Hopping a fence or trekking through someone’s yard would not be considered appropriate ways to get to a beach in Hawaii. Trust me, it happens all the time. And if you find yourself in those situations, then I’d suggest turning around before you get in trouble!

Instead, look for public beach access points as designated entryways to the shoreline. They’re usually marked with a bright blue sign with the name of the beach. They might also list rules, like no open fires and no nude sunbathing. The access point itself is usually a direct path to the shoreline that’s sandwiched between homes. You’ll see these in the Lanikai area or on Oahu’s North Shore.

To help point visitors (and locals) in the right direction, the city and state have recently launched a map-based website of most all access points on Oahu’s shorelines. Viewers can click on access points around the island to learn more about that specific spot. It further lists whether restrooms, showers, lifeguards and picnic tables are available. This information is extremely helpful to beach-goers not familiar with the spot.The website appears to be quite basic, with a topographical map of Oahu (including streets, parks and places). Each access point is marked with a tiny red dot. Click the dot, and a second window pops up with a list of the information mentioned above. You can expand the window or zoom into the spot on the map. But that’s about it.

I haven’t heard if the government will be expanding the map’s features or creating similar websites for the other Hawaiian Islands. I really like how detailed it is, by including names of streets, bays and piers. However, the map should be more interactive and include a section for comments, where viewers give their personal take on each spot. Tourists would especially benefit from seeing actual photos of the beach because they’d help them decide if it’s the right one for them.

The map also seems to be lacking in several areas, such as listing whether or not the beach has wheelchair access and parking. Those are two very important aspects for anyone going to a beach. And here’s to wishing: it’d be neat if the map was three-dimensional, like Google Earth’s insanely realistic map of…the entire Earth! Both on land and in the ocean. Of course, Hawaii would first need the funds to even start thinking about attaining that level of amazingness, but just throwing it out there. And they would definitely need monies to convert this website into a smartphone app. With how many people have smartphones nowadays, that wouldn’t be too much to ask for, would it?

Hopefully the site will be moving toward that direction in the near future. Either way, I’m glad to see this website up and running. It was much needed by tourists and locals and those homeowners with frequent trespassers.

OAHU SHORELINE ACCESS POINTS • Map-based website of shoreline access points • Click here for map


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