Lanikai is a delightful and secluded "bedroom community" isolated from the windward town of Kailua by a ridge that allows access to the coastal homes only through one entry point. When you pass the ridge and enter Lanikai you will find a long narrow valley with a circular drive around which will be beautiful and upscale homes that either lie on or close to the luscious beach that abuts the community or homes that are perched on the hillside affording fantastic views of the ocean and the offshore Mokulua Islands. The beach fronting Lanikai is one of the most beautiful beaches on the island and has in the past been ranked one of the most beautiful beaches in the world.
This long, half-mile white sand beach has undergone a transition over the course of the last thirty years or so. Many of the most desirable properties in Lanikai lie directly on the water's edge and over the years the natural process of the encroachment of the seas upon the shoreline has at times threatened these shoreline properties. In an attempt to save their properties many of the Lanikai residents have put up cement or stone seawalls and the net effect of this action has been that this beach has eroded to the point that much of the sand on its southern end has disappeared. It has been proven time and again that when you erect a seawall on a coastal property the waves will reflect from the impact with the wall with a surge at a greater velocity than under normal conditions. This disrupts the sand formation under the water and along the shoreline and the result is that the sand will eventually disappear. This has been the fate of much of Lanikai Beach but what remains is still one of the most desirable beaches to be found on Oahu.
What has made Lanikai Beach so attractive over the years is that it has the most idyllic setting. It faces the east toward the two offshore islands lying one mile off the coast called the Mokulua Islands. Between the beach and the Mokulua's is a relatively shallow ocean shelf full of large coral heads and reef. This fringe reef protects Lanikai Beach from large breakers and hence the name Lanikai, meaning "heavenly sea" appears to be an appropriate representation of the normal conditions found here. The color of the ocean at Lanikai Beach has a somewhat greenish tinge and the overall color could perhaps be described as "aqua" in contradistinction to the often deep blue oceans to be seen on the leeward side beaches. The sands of Lanikai are also different in the sense that they are very white, very soft and very fine. Many people complain that the sands here are so refined and delicate that it is difficult to remove in a single washing and that a day after an outing at Lanikai Beach one will still have reminders of yesterday's beach encounter.
Being such a calm beach, Lanikai provides great opportunities for swimming, snorkeling, kayaking and stand-up paddle boarding. Many of the locals have found stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) to be well suited for the waters off Lanikai and early morning paddles out to the Mokulua Islands have become a ritual of sorts for some. SUP boards can also be rented from the shops in the area and SUP lessons can be arranged so that island visitors can join in the fun as well.
Parking can at times become a problem at Lanikai Beach as the only areas to park are along the main roadway loop in Lanikai and access is through one of the many beach access trails that lead from the road to the beach. On weekend days this area can become quite crowded and parking in this small beach side community can become difficult but finding a space will become a just reward when you finally find your way to your destination. As far as amenities at this beach, you won't find any. There are no bathrooms, no showers and no lifeguards.
Please be advised that all beaches and ocean locations in Hawaii can be potentially dangerous including this location. Be completely aware of the ocean conditions prior to entering the water and of course, never turn your back on the ocean when you are on the shoreline. It should also be noted that all shorelines and beaches in Hawaii, including this one, can be frequented by sharks, jellyfish and other sea creatures which can provide potential harm to people entering the water. There are no lifeguards at this beach.
One of the few beaches that has the look and feel of old Oahu is Kahana Beach on Oahu's windward coastline. The fact that this beach is located in a section of the island that is normally simply a gateway for island visitors to pass by on their way to visit what are presumably more spectacular attractions is the saving grace of Kahana Beach Park.
Shark's Cove on the North Shore of Oahu is not really a beach, but rather a snorkel and diving spot; and what a snorkel spot it is! This small cove is ringed in rocks and coral providing very little in the way of sand to lay out on, but if you are looking for a great place to snorkel, Shark's Cove is, at many times of the year, an excellent option.
A listing of all Oahu Beaches can be found on these pages. Check for the Oahu Beach that will be perfect for you!
It's a good thing you're going to the beach on Oahu! Not only does Oahu have some of the most beautiful beaches in the state, have some of the best snorkeling to be seen in the state, have some of the best surfing, kayaking and stand-up paddling locations in the state and some of the largest waves for you to watch in the state, but Oahu beaches have more lifeguard locations and more lifeguards all toll than any other island in the State of Hawaii.
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