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Students identify favorite beaches

by Kristin Westlund, staff writer


It’s Saturday morning and you just woke up. It’s the perfect beach day, not even a single cloud in the bright blue sky. Your friends come over, and before you know it, you are all arguing about what beach to go to because you all have your own favorite.


O‘ahu has more than 125 miles of shoreline with great sandy beaches on almost every mile around the island. Picking just one to call your favorite, or even deciding where to spend the day with friends, can be difficult. The only way to find your own favorite is to experience the fun and beauty of each one.

“ My favorite beach on the island is Waimanalo,” said Jared Carstenn, an English major at Hawai‘i Pacific University. “You can look over the entire shoreline and not see a building standing above the tree line.”

Waimanalo Beach Park, just south of Waimanalo town, is a good place for boogie boarding and body surfing beginners because of the smaller waves. The views are breathtaking, and you can walk a mile along the shore for windward and mountain views. The lawn attracts many people, and the shady grounds and picnic tables are great for relaxing or having a snack.

“ The view out over the ocean (at Waimanalo) is one of the most scenic on O‘ahu, with crystal water and blue sky, and very few people around to steal the sunrise over Rabbit Island,” said Carstenn.

Waikiki Beach, in the heart of beautiful Waikiki on the south shore, is perhaps the most famous beach in the world, bringing tourists from all over each year. If you enjoy people watching, this is the place to be.

At Waikiki beaches you will find snack concessions, showers, beach-gear rentals, catamaran cruises, canoe rides, volleyball courts and much more.

Heading toward the east side of the island you will find Hanauma Bay, which is a personal favorite of biology major Ashley Rieck. “I really like going to Hanauma Bay to snorkel and see all the fish and turtles. I could spend all day there,” she said.

Hanauma Bay is a sunken volcanic crater, and the reef is visible through the water. It is great for swimming, snorkeling, and scuba diving. You can rent snorkel gear there for $5 - $9, so don’t worry about purchasing your own equipment. It is a conservation area, so there are strict rules such as no smoking and only 2,000 guests per day, so go early. The park offers moonlight snorkeling for free on Saturday nights. Remember to bring your HPU identification card for free admission.

To find the mecca of big waves and surfing, move on to O‘ahu’s North Shore, which includes Sunset Beach, Banzai Pipeline, Waimea Bay, and Haleiwa Beach among many others.

In the winter months, from October to May, waves on the north shore beaches can easily reach up to 15–20 feet (and they have been measured as high as 40 feet). Fifteen-foot or higher waves are dangerous water conditions, so these beaches in winter are more for expert surfers only, but during the summer months the beaches become great swimming spots.

“ I really like Sunset Beach,” said Michele Miller, a nursing student at HPU, “because I can take my dog there. I can take her off her leash and let her run around and not worry about her jumping on little kids or bothering people. It’s a good time for the both of us.”

Further along is Sharks Cove, located near the Sunset Beach Fire Station, one of the most popular shore dives on O‘ahu. There are a couple of reasons for its name. From the air, the rocks forming the cove look like a shark, or the cove looks like a shark took a bit out of it. Don’t worry, sharks usually don’t visit the area.

“ Sharks Cove is my favorite because I can scuba dive there, said Dana West, a psychology major at HPU. There are so many colorful and beautiful fish to see. It’s like a whole other world.”
The dive site is rated for experienced divers only and ranges from 15-60 feet with lots of arches and open-ended lava tubes allowing plenty of light.

Makua Beach on the west or leeward shore is a personal favorite of nursing student Cory Clemens. “Dolphins. Need I say more? I love just sitting there and watching them play in the water,” Clemens said.

The west shore is a rugged coastline with a number of beaches. Swimming can be tricky here, and there are often strong currents as well as big waves. Be advised that there are no lifeguards, unlike most of O‘ahu’s beaches, so be sure to check the water conditions before going in the water.

“ I like Makua beach not only because of the dolphins, but also because the mountains block the sun, so it’s never too hot and the sunsets are unbelievable,” says Clemens.

Whether you are just here for school or live here, you should take some time to experience all the beaches for yourself and pick one to call your favorite.




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