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The H3, Oahu

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The H3, Oahu

The H3 is Honolulu’s newest highway and is hidden in plain sight. Originally nicknamed by locals as the “Road to Nowhere,” this Interstate Highway is also known as the John A. Burns Freeway. Burns was the first state governor of Hawaii. In 1962, he was elected to the first of three consecutive terms.

Well, of course, the highway isn’t really hidden (and it doesn’t connect states), but a visitor probably wouldn’t think of a road as the object of a sightseeing trip either. The highway does, however, wind through some gorgeous scenery with spectacular views of mountains and ocean that were formerly viewable only by air. The highway is 15.3 miles long and it takes about 20 minutes to drive from start to finish.

The H3 begins in Halawa (not far from the Honolulu Airport) and can be accessed from H1, Route 78 and H201. As it climbs the mountains dividing the island, the road twists and turns along vibrant green hillsides (“pali”) dotted with brightly colored flowers. The highway bisects the Koolau Range at the Tetsuo and Hospital Rock tunnels. Several dramatic scenic overlooks along the way provide stunning panoramic views of the towns in the valley below and the blue Pacific ocean stretching into the horizon.

The last exit for H3, one of the nation’s most beautiful and expensive (1.3 billion federal tax dollars) highways, is at Kailua. If you stay on the H3, you will end up at the Kaneohe Marine Corps Base talking to friendly marines at the front gate who will happily give you directions and send you on your way.

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