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Article Source: Copyright © 2012 by Fodor’s Travel, a division of Random House Inc. All rights reserved.
Also known as From Here to Eternity Beach and "Pounders," this little beauty is never crowded due to the short, treacherous climb down to the sand. But for the intrepid, what a treat this spot can be. It's in a break in the ocean cliffs, with the surrounding crags providing protection from the wind. Open-ocean waves roll up onto the beach (thus the second nickname), but unlike at Sandy Beach, a gently sloping sand bottom takes much of the punch out of them before they hit the shore. Turtles frequent the small cove, seeking respite from the otherwise blustery coast. It's great for packing a lunch and holing up for the day. The current is mellow inside the cove but dangerous once you get outside it. Amenities: parking (no fee). Best for: sunrise; solitude.
Picture this as the world's biggest open-air aquarium. You go here to see fish, and fish you'll see. Due to their exposure to thousands of visitors every week, these fish are more like family pets than the skittish marine life you might expect. An old volcanic crater has created a haven from the waves where the coral has thrived. There's an educational center where you must watch a nine-minute video about the nature preserve before being allowed down to the bay. The bay is best early in the morning (around 7), before the crowds arrive; it can be difficult to park later in the day.
The winter waves are impressive here, but in summer the ocean is like a lake, ideal for family swimming. The beach itself is big and often full of locals. Its broad lawn off the highway invites volleyball and Frisbee games and groups of barbecuers. This is also the opening break for the Triple Crown of Surfing, and the grass is often filled with art festivals or carnivals. Amenities: lifeguards; parking (no fee); showers; toilets. Best for: surfing; swimming.
A little guesthouse called Gray's-by-the-Sea stood here in the 1920s; now it's a gathering place for eclectic beach types from sailing pioneers like George Parsons to the "bird men" of Waikiki: stop and watch the show as up to six parrots are placed on the heads, shoulders, and arms of squealing tourists waiting impatiently for their photos to be taken. The tides often put sand space at a premium, but if you want a look back into old Waikiki, have a mai tai at the Shorebird and check out a time gone by. The Halekulani Hotel and Outrigger Reef hotel are on this beach. Amenities: parking (fee); food and drink; lifeguards; showers; toilets. Best for: partiers; walking.
This is one of the finest beaches on the south side of Oahu. A wide, soft, ultrawhite beachfront with gently lapping waves makes it a family favorite for running-jumping-frolicking fun (this also happens to be where the NFL holds its rookie sand football game when Hawaii hosts the Pro Bowl). The new, heavily shaded grass grilling area, sand volleyball courts, and aquatic rentals make this a must for the active visitor. The beach fronts Hale Koa Hotel as well as Fort DeRussy. Amenities: food and drink; lifeguards; showers; toilets; water sports. Best for: swimming; walking.
Stories to inspire your own adventures at Outrigger's travel blog.