With just-right waves and refreshing breezes, this is one of the best beaches on O’ahu to learn how to windsurf or kitesurf.
If you find Waikiki too crowded and North Shore’s waves overwhelming, visit Kailua on O’ahu’s eastern shore. Manageable waves and a good breeze make perfect conditions for windsurfing. After building expertise, try the challenge of kitesurfing farther from shore.
If someone in your party has limited mobility, reserve an all-terrain wheelchair a day ahead so he or she can enjoy some time on the beach. The large rubber wheels on the chairs provide a smooth ride to the shore. For those struggling with walking through shifting sands, Kailua Beach also rolls a mat from the showers to the water’s edge, giving a firm, flat surface on the sand.
Surf the web to find live beach cams of Kailua and other beaches before you get in your car for the drive. Get a sense of weather, wave action and crowds. Of course, if you arrive at a beach and decide you don’t like it, you can always drive a few miles up the road to try another.
Inland from Kailua’s beach, turn mauka (toward the mountains) for a strenuous hike with some of the island’s most breathtaking views. Olomana Trail is so difficult it’s described as “scrambling on a knife’s edge.” The first challenge is finding the trail head, which is near the Royal Hawaiian golf course; ask for directions. Physical challenges include hand-over-hand and rope-aided climbing on treacherous ridges. If you’re in good shape, bring plenty of water and plan for at least three hours just to the first peak and back. Or, simply play a round of golf at the beautiful and challenging Royal Hawaiian course.
For less climbing, hike to Maunawili Falls. This will still have some challenges of wet conditions, crossing the stream several times before reaching a small pool at the base of the falls. Easier yet, walk on generally flat paths along the Kawainui Marsh to look for wildlife. This protected conservation site is developing public educational plans so be sure to avoid restricted areas.
Visit Kailua, 12 miles (19 kilometers) from Honolulu, for a great mix of ocean and inland activities.