Beaches / Coastlines, Oahu
Honu is a name to Hawaiian Green Turtle that can be seen on the North part of the island, just a mile or two past the town of Haliewa. The turtles are always there, swimming in the ocean, but there are certain hours when these giant creatures bask in the sand.
Students of University of Hawaii volunteer to protect the animals and are always happy to share information with tourists. They were the ones that told us that Honu come out of the ocean at around 2:30 p.m. and rest on the beach for several hours.
The first time we came to Laniakea beach was in the morning, several turtles were swimming in the ocean. It was a great opportunity for snorkeling. Our second visit was at 3pm and indeed Honu were basking on the beach.
You’ll be able to get very close to these native Hawaiians since they don’t really mind being photographed. A thick red rope will mark the line which you’re not allowed to cross, but this line is only 2-3 feet distance.
This is one of the most dramatic and visited places on Oahu. It’s amazing what nature can create sometimes, or more precisely what volcanic eruption can create. Apparently, they call it a lava tube (it looked like a rock to me) and when it’s windy enough the ocean shoots its waters through the tube, creating what is known as the Blow Hole.
Beautiful view, I must admit. I stood by this place about 10 minutes and each water spurt was more impressive than the previous one.
I read somewhere (probably in those tourist brochures) that many people became victims of this place and that only one returned alive.
There’s a great lookout point and it’s located on the side of a highway, past the famous Hanauma Bay.
This is the most popular beach for snorkeling, enjoying breathtaking views, and feeding the permanent resident – mongoose.
Hanauma Bay is located on the, what locals call, brown side of the island, just 15 minutes drive from the city. Don’t worry, if you don’t have a car, a bus runs there and will stop at the entrance to the park. Entrance fee is $5 and you can enjoy this little peace of “seventh heaven” from 6 am to 6 pm. Renting snorkeling gear is not a problem and there are small stands to get light food and water from. While snorkeling, please be careful and make sure you don’t step on the corals, they are living creatures too.
You’ll see lots of colorful fish and there’s a possibility to see Honu (green turtle) although it’s rare.
On arrival you'll be given a 15-minutes explanation about Hanauma Bay, its flora and fauna, and general rules. If you plan to come back do sign the visitors list, it will prevent you from listening to the same things everytime you return and is valid for 1 year. Snorkeling gear can be rented at the store, although a simple snorkel can be purchased in any store on the island for as low as $10-$15.
Don’t forget to take underwater camera, you can always get them at the ABC stores for about $15.
There is a long stretch of coastline that is lovely to walk, however it is best to walk either early morning or in the early evening when the beach is less crowded.
Start at the lagoons of the Hilton Hawaiian Village, continue down the beach 2 miles to the the Natatorium War Memorial. Continue on towards Diamond Head, the beach will narrow and you may even have to go up to the walkway of the Halekulani Hotel. Continue on and you will pass the beautiful pink hotel known as the "Royal Hawaiian Hotel"
You are nearing the last of the hotels on the beach as you make your way past the Outrigger Waikiki and finally to the Sheraton Moana Surfrider Hotel, which is the oldest hotel on Oahu.
Kuhio Beach has a lot of activity going on, you will enjoy the sights of people playing chess or checkers. Queen Kapiolani Beach is a great place to take a swim there the ocean has been reefed to provide a safer place for keiki's and adult swimmers who don't want to brave the open waters.
Your walk ends at the Waikiki Aquarium and the Nataorium War Memorial. Built in 1927 to honor those from Hawaii who died in WWI.
Huanauma Bay, east of Honolulu, is the premier snorkeling spot on Oahu. It is a protected volcano-formed bay populated with brightly-colored fish who come for the food and shelter provided by an extensive reef system. Visitors used to be able to feed the fish, which certainly added to the population and maybe still attracts fish with long memories. While feeding is no longer practiced, visitors can still rent snorkeling gear on the spot and jump right in among the beautiful swimmers after viewing a short video on the ecology of the bay. This was the first place I ever snorkeled in my life and still among the best.
When you're done snorkeling, there's an excellent beach on which you can rest and a path out to a blow hole (the eastern side of the bay). However, this place is popular, so get there early or plan a late afternoon arrival, after the crowds are likely to have dispersed. Don't make plans to go on Tuesday though, as the Bay is closed.
One concern is the arrival of box jellyfish, which can close the bay to snorkeling. There is a website that posts the probably arrival of the jellyfish, and you might use it to plan your snorkeling trip if you have some flexibility. It is http://www.honolulu.gov/esd/oceansafety/boxjellymainpage.htm
A perfect little embayment, Hanauma Bay once was an area meant for the Hawaiian Ali'i or Royalty. Today, it is a popular tourist spot for snorkeling due to the various numbers of fish and shallow water.
Since this is a preserve there is no fishing or removal of marine life and it is strongly recommended that you not feed the fish to help keep the ecological balance to the marine preserve.
Bring your snorkel gear, underwater camera and rent or buy a wet/dry sack which is a little pack you can wear into the water that will keep your ID, cash, credit cards and car keys safe and dry.
This is a good place for children to learn how to snorkel due to the calm waters. Make sure they have the proper safety gear as well.
Admission is $5.00 and the preserve gets crowded very early.
Make sure you pick up any and all trash and help keep the beach clean.
Hanauma Bay was absolutely spectacular! This view is from the cliff above, which was our arrival point. A shuttle could whisk you to the bottom for $.50, with a return trip for $1.00.
We fortuitously found a palm tree underwhich to settle. Shade was not always an option at other beaches.
Hanauma Bay is a prime snorkel site in Oahu. While the guys snorkeled, I dipped a toe in the pristine waters. Currents were strong on either side of the swimming area and were marked by cones--visitors strongly cautioned not to venture here.
We arrived by rental car, but there were ads in brochures giving a $12 rate for transport to the Bay which included snorkel gear. A mighty good price!
pic #2 The snorkeler
pic #3 Llifeguard station
pic #4 Chillin' out on the beach
PLEASE NOTE: a snack bar and restrooms were waaaay back at the top of the hill.
*It was suggested that we arrive by 9am due to parking limits, but we arrived at 10:45 am and found a few spaces still available on a Wednesday morning. A weekend visit might be a different story.
**To enter, the cost was $1 per car and $5 per person. A 9 minute movie on the rules and regulations at the preserve is shown before entering. WATER SHOES NEEDED.
For a lovely view of Oahu's coastline, I'd recommend a sunset dinner cruise on the Navatek I. You'll be departing between 5:15 pm-5:30pm and return between 7:15-7:30pm. A superb view of Diamond Head will be your first treat if you face landside!
TIP: The ship rotates when it leaves the dock, so my advice is ask ahead to sit on the ocean side. You'll be the first to enjoy the coastline and have the best view of the sunset. Those sitting on the landside when entering the boat will pretty much see all ocean with the occasional freighter until your return trip.
(pic #2) A premium photo op from the outside decks (pic #2).
(pic #3) The Polynesian Show
(pics #4-5) A fine dinner
Guests receive a delectable five course dinner consisting of taro rolls, shrimp kebob, a tossed salad, steamed whole Maine lobster, tenderloin steak, steamed carrots and zucchini, roast garlic mashed potatoes and chocolate mousse cake. Adult beverages can be ordered. A child's menu is available, as well.
Like most tours in Hawaii, this was pricey, but we reasoned with ourselves that this was our first visit to this part of the world so why not do it? We booked online at the website below.
A narrow residential lane led to Lanikai Beach, winding through a neighborhood of beach homes on fairly small lots*. Some of these are actually multi-million dollar homes, despite their modest size (pic #4).
A public walkway led us to a thin strip of beach, where a boating group was practicing. At this point of the day, there were only a few people taking advantage of the gentle waves and cooling water. This is said to be a good spot for snorkeling, but we were too tired to do much more than appreciate the ocean view and breeze (pic #3).
A few dogs greeted each other as their owners chatted at the waters edge. Small islands off shore, both known as Moku-lua added to the scenery (pic #2). It was such a peaceful site.
*We parked on the side of the road, close to the public access route. There are no facilities here, nor did I see a lifeguard station.
Some of the most beautiful beaches on Oahu are on the windward side and are even on military bases. One of the best is at Bellows Air Force Base, where you'll get the broad, long sandy stretches of sand melding with calm waters. On weekends, there is access to a long public section of the beach, backed with thinned ironwoods that provide shade above the turquoise waters. I hear that access to the beach is closed during the week, but I haven't driven down there on a weekday to check. Bellows beach is adjacent to Waimanalo Beach, which is also just as beautiful but often populated with homeless people, as Waimanalo is one of the least economically advantaged communities on the Windward Side.
The two islands off to the north are the same Mokoluas that you can see off of Lanikai Beach
If you're driving along the coast of Oahu you will definitely come across the large cone shaped island jutting out of the ocean. Stop and take a pic and enjoy a refreshing coconut drink.
The area where we found it is most visible seems to be a great picnic area where we saw plenty of families enjoying a beautiful day. I'm not sure the name of the area.
The Hilton Hawaiian Village Resort offers a colorful Polynesian Show at 7:00 p.m. each Friday evening. People begin lining up for this event early--if you want a close up view you'll pay $20 per person. Otherwise, you can see it from the exterior of the pool area.
We arrived later than we wanted, just as the procession was forming at the entrance to the hotel. After a brief presentation, the dancers led us to the pool area where the show began.
Both men and women demonstrated Polynesian style dancing, including a fire dance and of course, the hula--from Tahiti. The Hawaiians express their dancing primarily by their hands and graceful body movements (pic #2).
After the show we gathered at the beach for fireworks, which began about 8:00 p.m. (pic#3) Although the display lasted a short ten minutes, the lights looked beautiful over the ocean!
This is a great event for your first look at this culture...and it's free if you don't mind being a bit further away from the action (pic 2)!
This is a great place for snorkeling. Often the parking lot is full by 9:30 in the morning, and they will not let you in. The city has taken this over, and created a great visitors center. Everyone is required to view a movie prior to entering. Get your drinks and snacks at the top before entering the admission building.
Hours: 6a.m. to 6p.m.
Cost: $1.00 per car to park and $5.00 per person to enter
Just beyond the blowhole is Sandy Beach. This is a beautiful beach, but fairly dangerous since there is a nasty shorebreak here. Locals who know how to body surf love this beach. Stay on the shore and watch or find another beach. We do go here to fly kites. If you are lucky, you will see some really impressive kites here on a windy day.
This is my favorite beach in the state. The sand is like velvet. The water is an incredible blue. The Koolau Mountains are off to the side. There is shade and nice facilities.
If you have a military ID, you can enter any time. If not, Bellows opens on the weekends and is worth the trip out here!