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Article Source: Copyright © 2012 by Fodor’s Travel, a division of Random House Inc. All rights reserved.
This is the best spot on the island if you have small kids. The resort area commissioned a series of four man-made lagoons, but, as it has to provide public beach access, you are the winner. Huge rock walls protect the lagoons, making them into perfect spots for the kids to get their first taste of the ocean without getting bowled over. The large expanses of seashore grass and hala trees that surround the semicircle beaches are made-to-order for naptime. A 1½-mile jogging track connects the lagoons. Due to its appeal for keiki (children), Ko Olina is popular, and the parking lot fills up quickly when school is out and on weekends, so try to get here before 10 am. The biggest parking lot is at the farthest lagoon from the entrance. There are actually three resorts here: Aulani (the Disney resort), the J.W. Marriott Ihilani Resort & Spa, and the Ko Olina Beach Villas Resort (which has a time-share section as well). Amenities: food and drink; parking (no fee); showers; toilet. Best for: sunset; swimming; walking.
The last sandy beach, and the last stop, on Farrington Highway is both a surfing beach and a sunbathing spot far, far from the madding crowd. Just down the road is the western end of the undeveloped Kaena Point State Recreation Area; you can hike to Kaena Point from here. Amenities: toilets; showers; parking (no fee). Best for: solitude, walking, surfing.
A cobalt-blue sea and a wide continuous arc of powdery sand make Kailua Beach Park one of the island's best beaches, illustrated by the crowds of local families who spend their weekend days here. This is like a big Lanikai Beach, but a little windier and a little wider, and a better spot for spending a full day. Kailua Beach has calm water, a line of palms and ironwoods that provide shade on the sand, and a huge park with picnic pavilions where you can escape the heat. This is the "it" spot if you're looking to try your hand at windsurfing or kiteboarding. You can rent kayaks nearby at Kailua Sailboards and Kayaks (130 Kailua Rd.) and take them to the Mokulua Islands for the day. Two-seaters cost $69 for four hours or $79 for a full day. Amenities: lifeguards; parking (no fee); showers; toilets; water sports. Best for: walking; windsurfing.
Local parents often bring their children here to wade in safety in the very shallow, protected waters. This pretty beach cove, surrounded by mountains, has a long arc of sand that is great for walking and a cool, shady grove of tall ironwood and pandanus trees that is ideal for a picnic. An ancient Hawaiian fishpond, which was in use until the 1920s, is visible nearby. The water here is not generally a clear blue due to the runoff from heavy rains in the valley. Amenities: lifeguards; parking (no fee); showers; toilets. Best for: swimming; walking.
The beach widens back out here, creating the "it" spot for the bikini crowd. Beautiful bodies abound. This is where you find most of the catamaran charters for a spectacular sail out to Diamond Head, or surfboard and outrigger canoe rentals for a ride on the rolling waves of the Canoe surf break. Great music and outdoor dancing beckon the sand-bound visitor to Duke's Canoe Club, where shirt and shoes not only aren't required, they're discouraged. The Royal Hawaiian Hotel and the Moana Surfrider are both on this beach. Amenities: food and drink; lifeguards; parking (fee); showers; toilets; water sports. Best for: partiers; surfing.
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