Whale Watch, Swim, Surf, And Sunbathe At This Uncrowded Serene Beach In Oahu

Given Hawaii's status as one of the most beautiful spots on the planet, you might feel you have to go to great lengths to find a quiet beach in the state, such as traveling to one of the smaller islands and eschewing popular O'ahu altogether. While tourists and locals enjoying the sun and surf fill many O'ahu beaches, the lovely Keawa'ula Beach (a.k.a. Yokohama Bay) on the island's west side rarely receives visitors from out of state. The Hawaiian "Keawa'ula" translates to "the red harbor," a name drawn from the red cast on the beach's water produced during mating season by the squid once fished there.  Meanwhile, "Yokohama" stems from the Japanese fishermen who used to frequent the area.


The stretch of sand sits on the northern end of Waianae Coast. Keawa'ula Beach doesn't see as much action because the bus route doesn't extend that far, meaning you need a car to reach it. It will take you about 75 minutes to drive there from Waikiki; however, the great surfing (especially in winter) and wonderful summertime swimming more than merit the time investment. You can also spot plenty of animals.

Yokohama Bay: The perfect spot for sun, surf, and animal-watching

Keawa'ula Beach, backed by the Wai'anae Mountains, has everything you need for the perfect outing: soft sand, beautiful water, restrooms, showers, and lifeguards on duty, though you'll have to park on the street. (Pack this unexpected item to get all the sand off your feet fast.) One reviewer on Tripadvisor said, "This is one of the prettiest beaches on Oahu, yet few people know about it because it is at the 'end of the road'. The water is the most beautiful turquoise."


Swimmers will encounter calmer water in the summer; when in doubt, ask the lifeguards whether you can safely take a dip. You can also find great snorkeling about 30 feet out among the rocks. Surfers love this area from November through February due to the great waves, though beginners should find a different location to hone their skills. However, you can still enjoy watching experienced surfers in their element.

Yokohama Bay, part of the Ka'ena Point State Park, which has a bird sanctuary, also has a lot to offer animal lovers. You can spot great frigatebirds, wedge-tailed shearwaters, Laysan albatrosses (protected by law, so don't bother them), and Pacific golden plovers. Additionally, marine life, like dolphins, green sea turtles, Hawaiian monk seals, and even humpback whales, frequent the bay.


A hike from the beach that is worth taking

Once you've had your fill of swimming, surfing, or sunbathing, you can take Keawa'ula Beach's trail to Ka'ena Point at the northwestern tip of the island. Make sure you pack reef-safe sunscreen (the type required by law in the state), as you won't find any shade. The dirt trail begins at the beach and continues in a relatively straight line to the point.


The Ka'ena Point Trail, an easier and largely flat hike, offers even more opportunities to see whales, dolphins, seals, and other creatures. The path from the bay to the point, 4.8 miles out and back, will take you further into the park and the bird sanctuary. You can keep going beyond the point through the Mokulē'ia section of the park (the hike will make a "v" shape) before you turn around, bringing the total distance to about 10 miles.

Beautiful scenery, including tidepools (pictured above) and rocky arches, enrich the Ka'ena Point Trail. Bring something to drink, as the restrooms and showers don't have potable water, and the temperature can get hot. Consider adding the North Shore, the most beautiful stretch of scenery in O'ahu, to your trip. Movie and TV lovers also won't want to miss this beautiful Hawaiian nature reserve.