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It’s impossible to showcase Waikiki without revealing its shoreline crowded with hotels and beach-goers; its ocean waves densely populated with surfboards. This is the Waikiki most visitors remember. But as you travel farther down the stretch of sand, toward Diamond Head, you’ll discover emptier beaches and welcome the open space around your beach mat. Kaimana Beach, also known as Sans Souci, can offer a nice respite from the congested tourist hub of Waikiki.
Kaimana Beach can get crowded but not as crowded as the main stretch of Waikiki Beach.
Next to the Natatorium and Waikiki Aquarium, Kaimana has become a favorite family beach because its waters are protected by a wide surrounding reef. This means calmer conditions and very little current. The shallow sandy bottom nearshore also make this a perfect place for younger children to play safely. Although surfers and kayakers launch from here, you’ll still have plenty of room to roam.
Many people make a day out of Kaimana Beach. They set up their tents, barbecue, volleyball nets and horseshoe games in the grassy area behind the beach. Rows of coconut trees always provide plenty of shade for picnics or lounging. But it’s always nice to cool off several yards away in the beautiful ocean.
Old-timers mostly refer to the wide pocket of beach as Sans Souci. The name dates back to the 1880s when a man bought several acres of land and opened a lodging house called Sans Souci. Sans Souci means “without a care” in French. Nowadays, the beach usually takes on the name Kaimana after the nearby New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel.
If you’re snorkeling the outer reefs, then you might notice remnants of what used to be a submarine cable. In 1902, the end of a cable from California to Hawaii was brought ashore Kaimana. The cable served as the first telegraphic link between Hawaii and the mainland. And about a year later, former President Theodore Roosevelt sent the first message over the new system from Washington. After learning this, I actually made it a point to find the cable, and I did! It’s easy to see the remnants with a snorkel and pair of fins. Good luck on your treasure hunt!
KAIMANA BEACH (SANS SOUCI) • 2863 Kalakaua Ave., Honolulu, HI 96815 • Amenities: showers, restrooms, lifeguard on duty • Activities: fishing, swimming, surfing, snorkeling • Free & metered parking; near bus route
Photo Credit: Noa Myers