Why the Halona Blowhole is a Must-See on Oahu’s Loveliest Coast

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Halona Blowhole Oahu Hawaii

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Inside: A can’t-miss stop along Oahu’s scenic coastline, the Halona Blowhole is a natural wonder with volcanic history and a touch of Hollywood fame.

Located on Oahu’s rugged East Coast, along the scenic Kalanianaole Highway, the Halona Blowhole Lookout is a must-see stop on any driving tour of the island.

It’s a spot we always bring visitors to, not just because it’s a popular attraction, but because it’s easy to access – no stairs or hiking involved – and makes a perfect quick stop while touring the island of Oahu’s best sights.

What does Halona mean?

In Hawaiian, Hālona means “lookout.” So, technically the “Halona Blowhole Lookout” is a bit redundant, but what can you do? 

From the lookout, you can watch the ocean’s impressive power at work, soak in the view of miles of pristine coastline, and maybe even spot a whale during the winter whale season months.

Sandy Beach Park from the Halona Blowhole
Views of Sandy Beach Park from the Halona Blowhole Lookout

The islands of Moloka‘i and Lāna‘i can also be seen in the distance on clear days. Frequented by both locals and tourists, it’s more than just an impressive natural wonder; it’s a place where the beauty of the island truly comes to life. 

So let’s get to the facts…

What is a blowhole?

I’m no geologist, but here’s my best attempt at Geology 101 (I apologize in advance)…

Also known as a “marine geyser,” a blowhole forms when sea caves grow upward and open to the earth’s surface. The unique blowhole phenomenon – where ocean water is expelled through the port at the top of the hole – is the result of pressure build-up in the underwater sea cave or lava tube.

This geyser-like effect is a breathtaking natural occurrence and truly incredible to watch.

Hawaii’s Halona Blowhole was created thousands of years ago from molten lava tubes formed by volcanic eruptions. Unlike Hawaii’s Big Island, Oahu no longer has any active volcanoes. So the Halona blowhole is the island’s most scenic remnant of its volcanic history.

How to Visit the Halona Blowhole – Tour or DIY?

To visit Halona Point, there are really only two good ways – take one of the island’s many Circle Island Tours or rent a car and drive yourself.

Yes, technically you can take the local bus but I don’t recommend that. This one is just a quick stop unless you’re planning to spend the day at either nearby Sandy Beach Park or Halona Beach Cove. 

There’s a lot to see on this gorgeous part of Oahu’s shoreline so I suggest stopping just long enough to experience the ocean’s power at its best, then continue on your way. 

​Option #1 – Drive Yourself

To reach the Halona Blowhole lookout from Waikiki, you’ll need to travel east on the H1 Freeway. After passing the Hawaii Kai neighborhood, keep an eye out for the Halona Blowhole Lookout sign on your right just past Hanauma Bay.

Halona Blowhole Lookout Entrance Oahu
Entrance to the parking lot

From Waikiki, it’s about a 20-minute drive. There’s also a convenient free parking lot near the blowhole. 

Tip: The best way to find a great rate on your Hawaii rental car is to go straight to Discount Hawaii Car Rental.

MY Pick
Driving on Molokai Hawaii

Discount Hawaii Car Rental

For rental cars in Hawaii, go to the local experts. They’ll find you the best rate among all the major companies with no booking fees. And their customer support is top-notch.

Keep in mind that while the lookout does have free parking, that parking lot gets pretty busy at peak times so you may have to wait for a space. But there’s generally quick turnover here since it doesn’t take long to visit the blowhole.

And the benefit of visiting on your own means you can spend as much or as little time here as you like. If you do decide to drive yourself around the island, be sure to download the awesome Shaka Guide app:

BEST DIY Tour APP
Shaka Guide App Hawaii

The Shaka Guide App

If you’re a DIY kind of traveler like I am, this is the perfect app to download for your Hawaii vacation. These GPS-guided audio tours are fun, easy to follow, and a super affordable way to explore the islands. I bought the whole Hawaii package when we moved here but you can also purchase individual tours.

Option #2 – Book a Tour

If you’d rather let someone else do the driving, nearly all of the ubiquitous Circle Island Tours include a quick stop at the Halona Lookout. This is my favorite choice of those tours:

My Pick
Halona Blowhole Ocean Views Oahu

Byodo-In Temple and Waimea Waterfall Circle Island Day Tour

This full-day Circle Island tour is a great way to see the best of Oahu (including the Halona Blowhole) in a single day.

One advantage of booking a tour is the informative commentary provided by an experienced tour guide. They often have fascinating local insights to share.

Plus, you won’t have to worry about finding parking! On the downside, tours can sometimes feel rushed and don’t provide the same flexibility and freedom to explore as you wish.

Ultimately, it comes down to your personal preference: the convenience and local insight offered by a tour, or the freedom and flexibility of exploring on your own.

The Best Time to Visit

The spectacle of the Halona Blowhole’s oceanic geyser is best witnessed at high tide on a clear day, when waves hit the rock formation with force, pushing streams of water through the blowhole and high into the air.

But honestly, it’s pretty great anytime. So don’t feel the need to time your visit with the tide schedule.

The Winter Months

The blowhole can be visited year-round, but the winter months from November to February generally provide the most dramatic views. During these months, the northeastern trade winds are stronger and the waves are bigger – creating a more impressive splash through the blowhole. There’s also the added bonus of spotting humpback whales.

The Summer Months

In the summer months on a calm day, the blowhole might not be as active. However, summer weather typically means clear, sunny days with a better chance of seeing the island of Molokai in the distance. And I still think it’s pretty impressive even in the summer.

Halona Blowhole Oahu Hawaii
The Halona Blowhole in the summer (don’t walk down there like this guy did)

Halona Beach Cove

There’s more to the Halona Blowhole Lookout than just the blowhole! 

From the lookout point, just to the right is the small beach cove called Halona Beach Cove. This hidden gem is tucked away between the rocky cliffs and looks like something out of a movie (it is, and I’ll get to that in a minute!). 

A brief but somewhat steep, rocky descent gets you down to this stunning strip of sand where you can sunbathe and swim. While it is accessible, keep in mind that this beach is known for strong currents and large waves, especially during the winter months.

Halona Beach Cove Oahu Eternity Beach
Halona Beach Cove – Oahu’s “Eternity Beach”

And there are no lifeguards here so this one is for strong swimmers only (the above image was taken during summer when it’s safer to swim). 

If you want to spend some time here, it’s a good idea to wear sturdy shoes that allow you to move safely along the rocky path. Keep a close watch on ocean conditions and exercise extreme caution before you enter the water.

Honestly, if you have kids, I’d skip this one and just appreciate its movie-star good looks from above.

Halona’s Cinematic Fame

Both the Halona Blowhole and Cove have been immortalized in many Hollywood films. 

The natural beauty of this spot has drawn the film industry and stars alike. Halona was launched into stardom with the iconic 1953 film, ‘From Here to Eternity‘. Starring Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr, one of Hollywood’s most famous love scenes was filmed right here at Halona Beach Cove.

Around the island, this beach is commonly referred to as the “From here to eternity beach” or simply “Eternity Beach.’ Decades later, the 2004 film ’50 First Dates’ with Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler, also made use of the stunning setting for filming.

Important Safety Tips

The Halona Blowhole Lookout and its surrounding area is a showcase of Mother Nature’s raw power. If there’s one thing you better do while visiting Hawaii, it’s respect the ocean. 

Is it safe to get close to the blowhole?

No. 100% no. Always maintain a safe distance from both the blowhole and surrounding shoreline. The volcanic rock can be slippery and sudden large waves can catch visitors by surprise. It pains me that I have to say this but do not walk down to the blowhole and look in.

You laugh but here is a picture of someone doing just that the last time I visited (it’s worth noting that he was nearly swept out to sea when it blew). 

Halona Blowhole Safety
Do not stand next to a blowhole

I get that it’s mesmerizing to watch the Blowhole in action and you want that great Instagram shot. But the force of water spraying through the blowhole’s opening is extremely hazardous. There’s also a powerful downward suction that is equally dangerous to anyone standing close by.

Just don’t do it. Your Instagram account will survive (and so will you). 

Can you swim in the Halona Beach Cove?

Yes, you can swim at Halona Beach Cove, but that doesn’t mean you should. Be mindful of the ocean conditions and strong currents. It’s best to stick to shallow areas and be aware of any posted warnings or advisories.

Preserve the local ecosystem

The Halona area is home to indigenous wildlife and plant species that are a crucial part of Oahu’s ecosystem. Respect this environment and leave no trace of your visit.

Do not attempt to climb down to the Blowhole or disturb any wildlife you may encounter. It’s not just about safety, it’s also about preserving this magical spot for future generations to enjoy.

Guide to Oahu Hawaii Halona Blowhole Oahu Things to Do
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See more of Oahu’s natural beauty nearby…

A visit to the Halona Blowhole and Halona Cove is a must while exploring this side of the island. And the good news is there are plenty of other great places to visit nearby so you can make a whole day of it! 

Here are a few of my favorites:

The Foolproof Guide to Hanauma Bay for Snorkeling

This Family-Friendly Lighthouse Hike is Oahu’s Best Trail for Spotting Whales

Escape the Oahu Crowds with a Visit to the Byodo-In Temple

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