Exploring Waimanalo Beach on the windward side of Oahu
Locals in the area call Waimanalo “Sherwood” for the oh so soft sandy beach and these giant ironwood trees that offer wonderful shade from the sand and hot afternoon sands on the east side of the islands. One of the gorgeous sandy beaches on the east side offers a nice slow and relaxed lifestyle and visiting Waimanalo offers just that with over 5 miles of this expansive beach area to enjoy a beach day on the island.
Where is Waimanalo Beach located?
Waimanalo Beach is located on the windward side of the island located in between Lanikai and Maku’u Point. To get to Waimanalo, you can drive from Honolulu taking the Scenic route on Hwy 1 on the southwest through Maku’u Point or drive the Pali Hwy 61 and merging into Hwy 72 into Waimanalo area. Both are easy routes but the scenic route is more beautiful and a little slower but has the best views on the drive to Waimanalo Beach.
A little history on Waimanalo
One of the first areas of Polynesian exploration and settlement in Oahu, Waimanalo is translated in Hawaiian as “Potable Water” for all the brackish water in the area that was used for agriculture and irrigation in the area where this was a fertile and growing area all the way from the Ko’olau range down to the ocean. The area was used to grow staple plants like Taro, sweet potato and other canoe plants brought by the early settlers that lived in the area in grass huts that dotted the landscape. Waimanalo was a favorite getaway of the ali’I chiefs and Royal family visiting the Cummings estate which was the one of earliest sugar plantation farms established on Oahu in 1879. Later Waimanalo created some small industries like plant nurseries and the main tourist attractions to the area include: Makapu’u Point and lighthouse, Sea Life Park, Makapu’u beach and Waimanalo beach.
Interesting trivia – popular Hawaiian focused TV shows like Bay Watch and Magnum PI were shot on Waimanalo beach area along with other commercials and other movies.
The closest town to Waimanalo Beach is ritzy Kailua and Lanikai which is more upscale while Waimanalo is still low key, without the mass commercialism and gentrification to these other parts of east Oahu.
Things to do in Waimanalo area
More local and low key than Hawaii Kai and Kailua, a drive around the eastern side on a road trip into the area and cool Waimanalo attractions to fun places to explore including:
Makapu’u Point and Lighthouse – hike the paved trail to the look out point for fantastic views, explore the tidepools and blowhole in a separate trail area here.
Makapu’u Beach – the beautiful white sandy beach off Makapu’u Point is small but very scenic and fun to hang out and do some adventure activities.
Sea Life Park – Family fun at this marine park that is part educational, entertaining and immersion to marine life, tropical fish, bird sanctuary and aquarium. Check out the details to visiting here for more information.
Waimanalo Beach – The large expansive beach at Waimanalo has over 3 miles of white powdery sands where the weather, soft sands and gorgeous water makes it easy to have a fun beach day here. With nice calm waters, there’s a lot of Waimanalo activities to do like swim, snorkel, boogey board and surf if the waves kick up later in the day
Koko Head crater hike – A fun hike to this crater that was converted to a lookout point, with railroad ties going up one side to supply the bunkers located at the top for security on the east side of the island. Now used for hiking and exercise with fantastic views from the rim. This fun adventure in Waimanalo area is not to be missed especially with the rewarding views you’ll get from the top.
Koko Crater Botanical garden – a crater that houses an arid and mediterrannean garden inside the crater with a beautiful display of dry climate, rare dryland plants and cactus plants showcasing what grows well in the area. Check out the website here for more details to visiting Waimanalo adventures in the area.
Visit Lanikai and Kailua – a short drive along the coastal road will take you to the Lanikai neighborhood and further into Kailua for shopping and dining venues in this trendy area of East Oahu. Check out this post on top things to do in Kailua here for more details and fun inspiration to visiting the area.
These are some of the cool attractions in Waimanalo area to enjoy and spending some time outdoors along the coastline and Waimanalo beach area.
Amenities at Waimanalo Beach
If you are looking for some beach time on the east side, then Waimanalo Beach has over 3 miles of gorgeous white sandy beaches to enjoy. Amenities located on the beach are includes:
Three separate restrooms and showering areas
Picnic areas with benches and picnic tables under the trees
Life guard stations
Free parking lot
Ironwood trees offer shade from the hot sunny beach area
Camping allowed with permits.
How to get to Waimanalo Beach
From the Hawaii Kai district, follow Hwy 72 around the east side and past Makapu’u poin to Waimanalo beach area. Or you can drive from downtown Honolulu/Waikiki on Hwy 61, the Pali Highway which converges into Hwy 72 and heads directly into Waimanalo town which you take directly to the beach area.
Other tips to visiting Waimanalo area
Weather is calm and mild in the morning and late afternoon the coastal areas are breezy and slightly cooler.
Waves do pick up in the afternoons and break closer to the shoreline
Postings for Man o War jellyfish that will appear occasional on the water areas offshore and should be avoided for their painful stings.
Use reef safe sunscreen for any water fun or snorkeling in the area, it is mandatory
The ironwood trees along the shoreline offer some fantastic shade from the hot sun on the beach if you need some shady areas to hang out in .
Sunrise at Waimanalo is fantastic, try to get out early to see a wonderful sunrise experience here.
There are no concessions in the area with limited food choices in town to include: L&L Barbeque, Dave’s Ice Cream and a grocery store in town.
** There are encampments along the road entry points to the beach areas, please note you can still enter the parking areas and enjoy the safety of the beach areas.
Check out this video on what to expect visiting Waimanalo Beach
Conclusion on Visiting Waimanalo Beach
For Waimanalo fun, you’ll love explore all fun activities and attractions around this easy and walkable and beach areas of Waimanalo on the east side. Hope this gives you some great ideas of things to do and see around the town and outlying areas to visit.
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