Most Scenic Routes

The Most Scenic Routes in Oahu: Ride in Style

Did you know? Oahu is the third-largest Hawaiian island and a paradise for nature lovers and those looking for great adventures. Its diverse landscapes, lush mountains, and famous beaches make it an ideal destination for exploring the Hawaiian islands by road.

For those looking for a scenic drive with the luxury of a stylish ride, Oahu offers an array of breathtaking routes that promise both adventure and comfort.

If you are planning an Oahu road trip, we have listed the most scenic drives to make your trip memorable on the island, inviting you to ride in style as you immerse yourself in the island’s natural beauty.

How Long Does It Take To Drive Around Oahu Scenic Route?

If you’re wondering how much time you need to set aside for a scenic drive in Oahu, let me tell you: it all depends on how much time you are willing to give.

Usually, the drive around Oahu can be completed in a day, but if you decide to stop by the attractions, it might take up to 12 hours to finish the drive (that’s a whole day, TBH)!

Oahu Scenic Route

If you’re here for a few days, the best idea is to split the drive into a few days. Maybe cover the local attractions around by driving a car or riding a scooter or a moped. That way, you don’t have to schedule a different day to cover the scenic routes.

Also, discuss with your family and friends (don’t forget your kids) about where they would love to go so you can prepare your itinerary accordingly.

Best Oahu Scenic Drives You Need To See!

Exploring the island by car is a great way to witness its stunning views. Here are some of the best scenic drives on Oahu:

Lagoon Drive

If you are planning to explore scenic drives, starting with this route can be your best option.

Lagoon Drive is the shortest scenic drive in Oahu, worth checking out, taking only five minutes. It is right outside the airport, so you don’t have to wander much to complete this route.

You can also see the drive taking off from Honolulu airport, but why watch it from far away when you can experience it up close?

You’ll find clear turquoise water with small islands covered in trees all along the road. I’d also recommend you stop by at the end of the road, where there is a parking lot. Here, you can enjoy watching planes fly over the picturesque landscape, which is pretty cool!

To begin your drive, start from Keehi Lagoon Beach Park and keep driving until the ending point, i.e., near Honolulu Helicopter Tours.

Hanauma Bay

Hanauma Bay

Moving ahead, for an unforgettable journey along a coastal road that meanders along the southeastern shore of Oahu, drive around Hanauma Bay (Route 72, East of Honolulu).

This route promises breathtaking views of the vast Pacific Ocean and the iconic Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve.

This beautiful nature preserve has a sandy beach and is known for offering some of the best snorkeling in Oahu. The water is incredibly clear, and numerous colorful fish and coral create a standard and extraordinary snorkeling experience for the visitors.

You can start the drive at the Hanauma Bay Lookout, where the azure waters and vibrant coral reefs below set the stage for an awe-inspiring drive.

As you cruise along the winding road, I’m sure you’ll be captivated by the coastal cliffs and lush vegetation that frame the ocean panoramas. And don’t forget to pause for a moment and take in the spectacular view of the beach, which will surely add icing to the cake during your drive.

Interstate H-3

Interstate H-3

Okay, so here I’m going to be a bit partial. Since my stay here, H-3 has been my favorite route to drive. And yes, it is numbered 1, 2, 3 (just stating so you don’t get confused).

This is one of the island’s three highways most scenic route, offering breathtaking views as it cuts through the lush Koolau Mountain Range, providing glimpses of the stunning Kaneohe Bay on sunny days.

The best time to go through this route is during the rainy season. I know it could be a hard drive, but trust me, you won’t regret the decision anytime.

You’ll see the green Koolau Mountains while water pours from the sky, filling every nook and cranny and creating numerous waterfalls. Can you imagine a more spectacular scenic drive on Oahu?

While this drive is more about the journey than reaching a specific destination, you can add more fun to your itinerary with worthwhile stops in Kailua and Kaneohe, Kailua Beach, Lanikai Beach, and the Byodo-In Temple.

The trip starts from Kailua ending at Aiea (or vice versa). The entire drive takes less than half an hour to complete.

Remember not to get lost in the beauty of the drive because you wouldn’t want to miss out on the famous silver staircase snaking up the Koolau Mountain Range, also known as the Stairway to Heaven hike.

Makapuu Point

Makapuu Point

The Makapuu Point is a hidden gem on Oahu as you’ll pass by famous attractions like the Koko Marina, China Walls, Hanauma Bay, Halona Blowhole Lookout, and Sandy Beach Park and only then reach the Makapuu Point.

On this route, you’ll explore the southeastern tip of Oahu by driving along the Makapu’u Point Scenic Byway. This route takes you past scenic beaches, rocky cliffs, and the Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail.

The viewpoints along the way provide stunning coastline vistas and deep blue waters. Also, while on your journey, keep an eye out for humpback whales during the winter months as they migrate through these waters.

If you keep on going along the winding Kalanianaole Highway, you’ll discover Makapuu Beach, Sea Life Park, and a few other hidden beaches.

You can even extend the drive all the way to Kailua; although it may not be the most efficient route, it’s definitely the most scenic. If you’re up for more adventure, don’t forget to go on a challenging hike at Koko Head; that’s a 1000-step hike.

You can start the drive from Kuliouou Beca Park and end it at Waimanalo Beach Park. The drive is only 15 minutes short if you don’t stop in between.

Finally, at the end of the drive, select a scenic restaurant where you can treat your tummy and eyes at the same time.

Windward Oahu

Windward Oahu

The east side of Oahu beyond Kailua and Kaneohe, extending up to the North Shore, often goes unnoticed. However, the drive along this coastline, known as Oahu’s Windward Coast, is truly breathtaking.

As you travel along the road, you’ll witness the ocean changing colors from light turquoise to deeper blue. You’ll find multiple beaches along the way, and I recommend you stop at each if possible. Have extra fun if you find rope swings around.

Along the route, you’ll come across various stops like Byodo-In Temple and Kualoa Ranch in Kaneohe, Kahana Beach Park.

You can start the drive from Kaneohe and end at Laie, where you can dine in some of Oahu’s North Shore best restaurants.

This drive is pretty long and takes 40 minutes to complete. However, the views you see around will make your trip feel even shorter.

Diamond Head Road

Diamond Head Road

For a blend of natural beauty and historical significance, Diamond Head Road provides a captivating journey around the iconic Diamond Head crater.

You can begin the drive from Waikiki Beach; this route takes you past exclusive residences and overlooks the turquoise waters of the Pacific.

The highlight of the drive is the Diamond Head State Monument, where a hike to the summit rewards you with breathtaking views of Waikiki and the southeastern coastline. This route seamlessly combines the allure of coastal panoramas with a touch of Hawaiian history.

Explore the Waikiki Aquarium, Kuilei Cliffs, Amelia Earhart Memorial, and spot marine life like whales during winter (December to March).

It’s a great spot for watching whales in winter, from December to March. You can also take a guided tour hike up Diamond Head to make your Oahu scenic drive even better.

You can drive along Diamond Head Road by the coast, which is the most beautiful part. The road goes up along the cliff, and below is the ocean.

For the best, go to Kuilei Cliffs, looking over Oahu’s south shore and Kahala’s oceanfront villas. During your scenic drive, make sure to see the monument dedicated to Amelia Earhart.

You can start the drive from the east of the Waikiki beach. On sunny days with a clear sky, you might see two more beautiful Hawaiian islands, Molokai and Lanai. Keep going down Diamond Head Road, and you’ll get to Kahala Avenue. You can make a loop and finish your trip to Waikiki.

Farrington Highway

Farrington Highway

Farrington Highway is a famous roadway on the island of Oahu that stretches along its western coast, offering scenic views of the Pacific Ocean and the surrounding landscapes.

The highway basically consists of two parts- the north coast & west coast. Check the map to see which Farrington Highway you want to drive. The highway passes through various towns and communities, providing access to beautiful beaches, parks, and other points of interest.

If you want to drive the Farrington Highway North Shore, start your scenic drive in the town of Waialua. The 8-mile drive will take you no more than 30-40 minutes unless you choose to trek at the end of the road.

The road ends just before the Ka’ena Point State Park. You can admire the coastal beaches and Waianae Mountains along the scenic way. If you would like to stop for a picnic or chill on the beach, Mokuleia Beach Park and Army Beach are the best options.

Between the two parts of the road is a difficult part of the island called Ka’ena Point, where you can only go hiking here. This place is famous for the habitats of albatrosses and other sea birds.

If you like hiking, the Kaʻena Point Trail at the end of the road offers beautiful vistas. It’s an easy walk, perfect for kids, especially as you can birdwatch and Hawaiian Monk Seal. Make sure to keep at least 150 feet distance from animals.

On the other hand, the scenic drive on the Farrington Highway West Shore begins at Kamehameha Highway north of Pearl Harbor, near Waipahu.

It heads west along the southwestern and western shores of the island. The most scenic route starts near Ko Olina and ends just before Ka’ena Point State Park. So if you have less time, you can start your trip in Ko Olina. It is less than 30 miles from here.

The best lookout points along the way are Makaha Beach Park, Waianae Mountains, Kaena Point State Park, Pokai Bay Beach Park, and more.

The most scenic section of the road is north of Makaha until it dead ends. It is worth stopping at Mākaha Beach Park, Kea’au Beach Park, Keaau Beach, and Mākua Beach.

The beaches are very beautiful, empty, and sandy, surrounded by the Waianae Mountains and green valleys. Finally, at the end of Farrington Highway West, the Jeep Trail to Ka’ena Point State Park begins.

There are guided tours available for these destinations, so you can book one to add more fun to your enjoyment.

Pali Highway

Pali Highway

The Pali Highway, also known as Hawaii Route 61, is one of the most picturesque roads on the island of Oahu.

This highway serves as the primary link between downtown Honolulu and the windward side of the island, passing through the scenic Nu’uanu Valley and the residential neighborhood of Nu’uanu.

Positioned on a 1,186-foot mountain saddle surrounded by the impressive 3,000-foot peaks of the Ko’olau Mountain Range, it provides a captivating panoramic view.

From this vantage point, most visitors can enjoy breathtaking vistas of the charming towns of Kailua and Kaneohe above the sea.

The journey includes traversing the Nu’uanu Pali Tunnels and continues through the communities of Kāne’ohe and Kailua.

The scenic drive along the Pali Highway begins near “S Vineyard Blvd” in Honolulu, close to the Cathedral Basilica of Our Lady of Peace, and concludes at Kailua Road.

A noteworthy stop along this route is the Nu’uanu Pali Lookout, located before the tunnels, especially if you’re heading from Honolulu. This lookout point is renowned as one of the most beautiful on Oahu.

The Pali Highway scenic drive offers not only a practical connection between different parts of the island but also a visually stunning journey with the added bonus of the Nu’uanu Pali Lookout for a memorable stop.

Tantalus Round Top Drive

Tantalus Round Top Drive

Going on a road trip in Oahu wouldn’t be complete without checking out Tantalus’ round-top drive. This 7-mile drive is one of the best roads on the island, offering fantastic panoramic views of Honolulu and Waikiki from a high-up perspective.

Interestingly, this road became the first street on Oahu to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2009.

The road is curvy and covered, going up Mount Tantalus and back down. As you drive along this winding mountain road, you get to experience something different by going through the lush rainforest of Pu’u’ Ualaka’a State Park.

The road takes you to Tantalus Lookout, where you can enjoy sweeping views of Honolulu, Diamond Head, and the vast Pacific Ocean.

The mountain air is cool and refreshing, and you’ll be accompanied by the pleasant sounds of tropical birds singing, creating a peaceful atmosphere. It’s a great escape from the busy coastal areas.

The best place to take in the views is at Pu’u Ualaka’a State Park. From there, you can see Diamond Head to the east, Honolulu International Airport, and Pearl Harbor to the west. The sunset and the Honolulu city lights at night are especially beautiful from this vantage point.

Nu’uanu Pali Drive

Nu'uanu Pali Drive

Nu’uanu Pali Drive is a beautiful experience in lush greenery. During this short Oahu scenic drive, you will feel like you are in the jungle. It begins next to Pali Highway (Route 61) near Toho No Hikari Hawaii Church.

Right next to the entrance of the Lulumahu Falls hike is one end of Nuuanu Pali Drive. This road is canopied with blossoming greenery from start to finish. This area is filled with streams that keep this canopy happy, healthy, and vibrant. It’s like a natural magical wonderland!

If you start this Oahu scenic drive at Lulumahu Falls, you can drive the entirety of Nuuanu Pali Drive and end up just ten to fifteen minutes away from Chinatown, downtown Honolulu, and Waikiki Beach.

This greenery-covered road has some interesting-looking trees and lush vegetation surrounding it. But it is also home to a popular Hawaiian scary legend. In fact, locals consider the sharp turn, known as Morgan’s Corner, one of the creepiest places on Oahu.

The Nuuanu Pali Drive is only five minutes away. But if you combine it with the part of Pali Drive that heads back into Honolulu, it’ll take ten minutes.


What makes Oahu an excellent destination for scenic drives?

Oahu has a beautiful landscape covered with lush green mountains and stunning coastal views. Driving around these scenic routes offers a unique opportunity to explore the island’s beauty at a leisurely pace, allowing you to appreciate its natural wonders.

Are these scenic routes suitable for all types of vehicles?

Most of the recommended routes are accessible by standard vehicles. However, some off-road routes may require a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Always check the specific route details and conditions before beginning your drive.

Can I find any guided tours for these scenic routes?

Yes, there are some tour companies offering guided tours for scenic drives in Oahu. These tours may provide additional insights into the local culture, history, and ecology, enhancing your overall experience.

Make Your Road Trip More Fun And Memorable!

Oahu stands out as a truly unforgettable place. Oahu’s scenic routes are as diverse as the island itself, offering a rich tapestry of landscapes, cultural experiences, and natural wonders.

Whether you choose to explore the mountains, coastlines, or cultural landmarks, each route promises a unique and unforgettable adventure.

So, pick your favorite drive, hit the road, and let the beauty of Oahu unfold before you, ensuring that your journey is not just a drive but a celebration of the island’s remarkable charm.


  1. This gateway is incredible. The splendid substance displays the manager’s commitment. I’m overwhelmed and envision more such mind blowing substance.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Free Delivery in Waikiki