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Exploring: Island Tours > Oahu > West Side
Along the slopes of the Waianae mountains, lies Oahu's West Side. In the past decade this area has seen phenomenal growth as the planned community of Kapolei has continued the development of housing and commercial centers. There is also a major resort, Ko Olina, which includes a golf course and a world-class resort hotel.
Beyond this development, however, is a rugged coastline featuring a number of great surfing beaches.
The beaches are certainly not resort type spots, so be aware that these places are neighborhood hangouts, places where generations have gone to play and perpetuate a truly Hawaiian lifestyle. Respect is essential. Swimming can be tricky. There are often strong currents as well as big waves. Make sure you check out the conditions with knowledgeable people before you jump in. Also, the sun is quite strong and the skies are generally clear, so bring a hat, sun screen, and maybe a beach umbrella. At the end of the road is Ka'ena Point, a classic big wave spot. The road does not continue on so you'll be back tracking from here.
The Hawaii Xeriscape Garden: a garden displaying plants needing very little water -- not just cacti, but other beautiful blooming species.
Hawaii's Plantation Village: a village of 30 restored buildings or replicas of structures representing the years between 1840 and 1903. This living museum is dedicated to preserving the history and culture of Hawaii's immigrants from China, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Okinawa, Portugal, and Puerto Rico. Members of each of those ethnic groups created and now care for the buildings and present a fascinating view of their ancestor's lives in their new land.
Pokai Bay Beach Park: a spot where the protected bay provides good swimming conditions year round. The unrestored Kuiloloa Heiau at the end of the peninsula offers a great view of the Waianae Coast.
Makaha Valley and the Kane'aki Heiau: the home of white peacocks, generally strutting about in the spring. If you are interested in seeing a restored heiau, stop at the Sheraton Makaha Golf Club and ask directions to the Kane'aki Heiau, located in a residential development. The heiau, originally built between 1450 and 1640, has been restored by the Bishop Estate and the National Park Service.
Makaha Beach: the original home of big wave surfing competitions, with spectacular surf in winter and pleasant swimming in summer. An old-timers' long board championship is held here in February.
Makua Beach: Conditions are much like Makaha, with snorkeling at Makua Cave. No lifeguard, so be careful.
Yokohama Bay: the last sandy beach on the coast, it got its name from Japanese immigrants who used to fish here. Calm enough for swimming and and snorkeling during the summer, it's the territory of board and body surfers in the winter.
Ka'ena Point State Park: it's a short hike to the Ka'ena Natural Reserve, but on a clear day it's worth it -- you can see the island of Kaua'i. According to ancient Hawaiian legend, this is the spot where the souls of the kanaka maoli (Hawaiian people) leap off into the other world.
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