3 Compelling Reasons to Eat at Haleiwa Joe’s in Kaneohe


The Haleiwa Joe’s Restaurant in Kaneohe is my favorite place to eat on Oahu. It’s not too expensive but still nice and has gorgeous open views of the Ko’olau Mountain range with burning tiki torches at night. But still, the best part is the massive 40 oz prime rib!

1. The Views


As soon as you enter the restaurant you’ll notice the open-air setting with a casual ambiance. Ask if you can get a table near the outer edge where you can take in the amazing views below and above! Just beneath the restaurant is an idyllic pond with a grassy area and lush foliage. Above are the tall Ko’olau mountains and you can even see the Haiku Stairs or Stairway to Heaven! 

These views provide, in my opinion, the most beautiful restaurant setting on Oahu. At night the tiki torches on the perimeter are lit, further enhancing the ambiance and relaxing atmosphere.


2. The Massive Prime Rib

IMG_0046This prime rib is the biggest piece of steak I’ve ever seen, let alone enjoy and stuff in my face. I usually get it to share between my wife and me because it’s so big. It’s also super tender, juicy, and amazing with the provided au jus. Almost all of the “big plates” here have pretty sparing sides, in my opinion, so just be aware.

Beside the prime rib, which  you should definitely get, their coconut shrimp is also delicious. You can order it as a pupu (appetizer) or as a main dish. It comes with an awesome sweet, pineapple sauce that I love.

My other favorite is the New York steak. They bring it out in a pan, pour some type of alcohol in it, and it flames and sizzles in front of you!

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3. The Atmosphere and Service

At Haleiwa Joe’s in Kaneohe you can enjoy great service and still not feel out of place wearing board shorts and slippers (sandals). Or you can wear nice attire and still fit in perfectly!

The staff is very professional but also fun. Overall, the atmosphere is comfortable and relaxed. The restaurant opens at 4:30 PM and there will be people lining up at least 15 to 20 minutes prior.

Helpful Tips:

Haleiwa Joe’s accepts no reservations so we try to arrive around 4:15 to ensure we can get a good table near the edge with the views. Another thing to know is that your whole party must be present in order to be seated so make sure that one person in your group who’s late to everything gets there early!

Lanikai Pillbox Hike


The Lanikai Pillbox Hike is a short but beautiful hike in Kailua that is a must-do!

You will ascend very quickly to the top of a ridge that overlooks the gorgeous blue waters of Kailua and the Mokulua Islands.

Ko Olina Beach


Ko Olina Beach is a set of three man-made coves behind the Ko Olina Resort.

The coves create a relaxing, idyllic place to relax–and you have three coves to choose from!

Magic Island


Magic Island is a beautiful man-made cove next to Ala Moana Beach Park.

The cove walls break up the waves creating relaxing, calm water.

Castles Beach


Castles Beach is a great beach that’s perfect for beginner surfers. There are fire pits and it’s also popular for camping.

Pokai Beach


Pokai Beach is a more secluded spot on the west side of the island.

The weather is almost always great and the ocean is deep!

Kaimana Beach


Kaimana Beach is a Waikiki-esque beach without the Waikiki crowds!

Kaneohe Bay Sandbar


The Kaneohe Bay Sandbar is an incredible stretch of sand about a mile off from the coast.

During low tide this could turn into a beach in the middle of the ocean!

It’s also home to one of the largest breeding grounds for hammerhead sharks and snorkeling is great on the back side where there is a steep drop off into deep water if you’re brave enough!

Sandy Beach


Sandy Beach is a gorgeous beach on the windward side that always feels like a party.

Every local has a story of almost breaking their neck on the intense shore break so be careful!

Sunset Beach


Sunset Beach is world famous for its great surf break but it’s also famous for… you guessed it! Chilling and watching the sunset.

It’s a very long stretch of beach with fine sand on the north shore.

Three Tables Beach


Three Tables Beach is a relaxed, smaller beach on the North Shore.

It gets its name from three flat rocks a few hundred feet from the beach that you can swim to and jump off.

Spitting Caves


Spitting Caves is a lookout point where large waves rush into caves in rock walls and send massive amounts of water “spitting” back out of the caves.

It’s a short descent to the lookout and crazy people often cliff jump here–don’t do it!

Ala Moana


Ala Moana Beach Park is a less-popular option if you want to avoid the massive crowds of Waikiki.

Backed by a pretty park this is a great place to relax with beautiful and usually calm water.

Anahulu River


The Anahulu River in Haleiwa is a great place for a relaxed ride on a kayak or paddle board.

It’s not quite as pretty as Kahana River but it’s longer and also home to many turtles!

Electric Beach


Electric Beach is not in the most ideal location, it’s in front of an ugly industrial plant, but it’s famous for snorkeling!

There is a large underwater pipe that pumps hot water into the ocean attracting an abundance of marine life.

This is also a popular spot to find spinner dolphins!

Diamond Head Beach


Diamond Head Beach is a less popular beach at the foot of the Diamond Head Crater.

You’ll need to take a steep hike down from the road but it’s worth it to find this long stretch of secluded beach.

Halona Cove


Hike down from the Halona Blowhole lookout parking lot to find this beautiful, small beach surrounded by high rock walls.

The waves are big and the tide is strong so this is not the best place to swim but it’s a cool place to relax and watch the waves crash.

Behind the beach is a lava tube also known as “Cockroach Cove” for obvious reasons.

Kahana Bay


Kahana Bay is a gorgeous, idyllic bay that is best before sundown. It can be windy but if the wind isn’t strong it is beautiful and relaxing.

Surrounding the bay are lush, green mountains that provide the perfect backdrop.

Kokololio Beach


Kokololioi Beach is one of the most secluded and pretty beaches on the island. It is very long and is backed by a huge park.

The best part is a tide pool on the south end of the beach that breaks up the waves and creates a perfect swimming pool

Hukilau Beach


Hukilau Beach is laid back and big enough for you to have a whole area to yourself.

A good place to see a nice sunset!

Kawela Bay


Kawela Bay is an incredibly pretty bay with usually calm water and is almost always pretty empty.

The thick trees and foliage border the beach allowing about 15 feet of beautiful sand.

There are trails through the jungle around the bay and a pill box on the south end of the bay.

Waikiki Beach


Waikiki Beach is perhaps the most popular beach on Oahu. It’s always crowded and always beautiful.

It’s a great place to relax in the Waikiki ambiance as the weather is almost always good here.

Surfing was born on Waikiki Beach.

Makapu’u Beach


Makapu’u Beach is nestled in a small cove right next to the Makapu’u Lighthouse.

It’s a very pretty beach and popular for advanced boogie boarding. I never thought there was such a thing until I saw the huge waves here and the boogie boarders with fins.

Waimano Falls Trail


The Waimano Falls Trail starts off easy on top of a ridge in Pearl City. The path is an easy stroll until it drops steeply to the falls through a muddy, slippery path full of roots.

Is it worth it? Yes! The waterfall is awesome with a large pool that flows into two other pools below. You need to use a rope to climb down to the main falls. My favorite part is the 10-foot rope swing into the lower pool.

This is a less popular hike so you most likely won’t see too many other people and the area around the falls is beautiful.


Diamond Head Hike


The Diamond Head Hike may be the most iconic hike on Oahu. It’s a rather easy hike from a crater to the top of the volcanic cone that offers awesome 360 degree views of Waikiki and beyond.

It’s very popular and will be crowded. There is a surprisingly small amount of space at the top so be aware of that.

There are some really cool spiral staircases, tunnels, and a pill box at the top.


Hau’ula Loop Trail


The Hau’ula Loop Trail is a 2.5 mile roundtrip hike that begins in the jungle and ascends to a pine-tree forest. It’s really odd to walk on pine needles on a tropical island but the forest is beautiful!

It’s a pretty easy hike despite some moderate elevation gain. If it has rained recently there may be slippery parts but you might also find a few small waterfalls.

Overall, this is an easy, worthwhile hike.


Lanikai Beach


Lanikai is perhaps the prettiest beach on Oahu. The white sand is fine and the water is incredibly blue.

It’s a great spot to just relax, snorkel in the clear water, and kayak or paddle board.

The beach is incredible and also draws a large crowd. There is a ton of parking but somehow the number of open spots is always scarce.


Pounders Beach


Pounders Beach is a relaxed, low-key beach that has a good shore break for boogie boarding.

It’s a very pretty area with a small stream on one end and some cool rock cliffs on the other.

The rock cliffs are an ideal spot for photography as they’re covered with green plants and the powerful waves crash and are sent high in the air.

Friday Fireworks in Waikiki


Every Friday night the Hilton Hawaiian Village resort in Waikiki has an awesome firework show.

The timing depends on when the sun goes down and it’s dark enough but it’s usually around 6:45 PM.

Parking is kind of a pain so make sure to arrive well before to account for time parking and walking down to the beach. There are many public parking lots near there.

Duke Statue


Duke Kahanamoku is a legendary Hawaiian known for popularizing surfing across the world.

He was an Olympian swimmer, actor, and owns the famous Duke restaurants in Hawaii.

His statue is right in front of Waikiki beach and worth seeing!

Waimea Bay


Waimea Bay is one of the best beaches on Oahu due to the fine sand, incredibly clear, blue water, and an awesome rock to jump off.

The drawback of it being such an incredible beach is that it is quite popular for locals and visitors alike. It is a pretty large beach, though, so you shouldn’t have trouble finding your perfect spot to relax.

The water is perfect for snorkeling and the best place to snorkel to the left of the large rock as there is some reef there where you can find more fish and even turtles. Another fun thing to do is to swim in the tunnels under the rock!

If you’re daring enough you can jump off the rock. There are always people up there so you can follow them and see where they jump from. There are various heights to accommodate all fear levels.


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Makua Beach


Makua Beach is on the west side of Oahu and is long, beautiful, and secluded. With the backdrop of the near mountains and deep blue ocean this beach makes for an idyllic and relaxed environment.

The water is crystal clear and deep and there is a large cable that you can follow a few hundred feet out that leads to a turtle cleaning station. Turtles come to this spot to be cleaned by fish that eat algae off the turtles’ shells.

Another great reason to snorkel here is that you can sometimes find spinner dolphins! They have a somewhat consistent pattern of swimming southward in the early morning and then back northward in the afternoon.


Kuilima Cove


Kuilima Cove is located just to the south of Turtle Bay Resort. Park in guest parking at the resort and then head just to the right of the hotel. This beach is ideal for beginner snorkelers as the reef breaks up the waves and creates calm, ideal snorkeling conditions.

Swim toward the right of the small cove as that’s where you’ll see the most fish. You usually won’t see tons of fish but for a beginner spot this is a good place to start!

The beach is very pretty and there are restaurants right on the beach so you can order drinks, food, etc.


Laniakea Beach


Laniakea is known by tourists as “Turtle Beach” because there are often turtles found resting on the beach. There is usually a volunteer there to protect the turtles and answer questions you may have.

The best part is being able to swim with turtles in the small bay. You can usually find 3-4 turtles and they are very used to humans. Just don’t get too close and don’t touch the turtles–it’s illegal in Hawaii.

21 Adventurous Activities on Oahu


This list is for those adventurous souls who need some adrenaline in their lives. Oahu is a huge playground with some amazing, intense activities and this is the ultimate guide!

Shark’s Cove – Awesome Snorkeling Spot on Oahu

Entrance to Shark's Cove protected reef area

Shark’s Cove is one of the best snorkeling spots on Oahu. There’s a huge area that is protected from waves by high reef walls, fun underwater cave networks to dive and swim through, and you’ll almost always find tons of fish and turtles.

Pu’u Manamana – Best Ridge Hike on Oahu

Pu'u Manamana is an amazing ridge hike on Oahu

Pu’u Manamana is an absolutely incredible hike that’s not for the faint of heart. At times you will be standing on the top of a ridge that is a foot wide with steep, hundreds-of-feet drop-offs on both sides. You need a clear day with no winds for this one!

Mermaid Caves – Magical Underwater Caves on Oahu

Mermaid Caves
Mermaid Caves Beach

Mermaid Caves are fairly easily accessible and exploring them is an incredible and unique adventure. The underground beach and beauty make this a must-do on Oahu.

Halona Blowhole, Beach, and Lava Tube!

Halona Blowhole is a great sight to see in Hawaii on a budget

Halona Blowhole is an awesome sight to behold on the windward side of the island—you may have to be patient but the water can shoot up to 20 feet into the air!

Manoa Falls – Gorgeous, Short Hike to 150 ft Waterfall


Manoa Falls is a very popular hike and the trail is well-maintained. The falls are 150 feet tall and I think this is one of the prettiest hikes on the island.

Likeke Falls – Short, Easy Hike to Small Waterfall


Likeke Falls is a relatively small waterfall but the hike is super easy and short. There is not a pool at the bottom but you can climb up almost to the top of the falls (sort of dangerous but fun). There is also an awesome lookout that faces Kailua.

Lulumahu Falls


The trail starts right off the Pali Hwy and the hike is pretty easy and short. Leaving the parking lot you’ll walk through some very dense foliage and then up onto a trail through some open area with a river to the left. It’s a pretty good-sized waterfall with a tiny swimming hole at the bottom.

Maunawili Falls


This is a great hike but if it has rained recently will be very slippery and there are tree roots everywhere that make the trek a little difficult at times. Most of the trail follows a river and there is even an old Indiana Jones-type bridge you can find if you venture a little off the path.

Hamama Falls


The actual trail for this hike is one of the best/easiest, flattest, and best maintained trails on the island. The hike is pretty easy but there are some strenuous inclines as these falls are located near the top of the mountain. Along the way is a fun swimming spot with a slide and beautiful valley views. The trail is very pretty, usually with thick foliage on both sides.

5 Makaua Falls Tips – Best Short Waterfall Hike on Oahu

Makaua Falls with small pool

The Makaua Falls hike is one of my favorites and, if the falls are flowing, is an incredible sight. This is only a one-mile out-and-back hike but you will be following the river and hopping rocks for a lot of it. Be very careful if it has been raining hard as the river can be intense and impassable.

Wailele Falls


Located just before the Polynesian Culture Center, this hike will take you past a grove of palm trees and down a long, muddy path past various farming sites. When you start, make sure you are to the right of the small stream.

Waimea Valley Falls


This cool little valley is directly across from famous Waimea Bay and has plenty of parking. You’ll have to pay for entry into the valley, which features restaurants, stores, a cool peacock, beautiful gardens, and a nice waterfall with swimming hole at the end.

Mokoli’i Island (Chinaman’s Hat)

best oahu activities - chinamans hat

Kayaking to and hiking Chinaman’s Hat is one of my favorite things to do on Oahu. To get to the island you can kayak, paddleboard, swim, or paddle through relatively shallow and usually super clear water. During low tide you may even be able to walk all the way to the island!

4 Great Things to do in Hawaii on a Budget

Makapu'u Lighthouse is a great hike to do in Hawaii on a Budget

Hawaii on a Budget

One great thing about Oahu is the abundance of amazing and free things to do. If you want to experience Hawaii on a budget, check out the following ideas for a fulfilling vacation without breaking the bank.

Vacation Rentals on the North Shore



Three Rental Units on the North Shore

In addition to our personalized Oahu activity planning, we also manage a great vacation rental property in Punaluu on the North Shore. It is right on the beach and has amazing mountain views on the other side.