Category Archives: Beach

North Shore

North Shore
Location: Hale’iwa, Oahu, Hawaii
Length of visit: full day
Major draws: Surfing, scenic views, shave ice, shrimp trucks
Strenuosity: 1 out of 10
Cost/Fees: Free parking
Additional considerations: Wave height varies considerably even in winter
Description: The famous pipeline waves of Hawaii are found on Oahu’s North Shore in winter, but during the week we visited they were not very large. Luckily, it was warm enough in December for a stop at Matsumoto’s General Store for shave ice.

Atlantis Submarine

Atlantis Submarine
Location: Waikiki Beach, Oahu, Hawaii
Length of visit: 2 hours
Major draws: Submarine ride, shipwrecks, fish, sea turtles
Strenuosity: 1 out of 10
Cost/Fees: About $100 per person
Additional considerations: Ferry boat to access offshore submarine
Description: Tiff was nervous about diving 100 feet in a submarine, but she enjoyed the spacious interior and large portholes. We saw a white reef shark, green sea turtles, numerous bluefin trevally, and many other interesting fish that were not their usual colorful selves due to color absorption in deep water.

Shark’s Cove

Shark’s Cove
Location: North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii
Length of visit: 1 hour
Major draws: Snorkeling, diversity of fish species, showers
Strenuosity: 2 out of 10
Cost/Fees: Free
Additional considerations: Strong current at times in deeper section
Description: Most visitors wade in this shallow, protected cove but you can see the fish much better while snorkeling. We went twice to see the copious marine life here and found the water clearer in the morning.

Kalaupapa National Historical Park

Kalaupapa National Historical Park
Location: Molokai, Hawaii
Length of visit: half day
Major draws: Scenic views, historic buildings
Strenuosity: 1 out of 10
Cost/Fees: $249 per person from Honolulu
Additional considerations: Nobody under age 16 allowed, public only allowed into Kalaupapa while on a guided tour
Description: This isolated peninsula on the island of Molokai was selected as a quarantine zone for those suffering from Hansen’s Disease (leprosy) in the 1800s. There are still about 20 patients living here today even though they are no longer forced to segregate from society due to effective medical treatments.

Malaekahana Beach Campground

Malaekahana Beach Campground
Location: North Shore, Oahu, Hawaii
Length of visit: multiple nights
Major draws: Beachside camping, surfing
Strenuosity: 1 out of 10
Cost/Fees: about $20 per night to camp
Additional considerations: Chickens provide free wakeup service, showers without hot water, campfires allowed
Description: We enjoyed 7 nights at this quiet (other than the chickens) campground where we fell asleep to the sound of crashing waves and witnessed some incredible sunsets.

Spouting Horn

Spouting Horn
Location: southern Kauai, Hawaii
Length of visit: half hour
Major draws: Natural blowhole, scenic views, sea turtles
Strenuosity: 1 out of 10
Cost/Fees: Free
Additional considerations: Limited parking and viewing space
Description: Two lava tubes that open to the ocean create the Spouting Horn, which splashes out one and breathes out the other. The south shore of Kauai tends to be the sunniest part of the island and has plenty to see.

Anini Beach County Park

Anini Beach County Park
Location: northern Kauai, Hawaii
Length of visit: half day to overnight
Major draws: Cheap camping, snorkeling, chickens
Strenuosity: 1 out of 10
Cost/Fees: Free day use, $3 per person per night camping
Additional considerations: Must purchase camping permit in Lihue prior to stay, feral chickens provide wakeup call every morning before sunrise (and sometimes around midnight just for fun)
Description: One of the best spots in Kauai to see sea turtles (including the very rare and endangered hawksbill), the offshore reef here protects a large snorkeling area from the large north shore waves. We moved our tent from underneath the beachfront trees the second night due to large numbers of roosting chickens.

Hanakapi’ai Falls

Hanakapi’ai Falls
Location: northwestern Kauai, Hawaii
Length of visit: half day
Major draws: 300-foot waterfall
Strenuosity: 9 out of 10
Cost/Fees: Free
Additional considerations: Multiple waist-deep stream crossings, flash floods, trail slippery when wet (all the time)
Description: This trail follows the treacherous Kalalau Trail for the first 2 miles then heads up the soggy valley an additional 2 strenuous miles to reach the impressive falls. It is incredibly difficult to photograph due to the spray at its base, so be sure your equipment is waterproof.

 

Kalalau Valley

Kalalau Valley
Location: northwestern Kauai, Hawaii
Length of visit: multiple nights
Major draws: Uninhabited beach, scenic views, birding
Strenuosity: 10 out of 10
Cost/Fees: $20 per person per night
Additional considerations: Permits limited to 60 people per night and they sell out months in advance, feral goats but no chickens
Description: The trail to Kalalau is hell, but the place itself is paradise—the most beautiful place in all the Hawaiian Islands. Two nights is the minimum amount of time we would recommend staying.

Napali Coast State Wilderness Park

Kalalau Trail—Napali Coast State Wilderness Park
Location: northwestern Kauai, Hawaii
Length of visit: multiple days
Major draws: Scenic views, uninhabited coastline
Strenuosity: 10 out of 10
Cost/Fees: Free
Additional considerations: Sheer cliffs, trail slippery when wet (all the time)
Description: The only access to the idyllic Kalalau Valley is via this 11-mile one-way treacherous trail along the stunningly beautiful Napali Coast. Several deep stream crossings and deep mud require shoes or sandals that can get wet and not destroy your feet as you ascend and descend each of the numerous valleys.