The Best Things to do Outdoors While You Staycation on O‘ahu
#LuckyWeLiveHONOLULU because there are a number of wonderful ways to get moving and staying put on-island.
Ho‘omaluhia Botanical Garden
Everyone’s favorite O‘ahu Instagram background boasts 14 campsites in three areas around the garden—Kahua Kūou, Kahua Lehua and Kahua Nui-Makai—all of which offer the only city-run camping locations on O‘ahu that aren’t on a beach. Wake up to views of the Ko‘olau Range, take long relaxing walks around the rainforest and check to see if the catch-and-release fishing programs are open yet. Ho‘omaluhia offers public restrooms, outdoor showers, picnic tables and fire pits.
45-680 Luluku Road, Kāne‘ohe, (808) 233-7323, camping.honolulu.gov
Kualoa Regional Park
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There’s a reason Kualoa’s two beaches are some of the first to get booked up during camping season. Campsite “B” faces Mokoli‘i, has eight sites available, one restroom and outdoor showers. It is also a good spot for fishing as it neighbors Moli‘i Fishpond.
49-479 Kamehameha Highway, Kāne’ohe, camping.honolulu.gov
SEE ALSO: Now You Can Eat Shrimp Raised On-Site at Kualoa Ranch
Koko Crater Botanical Garden
At the end of a scenic drive (no matter which direction you’re coming from) is a cactus garden fit for a Tim Burton flick. The winding trails through this sprawling 60-acre setting will take you past a plumeria grove, baobab trees from Madagascar, spherical golden barrel cactus and curly octopus agave from South America, henna plants from Asia and the Middle East, and more. It’s worth turning this trip into a little self-guided scavenger hunt before settling down at one of the tables for a picnic.
7491 Kokonani St., (808) 768-7135, honolulu.gov
The Lyon Arboretum in Mānoa Valley has a mix of trails, native plants, tropical trees, a waterfall and even a walking Buddha statue (the least common of the four postures of the Buddha symbolizes inner peace and grace). Reservations required; visits must be limited to two hours.
3860 Mānoa Road, (808) 988-0456, manoa.hawaii.edu/lyon
SEE ALSO: What It’s Like at These 6 Popular O‘ahu Hikes and Gardens During the Pandemic
‘Aiea Loop Trail
This is a versatile flat-ish trail that’s perfect for hiking with the little ones and their four-legged buddies. And for those overachievers out there, this scenic loop is ideal for trail runners. You’ll want to start at the very top of ‘Aiea Heights Drive—where the better parking spots are—so you end at the picnic area and restrooms. Wash up and have yourself a post-hike snack.
99-1849 ‘Aiea Heights Drive, ‘Aiea
SEE ALSO: 24 O‘ahu Hikes We Really Like
Mānana Ridge Trail to Waimano Falls and Pools
This dog-friendly intermediate hike starts with the challenge of Cardiac Hill, which is a natural tree-root “staircase” that leads to a slightly muddy path—ropes included—so plan your sensible footwear and clothing accordingly. The route that takes you to the pools and waterfalls is 3 miles round-trip.
Drive along Komo Mai Drive through Pacific Palisades to the end of the road, Pearl City
SEE ALSO: 20 Great Oahu Hikes
Climb Aloha will help you and the family learn the ropes with its “Climbing 101” course at Makapu‘u Point. Groups of up to 10 will be given lessons on safety, basic anchor building, knots, rappelling, technique and belaying. Prices start at $90 per person and go up from there, depending on group size.
If you’re looking for a public pool on O‘ahu, our favorite is the one at Kāne‘ohe District Park. The 2019 Best of HONOLULU winner is 50 meters long, 25 meters wide, 4 meters deep and has breathtaking views of the Ko‘olau mountain range. Since pools reopened in June there are a handful of guidelines to keep in mind, including a one-hour limit for using the facilities (including time in the pool, showering and lounging), lap swimming only and wearing masks when entering and exiting.
45-660 Kea‘ahala Road, Kāne‘ohe, (808) 768-8994, honolulu.gov
SEE ALSO: We Search for the Best Public Swimming Pool on O‘ahu
Pickleball and Tennis
Normally we can look to Gen Zers and millennials to turn something old into something retro-cool. This time we can thank the kūpuna for serving up the game of pickleball to the youthful masses. Head over to the Ala Moana tennis courts for an outdoor match of pickleball or tennis with your buddies. The courts in the practice wall area have pickleball lines taped down and portable nets are available.
1201 Ala Moana Blvd., (808) 351-1567, places2play.org/state/hawaii. Make sure you check which venues around O‘ahu offer outdoor courts and come ready with nets. Most of the time you should expect to bring your own paddles/rackets and balls.
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