I first heard of interesting pools of water by overhearing a group of students as they gathered in our hotel lobby getting ready to go on an outing. They were excited and talking about what they thought they might see in these pools. I had never heard of them and asked at the front desk, where I was directed to a brochure on them. I looked over the brochure and, urged along hearing the students enthusiasm, I decided to check them out too.
Anchialine pools are land-locked bodies of salt water that are adjacent to the ocean. These pools have underground connections to the sea, and show tidal fluctuations in their water level. The term "anchialine" is derived from the greek: [anchi] = near, and [halos] = the sea, referring to the proximity of anchialine pools to the ocean.
Five islands have these pools; Hawaii, Maui, Molokai, Oahu, and Kaho'olawe. On the island of Hawaii you will find most of the state's anchialine pools (a total of more than 460 pools in about 80 sites have been identified on the ground, and an additional 54 sites (about 170 pools) have been viewed or photographed from the air).This agrees with another published conservative estimate of 600-650 pools for this island. On the other islands, an additional 15 sites have been reported.
I admit I jumped in my rental car and followed the group of students from the hotel and within a half hour was scurrying over smooth rocks with them. They took pictures and water samples, one bent down and lifted out a small, spindly orange starfish, looked at it and carefully put it back. The water in the hole raised every few seconds and then retreated, caused by the ocean waves to which it was connected.
I wasn't a student studying sealife but these pools were unusual and very interesting and I enjoyed them. I also enjoyed the enthusiasm of the teenage students and cheered (silently) with them for each new thing they discovered here.
North West of Honolulu along HWY 93 across the highway from the power plant. There are limited accommodations and the beach is actually fairly small. We did see numerous skin divers, sea turtles and even a seal while we were there. There are dive boats that frequent the area for the underwater adventurer.
The ocean cut a cave into the side of the cliff and there are some amazing rock formations to see inside. Met a local who had the day off and was having a day to connect with the sea. Bring a picnic and plenty of bottled water if you are going to be there for a while. Be respectful too, there are memorials to locals along the cliffs edge. Pay your respects and try to appreciate the beauty of the place.
I heard that there were a limited number of beach passes to the Turtle Bay Resort. I went early enough to receive one. I wasn't interested in the beach at the resort (nice but crowded) and proceeded to travel east along the beach parallel to the golf course. Eventually I passed the resort and found myself on an endless beach with almost no one there. As I walked along for nearly an hour and a half, I saw turtles, various birds, 4 fishermen, a family picnic, and endless sand dunes and beach. The water was pristine and warm as I waded in. I had my picnic and enjoyed a day of laying in the sun. It was hard to believe that I was on the busy island of Oahu.
For a quiet, isolated moment in time, Kahuku Beach was a treasure. July, 2011.
Kaena point is the far western tip of Oahu, and it is one of the few truly wild places left on the island. At the very tip lies a wildlife refuge where monk seals relax and albatrosses nest from November through January. You can still see indigenous plants atop the ecosystem and watch the waves erode old lava formations. As you look back towards whence you came, you can view both the Wainaie Coast and the North Shore in the same glance. And you'll be mostly alone.
To get there, you have to park your vehicle (make sure you leave NOTHING valuable in it) and walk two miles. This is true whether you start your hike at the end of the Farrington Highway on the Wainaie Coast or the end of the Farrington Highway coming from Haliewa. You can make it to the point from either spot and we've done it both ways.
The Wainaie route is more rugged, with more dramatic peaks and a sharper shore, to include sea arches. THe North Shore route is more beautiful, with a more interesting shore line and an easier walk. Neither side is pristine -- both come littered with garbage until you get to the wildlife refuge an hour into your hike -- and neither side has shade. From either point do the hike early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid becoming a charcoal briquet.
On the northern portion of the windward side of Oahu is a beautiful beach that seems secluded even though it's just off the road and offers convenient parking -- Kahana Velley State Park Beach. Lined with ironwoods and flanked by two verdant ridges, this beach also boast waters calm enough for children to play in. If this beach were close to Honolulu, it would be packed, but even on a beautiful Sunday afternoon its sands are nearly empty. The sand is soft, if littered with a few washed up coconuts and it often gets shady in the afternoon -- great if you've fried your skin somewhere else but still want to enjoy the sand. If you want, do as the locals (what few locals there are here): bring a tent and some food and spend a family day at the beach!
If you decide to take the scenic drive up the windward coast of Oahu, you'll come across pleasant Kualoa Regional Park, with its view of an island called Chinaman's Hat (for obvious reasons). If visitors even make it out here, they just stop, snap a photo and move on, but the park is a great place to linger for a picnic or enjoy the thin sandy beach and the calm surf. It's never crowded here and always beautiful.
Does this look like the hat of a Chinese person to you? Would Mao Zedong wear this? I don't hink so. It looks more like a big thorn to us, but "Pricker of the Ocean" would draw way fewer tourist than "Chinaman's Hat" and there's not too many tourists here already.
If you're tired of being packed like a sardine on Waikiki's crowded beaches, head west to Ka'ena point. Miles of white sandy beaches, and no crowds. Surf can get rough so be careful. The lifeguards can tell you which are the safest parts of the beach to swim in.
From Waikiki, take the H1 freeway heading west towards Waianae/Makaha. Ka'ena is past Makaha beach, almost at the end of the road, before it snakes around towards the North Shore. You should pack a cooler with drinks, since it can get pretty hot out there.
Please do yourself a favor if you are ever fortunate enough to fly to the Hawaiian Island of Oahu. Get yourself a rental car and see the Island outside of Waikiki Beach.
I can't tell you how many times I hear that Honolulu is just a huge city & that people prefer other Islands. Although the other Hawaiian Islands are also lovely, so is Oahu!
So, get your map out & explore!
Make a stop by Waimanalo Beach. It is a local favorite and for a good reason--great body surfing. If you dont have a board, you just need your body to ride some gentle waves.
It's a great beach!
Here is the general warning from the Waimanalo web site:
Monitor ocean conditions closely. This area is usually calm with a gentle shorebreak. Watch for Portuguese man-of-war, stinging jellyfish. Obey all postings and warning signs/flags. A good sign is the locals--if they are in the water, all should be a-okay!
The Toilet Bowl, sometime referred to as "The Queens Toilet Bowl" is a naturally pool that fills up through a lava tube when the water rushes in through the tube connected to the ocean and flushes out quickly. It is quite a ride as you go up and down with the flushing motion. However this gem, little know to tourist is difficult to get out of it as it is deep and slippery. You have to time your exit to the water entering and rising to the top of the "bowl".
The locals know and love this fun water ride. There are other cracks and crevices in the surrounding lava that lead underwater and out to the ocean. These passages are barely big enough to fit a human body. Adventurous locals will slip into these cracks head first, disappear under the ground and pop up 30 seconds or so later in the channel to the ocean. This is very dangerous, but a thrill for some locals who know the way.
The best route to the toilet bowl is around the left side of the crater at Hanauma Bay. The walk out around the edge to get to the toilet bowel is breath taking, as you have a very scenic view of the ocean and waves crashing along the shore line. There is some minor climbing over rocks. Be aware of the tide! When hide tide comes in this path is covered with water that slowly recedes at low tide. On occasion Hanauma Bay Park closes this pathway, that is not marked to begin with. For the daring there are other ways to get there via climbing down or around the other side of the mountain.
Just a quick picture of some of the dangerous holes and the sharpe edges. This is common around the hawaiian islands, so please watch your step when walking around the rocky shorelines.
*Pic thoughtfully provided by my cousin Nick...
Flat island strectches about 75 meters wide by 75 meters long. Within the center of the island are lush green foliage that make up the homes for the birds that call the flat island their home.
The birds use the rocks and holes as shelter beneath the plants. It is against the law to wonder throught the center of the island, for you could harm the birds and step on eggs. Also it is very easy to fall into holes that have very sharpe edges that would dampen your day.
*Picture provided by my cousin Nick...
Searching the small tide pools around the perimeter of the island is always fun and interesting. Just be very careful when walking around the northern facing side of the island. On some days, waves smashing against the island can be big, and it is not uncommon to be swept off your feet into the ocean, and onto the jagged rocks...
* In this picture, Nadine enjoys looking into the small tide pools that are scattered around the island
** Thanks for the pic cousin Nick...
Flat Island is located off of Kailua Beach on the Windward side of Oahu. About 30 minutes from downtown Honolulu. The island is about a half mile off shore, and is easily accessible by kayak.
The island is a bird Sanctuary, and is protected under state law. You are still allowed to visit the island, but must stay along the paths that cirlce the outer perimeter of the island.
From the island you can get some great views of the windward side of Oahu, that can only be seen from this vantage point. Even if only planing a short visit to the island, i recommend renting kayaks and paddling out to flat island.
*Thank you cousin Nick for the pic....
During dinner with a friend who lives on Oahu, I first heard about Laniakea Beach on the North Shore. He mentioned that he had been to the beach often in the six months he had been on-island and had never failed to see a sea turtle basking on the sand. Since I had only seen sea turtles a few times snorkling, I drove there the next morning. Sure enough, I saw sea turtles swimming near the shore, then (in the afternoon) one came on land to catch some rays.
Since 1999, Laniakea Beach has become popular year-round with the turtles because of the algae that grows on the rocks, which the hard-shelled reptiles find both tasty and nourishing. At the same time, the beach has become popular enough with visitors that naturalists are stationed there every afternoon to inform the crowds and protect the turtles from harassment. Still, it's popularity is not widespread, either among turtles (the maximum number ever seen basking together is nine) or people (at most there were 20 people on the beach looking at the turtles and I passed two people who had no idea that turtles were swimming off shore).
To get to Laniakea Beach from Honolulu, drive past the two left-hand exits for Haliewa. After the second exit, focus your eyes on the right-hand side of the road, looking for the first area where people park for the beach. Park you car there and cross the road to the sand, which will be obvious from the parking spot. The turtles seem to prefer the north side of the beach, leaving the rest of it to surfers (who occassionally bump into turtles on their rides).
The Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle (or Honu in Hawaiian) is considered an endangered species, so please don't harm them.
This is the less touristy, more local Honolulu Beach. On a weekend days, the park behind the beach will be filled with locals having parties, family gatherings and picnics. The people laying on the sand seem to be less tourists (though there are a few) and more the workers or inhabitants of downtown Honolulu. One warning however -- you won't want to stay long past sunset -- Ala Moana park is a haven for the homeless. When I went running through the park on an early morning after arriving from the east coast, the park was cluttered with people sleeping everywhere!