Minnesota Farmer

On the beach

My recent trip to Honolulu for the American Farm Bureau Federation Convention was my third trip in the last three years.  With a daughter living there I have a local tour guide to show me around.  Although I have seen some of the usual sights, I’ve also been able to visit some out-of-the-way places too.  You see, the locals do not spend their time at Waikiki beach.  It is far from the best beach on the island of Oahu, much less the whole state, and yet many come to Hawaii and never see anything more than Waikiki.  A beach in Hawaii cannot be owned, it is public property.  Even in the most expensive housing areas, openings must be left so that anyone can walk down to the Pacific to surf, fish or sit in the sun.  If you have a multi-million dollar home, you will usually have a fence between you and the beach.  I’m going to show you a few of the places I visited this last trip, some beaches, some not, some famous, some not, but all Oahu, Hawaii.

from the Punch Bowl Memorial overlook

First of all you have to realize that Honolulu is squeezed between the mountains and the sea.  There is not a lot of place to put the city.  It has a good harbor which is what helped the city grow in this place.  The Kings of Hawaii had their favorite spot here, but it is now so overfilled that there is no sign of the wonderful beaches that kings and their families once played on.


All of these hotels are built on fill.  Even the sand is hauled in, they were bringing in more when I was there.  Waikiki is almost all artificial these days.  The waves are gentle and the temperatures are great, hotels and marinas crowd the edge of the Pacific.

Sundown at Duke's

This is a sight many come to Waikiki for, sundown on the beach, this one is from the terrace of one of the more famous watering holes, Duke’s.  The beach was crowded, the music was loud and the wait for a table was about an hour and a half.

Sunset in the masts

The next night we snapped this one from a eatery in the marina area called the Shorelander.  Again a beautiful tropical sunset.  Fewer people because there was no sand.

Portlock park

Here’s a small neighborhood park that is hard to find.  It’s on a dead-end street, there is no parking, it’s difficult to walk to, but it is no less spectacular.  Getting to the ocean is not the plan here.  Spending time surf side is the reason, and when the waves are right….

Portlock park

The waves this day were mere three footers.  It would be interesting to be here when the surf was really up.

Pillbox park

Here’s my guide at another out-of-the-way park.  There are hiking trailheads all over the place.  Most are way back in the neighborhoods with no parking.  This popular hiking trail was busy with families and young singles.  The views were excellent.

Here’s the beginning of the hike.  It’s not very promising is it.  It’s steep, it’s rough, and it is not well maintained, but look at what comes once you get above the trees.

Stop and catch your breath, this is the first pillbox, it is not our destination.  It’s straight down if you go left, and a long tumble if you go right.  This is considered an easy hike by the young ladies who were showing me the path.

Rare flowers can be hiding where you least expect them.

Do you blame these young ladies for making the hike, the view is wonderful, and a breeze takes away the sweat from your hike.  It only took about 20 minutes to get here.  That’s Lanikai down on the beach, and Kaneohe off in the distance.

Here’s a nice little beach that doesn’t get much traffic.  It is a favorite of ours since you access it from Calvary by the Sea Lutheran Church.

Kualoa beach

The view towards the mountains from the beach here is not as well known as the one the other way.

Chinaman's hat

Most of the beaches on the windward (northeast) side have a long ways out to the reef.  The area from Chinaman’s Hat to Kaneohe is a large bay that is a local playground.

from Pali Overlook

This picture from the Pali Overlook shows much more open land on the Windward side (north) than you see near Honolulu (south).  There are even larger areas of open space on the west side of the island where all of the pineapple and sugarcane fields used to be.

On the right side of the picture you can see the island where they filmed the TV series Gilligan’s Island.  It’s easy to walk to the island, not at all a remote place.

Sandy Beach

There are many more beaches on Oahu than the kiddie pool that is Waikiki.  Next time you are in the islands check out a few.  Most have a lot more sand and a lot fewer people than Waikiki.  Do look for notices of danger spots.  There are beaches here that only daredevils use.  Stop awhile to appreciate the natural beauty.  Ask about local eating spots and seafood shacks.  Check out Shave Ice.  Perhaps you can even get your Shave Ice at President Obama’s favorite spot.  Perhaps one of the locals will show you the real Hawaii that is so near yet so far from Waikiki.


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