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When you live in Hawaii, life is a beach. And on the North Shore of Oahu, one of the must-see beaches is causing quite a splash.

Shoring up between Papailoa and Chun’s Reef off of Kamehameha Highway, Lani’s (or Laniakea Beach Park as it is formally known) is a popular break for experienced surfers and a celebrated sightseeing spot for Hawaii families and visitors looking to get up close and personal with honu (green sea turtles) which frequent the area.

If you’re surfing down Kamehameha Highway, Laniakea is about two miles outside of Haleiwa Town, heading towards Waimea Bay. There is no formal parking lot for Lani’s, rather visitors here pull their cars over on the mountain side along the side of the road, across from the ocean. Make sure to lock the car, hide any valuables, and to take care before crossing the street since there is no crosswalk or street lights in the area.

sea turtle

Photo Credit: Neal Kido

A Hideaway for Island Honu

Also referred to as “turtle beach” by visitors, Laniakea is a natural sanctuary and home to many Hawaii honu (Hawaiian green sea turtle). The endangered amphibians are repeat visitors to this North Shore spot, basking on the sandy shoreline, nibbling on the verdant grove of limu (seaweed) and swimming to and fro in the crystal clear turquoise waters. Hawaii’s warmer, more mild summer months are recommended peak periods to sneak a peek of the green sea turtle, as gentler waters provide a more hospitable home for the honu.

To see the turtles, head towards the right side of Lani’s (if you’ve parked off the road and are facing the ocean, the turtles regular hang out is behind the small grouping of low trees). Here, the boulders and coral reef have created a protected cove for the turtles, away from sharks, and ideally, humans.

As an endangered species, it is against the law to get too close to — or touch — the friendly sea creatures. So while you should definitely pack a camera for an unforgettable family photo or Facebook pic, make sure to leave a healthy distance (state and federal law requires you to stay at least 10 feet away) between yourself and your new slow-poked friends.

Banners are erected in the area, encouraging turtle sightseers to “show turtles aloha.” Volunteers also regularly monitor the area, erecting red tape around sunbathing turtles and offering a friendly warning to those who get too close to honu on land or in the water, and sharing information on the shelled swimmers.


Photo Credit: Neal Kido

Surfs Up, Brah

For kamaaina (Hawaii residents) the main lure of Lani’s is the surf break — particularly in the winter months when Oahu’s North Shore comes alive with towering surf. A nice, long right, this world-class wave is a secret, lesser-known sister to other Oahu North Shore surf spots like Pipeline, Waimea and Sunset Beach, but producing a respectable ride — especially during north and north-west swells.

In the water, swimmers and surfers should beware Hawaii’s less-than-welcoming coral reef, which peppers Lani’s bottom. For families with young children or those who are not strong swimmers, Lani’s is not an ideal spot especially during the winter months, when strong tides and crashing waves can quickly and easily sweep visitors out to sea. And since this beach does not have a lifeguard on duty, swimmers should remain vigilant and check surf heights and ocean conditions before heading out.