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THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WALKS TO TAKE ON OAHU

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NATALIE SCHACK

OCT 15, 2019

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IMAGE VIA @DAEVEAD | INSTAGRAM

There’s no shortage of stunning vistas or gorgeous lookouts in Hawai‘i. So no matter which island you’re on, you’ll have a hard time choosing from one of the many great walks to take around the island.

We like to think that Oahu has a leg up on the strolls scale, thanks to small but beautiful urban pockets that house fun shopping spots with bustling, festive vibes. Whether exotic markets are your thing, or you prefer other-worldly coastlines, perfect picnic spots, and serene canal-side stretches, there’s a picturesque space for a walk in Honolulu.

You may be familiar with Waikiki’s renowned white sandy beaches and clear water, but on the mountainside circling this neighborhood is the serene Ala Wai Canal. We wouldn’t recommend a dip, but nothing beats strolling the canal’s boardwalk-like jogging path at sunrise, cheering as the outrigger canoe teams practice their laps, and watching the light die out behind Diamond Head.

This gorgeous, 13.5-acre botanical garden is filled with an abundance of tropical flora, water features, and peaceful, verdant nooks. What makes it especially unusual is its location. Situated directly in the middle of the city, right across the street from Chinatown and the Financial District, this is a true urban oasis perfect for a summer stroll.

Part of the University of Hawai‘i, this arboretum is nestled in the deepest point of ultra-lush Mānoa Valley, up a short, steep road, and next to the trailhead to one of the island’s most popular hikes, Mānoa Valley Falls. It feels more like a park than a garden; there is a large lawn space, a small hiking path, unusual and exotic plants, and themed corners to explore. There's even a pavilion of hanging vines and a tiered rock-and-plant pathway.

Today, most of Waikiki Beach is lined with hotels that block the ocean view. However, head behind the hotels, and you’ll see folks walking (at times single-file) along a railed, raised pathway that spans almost the entire length of Waikiki. The route will take you past some small stretches of sand, and parts of the trail are right next to the water’s edge — so watch out for splashing waves! This walk is also a great way to take in the entire breadth of this iconic area, sans luxury storefronts.

Duck into herbal shops, meander through antique stores, peruse the displays of produce, and hit up the food stalls— there’s so much to explore in Chinatown. Venture deep enough into this part of town and you’ll find some remarkable architecture as well, including charming gates and the Chinese Cultural Center.

This spot is a bit more polished than the old-school vibes of Chinatown, but South Shore Market — nestled beneath a TJ Maxx in Ward Village— is a great place for a stroll in the area. Some of the state’s best local makers and small business owners have set up shop in the space to they sell clothing, homemade jewelry, and art made in Hawai‘i. You’ll also find neighborhood ice cream shop Lucy’s Lab Creamery, the perfect reward after a long, tropical, urban walk.

There’s a reason why the long stretch of Ala Moana Beach Park is always busy with pedestrians, joggers, bikers, and surfers hurrying in and out of the waves. The central location of the park couldn’t be more convenient, and the easy terrain and well-maintained paths make it ideal for a no-stress stroll. Plus, the views of stunning sunsets over the expanses of waves are unbeatable.

Perched on a rocky spot at the tip of the island’s southeast shore is a popular, manageable hike with tons of potential to branch off on your own. Head up the road to the lighthouse for views of whales breaching, then walk down towards the tide pools, carefully picking your way over the lava rock path. Or, you can explore the grasslands and hidden cove along the Ka Iwi trail down at sea level. Either way, you’re in for a scenic walk.

This charming, North Shore town filled with old, quaint buildings will make you feel like you stepped back in time. A walk down the busy main street will take you past famous sweets shops (shaved ice, anyone?), beach boutiques, eateries, and bars. Stop for a latte and baked goods at Coffee Gallery, or grab a cocktail at tiki-themed Teddy’s Bigger Burgers. Afterwards, you can head over the iconic Hale‘iwa bridge that’ll take you down to the water — just in time for a lovely, North Shore sunset.

The hustling, bustling main street of Waikiki—home to some of the island’s most beautiful luxury hotels and high-end stores—is packed with a ton to see. On weekends and holidays, this stretch transforms into an impromptu festival and market space, with matcha parfaits, tropical trinkets, street performers, and so much more.

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