Kaneohe and Kailua are Honolulu's urban neighbors, just 12 miles east over the Koloau Mountains along the coastal stretch facing into Oahu's lush tropical winds. Despite the fact that the two cities have a collective population of somewhere close to 70,000, the tangled green of the land outside of the urban areas lends the area a decidedly rural feel, particularly when compared to the very sophisticated and developed Waikiki. Kailua and Kaneohe, however, lay claim to equally beautiful beaches and, not surprisingly, appeal to sailboarders and kite surfers—anyone, really, adventurous enough to explore new frosted white beaches and crystal blue depths.
Having exhausted your interest in civilized pursuits, such as shopping and golf, lope along the Maunawili Demonstration Trail for views and exercise—the further along this out and back route you go the more solitude you're assured. For the sound of birds and rustling jungle, tread paths in the Hauula region further north, stopping on the way for a pre-picnic swim at Ahupuaa 'Okahana State Park or any of the fine beaches carved away into this stretch of coastline.
Green thumbs can take a nature walk through Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden, near Kaneohe, or Senator Fong's Plantation and Gardens north of Kahaluu to see how the foliage in Oahu grows.
Send any members of your party with a short attention span to Kualoa Ranch, where a smorgasbord of adventures awaits. Choose from time in the saddle, diving, jet-skis and ATV's but whatever you do, don't forget check your back trail for stampeding Gallimus dinosaurs that may have escaped when Jurassic Park filmed scenes here.
Having reached the north end of the windward coast, immerse yourself in history and anthropology at the Polynesian Cultural Center. Tour reproductions of Polynesian villages—from Samoan to Fijian, and take in traditional tree-climbing and dancing with fire knives while you make your rounds. Finish off the night with dinner and a cultural performance at the local luau, a feast for the body and eyes.
Kailua and Kaneohe are both less than 20 miles east of Honolulu over Routes 61 and 63.