One of the first questions I get when I’m I.D’d out on the mainland is: You’re from Hawai’i? I bet you went to the beach every day, can you even pick a favorite? In short, I can’t pick a favorite—but here’s why.
No matter where you go on the islands, you’re bound to run into a beach (given you’re on an island it’s pretty inevitable). My knowledge of the local beaches expand only to O’ahu because that’s where I grew up, but every island has their gems. From the North Shore, to the West Side, South Shore, and the Windward Side, each part of O’ahu has something to offer—it really just depends what kind of beach you’re feeling.
If you’re a “youngin” as many like to call themselves nowadays, you’ll find yourself hanging out with some friends, boards, fins, and Kaka’ako Kasual Slippers, at Sandy’s. Located on the ‘east side’ of the island, Sandy’s is known for the shore break riding body boarders, and windsurfers. Occasionally, the breaks are so strong—even the regulars don’t dare to go in, but on sunny days, you’ll find celebrities, as well as locals crowding around tents, jamming music, and living the island life.
Punalu’u, a section of a stretch on O’ahu, is an area I hold dear to my heart; the beach my grandpa first taught me how to dive. Here, if you catch the tide and weather at the perfect time, it’s the potion for pure fun in the sun with family and good food (hopefully food that you also caught that day). Now, I’m not going to spill any of my diving secrets, so read on to find out the other spots that O’ahu has to offer.
The west side of the island holds many gorgeous beaches—making the perfect playground for passing dolphins. These dolphins are hard to catch (because they come and go so quickly), but if you’re in the water at the right time and right place, you’ll be in complete awe for the rest of your week—maybe even the rest of your year. When people would tell me that being underwater is like being in a completely different world, I didn’t understand until I saw my first pod of dolphins. Imagine being (in the best way possible) paralyzed in a feeling that you never want to leave—I never wanted to lift my head out of the water for a breath, in fear that they’d be gone when I returned. I’m not completely sure why the dolphins love the west side of the island, but if I were them, I wouldn’t complain either. Personally, the west side beaches have some of the clearest waters I’ve ever swam in, so, dolphins, I couldn’t agree more.
One of my favorite beaches on the south side is Diamond Head Beach—though some might argue that it passes as the “east side”. Diamond Head Beach can get a bit windy, and the tides change very quickly, but part of the sand there mimics and glistens like a black sand beach. The wavy looking cliffs block any cell reception—so if you’re a “I need to be on my phone for work” type of person, I definitely don’t recommend this place. However, if you’re looking for an afternoon unplugged, Diamond Head Beach is the perfect place to be.
From the top of the island, to the bottom, and everything in between, these were just a few (in my opinion) of the most “local’s favorite” beaches; which is why I can’t answer the question, “which is your number one?”. If you’re looking for something to do on a Saturday afternoon off, spin the wheel and take a chance; will you get (almost) fake sand beaches and beautiful shells, will you be jamming with the young locals, dive with the family, or adventure and play with the dolphins?