Oahu: Aloha's True Face

A short drive north of flashy Waikiki, Oahu residents carry out small-town lives. These aren't your typical 'burbs, though: Cattle ranches, ancient fishponds, old sugar mills and untrodden beaches pop up between towns. Find the sights along the Ke Ala Moa'e (The Tradewind Trail) with the help of downloadable brochures created by the Hawaii Ecotourism Association. Input from locals fills these mini-guidebooks with detailed maps and pithy anecdotes. The drive down Kamehameha Highway lasts for only about 16 miles, but it could take days should you come to feel at home with the region's slow pulse. The drive itself, however lovely, is not the point; pull your car over and get out. The spirit of Oahu resides here, in your chatty waitress at the Hukilau Cafe, the roadside vendor hawking fresh pine- apple near Hau'ula and the fisherman with whom you share Ka'a'awa beach. This homegrown heritage tourism will make you feel embraced, as if you've been invited to share a meal in the home of a generous stranger.

More Information

  • The Hawaii Ecotourism Association offers a portal for finding ecotours, adventures and more that bring alive the breathtaking natural wonders and authentic culture of Hawaii. hawaiiecotourism.org