Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sandy's Beach

Sandy's Beach From Scenic Point
The scenery along the southern and eastern coasts of Oahu along Highway 72 on the way to Kailua is pretty incredible.  The coast is littered with sparkling water crashing on the lava cliffs with intermittent beaches along the way.  You can leave Waikiki and head toward Diamond Head and just follow the road all the way along the coast or you can just take the H-1 East (from anywhere) and just stay straight - it turns into Hwy 72 (this is much easier, though you did miss some scenery).  There are scenic points to stop about every half mile or so, which is nice if you want to take pictures of the coast.  The road winds along the mountain and moves slowly as everyone tries to catch glimpses of the water and shoreline.  Although there are a number of beaches on the stretch of highway between Waikiki and Sandy's Beach, they're not worth going to.  These beaches are in the town/neighborhood of Hawaii Kai, which has a runoff problem.  The beaches, as a result, are not very clean and the water is cloudy so it's best to just keep driving.

Hawaii Kai from Hwy 72
As you drive along Hwy 72, you'll pass the entrance to Hanauma Bay, which is a great spot for snorkeling (I don't actually have personal knowledge of this, but it's what I've been told).  There is also an amazing scenic point here that gives a great view of Hawaii Kai (see picture above).  As you continue along the highway, you'll also pass the Halona Blowhole (I'll talk about this later).

Sandy's Beach
Right next to the Halona Blowhole and Halona Beach is Sandy Beach Park.  This beach is very popular with locals who enjoy the body surfing.  Notice I said locals.  The beach's shoreline is very steep and the waves have incredibly strong and powerful shore breaks (apparently it CAN be calm on some days.  When I was there, though the surf was UP so the waves were huge).  It is not uncommon to hear about tourists who try to body surf and end up getting pile driven into the sand leaving some fairly unpleasant neck injuries.  However, if you wanna man up and take the chance, it can be pretty fun.  For the faint of heart, though, it's still fun to just sit on the beach and watch all the people getting tossed around by the water.  Here is a youtube video that accurately portrays the Carnage at Sandy's.

Sandy's is also just one of those places with a lot of character.  Dozens of local boys park their trucks right up next to the beach, drink beer, blast music, and watch the body surfers in the water.  The water is teeming with locals doing some pretty amazing stuff on a boogie board.  Another nice thing about Sandy's is that there are full facilities with showers and bathrooms and it's free to park.  There is also a truck that sells "Mexican" food.  I put that in quotes because it is not like the shrimp trucks I've written about before.  This truck is really just a guy selling tacos out of the back of his truck.  Also, he moves slower than dirt so if there is a line of people, expect to wait awhile.  Although we bought water ($2 for a 24oz bottle), we did not sample the food so I have no idea if it's any good.

Overall, the beach park is a nice place to play in the water if you're not afraid of being slammed into the ground.  If you're in the mood for a relaxing beach trip where you can wade in the water peacefully, though, Sandy's is probably not for you.  However, I still recommend pulling over for 20 minutes to watch the locals and all the characters that populate the beach.  They're entertaining.

If you continue past Sandy's Beach, you'll run into the very pretty (and public) Hawaii Kai Golf Course.  The golf course is also right down the road from Makapu'u Lighthouse Trail, which is also how you get to Dragon's Nostrils.

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