Kawela Bay

Kawela Bay, Oahu

Kawela Bay (view panorama) is one of the most secluded beaches on Oahu. Located near the Turtle Bay Resort, it is a perfect spot to unwind. Bathe in the calm water or enjoy a peaceful stroll along the beach. The sandy beach is narrow and is bordered by a tropical forest with mainly ironwood trees and a few coconut palms. Watch out for falling coconuts!

This curved bay is one the most protected on Oahu's North Shore because of the reef that diffuses high waves during the winter months when other North Shore beaches get pounded by high surf. Kawela Bay's nearshore waters are calm year-round.

Swimming at Kawela Bay is ok, but not the best because the water is murky and some areas of the bay have rocks on the ocean bottom. So it is tricky to avoid the rocky patches and to watch out for your toes. For the same reason, the snorkeling isn't that good because you can't see much. A couple of surf sites are located on the outer reefs outside of the bay, but here the currents can be strong.

In the past, houses stood along Kawela Bay's entire length. But in 1986, all residents from the bay's east point to the center were evicted to make way for a resort that was never built. So up until today, the property along this part of the bay remains undeveloped. There are only a few beach homes along the bay's west end.

There are no facilities and no lifeguards here, just natural beauty. To reach Kawela Bay, walk along the shore from the Turtle Bay Resort. It takes about 20-30 minutes to get there. A Kawela Bay beach stroll is best when the tide is low. During high tide the water washes up all the way to the branched out trees, so you will have to go into the ocean up to at least your knees to pass by.

Kawela Bay Overview

  • Secluded sandy beach on the North Shore of Oahu
  • Nice spot for a quiet picnic and for watching sea turtles
  • Watch out for falling coconuts on the beach - the palms are not "maintained" here
  • Shore is lined by ironwood trees that provide plenty of shade
  • Middle and right (east) end of the bay is best for swimming (fewer rocks on the ocean bottom)

North Shore Oahu HI 96731
Directions: Kawela Bay is located in Kawela on Oahu's North Shore. Itís about a 40-mile drive from Waikiki. After you pass the town of Kahuku, it's about five more minutes. To the right you will see a big golf course of the Turtle Bay Resort. Then you're almost there. After about another mile, park on the right at the resort. If you don't have a car, you can take bus number 55, which leaves from Ala Moana Center in Honolulu. Get off the bus at the Turtle Bay Resort and walk along the shore towards the west, past the horse stables, until you reach Kawela Bay.

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Reviews and Comments:
A few days ago I read in the newspaper that the area around Kawela Bay will soon see more development - the nearby Turtle Bay Resort will expand and more homes and vacation rentals will be built at the east end of Kawela Bay. This is sad news I think. I always enjoyed visiting the bay as it is one of the last somewhat remote beaches on Oahu. The ironwood forest that backs the bay will have to be removed if buildings will be constructed there. It is really sad that Oahu is being overbuilt and that now they touch areas that shouldn't be touched.
Anna, Fri Dec 07, 2012
Very rocky. Too dangerous in the water to surf or paddle board due to protruding coral rock. My friend hit her head on one when she fell off her board and cut her head open. Shallow water and murky at times. Locals only on left side of bay. Not worth the walk thru the muddy forest to the bay.
Kayla Hagedorn, Mon Jun 11, 2012
Watch out for falling coconuts! Since Kawela Beach is so remote, no one seems to pick ripe coconuts from the palm trees here. I once went here with a friend of mine and we had wanted to make us comfortable under a palm tree when suddenly a huge coconut fell to the ground. Luckily it missed us. This is really a great beach, quiet and secluded, just watch out where you put your towel.
Anna, Jul 09, 2010
Kawela Beach is amazing. It is away from noise and cars, and it is just perfect. I live in town, so i dont go often there but i recommend it to everyone who wants to escape for a day from the city noise.
Lily, Jul 05, 2010