Ever since we moved to Hawaii Kai, we have been looking around for a good kid-friendly beach that’s close. Sandy’s is the closest, but is very rough. The most the kids can do is wade, and not even much of that lest they get sucked ankle-first into the sea. Sandy’s waves break on the shore and go in a couple of different directions, thus leading to many broken necks and the wail of ambulances going up past our elementary school to the beach on a regular basis. Once, I saw a tourist try to take an inner tube into the water there, only to be roundly chewed out by a local. Hee hee.

Lava rocks jut out from the shore and into the water, and one section of Sandy’s has great tidepools. Kailua has the best kid beach; it’s very calm most of the time, plus there’s no hiking involved. You just park someplace and walk to the water. Waikiki and the beaches near that are somewhat close, but it’s a royal pain to get there and find a parking spot, plus they’re usually crowded.

At a recent party (yes, shockingly, I was at a party) I met a native Hawaii Kai-an and asked him where a good beach for the kiddos was. He told me to go to Little Makaapu, which he explained as being beyond Makaapu across the highway from Sea Life Park and across the water from Rabbit Island.

We ventured forth, going down a steep hill into a parking lot and looking at Makaapu. The waves looked slightly large and the adults were ants churning around.

Makapuu from above.
Makapuu from above.

“That beach would be okay for our kids if they grew up here,” Cadillac opined. “Not for our kids.”

We decided to find Little Makaapu and embarked on a dangerous hike across lava rock. It wasn’t that dangerous, unless you count the pebble shards in our slippers and the astonishing amount of fishing line and poles we came across.

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treacherous lava rocks
treacherous lava rocks

Notice that my husband is sporting loafers. This is because his slippers mysteriously disappeared. Slippers is the term for flip-flops here, in case you didn’t know (I didn’t). Of course, his slippers were ratty, chewed up by a dog, and worn to paper thinness at the heel. We figured they blew away from the front door area and the gardeners found them and decided they were trash, or a dog ran away with them and is blissfully chewing them to black bits someplace.

Anyway, we hiked across hot fields of rock and came across this:

Burial ground?
Burial ground?

According to my Hawaiian-English dictionary, “Ku Heia” means “unbroken swell of the sea, drifting in without breaking” or “a game played with sharp sticks.” “Heia” means “piece of hair, tooth, fingernail, small bone, or the like of a deceased beloved, kept and offered food for the pleasing of the deceased.” This sounded more likely. The rocks there and a fence around it made us think that it was a burial ground of some kind. Plus, there were several Hawaiian women camped there under a tarp. From a generator in the parking lot, they had plugged in a weed whacker and were tending the weeds and watering the plants around it.

I thought about asking them what it meant, but the upside-down Hawaiian flag indicated they were displeased at Hawaii being a state, and they didn’t actually look too friendly, so we just passed on by.

Finally, we arrived at the beach the guy told us about. The first thing we saw were these odd buildings, which housed something that sounded like pumps or generators.

odd buildings
odd buildings

The beach was secluded, a plus. There were a few people living there in tents– the state has a big homeless problem, probably because it’s so expensive– and more people there fishing. There were lots of lava rocks sticking out of the sand, two minuses.

lava
lava

The lava rocks were plentiful here, too. The kids played and Ethan kept going near one particularly nasty one that stuck up out of the water like an arrowhead ready to cut him, despite multiple warnings from Cadillac. And you know, when a DAD is worried that a kid’s going to get hurt, you know there’s real trouble, because half the time when he watches them they could be near a huge drop off and he would be unconcerned.

Rabbit Island
Rabbit Island
Little Makapuu
Little Makapuu
Playing in the water
Playing in the water

Thus, we decided to hike back to the first beach, which at least is rock-less, to let the kids play in the shallow waves. This time, we walked in the constellation of parking lots, climbing over cement walls and then down the big hill to Makapuu. “We might as well go to Kailua,” Cadillac said, “with all the hiking, it took us just as long as it does to drive there.”

Indeed.

The waves were rougher here, and my camera stayed stowed away. I was afraid that Ethan, who likes to throw his body into the sea, would get swept away, but this time Cadillac told me Ethan would be fine. “They have to learn how to deal with the waves,” he said. I defer to my husband in nearly all matters of physical education, and sure enough Ethan emerged covered in sand head to toe, coating his face with the crushed coral, happy as only a boy who loves the water can be.