Cromwell’s Cove, east of Diamond Head Beach, is no longer a secret. The stretch of sand and its accompanying cove used to be as secluded as beaches get in Hawaii, with a public access hidden at the edge of a ritzy neighborhood. Today, it has become a popular stomping ground for tourists and locals.

(Top) Wade through this beautiful ocean pool to get to the cove. (Bottom) Hooray! For Cromwell’s Cove.

The beach you see first is called Kaalawai Beach, but most people call it by the name of the cove adjacent to it: Cromwell’s. It’s not uncommon to see locals walking waist high in the shallow-water swim area, as they guide a buoyant cooler alongside them. They’re most likely headed for the cove, which requires going around a small point and climbing over a few rocks.

I wouldn’t recommend young children or the elderly make the trek to the cove. Although it takes less than five minutes to get there, it involves some physical strength and dexterity. Beach-goers usually go there to jump off of the rock wall, which can be as high as six-feet, depending on the tide. Instead, children and older folks can enjoy the sandy beach and clear, blue waters of Kaalawai Beach. At low tide, they might be able to explore some of the surrounding tide pools, while at high tide, they can snorkel around the patches of reef scattered along the shore.

You might be surprised at how many people can actually squeeze on to the rock-walled area surrounding the cove. The weekends or holidays might be the most crowded time to go; you’ll see pop-up tents, people barbecuing (yes, they manage to bring everything including food and even radios through the water) and of course, people jumping off the wall. There’s no ladder to climb back up the wall, so you have to exit at the other end of the cove, where there are steps or climb up the wall.

Shangri La sits above the cove, which is usually crowded with visitors and locals.

The Shangri La overlooks the sheltered cove below. In fact, the cove was named after the husband of Shangri La’s creator. His name was James Cromwell. As with anywhere you visit, please show respect to residents and the museum when going to Cromwell’s. Mahalo!

KAALAWAI BEACH & CROMWELL’S COVE • Take Diamond Head Rd. east and turn right on Kulamanu St. • Street parking; Near bus route

Photo Credit: Kelci Renshaw


  1. Please take caution here. I was snorkeling with a friend and in the most shallow part of Cromwell’s Cove I nearly ran into what turned out to be a 6 foot Black Tip Reef Shark and when we were struggling to get out of the water on the rock wall, the shark came right up to where we just got out. These sharks are known to be territorial and live in the same area for a long time.

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