City Escape: Honolulu, Hawaii

Text: Tim Kessel • Photography: Tim Kessel

Aloha, island riders. This escape from the bustle of Honolulu is a figure eight that features most of what makes Oahu great. The ride includes the can’t-miss twists, turns, and views of Round Top/Tantalus Drive. It also boasts miles of coastal riding and two passes through the impressive Ko‘olau Mountain Range. This is a year-round ride, but extremely variable weather is to be expected, especially on the east (windward) side of the island.

Length

Approximately 123 miles

Meet-up Spot

Café Kaila, Market City Shopping Center, 2919 Kapiolani Blvd, Honolulu, HI

Lunch Stop

A crepe lunch? Try it. Crepes No Ka ‘Oi is fantastic, has outdoor seating, and the menu is varied and unique. Find it at 143 Hekili St, Kailua, HI, (808) 263-4088.

Scenery (5 out of 5)

Lush tropical forests, vivid blue Pacific waters, and panoramic views are all on the menu of this motorized luau. 

Traffic (3 out of 5)

There’s no way around it—Honolulu traffic is frenetic and dense. However, once clear of the city, things thin out nicely. 

Difficulty (3 out of 5)

Because the route is designed to include two passes through the mountains, it’s important to pay attention to the exits. 

Road Conditions (4 out of 5)

Oahu roads are in reasonably good shape. There can be sandy sections, and watch for animals (especially chickens). 

Points of Interest

  1. Round Top and Tantalus Drives. This is the curviest stretch of road on the island. The views of Honolulu and Diamond Head are spectacular, and the historic route dates back to the 1800s; www.to-hawaii.com/oahu/scenicdrives/tantalusroundtopdrive.php
  2. Waimea Bay Beach Park. Waimea Bay provides the real North Shore experience. The beautiful bay is the location of major surf competitions and is rich in surfing history and lore. Huge waves and abundant wildlife are major draws; www.gohawaii.com/oahu/regions-neighborhoods/north-shore/waimea-bay
  3. The Dole Plantation. The plantation originated in the 1950s. It is now a pineapple-themed experience offering rides, tours, and the world’s largest maze; www.doleplantation.com
  4. Pearl Harbor Memorial. This site is 
a fascinating and reverent memorial, 
and a fitting tribute to World War II 
heroes; pearlharboroahu.com
  5. Tetsuo Harano Tunnels. This pair of amazing tunnels cut through the Ko‘olau Range for nearly a mile in 
each direction. The H-3 itself is a 
tropically lush and uniquely scenic 
highway, and the tunnels add even more intrigue; www.interstate-
guide.com/i-h-003.html
  6. Makapu’u Point Lighthouse. Built in 1909, the lighthouse sits at the easternmost tip of Oahu. The moderately easy, paved trail to the overlook can be made in comfortable riding boots. The views are worth the effort; dlnr.hawaii.gov/dsp/hiking/oahu/makapuu-point-lighthouse-trail