Go Mauka: 5 Peaceful Mountainside Adventures for Land Lovers on Oahu
Beaches are great, but some weekends you just have to head for the hills. Here are a few of our favorite land-based adventures.
Photo: David Chatsuthiphan
1. Peaceful in Palolo
Mu Ryang Sa Temple in Palolo Valley is the largest Korean Buddhist temple outside of Korea, boasting beautiful outdoor art, a serene atmosphere and stellar ocean views. Four colorful and gigantic kings stand guard over the main entrance to the temple, and the Peace Pagoda, at the center of the main lawn, is a replica of a historic pagoda from the Silla Dynasty. Mini disciple figures—1,080 of them—sit on a staircase overlooked by statues of bodhisattvas. Much of the art on the temple grounds is hidden in nooks or between the halls. Visitors are welcome, but since meditation is often in progress, be mindful and quiet.
Open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day, 2420 Halelaau Place, 735-7858, muryangsatemple.com.
2. Jungle Fun
Think Kualoa Ranch is a tourist-only stop? Offering stunning views of Kaneohe Bay and Oahu’s eastern coastline, Kualoa’s Jungle Expedition Tour winds through bumpy Hakipuu Valley with a military-grade, six-wheel-drive Swiss Pinzauer. Along the way you’ll catch a glimpse of Molii fishpond, a restored loi patch, and even a protected habitat hosting the Punaluu cyanea, a plant thought to be extinct until Kualoa Ranch discovered it on the property and began to propagate it, says Valerie King, director of marketing. The final leg of the trip involves a 10-minute mini hike up the ridge (the trail was cut by the crew of Lost) to a scenic lookout.
49-560 Kamehameha Highway, 237-7321, kualoa.com.
Volunteering in a loi lets you play dirty for a good cause.
Photo: Olivier Koning
3. Malama the Aina
Here’s a uniquely Hawaii way to get outside: work in a loi. Taro is sacred and central to the Native Hawaiian creation story. It also needs a lot of help from us to grow and thrive. Every second Saturday of the month, from 8 a.m. to noon, Kakoo Oiwi offers a community workday in Heeia in Kaneohe. You’ll help with clearing out invasive plants, digging new patches and possibly harvesting taro. Get ready to get dirty—very dirty.
For more information, visit kakoooiwi.org, or reserve your spot by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo: David Chatsuthiphan
4. Puka with a View
We’d be remiss if we didn’t give options to take in a panoramic view of Oahu’s beauty. Nuuanu Pali Puka has the biggest payoff for minimum exertion, great for those among us who aren’t into the drenched-in-sweat, struggling-to-make-it type hikes. Park at the Pali Lookout parking lot and enter through the opening in the crumbling rock wall. In 20 minutes or less you’ll be gazing out at the Windward side through a puka (hence the hike’s name) in the ridge. Don’t get blown away by the high winds. And bring a camera—you’ll want to take copious selfies.
Nuuanu Pali State Park, off Pali Highway.
5. Take a Peek at Oahu’s Piko
At the north end of Wahiawa just past Lake Wilson sits Kukaniloko, the ancient birth site for Hawaiian alii. Akin to Hawaii’s Stonehenge, this sacred spot consists of two rows of 18 birthing stones for the 36 chiefs. Sitting at the center of the island, Hawaiians considered the spot Oahu’s piko, and they held elaborate rituals at the site and the nearby Hoolonopahu Heiau, which no longer exists. Today, you’ll encounter a vast empty field with a view of Central Oahu and a grove of lovely trees overlooking the stones.
Off Kamehameha Highway at the Intersection of Kamehameha Highway and Whitmore Village.
Want more outdoor adventure ideas? Check out our full list of 23 Outdoor Adventures to Enjoy Now.