If you had to pick a secret beach on Oahu would you select A or B?
According to Coastal Living magazine, photo A shows the top secret beach in the USA to enjoy the scenery without the crowds. Budget Travel associate editor, Beth Collins, agreed in Reader’s Digest. What beach are they talking about?
Their pick for seclusion is Lanikai Beach on the windward side of Oahu.
With so much national press, we decided to go back to Lanikai to check it out for ourselves. Photo A is what we found when we got there. I will say that Lanikai Beach is off the beaten track. You have to drive through the city and traffic of Kailua on Oahu’s windward side to get there. Traffic was congested most of the way.
Once you’ve made it to Lanikai don’t expect to see a sign for the beach.
You’re in a residential neighborhood and the only beach access is on trails scattered between homes. The best path we found after several attempts was at Kai’olena Drive.
There’s no parking lot, restrooms, facilities or lifeguards. While this sounds secluded, it’s not. Our photo was taken mid-week in July and shows the number of people vying for their spot on the beach.
Lanikai Assessment: Turqoise waters, white sand and post-card views of Mokumanu and Mokolua islands are nice but the narrow beach and number of people there made us want to leave. It can be beautiful without the crowds however, as shown above.
What about Photo B? It’s taken the same day at near-by Waimanalo Beach.
We took this photo shortly after leaving Lanikai and winding our way back through Kailua to the highway. Compared to Lanikai, we found seclusion mid-week in July without having to go far from the highway.
Waimanalo Beach borders the highway and has facilities, parking lot, lifeguard and restrooms. Sometimes security has been an issue here. I’ve never had a problem but am always careful to lock the car and keep personal belongings in the trunk or with me.
Waimanalo Assessment: Same turqoise waters as Lanikai but much easier to reach. The view when you’re in the water of the surrounding mountain is simply spectacular. We enjoyed the extra space that Lanikai lacked.
Conclusion: Have you ever been lured to a place by a photo only to be disappointed when you arrived? That’s what happened to us at Lanikai. The view pictured here is how Lanikai is protrayed in the media. It looks secluded and isolated until I turn my camera around in photograph A to show the action behind me. If you’ve been to these two beaches, we’d like to hear what you have to say.