“Cockroach Beach”

A roundup of O’ahu swimming holes for youngsters!

There are several great tide pools around the island, perfect for introducing little ones to the water. Several of our favorite swim spots are at the North Shore, best suited for summer swimming. We’ll start with the tide pools by Shark’s Cove. Summer is the best time for North Shore swimming because Oct-April is big surf season. Don’t venture into the water unless the swells permit. And don’t trust your eyes – big waves can come out of nowhere (they come in sets).
One adult can snorkel in the Cove proper (rated as one of the top walk-in dive spots in the world according to one dive magazine), and the other can play with the kids in the shallow tide pools. In fact, I love snorkeling the tide pools with the kids bounding next to me! It’s like watching them walk on the moon. As real young kids, they can see fish without goggles on – just look down! Then as they get more comfortable, they can peek under the water with goggles, then learn to float alongside you as you snorkel. Finally, you can introduce the mask and snorkel when the child is 3 or 4. I have seen HUGE fish in here -even a blue-spine unicornfish 3′ tall in water about as deep! It’s fantastic. Truly.

Continuing along the North Shore heading toward the windward side, you will reach Turtle Bay Resort. Beach access is open to the public and Kuilima Cove is a relatively calm and protected spot to take kids. One advantage here is the opportunity to have a nice lunch after swimming (note – it’s not cheap eating, but it is beachside).

During the winter, you can venture to the south or leeward shores for swimming spots where the water is calmer. A couple suggestions include:

Known to kama’aina as Cockroach Beach (across from Sea Life Park), the tidepools vary in depth offering something for kids of all ages. One parent could even try surfing a stone’s throw away while the other parent plays with the kids!

Just a bit further south on the Kalanianaole Hwy is the Makapu’u Lighthouse. This easy hike is described elsewhere on this website. If you want a dip after hiking, follow a trail through the tall grass just after you go through the main gated entrance to the paved hike (the trail is on the right, heading toward the water). The trail splits into two – one higher trail and one lower. Take the lower trail to the tide pools. The higher trail takes you to Pele’s Chair, the rock formation you can see from a great distance (it looks like a chair!).

On the leeward side, the Ko’olina Resort has fabulous man-made lagoons. I haven’t been to this lagoon yet but have admired many pictures of them and friends have testified to their suitability.

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