Some of our favorite beaches
We have many beautiful beaches on the North Shore. Just to see these places is amazing. They are wonderful to sit by or walk along the shore and beach comb. To swim, snorkel or surf in these waters is our personal joy, shared by many who come here. But it is always with respect for the ocean and marine life and with caution for the unpredictable conditions of surf and currents.
We are a family of swimmers, swim coaches and ocean lifeguards. We constantly remind ourselves, and each other of the privilege and responsibility that we have when we go in the water. We want to encourage everyone to malama (take care of) their own personal safety and the environment as well.
Kenomene, Ke’e, and Tunnels offer great snorkeling, but it can be fun to take a mask and snorkel in to look around at these other close by beaches; Anini, Kalihiwai , Hanalei Bay and Pu’u Poa Beach (the official name of the beach in front of the St. Regis Hotel). They are not in the same league for snorkeling as the places mentioned earlier, but these beaches have a lot of other great features
Number one – is an easy call – it is right across the street! Just below the famed sunset lookout between Pali Ke Kua Condos and the Pu’u Poa complex is Kenomene Beach. Kenomene Beach is separated at high tide by a narrow rocky outcropping and is protected, in all but the biggest surf, by the outside reef. If there is surge inside (you can see from the lookout above) go somewhere else! Kenomene is accessed by a private paved path (used respectfully) between the two buildings to the left of the entrance driveway to the Pali Ke Kua condos. Kenomene is convenient to Haleakamanu and the snorkeling is generally outstanding; with lots of fish close to shore and turtles feeding among the rocks on most afternoons. Getting in and out of the water at Kenomene can be tricky. Take the paved path to dirt trail just beyond the gazebo. Carefully go down this path to the beach. Footwear is helpful. We have often seen a monk seal, hauled up and resting on the sand at this point. Go to your left to the far end of the cove and look for one of the sandy entrances to the water. We hang a towel on a branch or rock to help mark the spot for exit. Not a spot for everyone to swim. Just getting there and relaxing in the seclusion is well worth it.
Kenomene Beach - Hideaways
Hideaways, is accessed by the public trail between the Princeville Hotel parking lot and the Pu’u Poa condos. This trail starts with some steep stairs and then precariously traverses a dirt path (users have installed a support rope) that can be slippery when wet from rain.
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Number two choice for snorkeling is Ke’e, at the far end of the road in Haena. Go early for a parking space, this is also the parking site for the trailhead to the Na Pali hiking trail, so it gets crowded early. There are plenty of fish in the sandy shallow water to the right of the cove. You can actually stand in the water and see the fish. The currents near the outlet (to the left) can be very strong. Watching the visitors walk on the reef drives us nuts, so we usually don’t spend much time there – but it is a great place.
Tunnels Beach is nearby and it is a good snorkel spot as well. Parking can be a problem, but if you go to the public lot at Haena Beach, you can walk back to Tunnels along the sand (about 3 – 400 yds.). You will know you are in the right spot when you see a lot of folks in the water. There is no need to go to the outside reef, you will see plenty of fish in close to shore. They are looking for you to feed them (not your fingers and toes) because many folks do just that. It is not recommended or necessary, but that is why they will come to check you out.
Anini is a couple of miles long and almost completely protected by an outside reef. Regardless of the surf conditions, it will be calm. It is also very shallow in most places, making it an excellent spot for young children – just watch for occasional pieces of glass or sharp shells. The stated snorkeling spot is to the right of the parking lot around the rocks 20 to 30 yards out in the water. It is also deep enough to swim in that area. It is worth driving down to the end of the road at the river mouth, good shelling and some quiet places to relax, picnic or stroll along the beach. The rope swing is a good spot and a lot of fun.
This is a family favorite for many reasons. If there is manageable surf it can be good for boogie boarding. It is a bit off the beaten track, so you can often find solitude (especially during the week days). There is a cool fresh water pool at the river mouth where it can be fun for younger kids to play. It is great for all kinds of beach activities.
The bay is always a good back-up choice. In the summer the bay is home to many moored pleasure boats. In the winter the boats clear out to make way for the surf. You have a couple of miles of beach to walk or jog on and you have a number of options for parking. Check out the pier at Black Pot Beach near the mouth of the Hanalei River. The Pavilion is near the center of the crescent and has rest rooms and a parking lot. Further out you can find small parking lots at Pine Trees, Bathrooms and Grandpa’s.
You can walk to the St. Regis Hotel and use the beach. The name is officially Pu’u Poa. Like all beaches in Hawaii, it is public. There is a stairway access (191 stairs) on the Hanalei Bay Villa side of the building. It is a great workout and you may wonder why people would bother using the stair-stepper inside the health club (although there is an elevator in the Hotel). The pool and lounges are reserved for Hotel guests, but the beach is for everyone, and we are pretty sure that everyone is welcome to spend their money at the pool side bar and restaurant. We have tried snorkeling at this beach, it is so convenient – but it is usually shallow, with limited marine life. For swimming, it is possible to find some depth to swim in the channel to the left (marked by buoys). It is a great place to relax and explore the St. Regis. It appears to be a short walk/wade/paddle to the Hanalei River and Black Pot Beach.
There are lots of other wonderful beaches to explore, let us know what you find.