For all of the designated tours and activities to throw hard earned money at, some find greater joy exploring the sands of Hawaii in search of washed up treasure. What constitutes treasure? While entirely subjective, there’s no denying the allure of sea glass and driftwood that have been smoothed and shaped by the endless churning of saltwater and sand. There are other riches that edge their way over the reef and on to the shore for the picking, including old fishing floats, bottles, broken surfboards, goggles, fins, and all sorts of odds and ends that have traversed the Pacific and crossed inter-island channels towards the Gathering Place. But you won’t find these goodies on Oahu’s most popular beaches, as they get plucked-up by early risers and cleaning crews faster than a silver dollar on a casino floor. Instead, you need to make your way to some of the island’s most secluded patches of sand, which makes the experience even more adventurous. How do you find them? Keep reading.
Top 5 Secluded Spots to Beachcomb for Sea Glass, Shells, Driftwood, and Other Washed-Up Treasures on Oahu
Ke Iki Beach, Pupukea
Close-up of the sand (and seaglass) at Ke Iki Beach
On the North Shore of Oahu there is a relatively hidden beach that is known for having one of the most impressive shore-breaking waves in the world. In fact, Ke Iki Beach shorebreak is a designated attraction. As any seasoned beachcomber knows, powerful waves bring treasure to the sand, and Ke Iki delivers accordingly. This is one of the best places on the island to find uber-smooth and frosty seaglass in brown, green, blue, and translucent varieties. The beach is also the only spot on Oahu that elusive Hawaiian sunrise shells make it to shore, which is a huge score for anyone who comes upon one. And if you blindly scoop your paws into the sand you’ll draw out handfuls of puka shells. However, you must come early as from the crack of dawn you’ll find fellow beachcombers with flashlights in hand hunting along Ke Iki’s golden grains. Beachcombing here is so enticing that it’s a big incentive for visitors to book their stay at Ke Iki Beach Bunglaows.
Waimanalo Bay Beach, Waimanalo
The longest and most attractive beach on the windward side is also one of the best places to beachcomb. Logically, the wind is what drives driftwood along with fishing gear and recreational boater possessions that have gone overboard to arrive at the sands of Waimanalo Bay Beach Park. As Oahu’s longest uninterrupted beach, you could spend all afternoon along the 3-mile expanse, but you don’t need to, as most of the loot will be found at the border between Waimanalo Bay Beach and Bellows Beach. There is a pile of boulders that separates the two, and it serves as a trap for the scrap that arrives on shore. Because Bellows Beach is a military base that is off-limits to the public from Monday to Thursday, very few people walk over to the rock pile. For this reason there is almost always a stockpile of salty goodies to pick from between its crevices.
Kaupo Cove, Makapu’u
Kaupo Cove goes by a couple of names, including Cockroach Cove and Baby Makapu’u. We’re inclined to call it a treasure trove, because the area between Makai Pier and northern end of Makapuu Beach is loaded with ocean junk that you may find worthy for your display case at home. There is a lot of great driftwood on shore, but also lead fishing sinkers which attain a rustic nautical appearance after being tumbled over the reef. This is a tough spot to comb when the wind and waves get frisky, so plan your expedition on a calm day.
Āweoweo Beach Park, Waialua
There is no better place to find that perfect piece of naturally sanded driftwood than along the sands that run from Waialua’s Āweoweo Beach Park, passed Dole Private Beach (not really private), and through to beach access pathway off of Waialua Beach Road. The winter swells bring so much timber that it lasts all spring, summer, and early autumn until it’s ready for a fresh batch come November. With most tourists exploring the Haleiwa and Pupukea beaches of the North Shore, this area gets very little foot traffic. This is great news for you! Take your time to look within between the piles of drftwood, as it’s a proverbial (or literal, for you) lost and found.
*Āweoweo Beach Park is shown as the featured image of this article.
East Sunset Beach, Pupukea
The steep gradient at the main part of Sunset Beach along the precipitous drop off in the water make it a terrible place to beachcomb. However, further east and beyond the world famous crooked palm tree is a great spot to shuffle through the sand in search of saltwater swag. Prime picking is at the end of the beach path found at the terminus of Kahauola Street. At this juncture the sand merges with exposed reef, and along its edge are small gems for your picking pleasure. You’ll discover sea glass in addition to broken bits of coral that are shaped like little white banzai trees. If you look closely along the slippery reef shelf (watch your step) you’ll also find small cowrie shells. which were as good as cash in certain ancient cultures.
Do you have any questions about beachcombing on Oahu? Drop them in the comment bix below and we’ll provided some added intel!
5 thoughts on “Best Beachcombing on Oahu”
Suny Chabrow says:
Thanks so much for sharing with those of us who enjoy getting off the Beaten Path…
Marcus Maraih says:
You’re welcome Suny – right now is a great time to go because the waves are pounding the shores with all sorts of treasure (and debris). Plus, your beachcombing helps us keep the aiana and ocean clean. Good luck out there!
Linda kinser says:
where is the easiest access for beach combing?
Marcus Maraih says:
Aloha Linda! East Sunset Beach (Pupukea) is very easy to get to.