Get Off the Beaten Path: 13 Hidden Gems in Oahu

Oahu is a beautiful Hawaiian island that is well-known for its stunning beaches and iconic attractions.

But while it’s easy to find the popular places, there are many hidden gems that are worth discovering.

From secret caves to hidden lookout points, you’ll uncover a whole new side of Oahu that you won’t find in the guidebooks.

Get away from the tourist crowd and explore the island’s best-kept secrets – here are 13 of the best hidden gems in Oahu.

1. Mermaid Caves

Looking for something a bit more mysterious and enchanting than your average beach day?

If you’re searching for a hidden gem on the west coast of Oahu, the Mermaid Caves are just like the mythical creatures they were named after – elusive and enticingly beautiful.

Head to Zablan Beach and while you may not spot them right away, follow your eyes to the left (near the lava rocks), as that’s where the real magic hides!

Exploring these sea caves is like being underwater in another world; marvel at how the sun floods in and illuminates the blue abyss with its soft light.

No magical wands needed here – just take a deep dive into Mother Nature’s natural beauty.

Just remember, if you decide to take a dip here, only visit during low tides and when the waters are nice and calm. We also recommend leaving the kiddos at home for this one.

Byodo In Temple in oahu
Byodo In Temple in oahu

2. Byodo-In Temple

Although it might sound like something out of a fairytale, the Byodo-In Temple in Oahu’s Valley of the Temples is a real place.

Sitting beautifully among lush greenery and accompanied by a tranquil Koi pond, this off-the-beaten-path destination is a must-visit.

Built without using a single nail, Byodo-In Temple honors Hawaii’s first Japanese immigrants and is overflowing with culture and rich history.

So next time you’re looking for something unique to do, don’t miss out on this remarkable site that combines tranquility and adventure into one.

3. Shark’s Cove

Forget about seeing sharks, the only thing you’ll find at Shark’s Cove is tons of marine wildlife.

The legend behind how it got its name is a pretty thick plot, but all you need to know is that it’s because the reef looks like a giant shark.

Thankfully there aren’t great whites lurking in its depths though; the reef provides endless opportunities for scuba-diving and exploration instead.

Vast caverns and tunnels await curious adventurers who go out looking for a hidden gem in Oahu – and Shark’s Cove fits the bill perfectly.

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4. Halona Blowhole

If you’ve been looking for the ultimate photo spot for your Instagram, or something to add some “ooh’s” and “ahh’s” to your family vacation, Halona Blowhole is worth stopping the car for.

Located on the shores of southeast Oahu, merely minutes away from Hanauma Bay –

Set aside a chunk of time when high tide rolls in so you can witness this natural wonder shoot water up to 30 feet in the air.

And if you happen to visit during whale watching season, stick around afterwards and check out the incredible wildlife with some binoculars!

Halona Blowhole Honolulu Hawaii
Halona Blowhole Honolulu Hawaii

5. Waianae Farmers Market

Not only does this weekly Saturday-morning market offer a range of amazing local produce (Butter? Eggs? Check!), but with no crowds, you’ll have the pleasure of getting to know the vendors and the passion behind their products.

This farmers market is what it says it is – far from being an arts-and-crafts fair, it’s all about giving local Hawaiian farmers the opportunity to show off their locally- sourced goodies.

6. Kahuku Farms

Started by two families renowned for four generations of Hawaiian crop-growing, you’ll have a delicious time at Kahuku Farms.

Not only is it the perfect spot to get all your artisan gifts and yummy treats – you can even snack away in the open garden area at the back.

But let’s not forget why we love this place: their signature Acai bowls. Just imagine how much love and aloha goes into each bowl…it’ll most likely be the highlight of your day!

7. Kō Hana Distillers

At Ko Hana Distillers, they’re committed to giving you the best rum Hawaii has to offer, and it’s easy to be sure when they’re the first agricole distillery on the islands!

They’ve crafted a unique process, beginning with hand harvesting the crops right down to carefully pressing the cane juice at the distillery.

You won’t find any molasses or refined sugar in their products – just pure tropically-grown canes. Their dedicated passion for making high-quality rum truly stands out from the rest.

8. China Walls

Looking for something a little adventurous and off the beaten path? Tucked away in Koko Kai Beach Mini Park, lies the China Walls.

It’s quite possibly one of Oahu’s best-kept secrets and is the perfect spot to get your adrenaline pumping.

And while this area is known as a prime destination for cliff jumping, we recommend snapping some photos instead.

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9. Ka’ena Point State Park

If you’re looking for a ‘hidden gem’ of an adventure spot, Ka’ana Point State Park is the perfect place to check out.

Layers of lava rock offer a stunning shore-side hike with tidal pools and incredible sea views.

Unfortunately, public transport won’t take you there – you’ll have to drive. So sit back and enjoy a glorious hour’s ride from Honolulu to your unknown tropical sanctuary.

10. Kaneana Cave

If you’re looking for a step up from the usual nature-watching, look no further than Kaneana Cave – it’s a mini-adventure!

Also known as Makua Cave, this trail doesn’t take long, but you sure don’t want to miss out on the incredible sights and of course, the “haunted” caves that will have you quivering in your boots.

There’s loose rocks throughout, which can make the steep sections of the trail slippery – so watch your footing.

Getting there is easy enough, head to the parking lot at Kaneana State Park; you’ll see the Lower Caves from here.

To get to the Upper Caves, simply head west about 100 meters along the road until you see an unmarked path. Now, who’s feeling brave?

11. Old Waialua Sugar Mill

With souvenirs like organic skincare and coffee, you can’t miss out on the unique goodies offered at Waialua Sugar Mill on the North Shore.

Not only is it a great spot for shopping, but you can also take a tour of the old sugar-processing refinery for an up close and personal look into the past.

Visit on a Saturday to experience the small farmers market held here – perfect for picking up some local produce.

Coconut Island Mokuoloe oahu nl
Coconut Island Mokuoloe oahu

12. Coconut Island (Moku o Loe)

Hidden gems abound all around Oahu, yet the coolest one is definitely Coconut Island.

From its beginnings as a movie set for Gilligan’s Island, to being home to the prestigious Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, it’s truly off the beaten path.

You’ll find exotic sea creatures like sea turtles, reef fish, and corals and the institute also offers private educational tours.

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13. Lanikai Pillbox Hike

Pillbox Hike is the latest must-do activity and although a bit less of a ‘hidden gem’ compared to the rest of the stops on this list, it’s not just your average hike.

This trek meanders up to two iconic World War II concrete bunkers that served as lookout stations, painted bright pink for maximum Instagrammable moments.

Get ready to take in the grandeur of Mokulua Islands, Lanikai and Kailua…plus wave hello to sore calves – there’s an amazing payoff waiting for you at the top.

If you haven’t heard about this hidden gem yet, take a tip from us and don’t waste any more time!