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Leeward and Windward: What Do They Mean?

Through the hours of research, reading, watching videos, and discovering the great things about Hawaii, there are many terms that you’re coming across. Some terms are very self-explanatory (like island hopping), and some need a little thought or further research (like aloha). And while reading about Hawaii, you are likely seeing “leeward” and “windward” over and over again. For locals and residents, these words are second nature and there is no need for explanation. For visitors however, you’re furiously Googling the terms to figure out what they mean.

In Hawaii, these two terms are used daily, and are commonly used as reference to where you are on any island, though that is not necessarily the definition of the word.

Let’s explore it a little.

You’ve likely come across the term “Windward Oahu”, and while this is accurate, there is not place on the map that says “Windward.” Put simply, “windward” is the side of the island that faces the wind. In this case, the Windward side of Oahu is the eastern shore, as that is where the wind blows across the island. So if you are on Oahu’s Windward Coast, you are likely in Kailua or Kaneohe, or visiting the spectacular Waimanalo Beach. The entire Windward side of the island can be seen from the Nu’uanu Pali Lookout, where winds can reach up to 80 MPH, and this part of the island is very wet, with a lot of rain and lush landscapes.

On the “Leeward” side of the island, you are on the complete opposite side, and are in a completely different environment. The Leeward Coast is on the northwestern portion of the island, about 30 miles from Waikiki, and includes the Waianae Coast. The islands resorts reside here, in the town of Ko’olina, and this part of the island is largely undeveloped, with small towns, desolate beaches, and stunning landscapes highlighting the area. This part of the island receives far less rain than the Windward Coast, and the landscapes are very dry and arid.

Visiting Oahu is a great experience, and if you are lucky enough to visit both the Leeward and Windward coasts during your trip, you will get to witness the natural diversity of the island. Enjoy the beauty of Oahu and explore as much as you can!

Due to the high volume of visitors traveling to Hawaii year round, our Hawaii tours and activities sell out quickly. In many cases, tours sell out weeks or months in advance. To ensure your spots on tour, we recommend reserving your tours today. Call our office or book online to take advantage of our low price guarantee today.

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