West Oahu

Roughly 30 miles from Honolulu, leeward O‘ahu, on the west side of the island, is a different world from glitzy Waikīkī and the lush Windward side. Framed between the ocean and the Wai‘anae Mountains, this mostly residential coastline is home to about one-third of the island’s population and is known for its surfing beaches. Kapolei, officially designated as O‘ahu’s “Second City,” is a rapidly growing planned community. A popular family attraction of this coastline, Wet’n’Wild Hawai‘i, is the state’s only water park with thrill rides. Nearby, the new Disney resort, Aulani, opened in late 2011. Families love the four calm lagoons of Ko ‘Olina Resort & Marina, an upscale resort community with its own notable golf course. Many visitors head out here by the busload to attend a seaside lū‘au at either Paradise Cove or Germaine’s Lū‘au. Further up the coast, Mākaha Beach, popularized in the 1950s for big-wave surfing, has retained its reputation for epic winter waves. The Makaha Resort & Golf Club is set in a magnificent valley between the Wai‘anae Mountains and the shore, popular as a sunset gathering place.