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Beach Hopping on North Shore Oahu

The Honolulu/Waikiki beaches may be more popular on Oahu, but you should definitely consider exploring the beaches in the North Shore part of the island.

Our family visited 4 beaches in one day, and each one was so unique. It’s amazing how just traveling a few miles along the coast can make such a difference in current, sand texture, types of trees, rocks, or mountain view.

Banzai Pipeline

The first beach we visited was the Banzai Pipeline, also known as Ehukai Beach. This was the most impressive to us because the waves were huge! We love seeing “pipeline” or barrel waves and watching how powerful they were as they crashed on the shore. Banzai pipeline is known for drawing world class surfers, and national surfing competitions are held here! My daughters and I had watched several surfing movies before coming to Hawaii so it was really fun to see some awesome surfers in real life. The sand here was soft, but there was a steeper slope down to the water than what we were used to due to the current. I didn’t let my kids get in the water here. We liked that there was a restroom and a place to rinse sand off your feet.

Papa’iloa Beach

This was my older daughter’s favorite. The sand was soft, and the view was stunning. To your right, palm trees, and to your left, mountains. The black rocks added more dynamic to an already picturesque landscape. We came to this beach in hopes of spotting sea turtles but never saw any. It is not as well known as some of the more popular ones for sea turtles so this is the one I was most excited about. I was hopeful we could spot turtles and have a really pleasant experience since it wouldn’t be as crowded. I wish we had talked to my friend who lived on Oahu before our trip – she shared after we returned that you can easily spot them under rocks or when snorkeling. I guess we were expecting to just spot them on the beach area. We should have looked more carefully!

You can find it by entering the name of the beach on your GPS, however, the parking lot is in a very nice neighborhood where you will see a “dead end” sign. But keep driving and you’ll see it on your left! The parking lot itself looked a little foreboding with a “lock your car, high theft area” sign and the cars in the lot were very old and run down looking. You couldn’t rinse off your feet here, so in hindsight, we would recommend bringing a jug of water on your visit.

Laniakea Beach

Laniakea Beach is a very popular beach known for spotting sea turtles. We drove by the day before we actually visited, and saw a huge group of people huddled together making videos with their cell phones, We assume it was to video the turtles. When we visited ourselves, there were many cars parked in the lot across the street but it was easy to find a spot close to the beach path. Be careful on your way down and along the beach. Some of the rocks are slippery. We even saw a girl slip and fall pretty hard while we were there. We didn’t see turtles, but as I explained with Papa’iloa Beach, they like to be near the rocks and we didn’t explore very long since my crew was tired from exploring the other three beaches. i would recommend allowing more time here and think we would have seen turtles if we had just stayed longer and looked more closely. I also read in a blog post that they are more easily spotted late afternoon, like after 3pm. Although there was high potential for spotting turtles, with it being so crowded and all the rocks (large and small), I wouldn’t recommend it for snorkeling.

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