Waimanalo, Hawaii, is a sleepy windward town with its roots still in agriculture. It has the longest sandy beach on Oahu and a decidedly local, rural feel.

The Makapu'u Point trail, along the Ka Iwi State Scenic Shoreline, is a paved trail that winds from Highway 72 to the Makapu'u Lighthouse on top of the peak. It offers great views of the waves crashing on the coastal lava, and you can see up the coast to Rabbit Island and beyond. In the wintertime when the seas are calm, you can see whales. It's a good walk in the wet seasons when all the other trails are muddy, but it can be hot midday. Remember to take water and binoculars.

Waimanalo Beach, Oahu's longest stretch of golden sand, is refreshingly short on crowds. With calm waves for swimming and lots of grass for just snoozing under a palm tree, Waimanalo is actually a collection of two county beach parks and a span of U.S. military beachfront property that's open to the public on weekends. Be aware that this beach has a large homeless population, so choose your parking spot carefully and don’t leave anything, valuable or not, in your car.

Located near a few of the best beaches in Oahu, Koko Crater Botanical Garden is a great place to explore. The roughly 60-acre/24-hectare garden is home to impressive collections of cactus, plumeria and other unique tropical plant life.

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