If you are staying or otherwise adventuring on the island of Oahu and want to get away from the tourist crowds, then consider a stop at the island’s Punaluu Beach Park. Now, this is not the black sand Punaluu beach that you will find on the Big Island, but rather a quiet stretch of golden-hued sand on the north side of Oahu.
The name Punaluu translates to something like “coral dived for” or “diving spring”. In the case of this beach, the name undoubtedly refers to the excellent underwater coral just off the shore that makes for some excellent snorkeling adventures. Of course, this coral is also sharp and so it is important to take caution when wading out and swimming too much beyond the shoreline.
Punaluu Beach Park is a good-sized Oahu park that spans three acres along a strip of land and beach between Kamehameha Highway and the ocean. This is a simple-looking beach and beach park without a lot of bells and whistles. That said, it has everything you’d really need to spend a good part of the day at the beach.
There is no one big parking lot at Oahu’s Punaluu Beach Park, but rather you will find pull-out parallel parking available just about the entire length of the three-acre park. This combined with the narrow stretch of land between vehicle and beach, makes it an ideal place to go if you have a lot of beach and picnic items you want to bring. In other words, not a lot of walking and hauling to set up a nice spot.
And there are plenty of nice, beyond-nice spots here to set up for a beach day. Tall coconut trees and broad koa trees grow all along the grassy stretch of the park here, offering plenty of green-shaded spots to sit and enjoy a cool view on a hot summer day. You can bring your own chairs and hammocks to set up, or the park has a few picnic tables for visitors to likewise take advantage of. At the center of Punaluu Beach Park is a large open-air building inside of which there are basic bathrooms and outdoor showers to wash yourself off of after a dip in the water.
It should be noted that while you can swim here, it’s not the most popular spot for general swimming due to the shallow reef. However, that shallow reef does make this place ideal for other great water-based activities. Here, a lot of different types of fish enjoy the calmer waters and a great array of places to hide, making this a very popular fishing spot. In the morning especially, you will often find locals set up with fishing poles, casting out and hoping for a good shoreline haul. Snorkeling in the later afternoon hours is likewise good here.
Unfortunately, Oahu’s Punaluu Beach Park does not keep a lifeguard or have any type of lifeguard duty here. So it is important to stay cautious when entering the water and be especially mindful of young children. When in doubt, follow the locals’ lead.
-Punaluu Beach Park is an excellent place to fish in general, but it is especially known for its outstanding octopus fishing. Octopus fishing can be done by hand, lure and line, and spearfishing — all of which are considered low bycatch methods and are quite fun to watch. To try it yourself, consider looking into one of the many fishing guides available on the island.
-If you’re feeling peckish, and who doesn’t get peckish during a long day at the beach, walk a block or so north to the intersection of Punaluu Valley Road and Kamehameha Highway. Here, you’ll find a busy food truck called Shrimp Shack serving up delicious shellfish dishes. They have limited seating, but why stay here? Grab your food to go and enjoy sinking your teeth into some flavorful coconut shrimp while you sit beneath coconut trees and watch fishers cast out at Punaluu Beach Park.