Heeia State Park

Heeia State Park - Popular Local Park With Boat Ramps and Walking Trail
Local Expert's Rating:
4 / 5
The Bottom Line:

Heeia State Park is a multifaceted park with a unique history and a present that offers plenty of activities to enjoy. Go here to learn about traditional Hawaiian canoes and then rent your own kayak to venture out to the sand bars. 

- The HawaiianIslands.com Local Expert Team

Heeia State Park is a beautiful oceanfront park located in northeast Oahu, on the island’s windward side. This coastal location affords guests many opportunities, including serving as a picturesque setting for weddings and kayak launches. 

The oceanfront entrance to Heeia State Park is located just off Kamehameha Highway, between Heeia and Kahuluu. This state park has a pretty large parking lot that is located on the coastal side of the road, which can get pretty full come the weekends and during special events (like weddings and similar celebrations). You’ll also often find small vendors set up here and selling things like drinks and small souvenirs. 

The name Heeia reportedly means “washed away” and comes from an old Hawaiian story about a tsunami that came in and prevented an incoming attack against ancient Hawaiians then living in Oahu. The name thus refers to those attacking warriors being washed away from the land and the islanders thus kept safe. When this part of the island faced more intensive development in the 1960s, it was local Hawaiians who resisted and saved this stretch of land. In 1976, the peninsula and the land stretching up behind it was preserved as an official state park.

The primary part of Heeia State Park is located on a peninsula called Kealohi Point. This peninsula allows for sweeping views of Kaneohe Bay and its sandbars, the Mokapul peninsula, Coconut Island, Heeia Boat Harbor, and the Heeia Fishpond. Near the parking lot, you’ll find a large grassy area that is often used for events and, when not in use, is a great spot for an impromptu picnic. Public restrooms and outdoor showers are also available here. 

Surrounded by water, Heeia State Park offers several great activities for those who visit. One of the most significant is a gorgeous trail that was designed to serve as a self-directed trail to inform and engage walkers on the diverse types of flora native to Hawaii. This trail meanders throughout the park and at several points, offers scenic vantage points of the surrounding areas. There is also a boat ramp here that makes it an ideal launching point for several water adventures. You will often find locals and tour guides pushing kayaks down the ramp here and heading out to the nearby sad bars for snorkeling and swimming. The outdoor showers and public restrooms further add to the convenience this location offers for such activities. 

Love learning more about Hawaii’s history and culture? Also located within this state park is the Pauakea Foundation and the Kaneohe Cultural Foundation & Canoe Club. These are two separate buildings and organizations, but both focus on the restoration and enjoyment of traditional Hawaiian canoes. On any given day, you might chance upon members building or restoring canoes, or catch sight of them racing said canoes across the glassy morning waters of Kaneohe Bay. 

One important thing to note is that, unlike most parks in Hawaii, Heeia State Park is expressly no pets allowed, with the exception of service dogs. Part of this is undoubtedly due to the large amount of wild hens and roosters you’ll find roaming the area, as well as feral cats. 

Insider Tips:
-Want to go snorkeling but nervous about doing it on your own? The Kamaaina Kayak and Snorkel Eco-Ventures company operates outstanding snorkeling tours out of this location. Going with them is a great way to get out and see some of the best underwater sights while also learning more about Hawaii’s unique ecosystem. You can also rent kayaks from this and other local tour outfitters. 
-If you want to go further than the sandbars, head right next door to Heeia Kea Harbor. At Heeia Kea Harbor, you’ll find several outstanding boat charter agencies that offer scenic sailing cruises, jet ski rentals, fishing charters, and other water activities that you can enjoy a touch further from the shoreline.