It's another manic Monday and yes, you're welcome for the Bangles being stuck in your head all day long. Despite my little wickedness, I'm here to brighten up your day with an escape opportunity to the best beaches around Oahu, especially the North Shore.
Hawaii is known for its beautiful, sometimes even deserted beaches and they're part of the everyday life on the islands. Families meet during the weekend at one of the dozens of beach parks, arranging a barbecue. People are just coming together to relax after work or – of course – for surfing themselves or just to simply watch the pros do their thing in the water and the sunsets are a spectacular way of ending your day. So embrace this beach life and the aloha way of living during your stay in Hawaii. Here are my top 10 beaches to visit
10. Waikiki Beach, Honolulu
There is actually only one reason for me to recommend one of the most famous beaches around the world and that would be the sunset. Waikiki is right in the tourist center of Honolulu. Skyscrapers and hotels in the background, shopping malls and other shops all over the place. There is a lot going on and we've only ended up there since we've did the Diamond Head crater trail (read about my trail-recommendations for Hawaii here) right around the corner. The atmosphere is not too bad, nearly everybody is in a good mood but you're definitely not off the beaten path and if you're looking for a relaxing and lonely beach, it is the wrong location but Waikiki beach has this sensational sunset you should indeed experience, especially on a clear day. The sun lowers into the ocean, setting the sky behind the palm trees on fire. Go ahead, do the Diamond Head crater trail and unwind at Waikiki Beach afterwards, it's worth it.
9. Kahana Bay, Hauula
Kahana Bay is the entire opposite of Waikiki Beach. Surrounded by the Koolau Mountains, located at Oahu's windward coast, you will find this u-shaped and uncrowded beach right next to the Kamehameha Highway. To me, it looked like it's a great spot to learn surfing with very consistent and not too big looking waves and with a permit, you can even go camping there.
8. Ali'i Beach Park, Haleiwa
Life in Haleiwa, a little surfer-town, revolves around Ali'i Beach Park, right next to the boat harbor but it's actually not too crowded there, unless one of the most important surfing contests during the world surfing championship is happening there – the Hawaiian Pro.
When the waves are big on the outside, people are gathering around the beach, enjoying their day but in a very relaxed way as everything is in Hawaii.
The beach itself is not too big but clean and with nice, light brown sand. The water is clear and it's the best place to watch the Honus, the green Hawaiian sea turtles, crawl onto the beach during days with calmer waves or while you're snorkeling. It's also a good spot to learn surfing with smaller conditions close to the beach and bigger waves in the back.
7. Waimea Bay
Everyone, who's into surfing, has probably heard about famous Waimea Bay. It's the place where the Eddie takes place, one of the most important and special big waves surfing contests. The contest is on when “the bay calls the day” and therefore waves with a height of at least 30 ft. / 9.1 m are required. but due to the special requirements of this contest, it has only been held nine times during the past 32 years. But the waves aren't always huge at Waimea Bay. It's a wide and beautiful sandy beach, right behind Waimea Valley that offers you several opportunity for picnicking or sunbathing. As always, the water is absolutely glassy and during days with no swell, you can even jump from the rocks on the far right side into the water but be aware, the ocean at Waimea bay is powerful.
6. Laniakea Beach
Laniakea Beach, also known as Turtle Beach, is right between Pupukea and Haleiwa. You can't miss it, since there are cars parking along the highway. Laniakea is known as a great spot to watch the Honus but I prefer Ali'i Beach Park for that. It's less crowded and there aren't ten peoples squashing around one turtle but Laniakea is still a gorgeous beach and if you're walking to the left, away from all the turtle-tourists, it gets more and more uncrowned.
It's a great place to watch the famous Hawaiian shore break. The heavy sand is beautiful, the environment is neat and you can see some of the greatest beach properties, I've ever seen. But you could get jealous, at least a little ;)
5. Velzyland Beach
This beach is with no doubt one of the most beautiful I've ever seen. Turquoise water along a spacious and nearly empty white sand beach, palm trees and the Hawaiian flora distributing in the background. If you're looking for those travel brochure sceneries, that's the spot. Velzyland Beach follows right after Sunset Beach and Kaunala Gulch.
4. The beach without a name
This one is my little insiders' tip. Neither is there an actual name for this beach nor an official beach park. There is only a small parking lot, not even paved, in front of it and you can find it at 57 Kamehameha Highway, in 96731, heading towards the Turtle Bay Resort. The beach itself isn't that big but the only people that we've seen there where to locals fishing in the water. There is a reef, with its rocks surfacing the water. I guess the reef is probably never completely covered in water, so you should be careful with the rip currents between the rocks, when the water is pushing back out. On this day, the waves weren't too big and the water was crystal clear, turning into a beautiful bright blue and turquoise blend and it's also a white sand beach. Perfect place to relish an ice-cold coconut.
3. Shark's Cove
Shark's Cove is easy to find. It's right across the street of Foodland, has a parking lot in front of it and next to it, the locals fire brigade is located. Don't worry, there are no actual sharks inside Shark's Cove. The underwater rock formation is said to look like a shark from above and it's the perfect place for snorkeling. It's a lava rock beach with a rich marine life. I don't know much about the various fish species but you can see loads of different and colorful kinds in there. The water is so clear, it's like you're actually walking through glass. But be careful. The rocks have sharp corners and you have to watch out for urchins while climbing above them.
2. Banzai Pipeline
Hardly anyone knows the beach in front of Pipeline by its real name: Ehukai Beach Park. Everyone just calls it Pipeline Beach, named after one of the most famous and also most dangerous surfing spots around the world, outstretching in the ocean in front of the beach. There are three different main reefs at Pipeline, responsible for the waves above the shallow waters. The further outside, the bigger the waves are, which makes it so dangerous for the surfers to wipeout and hit their heads on the reefs. It's definitely a special place to be and not just for watching the dozens surfers compete for the best waves at Pipeline. Next to local houses, the big surfing brands provide accommodations for the professional surfers, they sponsor during the winter in Hawaii, when the waves are the biggest. There are quite a few people but since the beach is wide, it's not too crowded, at least it doesn't feel like it. I thought that Pipeline Beach would probably be kind of a “show off” beach with all the pro surfers and the girls, trying to display their bums and boobs in front of them but I was wrong. Of course, there are some of those girls and some of those surfers, that are actually showing off but mostly, it's just a very relaxing atmosphere. You just come there to unwind, have a good time, watch the waves, if you're not surfing and wait for the sunset at the end of the day. Dogs are having fun digging in the sand, which has a nice golden-yellow color and looks like sesame once stuck to your skin and the palm trees in the back are making the whole picture perfect.
1. Sunset Beach
Drum roll. Ta-dah! My absolute number one favorite beach on Oahu – Sunset Beach. Also a famous big waves surfing spot during the winter and the perfect place to watch the sunset. It's absolutely mesmerizing as the sun touches the ocean, turning the sky from several shades of golden yellow, into a fiery red that turns into a bright pink, finishing off with a purple touch while the oceans turns first into liquid gold followed by a pink-blue blend. During the day, the ocean is a mixture of baby-blue and turquoise. The beach is dropping towards the ocean and therefore offers a great view of the whole scenery and also it's great to watch the surfers trying to get through the heavy shore break at Sunset Beach, that is created by the reef and causes the waves to pile up right at the beach at times.
The sand of this beach also has a special texture, just like the one at Pipeline. It's somehow heavy, very sticky and has this golden-white color, I've never seen before. Due to this certain heaviness of the sand, the water of the ocean is still clear, even with the waves since it doesn't get churned as much as usual sand.
As you can see, there are tons of great places to enjoy a day at the beach or watch a beautiful sunset around Oahu, especially at the North Shore. Hawaii is called paradise for a reason ;)
Until then, happy traveling.