Ko’olau Mountains


About Ko’olau Mountains


One of the most dominant geological features on the island of Oahu, the Koolau Mountains span from the very tip of South Shore Oahu to the islands North Shore Beaches.

Home to many of the islands most scenic points like the Nuuanu Pali Lookout, many natural wonders also call the Koolau Mountains home. Waterfalls like Likeke Falls and Waimea Falls, can be found in the valleys, and places like Kaneohe Bay, Chinamans Hat, and Laie Point pepper the coast along Kamehameha Highway.

While not as tall as the Waianae Mountains, the Koolau Range is much longer. Many of Oahus residents call the valleys of the Koolaus leeward slopes home. The islands 3 tunnels which connect Downtown Honolulu to Windward Oahu cross through the Koolau Mountains, connecting with the communities of Kailua Town and Kaneohe Town.

During heavy storms waterfalls form in nearly every one of it’s steep valleys, and can be seen from the highways passing through the mountain. Be safe and only stop to take photos from designated scenic points!


Formed by a giant shield volcano which began erupting more than 2.5 million years ago, the now dormant Koolau Volcano has erupted within the last 100,000 years. These recent eruptions have made some of Oahus most signature landmarks like Diamond Head Crater and Hanauma Bay.

Appropriately named by the ancient Hawaiians, Ko’olau translates into “Windward” in English. The mountain range has suffered much erosion due to it’s exposure to winds and rain.

Facts & Trivia

  • Island: Oahu
  • Fun Fact: While steep and impressive, the Koolau Mountains tower only 3,100 feet at the tallest point.
  • Pop Culture: The Koolau Mountains are home to Kaaawa Valley which is known as the Backlot of Hawaii because so many movies and television shows have been filmed there.