The west side of Oahu, Hawaii is the least touched by humans and is without extensive development. It is more of a countryside where there is ample nature that still amazes not only the tourists, but also the locals. There are great hiking trails, beautiful beaches, sightseeing spots, and natural caves that all welcome you to a day of adventure. If you are lucky, you may also spot some marine mammals out in the blue ocean right in front of you.
Hike the west side of Oahu
When you get to Kaneana Park, you can park your car and hike along the coastline or you can hike up the mountain and search for large caves along the mountains overlooking the ocean. If you hike along the coastline, the ocean is right in front of you, so you will feel a nice sea breeze and witness large waves crashing into the rocks while potentially spotting some marine mammals (if you are there in winter). If you decide to hike up the mountains, you can visit a popular cave, Kaneana Cave, also known as Makua Cave. For those who are afraid of the dark and/or heights, going up to the caves can be little challenging, but what Hawaiian nature created over time is incredible, so if you are up for an adventure, it would be a good hike to take.
Find a mermaid at Mermaid Cave
One of the biggest reasons I visited this part of the island was to locate the Mermaid Cave. The truth is, even not all locals know and visit this cave, but if you search online, you can find breathtakingly beautiful pictures of people visiting this cave. The day of my visit, there were others who were all searching for this beautiful cave, but there are no official signs indicating where this is. What we found out quickly is that going down to the cave during winter is not a good idea.
If you have traveled to Oahu, you may know that the waves are enormous during winter on the north and west side of the island. This cave is located on the west side of the island, thus during the time of my visit in January, the waves were incredibly large. Even during low tide, it was impossible to go down to the cave. Unfortunately, this picture only shows the cave from above, because we were unable to go down the cave. If you are visiting Mermaid Cave, definitely avoid visiting in winter, but try to visit in spring or summer when the waves are smaller. This will allow you to safely see the cave.
Can you spot marine mammals?
Despite our failure to go down to Mermaid Cave, we still had a lot of fun hiking around this area and we were also able to spot some marine mammals in the distance. During winter, all around Oahu, you are likely to spot some marine mammals, such as dolphins and whales, out in the ocean not so far from the land. The western part of the island is particularly great for spotting marine mammals and Kaneana Park is a great spot to sit down and search for dolphins and whales.
On this particular day, we could not spot any whales, but we saw a school of dolphins swimming across the ocean right in front of us. At Kaneana Park, we saw a local lady with binoculars sitting patiently watching the ocean to spot dolphins and whales. According to this lady, this particular location is a great spot to watch whales and dolphins during winter, so if you happen to travel to the western side of Oahu, you may like to dedicate some time of your adventure to sit in front of the ocean and spot beautiful marine creatures.
A few safety tips for traveling to the west of Oahu
The west side of Oahu is very different from other parts of the island. It is not like Honolulu or Kailua where a lot of tourists visit and there is always a constant flow of people. While parking at Kaneana Park, a local lady said that people breaking into your cars and stealing your personal belongings is a common problem. When you park, do not leave any valuables. Compared to other parts of the island, there are more car break-ins, so you do not want to leave any valuables behind. Furthermore, it is even a good idea to keep your car unlocked. You may think it is crazy, but if it is locked, your car windows may be smashed as the robbers try to break into your car. Yes, it is indeed a little more adventurous coming to the west side, but the nature on the west side is incredible, so it is worth it. Personally, my friend and I felt completely safe visiting this location, but it is good to be extra careful when you visit.
Outdoor adventure on the west side of Oahu
When you visit the west side, there are no fancy restaurants or shopping centers, so if you get tired of such touristy activities in Waikiki, why don’t you venture out of Waikiki and visit the west side to hike and possibly enjoy marine mammal spotting. In Kaneana, you can choose to hike along the coast or go up the mountain to get some exercise before heading to a nearby beach, like Yokohama Beach, to relax, or stay at Kaneana Park to spot some dolphins and whales. There are not many places to get food and drinks, so you may like to bring your own food and drink when you venture to this part of the island. Perhaps you’d even like to have a picnic on the beach or at the park.
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