Oahu's Windward Coast
The Windward Coast, which lies along the Ko’olau Mountains on the island’s east side and is named for the trade winds that blow inland from the ocean, stretches some 30 miles northwest-southeast, from Kahuku in the north to Kane’ohe and Kailua—the principal towns here—and southeastward another 8 miles or so to Waimanalo and Makapu’u Point, the easternmost point on the island.
Laie, a small village near the north end of the Windward Coast, is home, most notably, to the Polynesian Cultural Center, the foremost attraction on the coast, and the second most visited sight on the island, drawing almost a million visitors every year. The center encompasses 42 acres, showcasing seven recreated Polynesian villages that highlight the cultures of the South Pacific. There are also cultural demonstrations here, and lavish buffets and luaus (traditional Hawaiian feasts).
Sacred Falls and Byodo-In Temple
Worth visiting, too, is the Sacred Falls State Park, situated south of Laie, roughly half way down the Windward Coast in the Ko’olau Range. This is a 1,374-acre nature preserve, the centerpiece of which is an 80-foot-high waterfall, the Sacred Falls, located deep inside the park.
Another prominent sight, located nearer the south end of the coast in the Valley of the Temple, with the dramatic spires of the Ko’olau Mountains as a backdrop, is the picturesque Byodo-In Temple, a masterful replica of a 900- year-old Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan. There is a large, 3-ton ceremonial brass bell at the temple, and a seated, 9-foot gold-and-laquer Buddha in the main temple building.
Kane’ohe and Kailua
Kane’ohe is an urban center, the largest on this side of the island, situated near the bottom of the Windward Coast. The only place of interest here is the 400-acre Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden, with flora from all over the world, several hiking and horseback riding trails, and a 32- acre lake to boot. And adjacent to Kane’ohe is Kailua, also suburban, but where you can visit one of the island’s most beautiful white-sand beaches, Kailua Beach. It’s a long, wide, gently-sloping, almost perfect beach, where in 1975 the sport of of windsurfing was born.
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