Ready to take a mini vacation to Japan without leaving Hawaii?
Just a short drive outside of Honolulu, this stunning replica of Japan’s Byodo-In Temple is a must-visit spot on Oahu’s windward side.
Nestled beneath vibrant green mountains, the Oahu Byodo-In Temple exudes peace and tranquility even at its most busy hours.
During our recent Hawaii vacation, my husband and I had the privilege of visiting this Buddhist temple. We almost left it off our Oahu itinerary, but I am so glad that we ended up stopping by. In the middle of a vacation full of adventures like diving with sharks, sunrise hikes, and cliff jumping, it was so pleasant to slow down as we wandered through the serene gardens.
If you’re considering visiting Hawaii’s Byodo In Temple, you’ve come to the right place. I’m sharing all the things I wish I knew beforehand, including a run down on the temple’s confusing dress code, practical tips on how to be culturally respectful, direct links to the best tours, and more.
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Visiting Byodo-In Temple in Hawaii
Hawaii’s beautiful Byodo In Temple is an easy addition to any Oahu vacation. Situated beneath the picturesque Oahu’s Ko’olau Mountains, you could come to Byodo In for the scenery alone—but the temple itself is incredibly captivating.
The Oahu Byodo-In Temple is not an active temple, but it was designed after a 1000+ year old Buddhist temple and UNESCO World Heritage Site in Japan. The Hawaiian temple is smaller than the original, but nearly just as charming.
The temple grounds are small and easily walkable, making it a great place for travelers of all ages. You can easily see the grounds and inside of the temple in 15 minutes, but I recommend staying longer.
With extra time, you can ring the sacred bell, wander through the less explored corners of the gardens, feed the koi, browse the gift shop, explore the inside of the temple, and perhaps sit on a bench and take it all in.
Byodo-In Temple Address
47-200 Kahekili Hwy, Kaneohe, HI 96744
Byodo-In Temple Opening Hours
8:30 AM — 4:30 PM daily. Closed on Thanksgiving day and Christmas day.
Byodo-In Temple Entry Fee
Adult admission is $5 USD
Senior admission (64+) is $4 USD
Child admission (2-12) is $2 USD
Children under 2 can enter for free
Best Byodo-In Temple Tours
There are many Oahu tours that include stops at Byodo In Temple. Some of the best tours include:
★ Oahu Off the Beaten Path Sacred Sites Small-Group Tour from Honolulu: Local history and lore is woven into this one-of-a-kind tour as you explore some of the island’s best hidden gems. In addition to Byodo In, you’ll get to experience some of Oahu’s most sacred spots that are rarely visited by tourists.
★ Private Customizable Grand Circle Island Tour of Oahu: This private customizable tour is another way to go off the beaten track with a local guide in Hawaii. Request all the spots you want to see, or ask you personal tour guide to build a custom itinerary based on your interests.
★ Byodo-In Temple and Waimea Waterfall Circle Island Day Tour: See as much of Oahu as you can in one day with this full day island group tour. Highlights include the Byodo Temple, Waimea Falls, the Iolani Palace, and so much more! This tour is perfect for those who are limited on time and don’t mind a day packed full of adventure.
Byodo-In Temple Dress Code & Outfit Ideas
When I visited the temple, I was expecting that everyone would be dressed conservatively. I imagined that it would be like visiting a church in Europe, where anyone with exposed shoulders or short shorts would have to cover up.
Although there was a sign at the entrance stating that bathing suits were not allowed, I did see one or two women walking through the temple grounds with a bikini and shorts. There were plenty of spaghetti straps and short shorts as well.
With that in mind, the temple dress code seems a bit lenient. However, to be respectful and courteous, I highly recommend that visitors dress somewhat modestly and in particular, change out of any wet bathing suits.
For women, I recommend wearing a long, breathable dress (or jumpsuit). This is what I wore and I was completely comfortable even in the strong sun. Plus, a beautiful flowwy dress works great for photos!
I love this flowwy dress on Amazon. It’s ethically made and very similar to the thrifted dress I wore.
Protect your shoulders from the sun in this gorgeous patterned dress. The unique design reminds me a bit of Japan, making it the perfect outfit for the Byodo In Temple!
For men, I recommend nice shorts and a nicer shirt. Teeshirts are okay, but this is the perfect time to dress up a little bit!
Go all in with the Hawaiian vibes with this beautiful floral mens shirt! Bonus: ethically and sustainably made!
Hawaii Byodo Temple FAQs
What is there to do at Byodo-In Temple in Hawaii?
Byodo In Temple is so much more than a place to snag a photo and leave. Even though the temple grounds are a bit small, the tranquil atmosphere begs you to slow down as you explore.
One popular thing to do at Byodo In Temple is to ring the large bell left of the main bridge and temple.
After ringing the bell, keep walking toward the temple, but instead of going inside, walk beside the beautiful koi ponds up toward the pavilion. Very few visitors make it up to this somewhat hidden area, making it a great place to journal, read, or just sit.
Next, you can enter the temple itself. You’ll be asked to remove your shoes before entering. The temple is adorned with a large golden Buddha statue and not much else.
On the right side of the temple you’ll find the gift shop where you can buy souvenirs as well as fish food. Many families with kids love to feed the koi, but keep in mind that you’re only allowed to feed the fish with the fish food bought from the store.
Next to the gift shop is a small food vendor if you’re hungry or craving a cold ice cream.
You can explore the backside of the temple and then wrap around to the front of the temple to take plenty of photos. Another great photo spot is the main bridge.
Is there parking at Byodo In Temple?
Yes, there is free parking available outside the temple. When I visited, the main parking seemed to be full, but we were able to easily park on the side of the road right outside the parking lot (which is allowed). The temple is located inside a larger park, and the temple is the last stop on the road, so there isn’t much traffic besides temple visitors!
Can you take pictures at Byodo In Temple?
Yes! In fact, taking photos is one of the best things to do at Byodo In Temple. Keep in mind that professional photography requires a permit. If you’re taking photos for personal use, you won’t need a permit.
Can you visit the Byodo In Temple if you are not Buddhist?
Yes! Although Byodo In is a Buddhist temple, anyone is welcome to visit. In fact, the Byodo In Temple is one of the most popular tourist destinations on Oahu.
What is the history of Byodo-In Temple in Hawaii?
Here is an excerpt about Hawaii’s Byodo In Temple from the temple’s official website:
The Byodo-In Temple is located at the foot of the Ko’olau Mountains in Valley of the Temples Memorial Park. It was established on June 7, 1968, to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaii. The Byodo-In Temple in O’ahu is a smaller-scale replica of the over 950-year-old Byodo-in Temple, a United Nations World Heritage Site in Uji, Japan.
The Byodo-In Temple is a non-practicing Buddhist temple which welcomes people of all faiths to worship, meditate or simply appreciate its beauty.
The temple grounds are often used for wedding ceremonies for locals and visitors from Japan.
The Temple grounds are a lushly landscaped paradise nestled in a cleft of the pali and are home to wild peacocks and hundreds of Japanese koi carp. The beautiful grounds include a large reflecting pond, meditation niches, and small waterfalls. Visitors describe this destination as beautiful, peaceful, and restful.
The TV series Hawaii Five-O and Magnum, P.I. featured several episodes where the temple is incorporated into the plot. The temple and its gardens also appeared in an episode of the ABC series Lost, “House of the Rising Sun” in season one as the home of Sun’s father.
In 2017 and 2018, the Official Best of America television program awarded the Byodo-In Temple at Valley of the Temples Memorial Park, the distinction of Official Best Memorial Temple in Hawaii.
In 2019, National Geographic featured the Byodo-In Temple in “20 of the world’s most beautiful Buddhist temples” while noting its architectural details and inspiring surroundings.
Is the Byodo In Temple worth visiting?
Yes! The Byodo In Temple is definitely worth visiting. Although we almost left it off our Oahu itinerary, my husband and I were so glad we made it to Byodo In. The serene temple grounds and breathtaking architecture made our afternoon at Byodo In one of our favorite activities in Oahu.
What else is there to do in the area after visiting Byodo Temple?
Byodo In Temple is located in Kaneohe, Hawaii, which is a charming, lush area on the island’s windward side. Another great thing to do in Kaneohe is visit the Hoʻomaluhia Botanical Garden.
I also highly recommend stopping in Kailua on your way to or from the temple. Kailua was the area of Oahu my husband and I spent the most time in during our recent Oahu trip. We loved exploring the town’s farmers markets (on certain days), snorkeling and sunbathing at gorgeous Lanikai Beach, long walks through the Kawainui Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary, chocolate tasting at Mānoa Chocolate, our sunrise hike to the Lanikai Pillboxes, swimming with sea turtles at Kailua Beach Park, and ending our days with local craft beer (for my husband) and yummy cocktails (for me) at Lanikai Brewing Co. Click here to read my full guide on the best things to do in Kailua.
There is a lot to do in Kailua and on Oahu’s windward side. If you have time, I highly recommend spending at least a day or two on this side of the island.
Final Thoughts: Byodo In Temple Oahu
What a privilege it is to be able to visit such a beautiful Japanese temple in Hawaii! If you’re like me, just a few minutes at this place will get you to start thinking about flights to Japan. Yet despite my bad habit of dreaming about future trips while on vacation, the serene nature of Byodo In had a way of drawing me in and making me feel present.
I hope you too are able experience the peace and tranquility that Byodo In has to offer on your next trip to Oahu. As you continue planning your trip, be sure to check out my other Oahu travel guides:
★ Hawaii Packing List for Women
★ 21 Oahu Hidden Gems and Secret Spots
★ 5 Best Oahu Shark Dive Tours: Cage Dives + Freediving
★ What to Know BEFORE Swimming with Sharks in Oahu
★ How to Visit the Mermaid Caves in Oahu
★ 21 Best Things to do in Kailua, Oahu
★ Cliff Jumping Oahu’s China Walls
★ How to Hike the Lanikai Pillbox Trail at Sunrise
★ How to Visit Halona Beach Cove in Oahu
★ One Day Oahu North Shore Itinerary
Essential Hawaii Resources
Traveleing to Hawaii soon? There are a lot of travel companies out there, but some are better than others. After five unforgettable trips to Hawaii, here are some of my favorite websites and resources for planning once-in-a-lifetime vacations.
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