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The two tiny islands in the distance tell you immediately this is Lanikai Beach, one of the best in the world. The sand is powder soft and the water is always this beautiful turquoise. The waves and winds are gentle. People enjoy swimming, snorkeling, wind surfing, sailing and burying one another in the sand of this beach on the windward side of Oahu.
To really enjoy Lanikai beach, it is helpful to know a few things in advance. First, there is little to no shade. Many people bring beach umbrellas to help shield the sun. Second, there are no facilities — no bathroom , water fountain, or shower. Bring something to drink along with you. There are trash bins at the street access but not on the beach, so be sure to take out everything you bring in. Third, the beach is relatively narrow and the homes are right next to the public access. One man working in his back yard seemed to be part of the beach activity. Both Kailua and Waimanalo beaches (on either side) offer more distance from residents (and shaded areas).
The most important thing to know, though, is how to find it. Lanikai beach is reached through public access alleyways between homes. These public paths are marked, but not really clearly. Look for a sandy alley that opens to the ocean. Other passages between homes are private property and lead to someone’s back yard not the public beach.
A public bus runs along the street next to the beach and is the most convenient way to arrive because there is no parking lot. Street parking is very limited and is patrolled. As I left the beach, I saw a police officer writing tickets for a line of cars that had tried to squeeze on to the side of the street. Another option is to park in Kailua and walk across the bridge to Lanikai. Parking lots exist at Kailua beach but are often filled.
It is worth the effort to experience this beach on your Hawaii vacation. The visual beauty is stunning, the sound of the waves relaxing, and the feel of the powder soft sand beneath your feet amazing.