Hidden Oahu (part 3)

Here we go, hidden Oahu part 3 and it’s another 6am day. Today I think will be one of my favorites. We heard from a local my son met about a lava phenomenon called the “Mermaid Caves”. What is this you may ask? It’s a large lava flow sliding towards the ocean. Underneath is a large cave where during low tides has a sandy beach inside. The waves come in just like you were sitting outside only difference is the colors jump. From small holes in the rock the sun penetrates through to the water and brings out the most incredible colors. Somewhat dark inside but the white of the waves have fluorescent cast to it.

The Mermaid Caves

Again waking up at 6am to make low tide we jumped into the Mustang and drove the whole 5 minutes from Ko ‘Olina to the caves. From the parking lot it was a 2-3 minute walk at best. The lava rock is uneven so we took it slow. That was fine because the view was stellar. You had to look for the hole to climb down to the cave which took a little longer to find. The hole was larger than expected to it was easy to get into the cave, to get out on the other hand was a little more difficult.

Once inside it takes a few moments for your eyes to adjust but once they do its very cool! We were using a cell phone inside so the photo’s are not that great but you can get an idea what it’s like.

Mermaid Caves on Oahu, Hawaii

You can see the sandy beach but its the color of the water that makes this place. I was surprised there was no trash inside. Not only is this Hidden Oahu but it’s also a Hidden Beach!

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If you think this is all there is to the Mermaid Caves area just wait until you see the beach and surf here. You are going to go nuts over this “Hidden Oahu” beach. This give the word tropical beauty an understatement.

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Hidden Oahu, Hidden beach

This was along the lava rock flow but on the other side of this rock is the most beautiful relaxing beach I think we have found on Oahu.

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This is the name of the beach, and should keep you busy learning how to pronounce it!

E Komo Mai Nanakuli Beach Park sign

This was a perfect way to start the day, we loved our time at this beach. Next we drove past Makaha to a place we used to love snorkeling when I lived on Oahu. Kaena Point was once recorded for having the largest waves on the island. Legendary surfer Gerry Lopez who created his own brand of boards in the 70’s and 80’s was waiting for the 100 foot waves to break there. He wanted to be the first to ride “the BIG one” at Kaena Point.

Driving north of Makaha what used to be a dirt road is now paved most the way. The scenery is true eye candy to the traveling soul, Hidden Oahu at it’s best! Crystal clear water while large smooth rocks shine underneath and every once in awhile you can spot the fin of a Sea Turtle that pops out from the top of the ocean. Coconut trees waving in the tropical sea breeze but also deep valleys flowing from the mountains to the sea. It’s all what you expect to see here in Hawaii.

Driving down a country road with traffic in Hawaii

Even though they were working on the road and there was a little traffic we still enjoyed the beauty of the ride

Kaena Point Pool

We finally made it to Kaena Point and found this perfect swimming hole. It’s deep enough to swim but also shallow enough that your kids are safe here. It’s pretty much at the end of the paved road. From here you need a 4 wheel drive or as some athletic people did is ride a bike to the point.

The swimming hole was another highlight of our “Hidden Oahu” tour. We met some really great locals here and had a lot of fun with them. John and Keaka had fun talking photography and using GoPro’s. Keaka is doing a good business with GoPro video’s. Bet you are wondering what this place looks like so here are a few photo’s for you to enjoy. You can click on the photo’s to see a larger size.

This is two for two above the cut stops. Now for something a little different and a little further away, Queen Emma’s Summer Palace. The home may not be quite as opulent as Iolani Palace but what it does is show you that Hawaiian Royalty didn’t need the biggest or the best for a relaxing getaway. It was the perfect spot to escape even back then the busyness of Honolulu. Queen Emma Summer Palace or Hānaiakamalama (The Southern Cross), served as a summer retreat for Queen Emma of Hawaii from 1857 to 1885. Today it’s not a big tourist attraction but to see how Kamehameha IV’s wife Emma lived is quite interesting and worth a stop. The tour takes about 20-30 minutes depending how studious you are. It’s on the road to the Pali Lookout with easy access. For more information on Queen Emma’s Summer House click here.

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And finally to end the day we went to the Windward side of the island to see the Byodo-In Temple in Kaneohe. Inside the Valley Of The Temples Memorial Park the Temple was an unexpected surprise. Crafted after the original temple in Japan occupied by Buddhist Monks for over 950 years. Winding through the park the road ends at the foothills of the foot of the rugged Ko’olau Mountains. Crossing over the wooden arched bridge will bring you to the grounds where the Temple is located. It sits along a koi filled lake with man-made waterfalls and the ever popular Peace Bell. It’s a peaceful walk through the grounds filled with beauty every direction you look.

This has been a day of beach bumming and a short education of different cultures. It was the best of both worlds. We love the “Hidden Oahu”, the beauty, no crowds, learning so much about the Hawaiian’s and the history. Our hope is that this will show you there is much more to Oahu than Waikiki and the typical attractions everyone visits. Oahu has a bad name for being too much like Beverly Hills or a place where you might as well stay home because it’s so much like a big city. Now you have other options and I hope you will take the time to see these next time you are in Hawaii!


  1. I love the Mermaid Caves! Such a unique and beautiful spot. Your trip looks lovely, thanks for sharing.

    • twotravelfanatics@gmail.com

      Thanks Jenn, we did love the Mermaid Caves. That’s where getting to know the locals really pays off! Would have never known about them if it wasn’t for Justin making friends wherever he goes!

  2. Wow I’d love to be in those mermaid pools right now, as I sit in the freezing rain in NZ!

    • twotravelfanatics@gmail.com

      With you on that thought, we came home to cold-rainy weather and would love to be back there now too! Stay dry!

  3. The Mermaid Cave look amazing! I am really enjoying your Hidden Oahu series!

    • twotravelfanatics@gmail.com

      Thanks Karla, makes me feel so good that you are enjoying them! It was fun to find different things to do on Oahu.

  4. What beautiful scenery! Looks like it would be a fun tour to do! 🙂

    • twotravelfanatics@gmail.com

      It really is pretty there and to be honest I really think Oahu has some of the best views in the Islands except maybe Kauai. It’s the crowds that turn travelers away from visiting there. Once you get away from Honolulu it’s Hawaii at its best!

  5. I love Oahu! I’ve been there at least 3 or 4 times for work but have only been to the Byodi-In Temple from this list. Thanks for sharing this insider’s look at what Oahu has to offer!

  6. Oh wauw! Looks like some amazing pieces of nature 🙂 Would love to do a tour like this when I’m ever able to go here!

  7. Lauren Meshkin @BonVoyageLauren

    What a beautiful part of the world! I’d visit all of these places, especially the mermaid caves. Thanks for sharing and happy travels 🙂

  8. Hi! I really like this post, it’s really interesting.
    When I read it I was able to imagine everything you’ve written. The photos did the remainder 😉
    You’ve included in few words the essential things to see and to do.
    Well done!

    • twotravelfanatics@gmail.com

      Thanks so much for the encouraging words! Sometimes a pictures says a thousand words. I figured with all these stunningly beautiful places that the photo’s would be more than words.

  9. The caves and pools look so inviting and I enjoy visiting the temple whenever I’m on the island. So peaceful when there aren’t bus loads of tourists.

    • twotravelfanatics@gmail.com

      The caves and pool were definitely calling our names to come enjoy! Hope you can make it there next time you are on Oahu! We were very fortunate that there were no bus tours while we were at the temple. It was very peaceful and the perfect place to escape the crowds of Honolulu.

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