Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden
45-680 Luluku Rd., Kāne'ohe
It’s usually around day three or four that you’ll want to get out of the sun—or at least take a break from the beach. That’s where the Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden comes in. It sits right up against the Koolau Mountain Range, which is as beautiful as it sounds—lush and natural and packed with every shade of green imaginable and unimaginable. There’s also a loop for an easyish walk around the reservoir that was built by the US Army as flood control.
41-43 Kalanianaole Hwy., Waimanalo
Powdery white sand, crystal-clear water, and distant green peaks describes…most of Oahu. But Bellows Beach, nestled into the southeast edge of the island, has an added advantage: Most people don’t know it’s there—and those who do are mostly locals. The ironwood trees that frame the sand provide welcome shade, and the wind that whips this slice of coast churns up waves made for boogie-boarding. Disclaimer: Bellows is open only on weekends, so plan accordingly.
64-1550 Kamehameha Hwy., Wahiawa
To state the obvious: The Dole Plantation is a totally kitschy, touristy experience. But if you can get past (or even get excited about) the hoards of pineapple memorabilia and the tourists that look straight out of central casting, it’s actually a very fun stopover on the way to the North Shore. For starters, there’s fresh, juicy, just-picked pineapple around every corner. Visitors can also check out the pineapple-shaped garden maze, which is the largest maze in the world, or the “Pineapple Express,” a just-for-kids train that circles the property. The real reason to go, though, is because the Dole whip here tastes even better than the Disneyland version.
Haokea Dr., Kailua
A coral reef off the shore of Lanikai Beach protects the water from big tides and waves, so this is a local favorite for a calm, relaxing swimming. The safe, warm water also makes it good for snorkeling—there are plenty of reef fish to be seen, and there are turtles once in a while, as well. And though it does get a bit crowded on the weekends, the stunning view of the Mokulua Islands and the powdery, white sand make for excellent sunbathing (though you’ll want to come early in the day, before the afternoon sun slips behind the mountains to the West, and also before all of the parking spots are taken). Note: It’s a great place to watch the sunrise.
Maunawili Falls Hike
1201 Kelewina St., Kailua
This hiking trail in Kailua is great for hot days because it’s almost entirely covered by trees and foliage. The trail itself follows a creek up the hillside through a lush forest until you arrive at a swimming hole that features a lovely waterfall and a few great jumping-off points for brave cliff jumpers. A few words to the wise: The trail can get muddy when the creek is high, so wear appropriate shoes. It’s also a good idea to pack some bug spray.