A good Hawai‘i experience means being knowledgeable
about what activities are available to residents and visitors
alike. This list of activities will help everyone make the
most of their time in Hawai‘i.
One caution: Not all of the activities or the places listed
are suitable for inexperienced swimmers. At each location,
check the signs, use common sense, and observe the safety precautions
listed on this page.
Swimming: The best swimming on O‘ahu generally exists
at beaches where seas are calm or the water is protected in
coves or bays, or sheltered by points of land or barrier reefs.
Suggested places: Ala Moana Beach Park, Waikiki Beach, Hanauma
Bay, Sandy Beach Park, Makapu‘u Beach Park, Waimanalo
Beach Park, Lanikai Beach, Kailua Beach Park, Kokololio Beach
Park, La‘ie Beach Park, Sunset Beach Park, Waimea Bay
Beach Park, and Mokule‘ia Beach Park. (Beach parks have
dressing rooms, showers, and lifeguards.)
Body surfing and body-boarding:
Body boarding and body surfing are wave-riding sports that
are often practiced in close proximity to the shore. Body
surfers use only their bodies to ride a wave, whereas body
lie prone on a small foam board about three feet long.
Riders in both sports wear fins for added propulsion. Body
and body surfing are popular because they are physically
challenging, fun, and only require equipment that is inexpensive
Suggested places: Beach parks at Sandy Beach , Makapu‘u,
Ala Moana, Sunset Beach, and ‘Ehukai.
• Surfing: Hawai‘i has some of the best surfing sites in
the world. From small beginner’s breaks on the south
shores to for-experts-only breaks on the north shores. Beginners
should go to Waikiki and take a lesson before heading out on
their own, and they should stay out of big surf until they
get some experience.
Everyone visiting O‘ahu during the winter months should
visit the North Shore, the Mecca of big wave surfing, for a
first- hand look at some of the world’s biggest waves
and best surfers in action. However, only very advanced surfers
should try to ride these waves themselves.
Suggested places for beginners are: Waikiki Beach, Ala
Moana Beach Park, Sunset Beach Park, Pipeline, and Waimea
Snorkeling and scuba: Shore waters and reefs surrounding O‘ahu
contain diverse marine life and spectacular underwater terrain.
Some of the world’s best snorkeling and scuba diving
sites are found here. Novice snorklers and scuba divers can
arrange for lessons and equipment rentals through beach concessions,
tour desks, and dive shops.
Suggested places: Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, Sharks
Cove, Mokule‘ia Beach Park, and reefs surrounding the western
• Kayaking: Ocean kayaking provides opportunities for paddlers
to explore Hawai‘i’s shoreline bays and small offshore
islands. Kayaks are light, from six to nine feet in length,
and easy to carry, launch, and land.
Suggested places: Ocean kayak rentals and tours are
available around all coasts of O‘ahu.
Check your yellow pages (under
boat excursions and sight-seeing trips) for more
Sailing: One of the most popular sailing crafts in Hawai‘i
is the catamaran, a twin-hulled sailboat modeled after the
ancient Polynesian double-hulled sailing canoes. Several local
organizations offer lessons (see the January, 1999 issue of
Kalamalama), and both lessons and rentals can be arranged from
beach concessions around O‘ahu.
Suggested: Among the most popular is Ala Moana
Beach Park and Waikiki Beach. Check your yellow
pages under “sailboat
renting” for other locations.