views but also a deep dive into the cultures of the Pacific. Spend your day learning about the traditions of Hawaii, Samoa, Aotearoa (New Zealand), and more through immersive experiences and performances.

5. Historic Haleiwa Town

Back in Time
This Way To Historic Haleiwa Town | Hawaii Aloha Travel

A road trip to Haleiwa is like stepping back in time. This North Shore town is known for its plantation-era buildings, local art galleries, and casual eateries. It’s a perfect spot for those looking to combine beach time with a bit of history and culture.

6. The Majestic Waianae Coast

Wild and Untamed
Waianae Vacation Rentals | Houses and More | Airbnb

For a glimpse of Hawaii’s wild side, take a drive along the Waianae Coast. This less developed part of Oahu offers breathtaking mountain landscapes, secluded beaches, and the chance to see dolphins and whales offshore. It’s a reminder of the island’s untamed beauty.

7. Circle Island Tour

Oahu in a Day
Grand Circle Island Tour

Feeling ambitious? A circle island tour lets you experience the diversity of Oahu in a single day. Start from Honolulu and circle around the island, stopping at key sights like Diamond Head, Hanauma Bay, the North Shore, and Dole Plantation. It’s a whirlwind journey that captures the essence of Hawaii.

8. The Tranquil Leeward Side

Discover the Calm
What Happens When Air Goes Down the Leeward Side? | Sciencing

For a serene escape, head to the Leeward Side of Oahu. This area is known for its dry and sunny weather, making it perfect for beach days. Visit the Ko Olina resorts for a taste of luxury, or explore the lesser-known beaches and coves for a peaceful retreat.


Road tripping near Honolulu offers a unique opportunity to explore the breathtaking beauty and rich cultural tapestry of Oahu. Each journey unveils a different facet of the island, from its world-renowned surf breaks and serene beaches to its historic towns and cultural landmarks. So, the next time you’re in Honolulu, rent a car, hit the road, and let the island’s spirit guide your adventure. Who knows what wonders you’ll discover around the next bend?


What’s the best time of year for a road trip in Oahu?

While Oahu is beautiful year-round, the best time for road trips is during the spring (April to June) and fall (September to November) months to avoid the peak tourist seasons and enjoy milder weather.

Do I need a 4WD vehicle for these road trips?

Most road trips near Honolulu can be enjoyed in a standard car, but a 4WD might be necessary for more rugged terrains or if you’re planning to explore off-the-beaten-path destinations.

Victorine Jardine, a M.Sc. Part 1 student with 3 years of content writing experience, is a specialist in Health (Weight Loss, Fat Burn Food etc.), Astrology and pets topics. With a deep love for animals, Jardine also provides informative content on pet care, behavior, and the bond between humans and their furry companions. Know the enchanting worlds of zodiac signs and pets through Victorine Jardine's engaging writing.

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