Sand Bar Kaneohe Bay. Photo: Anthony Consillio.

Kaneohe Bay, a 7,500-acre inlet, is the largest sheltered body of water in the main Hawaiian Islands, and the only bay in Hawaii with a barrier reef. Five tiny islands are anchored in the bay. The two largest are Chinaman’s Hat and Coconut Island. Coconut Island is owned by the State of Hawaii and is home to a University of Hawaii research center. But it is perhaps better known for its role in the long-standing television series, “Gilligan’s Island.”

Kaneohe Town

The town of Kaneohe, population 34,970, is a popular golf destination with three scenic courses, one of which is reputedly one of the nation’s most challenging (Koʻolau Golf Club). It is also a good place to tour botanical gardens. Two large gardens and a small jewel of a garden are located in Kaneohe. Byodo-In Temples, a replica of a 900-year-old Buddhist temple, and Heʻeia State Park, are located nearby.

Sweeping Scenic Views

The Windward (eastern) side of the island can be reached via three scenic routes from Waikiki/downtown Honolulu: the Pali Highway, the Likelike Highway or Kalaniana’ole Highway, past Hawaii Kai to Waimanalo. The Nuʻuanu Pali Lookout on the Pali Highway offers a sweeping view of the Windward side of the island.

To get to the Lookout from Honolulu, take the H-1 freeway to the Pali Highway off-ramp. Once on the Pali, you can take a scenic detour off the highway on your way to the Lookout. Turn right onto Nu’uanu Pali Drive, which winds through lush rainforest, then return to the Pali and watch for the signs to the Lookout.