Hidden beaches are hard to come by on the North Shore. The seven mile miracle draws hundreds of thousands of tourists into its fold each year with annual surf contests, world class food trucks, and sea turtle spotting. Eventually adventurous visitors work their way through the natural nooks and crannies and discover stretches of sand sans footprints. Hidden gems quickly become Instagram hashtags.
Now we understand the irony in naming the best secluded beaches on the North Shore. In doing so, won’t we cause them to become overrun? Not in the cases of the shorelines that we’ve listed below. The reason, is that they require some work to get to and/or may make prudent people uncomfortable for a variety of reasons. Most visitors are wary of the wild west demeanor of the North Shore, so we’re not afraid of giving up the goods. Ultimately, if you’re willing to venture over to the beaches below, you’ve earned it and deserve to know. Let’s get to it.
Top Four Hidden Beaches on the North Shore of Oahu (that aren’t for everyone)
Kahuku Golf Course Beach
Kahuku Golf Course Beach is hidden from Kamehameha Highway by a residential community, then a rough-around-the-edges brick and mortar (mostly brick) facility, and as the name indicates – a golf course. But across the sunburned green you will find the most isolated beach of its size on Oahu. The soft white sand glows bright without beach towels and bodies to obscure the surface, and the cyan blue water is equally free of bobbing heads and snorkels. In addition to having plenty of space to sunbathe in solace, the upper edge of the beach is home to all sorts of interesting beachcombing finds. The wind and swell direction drives collectible fishing junk such as floats, ropes, and more to the shore. View more (including directions) to Kahuku Golf Course Beach.
Why it Will Remain Secluded
Ninety-nine percent of visitors and locals keep away from this beach because of the golf course that they have to cross to get to it. For the most part on-site golfers don’t mind, and are accustomed to in-the-know beachgoers crossing the green. That said, visitors are encouraged to be respectful of the course. This beach isn’t for groups larger than three.
Turtle Bay Pillbox Beach
If you’re staying at the recently remodeled Turtle Bay Resort (it’s worth it) and want to escape the crowds of the property-managed Kuilima Cove without having to hop on the highway, then head for Turtle Bay Pillbox. But instead of venturing into the abandoned beer can riddled WWII structure, look slightly to the east. There, you will spy a delightful stretch of sand that is rarely occupied aside from a basking sea turtle or monk seal from time to time. From the AM into the afternoon the beach gets its fair share of both shade and sun, thanks to its northeastern position beside Kawela Bay Beach Park’s forest reserve. This topographic fact makes the beach perfect for sun-worshippers and their UV-ray averse companions alike. This is a nice quiet place for snoozing, reading, or sipping spirits from a Corkcicle. View walking-trail directions, although we prefer to stroll along the sand from the resort.
Why it Will Remain Secluded
Most visitors prefer to hang with the gang at the aforementioned Kuilima Cove and Kawela Bay Beach Park. There’s also the fact that you can’t swim at this beach without scraping your belly across the reef. That said, you can cool down in the ocean next to the eastern rock outcrop that has a small sandy entry-point. Most people can’t be bothered with that sort of effort, which works in the favor of anyone seeking seclusion.
Waiale’e Beach Park
Waiale’e Beach Park is hidden in plain sight. It’s found off of Kamehameha Highway as the road runs from Sunset Beach to Turtle Bay Resort. Most people miss the beach as it’s tucked under the slope of a small parking lot that is frequented by local fishermen. Their coolers full of Coors further obstruct the view. When the beach does get noticed, it’s thanks to the main attraction – Kukaimanini Island. The small islet is what makes an afternoon at this compact stretch of sand worthwhile. On its own the island is a beacon for photos. Viewers back home or at your hotel will be curious about how you discovered the clandestine outcrop in the sea. Feel free to share this guide to getting there, or not. Beyond the surface aesthetic, the reef between the sand and islet is great for snorkeling as it is teeming with fish and young sea turtles. The shoreline is equally populated with natural wonders (not people) with enticing chunks of coral, shells, and frosted sea glass for the picking. View exact location of Waiale’e Beach Park.
Why It Will Remain Secluded
Despite the presence of Kukaimanini Island, most visitors won’t find the beach as appealing as adventurous souls such as yourself. They will take photos of the island from the parking lot and be on their way, turned off by the unkempt parking lot. Let them judge a book by its cover while you enjoy the spoils of this isolated slice of paradise.
Papa’iloa is located further west of Laniakea (aka Turtle Beach) which is extremely crowded and responsible for the congestion along Kam Highway. With Laniakea getting all of the attention, Papa’iloa remains peaceful and quiet. The lush expanse of beachfront homes and private land also help to isolate the area from passing traffic. As a result, a lucky few (yourself included) will enjoy a relaxing beach with a juxtaposing mix of soft sand and shoreline reef rock. Get directions to Papa’iloa from your North Shore location here.
Why It Will Remain Secluded
Papa’iloa Beach has a steeper gradient than traditional beachgoers prefer. Subsequently, the water gets deeper quite quickly which keeps unconfident swimmers away. This beach is also further from amenities (restrooms, showers, shops, etc.) than the other secret spots listed above.
Are there other hidden and secret beaches on the North Shore? Absolutely, but we don’t intend on giving them away. We have to keep some for ourselves! However, if you have any questions about the secluded ones listed above we’re happy to provide some added intel. Simply leave a comment below, and we’ll get back to you within the day.