Eastern Honolulu is an area of Honolulu, made up of several neighborhoods between the Diamond Head crater near Waikiki and Makapu'u Point, the very southeastern corner of Oahu. The neighborhoods of Kapahulu, Kaimuki, Kahala, Waialae, Aina Haina, and Hawaii Kai are covered here, along with the Makapu'u Point area.
From anywhere else in Honolulu, getting here is a simple matter of getting on the eastbound H1 freeway. Just after it passes the Kahala Mall, the H1 turns into a surface street - the Kalanianaole Highway (State Road 72). The Kalanianaole Highway passes everything of interest in this area, before curving north past Makapu'u Point and continuing upshore to Waimanalo and Kailua. From Waikiki, you can get to H1 by heading towards Downtown on Kalakaua Avenue, turning right on Kapiolani Blvd, and continuing to the H1 eastbound onramp.
There is bus service to this area, but it is somewhat limited. From Downtown, routes #1 and #1L go along the Kalanianaole Highway, with the 1 usually ending at the Kahala Mall and the 1L going all the way to Hawaii Kai. The #22 and #23 travel from Waikiki to Hanauma Bay and Sea Life Park, although service is limited.
- Diamond Head State Monument (from Waikiki, head south to Monsarrat Avenue and turn right; Monsarrat becomes Diamond Head Road and leads to the turnoff for Diamond Head). Daily 6AM-6PM; last entry at 4:30PM. One of the defining landmarks of Hawaii is this ancient volcanic crater which dominates over the surrounding area. An observation deck at the top offers breathtaking views of the southern coast of Oahu. After entering the monument through a short tunnel into the crater itself, you can hike up a 0.75 mile (1.1 km) trail from a parking lot in the crater to the rim, up a couple flights of stairs, through a tunnel (bring a flashlight) and an old coastal artillery to the summit. The hike is very popular and not difficult, but the climb can be a little much for the average couch potato (bring water). $5 per vehicle or $1 per person entering on foot; cash only.
- Halona Blowhole (along Kalaniana'ole Highway (Route 72) between Makapu'u Point and Hanauma Bay). Another popular roadside stop, the Halona Blowhole is one of many blowholes (ocean caves with a hole in the top, so water shoots out the top) along the coast, although this one is easy to view, located right under a parking lot, and can perform some nice blasts of water.
- Koko Crater Botanical Garden, 7491 Kokonani St (off Kalaniana’ole Highway past Hanauma Bay and Sandy Beach). Daily sunrise-sunset. A 200-acre botanical garden located inside a volcanic crater, with many rare dry climate plants such as African plants, cacti and succulents, plumeria, native wiliwili, dry land palms and bougainvillea. Free.
- Lana'i Lookout (along Kalaniana'ole Highway (Route 72) between Halona Blowhole and Hanauma Bay). Another popular roadside stop west of the Halona Blowhole, the Lana'i Lookout is located on a piece of land that juts out into the ocean. There is a parking lot and many people take pictures of the open ocean crashing onto the rocks. It is possible to walk down the slope of the rock to get closer to the water, although this is not recommended.
- Makapuʻu Point State Wayside (along Kalaniana'ole Highway (Route 72)). At Makapu'u Point, the very southeastern corner of the island, this roadside stop offers scenic views of Makapu'u Point and up the windward coast of Oahu. The 1.75 mile Makapu'u Point trail leads from the parking lot to the historic red-roofed Makapu'u Lighthouse at the end of the point, with magnificent views of the offshore islets and the rocky coastline along the way.
- Sea Life Park (along Kalaniana'ole Highway (Route 72) north of Makapu'u Point), ☎ +1 808 259-2500. Daily 9:30AM-5PM. A Sea World-esque theme park with marine animal shows and an aquarium. For a small fortune, you can also swim with dolphins or sea lions. $40 adults, $25 children; parking $5/vehicle.
- Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, 100 Hanauma Bay Rd (off Kalaniana'ole Highway (Route 72)), ☎ +1 808 396-4229. Summer: W-M 6AM-7PM. Winter: W-M 6AM-6PM. Closed Tuesdays. Hanauma Bay is not a place for beach sports but is instead a bay formed in the crater of an extinct volcano and filled with a wonderful coral reef and many fish. The calm waters and abundance of marine life make it an excellent place for snorkeling and scuba diving. A wide stretch of beach also makes it a scenic place to picnic or sunbathe. If you're driving you'll want to get here early in the morning (by 8AM) to ensure you get a space as parking is limited. Otherwise, parking may be available again by afternoon as people leave. On the weekends, public buses (route #22) from Waikiki fill up and will not stop if full; you can also get a shuttle package from most Waikiki hotels for about $15, round trip with snorkel gear, not including admission (ask your concierge). Plan on 20 additional minutes before entering as lines may be long, and all new visitors (as well as visitors who have not visited in the past year) are required to watch an orientation video. Bring water and food; there is a snack bar, but it's limited and pricey. Also keep an eye on the tides; at low tide you will be swimming right on top of the reef, which is harder and makes it less easy to see. Snorkel gear is available to rent at the site. $7.50 adults, Hawaii residents and children under 13 free; parking $1/vehicle.
- Halona Beach Cove (near the Halona Blowhole). Known as "the Peering Place", this is a small, rocky cove with a small sandy beach that is great for swimming when the surf is calm. It requires a small hike down to the beach, and there's no lifeguard or facilities, so it's swim at your own risk. Also, do not swim when the water is rough.
- Makapu'u Beach (just north of Makapu'u Point). A very scenic, rocky beach that's usually too rough for swimming but is a very popular spot for surfing and bodysurfing. During the summer the beach is wide and the ocean is usually calm, but during the winter high surf erodes the beach, exposing large rocks in the pounding shorebreak and generating powerful rip currents.
- Sandy Beach (just south of Makapu'u Point). True to its name, this is a nice, wide stretch of beach that's great for swimming when the surf is calm. When the water is rough though, the shorebreak and rip tide currents create steep, hard-breaking waves that make it rather treacherous for swimming but quite popular with surfers and bodyboarders. Visitors unfamiliar with the beach frequently misjudge the dangers and get into trouble; swim at your own risk. Lifeguards and facilities are available.
- Hawaii Kai Shopping Center, along Keahole St (just off Kalanianaole Hwy). A large strip mall that's one of the main shopping areas in Honolulu, anchored by a Costco's and a Safeway.
- Kahala Mall, just off H-1 (exit onto Waialae Ave from the west, Kilauea Ave exit from the east), ☎ +1 808 732-7736. M-Sa 10AM-9PM, Su 10AM-5PM. A regional mall is known for its more upscale shops. It is anchored by Macy's, Barnes and Noble Bookstore, and an 8-plex movie theater.
- Koko Marina Center, 7192 Kalanianaole Hwy (at Kalanianaole Hwy and Lunalilo Home Rd), ☎ +1 808 395-4737. One of the main shopping centers in East Honolulu, with smaller shops and restaurants, a small marina behind the mall, and an 8-plex movie theater.
- Cha Cha Cha Salsaria, 377 Keahole St. C-1A, ☎ +1 808 395-7797. One of the few spots on Oahu for Mexican food, this place has live music, incredibly friendly waiters, good chips. The service might be slow at busy times, but the entertainment compensates.
- Hoku's, 5000 Kahala Ave (in the Kahala Hotel & Resort), ☎ +1 808 739-8780. Fine restaurant lauded for its contemporary island cuisine. Recommended are the pan-seared Hudson Valley foie gras, sashimi and slow-braised pork belly.
- Genki Sushi. A Japanese-style eatery, with employees shouting "irrashaimase!" (welcome) when you enter. Very popular with the younger people, offering many types of sushi.
- Irifune, 563 Kapahulu Ave, ☎ +1 808 737-1141. This funky little Japanese fusion joint is one of the best kept secrets in town. Be sure to try the garlic ahi. There can be a long line of locals on some nights. It's BYOB!
- Olive Tree Cafe, 4614 Kilauea Ave (close to Kahala Mall), ☎ +1 808 737-0303. A very well known Mediterranean and Greek food spot among Honolulu resident's, this is a charming place, with most of its tables outside a small lanai. It is BYOB, and you can bring your own glasses to avoid the cup fee. There is a wine store on the side of the restaurant, in case you forget your own.
- Ono Hawaiian Foods, 726 Kapahulu Ave, ☎ +1 808 737-2275. Easily the best place to get Hawaiian food in the islands -- popular with kama'aina and the savvy traveler willing to venture beyond the tourist track. Get the combination plate for a sampling of both kalua pig and lau lau (with some pipikaula, lomi salmon and poi on the side). An advice would be to get here early: as the best Hawaiian food restaurant it is very popular and waiting lines grow fast.
- Roy's Restaurant, 6600 Kalanianaole Hwy (at Kalanianaole Hwy and Keahole St), ☎ +1 808 396-7697. Known as the "Wolfgang Puck of the Pacific," Roy Yamaguchi specializes in Hawaiian fusion cuisine. This is the flagship restaurant of the Roy's Restaurant chain and overlooks Maunalua Bay with a lovely westward view.
- Zippy's. The island equivalent of Denny's, though far more popular with the locals. There's a wide variety of food, including plate lunches at reasonable prices; their signature dish is their chili, which they prepare in many different ways: served over rice, over a burrito, or over french fries, to name a few.
- Kahala Hotel & Resort, 5000 Kahala Ave, toll-free: +1-800-367-2525. Set on 800 feet of secluded beach, this rather lavish resort has numerous luxury rooms and suites, five restaurants and a spa on site, and is a favorite with international statesmen and celebrities. However be careful; this resort can be way overpriced and the room descriptions can be misleading.