This past summer I made my way out to Oahu, Hawaii for a wedding and a few other fun festivities. Hawaii is truly America's paradise. I grew up going to the islands a few times, and I just remember being in the water from the moment I woke up after my parents slapped sunscreen on me until the sun went down; give or take a little lunch break or shaded power nap.
This summer I made my way back with the initial plan of going to a wedding, and then with some help from locals, and friends of my pops, the trip became something much more fun filled than I would have ever planned myself! Here are the top stops and stays around the island that I realized I absolutely must share:
China Walls sits on the south west side of the island near to the well known Koko Head Railway Trail. With its beautiful views of the sunset, its nestled in between glamorous properties overlooking Waialae towards Honolulu, more private and accessible to the locals. You'll watch surfers catching waves right up against the rocks edge while others are jumping off those same rocks for a refreshing dip.
Makapu'u Beach within Waimanalo Bay was only a pit stop for us but below the Kalaniana highway lies this beautiful beach just past the Makeup'u Tide Pools and the Lighthouse. It has mountainous rocks high above while the beach spreads thin filled with scattered beach goers swimming in the crystal waters.
Lanikai Beach was probably my absolute favorite; we stayed with friends on their property here so I got to enjoy it thoroughly. It's an extremely long stretched beach of white sand and perfectly clear waters. This was where my level of surfing mainly happened, and I was lucky enough to share a surf session with a seal! You can see a couple small islands out in front of you, Mokulua Islands. On a different trip to Hawaii, I went out by kayak and walked around. They're not inhabited but one of the islands has a beautiful seabird sanctuary and enough sand to hang and catch some sun.
Kailua Beach has numerous houses on the beach front so we snuck into a neighborhood where a friend used to live and walked down an alley to access the beach. Its very similar to Lanikai considering its right down the road, but has it's own flare. You can access it more publicly at the Kalama Beach Park, but if you're like me and like your own slice I highly recommend you make your way into the neighborhood area to enjoy it a little more privately.
Kane'ohe Bay was so peaceful, we took some SUPs out for an evening paddle and ended up just laying on the boards enjoying the silence as you look out over the water where you can see the Marine Corp planes take off and land. It's less of a beach than the rest, with homes along the water until you get to the Kaneohe Yacht Club where we jumped off for our daily dose of Mai Tais.
Kaneohe Sandbar may have been the highlight for me. As it sounds, its a sand bar in the middle of the ocean that we took the Party Barg (a friends boat) out to one morning. As we got closer, we saw a number of people all gathered out on the sand in formal clothing... it was a wedding!! What an amazing sight; they got everyone out there to celebrate a beautiful couple with a guitarist, plenty of florals, cheery people, the whole shebang! Our friends told us it was special because there is a certain window they can pull this off before the water rises and limits the sandbar. Apparently its the place to party when the weathers hot!
Laniakea Beach (Turtle Bay) was our wedding destination. We got to celebrate a beautiful couple with a wedding on the sand while also staying to explore another side of the island. One of the inlets were specifically for the hotel, a smaller beach surrounded by volcanic rocks, Turtle Bay, but the others around it were open to all. I highly recommend the hotel if you get the opportunity to stay or find yourself near the North Shore.
Ever watched the movie Blue Crush?? Chuns Reef hold the famous home where its filmed and featured on this beach just down the road from Waimea Bay, Banzai Pipeline and Sunset Beach on the North Shore that are all well known surf spots to the pros. The Pip Masters is just one of many top of the list surf competitions in the world; if you ever get a chance or find yourself on the island at the time, its absolutely something to go watch. But make sure to bring your binos because you definitely won't be watching alone!
Waikiki Beach in Honolulu is not my favorite because it is the main tourist overload where the hotels and beach bar restaurants are located. If thats your thing, its definitely the place to go and be seen. Lots of music, hula shows, and mai tais!
EXTRAS* If you're an avid hiker, there are some amazing trails around the island. The most famous I'm sure many of you have heard of, Stairway to Heaven, it unfortunately closed due to its level of danger with a $1,000+ fine for any caught attempting it. Since that one was off limits, on our packed trip I only managed to do one, but it was AWESOME! Not your typical trail because this one actually takes you directly up. Koko Head trail is known to be very tough, but so rewarding once you make it to the top.