Forgive me for this but the following descriptions regarding Sandy Beach on the south shore of Oahu may to seem a bit more like a "rant" than a description of a beach. The reasoning should become obvious to you shortly. Please take-in and digest the following facts:
In the year 2000 there was an average of one rescue for every 58,000 people that swam at the beaches of Waikiki.
In the year 2000 there was an average of one rescue for every 3,000 people that swam at Sandy Beach.
Sandy Beach only had 3% of the total number of people who went to the beaches on all of Oahu but Sandy Beach was responsible for 16% of all the rescues on the island.
Sandy Beach has the highest rate of broken backs and necks of any beach in the nation.
As staggering as these statistics are, many visitors to the island simply don't heed the warnings that are plastered all over the beach in the form of signs saying "Dangerous Shore Break", "Strong Currents", "Up Rush", "Backwash", "Exposed Reef", "High Surf" and "No Swimming". In addition many people do not heed the verbal warnings of lifeguards who shout them out often continuously, over megaphones.
This beach is dangerous for a number of reasons. First off it is located at Oahu's extreme southern point and will receive wave action from all directions and get both south and north swells. It is rare to find a day when there is not some wave activity at Sandy Beach. Secondly the waves can sweep directly onto shore coming from the channel between Molokai and Oahu unimpeded. There is no fringe reef protecting Sandy Beach from the outside and because the ocean bottom sweeps down steeply from the coastline the waves do not slow up until they break on the shoreline. Thirdly, there are often strong currents found at Sandy Beach and even more often, extremely strong currents. A fourth danger is that the wave which breaks at Sandy Beach is a shore break. The curl can take you and deposit you directly on the compact sand, and in the worse case scenarios right on your head. A fifth danger is that the waves are capable of coming in and sweeping you off your feet in ankle deep water and dragging you back in. A sixth danger is that there are large underwater rocks that you often can't see until it is too late.
A big problem with Sandy Beach is that it is very beautiful and alluring. The sand here is gorgeous and inviting and so people are just drawn to be here. The second problem is that the local athletes who spend much of the year riding the waves at Sandy Beach make it look so easy because they are so good. Visitors think they can just walk right into the water and have the same results as people who have been practicing here for years.
Sandy Beach is likely not a beach that the average visitor to the islands would be advised to go to. If you did go, it would be best to go to appreciate the skills of those who know how to ride the waves. There are many wave riding competitions that occur here every year and if you are fortunate enough to be here when one is happening it can be thrilling to see. Simply to watch the waves come in and break on the shoreline when the surf is up is a thrill in itself. On a recent day when I was visiting Sandy Beach and speaking to a lifeguard he told me that although the day we were there was a very small day in terms of surf, he had just made a rescue the hour before. Generally speaking, for most visitors, this is a good beach to avoid considering the multitude of other beautiful beaches Oahu has to offer.
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.
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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