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North Shore Beaches
As we drove around Oahu, there were many places to stop and gaze at beauty all around. There were big, people filled beaches, and some secluded, hard to reach spots.
The more popular spots have parking lots so you can pull your vehicle off the traffic infested road.
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Road Trip
Hanauma Bay Reserve
If you are looking to get some snorkeling done while on Oahu, everyone will tell you to go to Hanuama Bay. Its not the only great place to snorkel, but if you dont have your own snorkel gear, and you have never snorkled before, this is a great place to start.
Hanauma Bay is a nature researve park and is protectd by Hawaii. The cove is beautiful with all the different colors in the water because of the different drop offs.
Admission is 5 dollars for non-residents of Hawaii, and free if u live in Hawaii. You can rent all your snorkling needs on the beach, and there is a information booth for any questions you may have before entering in the water.
Please if u choose to visit Hanauma Bay, do not stand on the reef. This kills the reef since it is living, and some times unables it to re-grow again. Its just so fustrating when u see this since there are signs everywhere warning you not to stand on the reef, and not to mention a video you watch before you are aloud to enter the park, that tells you about it as well.
PARK HOURS: : Winter - 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Summer - 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. CLOSED TUESDAYS.
- School Holidays
- Diving and Snorkeling
North Shore--Sunset Beach
Sunset Beach might be the perfect place to capture the sun descending at the end of the day, however, we were walking its shoreline mid-day, where we found calm waves, a beach with a few palm trees and no crowds.
Our grandson used the time to do a little exploring, while we breathed in its beauty. During winter months this beach and others at the North Shore host a large number of surfers. The waves are mighty huge during this time of the year. This day, you would never know it.
Always one to be on the lookout for shells, I found none here. In fact, I only found a few tiny shells, bits of seaglass and small black chunks of lava at one of Waikiki's beaches--which I returned to the sea before departing the island*.
*A legend says that Pele, the goddess of fire, brings a curse upon anyone who leaves these lovely islands with lava in their pockets. Supposedly, some tourists have done so, regretted their impulse and returned the lava asap! Hmmmm...
- Sailing and Boating
This is an excellent site for a first time snorkeller! Although the reefs themselves are not of the most interesting variety, they are very close to shore and the marine life around them are plentiful and very colorful
Sure, it's touristy. Sure it's crowded. Sure, it's overbuilt. But how can you beat taking a swim with Diamond Head looming in the distance. The water is calm, safe and blue. The people are from everywhere on earth, but there's a smattering of local surfer dudes whose conversation is fun to eavesdrop on. And, if you ever get thirsty, you can join Moe for a Mai Tai at the Royal Hawaiian (see my nightlife tip) or Duke's.
By the way, this photo of Diamond Head was taken in January (the Waikiki wet season), while the one on the Oahu intro page was taken in September, accounting for the difference in verdure.
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Arts and Culture
This is the infamous beach in the movie From Here to Eternity. The locals just call it Cockroach Cove. You can hike down and swim here, but it is not very safe as there are numerous currents waiting to drag you out to sea. There are no facilities and no shade. However, we have seen huge green sea turtles swimming close to shore here.
Use the same parking lot as for the Halona Blowhole
There are three different beaches in Waikiki that create a looong beach more than 3 kilometers. Gray’s beach, Central Waikiki beach and Kuhio beach try to fit the thousands of tourists that come -non stop- from their hotels to swim, surf or just for sunbath. This isn’t the perfect beach but it is nice enough with not much of waves comparing to north shore. The water temperature seemed good and there are a lot of facilities like lifeguards, showers (the water is too salty), restrooms, picnic tables etc
Waikiki beach is also a nice place to learn surf but watch out the safety of other people around you. Most of the people prefer body boarders though. There many companies around there that rent surfboards, water bikes etc
Some tourists book a room at one of the hotels that face the beach and stay in that are all the days! Of course, there are many cafes and restaurants along the beach too so for them there’s no need to walk further than a few meters. So, even if you can’t get excited with this famous resort area (we didn’t) just take your beach mat and relax but don’t stop under the sun for too long because instead of a great tan you may turned into a pink creature :)
We spend only some moments here every day (early in the morning it is still quiet enough to enjoy it) but for us it was also very funny looking the desperate attempts of people trying to balance their bodies over the surf board. During sunset it was also nice with many people walk to hit the nightlife. If you are one of these people that get bored in beach and want some history you can see some statues here and there like the statue of Duke Kahanamoku(1890-1968), the father of modern surfing and the most famous local athlete! Another statue is the one of Prince Kuhio Kalaniana’ole (1871-1922) that participated in 1895 in a rebellion against the Republic of Hawaii’i, he failed, captured and got into prison for a year. Later he toured around the world, from Europe to Africa and finally to USA where he got elected for the congress. I guess he would have nice tips/pics from all this trips :)
- Water Sports
Ko Olina Beach
Probably the most clean, well-kept beach on the island. Ko Olina is a relatively new area, so there aren't as many tourists as you would expect at a beautiful beach like this. It faces west and sunsets are amazing. This beach is also fun and very safe to snorkel, but not nearly as clear as the North Shore or Hanauma Bay. Highly recommended for a day of R&R on the beach. Parking is limited, arrive early. Beach access and parking are free - for now. The area is gated - you will have to stop and tell the attendant that you are going to the beach. BYOG (bring your own gear) - no snorkeling rental available.
Windward Shore--Kailua Beach Park
It was nearing the end of the day when we dropped by Kailua Beach. This pretty beach is about 2 1/2 miles long, with several small islands visible from its shores.
Kite surfers dominated the seascape as we watched the light fade (pic #2). The wind was really carrying them across the waves fast! Family members delighted in their efforts as they greeted them back on land.
We walked a short distance up, then down the beach; listening to the calming waves as we talked about our day. Across the street, the lights from Buzz's Steakhouse alerted us that dinner was only a hop, skip and a jump away.
Our guidebook warned of the presence of Portuguese Man-o-Wars (during May-October) sometimes, so be on the alert.
- Sailing and Boating
Kailua Town is very peaceful although it has about 40,000 inhabitants. The word Kailua means two waters probably because of the two lagoons in the area. We walked along Kailua road just to see the local single family houses (pic 1). Just before Kailua Beach Park is a place where you can rent your surf boards and other gear or take surfing lessons. You can also rent a bike.
We visited Kailua beach (pic 2) because it has some great rates/reviews. We liked the sandy beach a lot but the wind was helpful only for those who like surf and other wind based activities (pic 3). The sandy beach is about 3 km long and the beach park has many facilities (picnic areas, lifeguard, phones, restrooms, showers) but we didn’t managed to swim especially when we saw the signs about the numerous portuguese man of war, which is a dangerous jellyfish that may cause death. In that case it’s better to enjoy the perfect sand and enjoy the sun.
On our way back we stopped at Kalapawai Market (306 S.Kalaheo Ave) to eat something, they have some nice pies (we tried the spinach pie for $3) and many differents salads ($8) among other things like cold and hot sandwiches, pizza ($11) etc. This market is there since 1932, its a normal market that also has some foods to go or to try if you sit there at the backyard.
- Water Sports
Kailua Beach: America's Best Beach?
According to many experts, Kailua Beach on Oahu's windward coast is America's best beach. It is a miles-long crescent of soft white sand running from Lanikai to the Kaneohe Peninsula and yet is much less crowded than the more famous Waikiki (and as long as hotels are prevented from coming to Kailua, it will remain that way). The water is usually calm, as Kailua Bay is protected by a reef and some small, scenic islands. This makes Kailua Beach a popular windsurfing and parasurfing spot. If you take a kayak out to the water, you'll enjoy the beautiful, jagged mountains that backdrop the shore. And, finally, Kailu Beach is dog-friendly -- especially in the hour just before sunset when you can find owners edging the surf with almost every breed imaginable!
Build a Sand Castle!!
No matter what you do on Oahu, just remember that you are at the beach. So take the time to relax and do beach-like things, whether at Waikiki or on the North Shore. Build a sand castle, walk the shore line, run your toes through the sand, take a dip and read a book. And save the other Oahu attractions for a rainy day.
- Family Travel
Kailua Beach Park--MUST GO!
This is by far THE BEST BEACH in Oahu that I have been to. The sand is SOOOO soft I felt as if I am stepping on clouds in heaven. And when I went, the skies were blue, and the waters look absolutely gorgeous.
The best thing is, there are these outlying islands near the beach, and for something to do apart from sunbathing, you can rent a kayak and go kayaking around!
The waters are surprisingly shallow in most places, and the waters usually calm, so it is perfect for kayaking, canoeing etc
I was told by a local to watch out for rocks that move..cuz they could be turtles!
And two things to watch out for: man-o-wars and jellyfishes. Man-O-wars are supposedly around most of the time, but those jellyfish only come out after a full moon.
Kailua Beach Park is a little different from Kailua Beach. I was told by the local tourist center that Kailua Beach Park is the more beautiful side of the beach :) And indeed I had the most fantastic experience ever.
This beach is so much less crowded and so much cleaner and the sands so much softer than Waikiki Beach. It is just a little far away.
Sharks Cove is located on the North Shore of Oahu, between Waimea Bay, and Pipeline. Though the waters at the cove during the winter compare to swimming in a washing machine, during the summer they are smooth as glass.
If you are looking for some great snorkeling, away from the crowded beaches like Waikiki, or Hanauma Bay, then Sharks Cove should due just fine. Wether its swimming and snorkeling in the dozens of tide pools, or venturing out into the cove, you will be treated with the sight of countless fish, and marine life.
Sharks cove is also perfect for scuba diving beyond the cove, with over 50ft and 100ft drop offs, caves, and beautiful lava scaped walls. There are plenty of scuba tour companies that cater to Sharks Cove.
Make sure to wear shoes if walking around the tide pools, and watch your step because the rocks are very sharp. Use your better judgement when it comes to the surfing conditions, and making sure it is safe to enter the water. There are always signs posted when the water is dangerous.
Have a good time and be safe...
- School Holidays
- Diving and Snorkeling
China Man's Hat
One of Hawaiis most famous and favorite off shore Island is China mans hat located at Kualoa Beach Park on the Windward side of Oahu
Right at the edge of Kaneohe Bay, Kualoa Beach Park is a beautiful park, perfect for picnics, and great pictures.Its also a popular back drop for Hollywood movies like 50 First Date, Along Came Polly, and Karate Kid II.
For a great private beach, just drive to the back of the park and walk down the beach to your right for about a quarter mile. Very secluded and perfect for pictures.
Oahu Travel Guide
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