Where to Find the Sideways Palm Tree on Oahu?

Silhouette of four crooked palm trees on a windy day during sunset

When envisioning a tropical paradise in our head, we often think of sideways palm trees with coconuts dangling above, providing much-welcomed shade on a sunny day. If you are in Oahu, you can experience this cheesy yet idyllic visual in real life. Simply head to Kapalaoa Beach, which is less than an hour’s drive from Honolulu. Beware that parking spaces are limited and will likely be occupied on the weekends.

Right across the junction between Kukuna Road and Kamehameha Highway you find these three palm trees:

The three palm trees grow at varying angles, with the left one growing at about a 40° angle, making it the most picturesque.

Don’t dangle from the tree.

Please be careful when taking photos on the tree. As you can see from these images, many tourists enjoy climbing this palm tree to take scenic photos. Make sure you don’t lose your balance, as a fall might be painful. The climbable part of the tree is around 4 meters above sharp volcanic rocks. Executing ambitious yoga poses on a thin tree will likely invalidate your health insurance claim!

Additional reasons to visit Kapalaoa Beach

You may not feel like embarking on a one-hour journey just to take a picturesque photo. But please consider the other noteworthy attractions the area around Kapalaoa beach has to offer:

  • Hawaiian Monk Seals frequently rest on this beach. Please keep your distance from the seals. If you’re lucky, a local guide will be there to tell you about these fascinating creatures.
  • You can start your hike on the Hauʻula Loop Trail and Ma’akua Ridge Trail from here. Both offer spectacular views over the bay, but the latter one is rather challenging.
  • The Polynesian Cultural Center is only a five minutes drive away.
  • Kapalaoa Beach itself is nothing to write home about. If you are looking for a relaxing beach nearby, we suggest Laniloa Beach. Very underrated in our opinion!

Why did this palm tree on Kapalaoa Beach grow sideways?

There are two main causes that cause palm trees to become crooked.

  1. Phototropism: Many plants – including palm trees – can change their growth direction to obtain more sunlight. However, since this particular crooked palm tree on Oahu is located in a sunny spot, we believe the second potential cause is more likely.
  2. Crooked by a storm: If you watched footage of a hurricane blasting through local areas, you may have been amazed by the resilience of palm trees. They never seem to break but can bend greatly. Sometimes – especially for younger palm trees – their growth pattern will be permanently changed after a particularly heavy storm. Seeing as this area next to Kamehameha Highway is particularly exposed to wind, this is the most likely cause.

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