How to find a Secluded Beach Near Waikiki
Waikīkī, one of the hottest destinations in the world, is a city of tourists and skyscrapers. Nightlife and sunburned visitors sizzle in a panoramic playground of golden sand, azure ocean and sapphire sky. In Waikīkī you are one of many walking Kalākaua Avenue's brick sidewalk to the sunbathing crowd on Waikiki's beaches. Did you know that more secluded shorelines are just a mile or two away? On the eastern outskirts of Waikīkī are spectacular serene vistas with less populated beaches, where public access is encouraged. O`ahu's public parks are a lei around the island and leading to O`ahu's shores are 89 Public Rights of Way. These legally sanctioned public accesses are the result of Hawaiiʻs unique history as an independent nation with diverse culture and aloha spirit. You can walk, ride the trolley, take the bus, or drive to a secluded and more adventurous beach experience. Mākālei Beach Park, Lēʻahi Beach Park, Diamond Head Beach Park, Kuilei Beach Park, and Kalumanu Public Right of Way are remote romantic havens where a unique paradise awaits you.
Waikīkī Serene Beach Map
Passionate hikers and fitness enthusiasts can easily walk or jog to these hidden panoramic treasures. At Mākālei Park you can stroll an elevated concrete walkway to Lēʻahi Beach Park and then hike the shoreline all the way to Kulamanu Place. Take this walk closer to low tide, as there are a few spots where it would be dangerous to cross when the waves are rolling in. Low and high tide times are listed here. From your hotel, find Kalākaua Avenue and walk east towards Diamond Head. There are no restrooms and few public facilities at these beaches. The last public restroom is at the Natatorium just after the Waikīkī Aquarium on Kalākaua Avenue.
The Waikīkī Trollyʻs green line travels the eastern outskirts of Waikīkī and goes by these five beaches. You can purchase adult tickets for as little as $7.00 per day. A one week pass is $49.00. A convenient and inexpensive way to travel, you can take Waikīkī Trollyʻs prescribed tours or go off on your own adventure. For more information visit http://www.waikikitrolley.com/.
Honoluluʻs bus system is reliable and island-wide. Each bus is equipped with a bike rack capable of storing two bikes. Bus no. 8 shuttles from Waikīkī to Ala Moana Mall every 8 minutes. From Ala Moana Mall, Eastern Waikīkī can be reached by taking bus numbers 14, 22, and 23. Transfer tickets are $2.50. Find more information about the bus here.
Do you really want to drive in Waikīkī? The traffic is horrendous and parking limited. If your car is absolutely necessary, remember to take your valuables with you as break-ins are common. Rental cars are easy targets and no one enjoys replacing credit cards and other valuables. If you use the above map in satellite mode and zoom in to markers C and D on the map, you will see three panorama lookout parking lots. These fill up fast as this is a popular surf spot. Parking near the Waikiki Aquarium or Queen Kapi`olani Park and walking to Mākālei or Lēʻahi Park may be more feasible.
Mākālei Beach Park
Honolulu County purchased .7-acres of of tree canopied waterfront in 1972. The County installed picnic tables and showers and dubbed it Mākālei Beach Park. You can reach the park by following Kalākaua Ave through Waikīkī until it intersects Diamond Head Rd. Turn right on Diamond Head Rd. The Mākālei Beach Park is approximately .1 mile on your right. A rock wall fronting the ocean inhibits swimming. A small pocket of sand on the western side of the sea wall is just wide enough for sunbathing. Romantic and secluded, Mākālei Park is a popular wedding site. An elevated concrete walkway fronts the estates to the east and connects to Lēʻahi Beach Park. Use the walkway at low tide. At high tide waves crash up and over the rails. This dog-friendly beach is a popular access point to the following surf sites: “Rice Bowls”, “Tongs”, “The Winch”,“Radicals”, “Graveyards”, “Suicides”, and “Sleepy Hollows”.
Lēʻahi Beach Park
Easily spotted behind a wrought iron fence, this enchanting 1.3-acre oceanfront park was once the Dillingham familyʻs beachfront home. Remnants of the house foundation and a well-manicured lawn dotted with coconut palm trees still remain. The Dillinghams donated the land to the City and County of Honolulu in 1960. Access to the next three serene beaches is down a flight of lava rock stairs that leads to a coral rock strewn shore and a number of popular surf sites. Walking the area at high tide is dangerous if not impossible as waves crash over the steep and railless stairway. Hike this shoreline at low tide, always face the ocean and heed any posted warning signs. Limited access makes this park dog friendly.
Diamond Head Beach Park
Located at the top of Diamond Head Rd this park includes two acres of sea cliffs with a narrow sandy beach that’s ideal for tide pool excursions. If you are hiking the shoreline from Lēʻahi Beach you will walk through shallow water reef pools teeming with ocean life. Kids armed with buckets and nets will enjoy their time here. If you are at the top onDiamond Head Rd, you can descend to the beach following a steep dirt path in front of the parking area. Surf breaks abound here for paddle boarders, windsurfers, body boarders and surfers. The surf breaks include “Kuilei Cliffs” or “Cliffs”, at the eastern end of the park, “Lighthouse” which is directly in front of the lighthouse and “Suicides” which is at the western end of the park. The shallow reef includes sharp coral, so use caution when paddling out at low tide. While waves are pretty consistent here, winds affect how clean the ocean is. On calm days, in an absence of waves you can snorkel. A hose for rinsing off is the only public facility.
Kuilei Cliffs Beach Park
The park lies at the foot of Diamond Head, between the Diamond Head Lighthouse and the residential community of Kaalawai. Containing three popular drive-in panoramas, the 11-acre beach park features a narrow beach backed by sea cliffs.
Honolulu sculptress Kate Kelly created a memorial to Amelia Earhart (1898- 1939) located on the second lookout. She was the first woman to fly across the Atlantic Ocean and in 1935; she was the first person to fly alone from Hawai`i to North America. She was on her way to Hawai`i from New Guinea in 1939, but she never reached her stopover on Howland Island, and in fact was never seen again.
Access to the park is through a paved walkway on Diamond Head Rd., located between two of the lookouts. There’s a parking lot on Diamond Head Rd. just beyond the lighthouse. Swimming is not recommended because of the shallow coral reef. However, surfers find a paradise here as the reef generates waves almost every day, and it is a lot less crowded here than in Waikīkī.
Kulamanu Place Public Right of Way
Although hard to find, this access provides extraordinary views of oceanfront estates and exhilarating water activities. From the Diamond Head lookout proceed east on Diamond Head Rd until you reach “Triangle Park”, a tree filled triangular grassy park. Stay in the right lane and veer to the right on Kulamanu St., follow until you reach Kulamanu Pl. There is no parking on Kulamanu Pl. so park on Kulamanu St. and walk down one block to the access. This beach is also known as “Cromwell’s” or “Duke’s”. An enjoyable walk west brings views of seaside manors. The rocky and shallow ocean bottom preclude swimming. Two surf breaks are located off this access. Kaalawai Point, better known as “Brown’s," is a big wave spot but risky as sharks frequent the area. The other break is “Kaalawai Beach” perfect for body-boarding. Limited swimming and snorkeling conditions are near shore in the area fronting Shangri-La, the Doris Duke Estate. Doris Duke, heir to the Duke Tobacco and Duke Power fortunes built her home here in 1937 and had the rocks dredged to create a private boat dock for her husband’s yacht.
The dock is no longer used so it provides entertainment for local children, who gleefully jump off the walls to the sandy ocean bottom then climb a set of lava rock stairs to exit and jump again. To get to the area fronting the estate you must navigate over low rock walls around the cove to the east of the access or wade through the shallow water. There are no public facilities of any kind.
More Public Access
Oahuʻs beaches become more and more serene as you head east. Oahu has 56 Public Beach Parks and 92 Public Right of Ways for you to explore. This panoramic eye candy is hidden treasure awaiting your discovery. Oahu Beach Access - A Guide to Oahuʻs Beaches through the Public Rights of Way, describes and details these hidden treasures and was resource for this article.