Let’s be honest, Ko Olina is the candy-coated version of Oahu. From the perfectly trimmed grass to its famous lagoons it has all been manufactured to paint an image of paradise. The resort community stands in stark juxtaposition to the rest of the west side. If you follow the tracks of the historic Ewa Train for just 15-minutes on-foot from Ko Olina you’ll find homeless encampments along with broken bottles and equally shattered dreams. But we digress. It’s too easy to get sucked into a debate about whether or not Ko Olina is a delightful escape for visitors and locals, or a curtain hiding the island’s truths. It is what it is, and if you’re staying here you’re wondering what there is do to aside from golf and hanging out with Mickey and Stitch at Aulani. There’s actually a lot to look forward to, you just have to know where to look.
5 Fun and Authentic Things to Do and Experience in and Around Ko Olina
Deep Sea Snorkeling (with Dolphins)
Off the shores of Ko Olina is one of Oahu’s best deep water snorkeling spots where spinner dolphins comes to play. However, you have to know where to find them, so it’s best to let experts be your guide. The crew at Ko Olina Ocean Adventures are masters of their saltwater domain and know how, where, and when to find dolphins. Once in position, you’re plopped into the Pacific to swim along side the sea’s most delightful mammals. This tour operator boasts a high success rate, and for a small fee you can purchase a policy offering a money back guarantee. But even if you don’t get to float among dolphins in their natural environment, there are numerous green sea turtles and tropical fish to keep you enthralled. View more on Ko Olina Ocean Adventures.
Have a Shockingly Great Time at Electric Beach
In the introduction we stated that if you follow the railway tracks for just 15-minutes on-foot from Ko Olina that you’ll run into the less manicured edge of Oahu’s west side. Don’t let this stop you, because five more minutes away is Hawaiian Electric Beach Park. One the surface this small section of sand is unassuming, but it’s the gateway to one of the most impressive snorkeling spots on the island. The warm waters that pour out of the power plant into the Pacific not only make the swim more comfortable, it invites the most diverse grouping of sea life off of Oahu. It’s a deeper water snorkeling destination compared to Hanauma Bay or Shark’s Cove, but it really delivers a remarkable experience. When conditions are right, this beach is also fairly good for boogie boarding. View directions and more on Electric Beach.
Paradise Cove Luau
You can’t discuss things to do in Ko Olina without referencing the Paradise Cove Luau. The daily luau is about more than great food and entertainment, as it’s a more immersive experience than some of the others taking place on the island. For instance, once within the Paradise Cove village, guests enjoy traditional arts and crafts demonstrations, and may partake in some of the more popular ones, including lei making. Are you in the mood for something more adventurous than weaving together orchid flowers? Challenge yourself in traditional Hawaiian tests of skill, with activities such as spear throwing, stone rolling, and dart sliding (you’ll see). View location and hours for the Paradise Cove Luau.
Stroll from the Marina to Secret Beach at Sunset
We know a sunset walk sounds like a copout when crafting a list of things to do. However, there is something special about the sunsets in Ko Olina. The combination of saltwater air and the idyllic palms that jut out of grass as perfect as putting green make for a magnificent setting. Begin your stroll over at the Ko Olina Marina and walk passed the resort properties until you reach the not-so-secret Secret Beach, which is one of the best places to see sea turtles on Oahu. Plan your evening about an hour before sunset, and follow this path from Ko Olina Marina to the Four Seasons. Face the ocean, then continue along the rugged (but manageable) oceanfront path until you reach the natural lagoon known as Secret Beach, which is in front of Lanikuhonua Cultural Institute.
Wind Down at Monkeypod
After a day of snorkeling, swimming, and hiking around lagoons you’ll be in the mood for tropical cocktails and pupus in a casual yet contemporary island setting. One of the best places on Oahu for such a thing is right here in Ko Olina (and now in Waikiki). An evening and night at Monkeypod Kitchen is the perfect way to conclude any day on Oahu, with most credit going to their Monkeypod Mai Tai. This cocktail is an activity in itself. It is a superb blend of Kula organic silver and dark rums, lime, house-made macadamia nut orgeat, and orange curacao, with a honey-lilikoi foam crown. View hours and more on the Monkeypod Kitchen in Ko Olina.
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