Beaches / Coastlines, Oahu
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....
There are two parts to this one. First, the heiau is a good arcehaological example of what a heiau (temple) is. It is also a National Landmark. The secret to this spot though is down the path. When you get there...walk down to the right and just keep going back. All the way at the end of this path you will find an unbelievable overlook of Waimea Bay. Definitely worth checking out; especially if there are waves. Waimea Bay is where a lot of competitions are held when the waves get huge.
On getting there:
This is on the North Shore and the road you take to get there is right by Sharks Cove. At 59-720 Kamehameha Highway, there is a Foodland and Starbucks. Turn onto Pupukea Road and drive up. Take a right at the sign for the heiau and keep on driving. It is all the way at the end.
You know that famous scene of Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr rolling in the sand, in passionate embrace, as a wave rushes in and slides over them? Well this is the beach where that scene was filmed.
Even though it is off a main road, this beach is usually not that crowded with maybe no more than a dozen people around at the very most. I loved diving off the rocks and into the water (don't try this until you see someone do it first - the rocks are close by). Even though you'd be warned not to, I loved to wade out and just float as the waves rose and fell around me and the tourists up at the blowhole looked down at me.
Eternity Beach is right by the Halona Blowhole and you can see it from the outlook.
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!
Spinner dolphins are often sighted in the less populated bays in the summer, right around dawn. If you do not chase them, they often swim right up to you. If you try to get closer, they leave, so just relax and enjoy their company. It is a blessing.
Kawela Beach is located just South of Sunset beach in Kawela Bay along Kamehameha Highway, on the North Shore of Oahu.
During the summer months this beach is great for snorkeling and scuba diving. It also makes a great beach for families. Walking along the beach you can find many tide pools which can be fun to look in.
During winter months, the surf in the area can be very dangerous, so do not enter the water. Waves easily reach over 20ft, and pound against the rocks.
At Pu'u O Mahuka Heiau you can find a great lookout overlooking Waimea Bay. Simply follow the dirt path around the upper part of the Heiau. Follow the path to the left when it branches off into the high grass. On wet days it can be very muddy and slippery so watch your footing. You can also stain your clothes so if you dont want this to happen, dont proceed.
Follow the path about 50 ft and you will come to a drop off that over looks Waimae Bay. From here you can get great pictures of the bay, and of the Northwestern coast of Oahu.
The Mokulua islands are located aproximately 3/4 of a mile offshore of Lanikai Beach. The islands were once part of the Kailua Volcano that shaped the area millions of years ago.
The island on the left is called Moku Nui and is the biggest of the two, measuring about 300 meters long by 240 meters wide. Its highest point stands about 68 meters high.
Moku Iki on the right measures 267 meters long, by 213 meters wide and it's highest point reaching 46 meters high.
Moku Nui, the island on the left, is easily reached by boat, kayak or surf board, and has a pretty big beach on its south facing shore. The channel that seperates the two islands spans about 70 meters, and can produce some great waves.
One of my favorite beaches on Oahu is definitly Halona Beach. It is located on the east shore of Oahu, just around the bend from Sandy beach and the famous Halona Blowhole.
The beach, or cove, was made famous in the 1953 movie From Here to Eternity, starring Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr. With its surrounding cliffs, and turquois water, it is filmakers dream come true.
To access the beach, you must descend down a rocky cliff path, near the corner of the Halona blowhole parking lot. This is a very small beach, and a very romantic one. It makes for great pictures, and on calm days, very plesant swimming. A bit of caution, when the water is rough, the current is very strong, many people have died by drowning off the shores of this beach. So be very careful and respect the ocean.
If time permits, i highly recommend this beach while visiting Oahu.