One of the greatest things about being in Hawaii is that you always have access to a beach. It is guaranteed by law “The public has a right of access to and along all beaches and shorelines in the State…” In Lanikai and Kailua, people have built houses along the beach but there are alleys that lead from the street to the water to provide access. Even the beautiful estate of Doris Duke “Shangri-La” has a strip of beach between it and the ocean that is open the public. While attending talks there, I’ve watched people swim and fish from the rocks and sand below.

This legal access means more because the beaches are so close on these islands. It’s easy to catch a bus or even walk to the beach from most places (although I’m sure that’s less true on the Big Island). It is not uncommon to see vacationers at Kailua bus stops going to the beach on the windward side of the island from their hotels in Honolulu. Of course, Waikiki hotels are right on the beach, an easy stroll from most rooms.

I think convenient beach access is one reason Hawaii ranks as one of the happiest states. Recently, a fellow student and I were preparing for a difficult exam. The week before the exam, we each independently decided that part of preparing would involve a day to relax on the beach. The sound of the waves is like a massage from the inside out – deeply soothing. Beaches are also social, like a park or central commons. It’s fun to watch babies squeal and run from the waves, or dogs chase toys down the beach. A visit to the beach is an escape from daily chores, whatever they may be.

I’ve come to rely on an occasional visit to the beach. When I’ve been working and/or studying too much, I get grumpy and I know it’s time to head for the water. It relaxes me in a way that a nap or even a massage do not. No matter how many attractions you may think you need to see, when you visit Hawaii leave time to really enjoy a morning or afternoon on the beach. It’s free! (But be sure to take precautions for the wonderful tropical sun.)


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