Monday, June 23, 2014

Oahu's Makapu'u Beach is sooooo un-Waikiki

Just one look from Makapu'u Point up the Windward Coast and you will realize that an exotic Oahu awaits beyond the tiki torches of Wailkiki. The point (which has a great whale-watching trail) is at the south tip of the island, the beginning of a long string of sandy beaches with mountainous backdrops that extend all the way to the North Shore.

Makapu'u Beach Park is bodysurf-and-boogie-board  central, home to the first-ever surfing championships held on Oahu in the 1950s. The breaks are called Middles, Baby Makapu'u, and Generals, the last of which was named by legendary bodysurfer Bobo Tabayoyon after the two subsurface coral heads. The beach park gets high marks among spectators who can view from an onshore rock formation in the center of the beach.

Drive there with directions in your Oahu Trailblazer.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Hawaii Big Island's sans-sand beaches

You won't have to worry about windblown sand getting into sandwiches and evertthing else on the on the Kona (west side) beaches of the Big Island of Hawaii. At Ho'okena Beach Park (pictured below) and many other locales, only smooth sheets of pahoehoe (pa-hoy-hoy) lava grace the shoreline.  You'll have to wait an eon or two for wave action to grind coral chunks and lava rocks into grit.

You also won't find streams on the Kona side, since erosion has not taken place and the fresh water percolates through the lava land mass and finds the ocean via underground channels or alkaline ponds near shore. All this means these shorelines have some of the clearest seawater in the world. Just north of Ho'okena is Two Step, a world-class snorkeling venue where swimmers spread towels out on an acre or two of flat lava and then enter a crystal clear embayment using natural steps cut into the rock.

A complete directory of all the beaches on the Big Island can be found in  Hawaii Big Island Trailblazer.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

La Perouse Bay: Get out-there on Maui

A few years ago, visitors would swarm over jagged piles of lava in the Ahihi-Kinau Natural Reserve Area south of Wailea on Maui in order to get to a little snorkeling cove called the Aquarium: A prime example monkey-see, monkey-do tourism. Concerned over the ecological impacts, state officials have closed this area to give it a rest. Not to worry: There is still good snorkeling at "Dumps" and Ahihi Cove, which are in the reserve.

Visitors don't have to go far to get beyond the crowds, which gather a couple miles south of Makena State Park (Big Beach) on Maui's southwest coast. The bumpy road ends at La Perouse Bay, named for a French explorer whose ship passed this "dismal coast" in 1786. A sandy trail passes Beau Chien (Pretty Dog) Beach (above) and then joins the Kings Trail that keeps going .... and going. First built in the 1500s, and then fortified in the 1800s, this wide, rock inlaid route penetrates a wasteland of lava heaps. You'll find two little beaches off the trail along the way—Oasis and Kanaio beaches. Old village sites mark the beginning of the trail. You can keep on trekin' for 10 miles (though the route becomes rougher and overgrown in spots) to Manawanui, the next vehicular access on the south coast.

Maui Trailblazer has more details on page 29, and page 164 to 172.