Best Escapes From Waikiki In Oahu
Everyone's first experience with Waikiki is one that veers off the path of expectation. Your initial journey to Oahu brings forth images of lush tropical flora, waterfalls and azure toned tide pools. Sure you find this in the Waikiki Beach vicinity, but it comes more in the form of a hotel/resort lobby. Otherwise Waikiki is home to more concrete, retail, and human traffic than your active imagination could ever have concocted. Las Vegas meets the South Pacific.
However, Oahu as an island offers every postcard fantasy fulfillment tenfold. Waikiki Beach is simply where your shuttle from HNL Airport drops you off. Check into your hotel and enjoy the area for the rest of the day and into the evening, then rest up and prepare to venture off the cliched beaten path by following this list of “escapes”.
North Shore, Oahu
Haleiwa whispers gently in your ears upon your first visit and let's you know that you're not in Kansas, or should we say Waikiki, anymore. Adjectives used by many travel periodicals to describe Haleiwa include; charming, unassuming, quaint, artsy, old-fashioned, etc..., you get the idea. We decided to go with "magnetizing", because everytime we visit Oahu we feel an immediate pull to make the 2 hours (sometimes inconvenient) trek out to the North Shore, with Haleiwa as our main destination point.
Haleiwa is the ultimate beach town complete with perfectly cluttered surf shops, tiny makeshift art galleries, chipped paint exteriored boutique shops and cafes/eateries that without mercy put any 5 star resort restaurant menu to shame.
Haleiwa Beach Park presents you with a small sloping piece of sandy paradise where you can witness sea turtles, witnessing you, as they peak their heads up over the shorebreaking waves on the reef beds that line the front of this stretch of ocean front property. During the winter months the ocean really comes to life and puts on a show as top level surfers do their dance within this arena like setting. In the summer, the playful shores are fun for swimming and snorkeling and make for a great family destination.
Haleiwa, Mahalo for being you...
Windward side, Oahu
Lanikai Beach is considered to be one of the best beaches in the world, and with good reason. This claim has not yet spoiled its appeal by drawing in hundreds of visitors on a daily basis. This heavenly expanse of white sand is far from overcrowded due to its lack (which is more of a benefit) of amenities such as concessions or even a nearby store to grab a bottled water, so come prepared.
Lanikai stares at the photographically famous Mokulua Islands, located over an hour's worth of kayaking away, depending on the wind conditions. Kayaks, sailboards, and stand up paddle equipment can be rented at nearby Kailua Beach. You are permitted to come ashore the furthest Mokulua Island - a bird sanctuary with a circumference perfect for exploration and a hidden cliff diving location found at the most windward tip of this off shore volcanic protrusion.
Lanikai is available for your enjoyment whether you are looking for a rigorous adventure, a photographic dream expedition, or if you simply want to lay out and worship the sun in peace.
Visit our "YAH Yaps" Blog to read more about Lanikai, Kailua, and the Mokulua Islands.
Photo Caption: Don't let the Lanikai Monument fool you, this beach gets both the guys AND gals excited (wink wink).
Windward side, Oahu
Chalk up another one for the windward side of Oahu. Kailua Beach and Lanikai stand arm in arm, with the latter being a bit more secluded. For some however, Kailua is more appealing due to its concentration of amenities. Kailua town is home to shops and eateries both accented with local "flavor". Kailua Sailboards & Kayaks will fulfill your beach going needs, including the obvious rentals named in the title as well as waterproof cameras, snorkeling gear and the like. What they don't have there, you can find at the Kalapawai Market across the street.
The whole region is truly a gift from the ancient Hawaiian gods. It feels as if it’s a destination reachable only via island helicopter, although it’s but a mere 30-45 minute drive away from Waikiki.
Again, we encourage you to visit our "YAH Yaps" Blog to read more about Lanikai, Kailua, and the Mokulua Islands.
Diamond Head Beach
Diamond Head Road, Oahu
Found at the base of the tourist trappings of Diamond Head Crater, is a perfectly secluded beach known to be a favorite for escapists. In fact, local residents may not be too happy about giving away the location of this little "diamond" in the rough, pun 100% intended. No need for concern though, as long as you are respectful of the land and privacy of others, you are free to enjoy this magical little slice of desert toned beach.
A walk down the pathway off Diamond Head Road lets you know that this place is a local’s only surf spot as you witness board carrying members of an exclusive club hike up and down, to and from the beach. Once you arrive upon the sand and volcanic rock ocean front, you feel as if you are interrupting something. Individuals lay about sporadically reading old paperbacks and hardly bother to glance up as you tread softly to avoid kicking sand in their direction along this close quartered strip of beach. The truth is, they don't care that you’re there, which is a good thing. It's what you came here for too.
Ehukai Beach Park
North Shore, Oahu
Ehukai is home to the world famous (and infamous) Banzai Pipeline and although it is a frequent stop for touring buses and circle island excursions, it is still and always will be country, at least if the locals continue to have a say in the matter. You will see handmade signs everywhere exclaiming "Keep the country, country", as if to be a perfectly understandable warning. It can get pretty crazy here during surf competitions but even then, a quick sandy walk east or west will give you the seclusion you are looking for. Ehukai is the center of what is often called the 7 Mile Miracle - the North Shore's seven miles worth of beach front - and it truly does feel as if you have reached some sort of epiphany when arriving upon these shores for the first time, especially if you are fortunate enough to experience it solitude or with someone close to you.