I was blessed to live on one of the most beautiful islands in the world. For seven blissful years, I woke up every day to the Honolulu sun and felt its warmth both inside and out. Millions of visitors flock to the islands annually, and there are plenty of guides and websites about things to do and places to see, however there are also many hidden gems. I have compiled a list of some of them, which include my favorite lookouts and city views.
1. Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden – Located in windward Oahu, Ho’omaluhia is a 400-acre park that includes a lake, walking trails, campgrounds, and a visitor center. I brought many family members to this beautiful paradise and found my favorite spot – a quiet and serene lookout of Kaneohe Bay and the Ko’olau Range. I loved going there because of the peace, tranquility, and sheer size. Though there are many visitors, you rarely run into people and can roam around at your own pace.
2. National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific – my husband and I used to live in Pauoa, which is only a twenty minute walk to Punchbowl Crater. On the weekends, we would wake up early and walk to the cemetery to “visit the fellas.” We’d read the headstones and say our greetings, then make our way towards the top of the monument to visit Lady Liberty. Afterwards, we’d take the path towards the left of the statue and arrive at a breath-taking view of the entire city including the iconic Diamond Head. We prefer this view to the popular Tantalus lookout, mostly because it’s not crowded with tourists.
3. Magic Island – not only is Magic Island popular amongst tourists but also locals. It is centrally located in Honolulu at Ala Moana Beach Park, and a great place to meet with friends for a bbq, get your work-out on, witness Japanese wedding photo shoots, fish off the cement wall, and watch Friday night fireworks over Waikiki. It is also the best place to catch the most amazing sunsets.
4. Pali Lookout – “Pali” means cliff in Hawaiian. The Pali Lookout is the site of the Battle of Nuuanu, where in 1795 King Kamehameha united the Hawaiian islands. This fierce battle claimed hundreds of lives, many of which were forced off of the Pali’s sheer cliffs. Though it is a popular tourist destination, we liked going there because of its historic significance and close proximity to our home. It also has amazing views and the winds can be so powerful and haunting, that you can almost hear the whirling howls and screams of the fallen spirits.