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Bellows Beach: A Locals Beach on Oahu That Tourists Should Enjoy

by Brian Patterson on May 14, 2012 0

I had the pleasure of living in Honolulu, Hawaii from the age of 10 to 14, four years of my life that have had a great influence on who I am today.  Some of my favorite memories from my childhood and teen years were spent exploring different beaches on the island.  From the sandy beaches for boogie boarding to the rocky cutoffs with jumping off points, the beaches in Hawaii offer an almost unlimited amount of activities.

One of my absolute favorites that I go to again-and-again when I visit is Bellows beach.  What took us to Hawaii was that my Dad was in the Navy (it also took us to Guam and a few other cool spots), and so we visited a lot of the different bases on the island.  Bellows is part of a US Air Force base, so half of the beach is restricted to military personnel only.

If you a military ID, then you can go ahead and drive through the checkpoint to go on base.  If you don’t, then just head to the part of the beach before the checkpoint, there is very little difference between the 2 sections.

Bellows is a great place for beginners to practice boogie boarding

The shore break at Bellows is not bad, so it can be a good place for kids as well

I would literally spend all day in the water at Bellows.  The waves are the perfect size to have fun, but not be unmanageable.  The water has that beautiful bright blue color, and visibility is very high because the water is just so clear.  A lot of people boogie board there, especially young kids, teenagers, and first-timers because the waves are fun, but if you wipe out you won’t be hurt at all.

Bellows is primarily a locals beach, but only because tourists rarely venture to that side of the island to go to the beach.  However, I highly recommend that anyone going on vacation visit Bellows.  This beach is quiet, almost the complete opposite of Waikiki.  There are no stores or shops, loud music, or tourist traps; it is just sand, water, and palm trees. (so make sure to pack a lunch or plan to hit a local spot on the way in or out)

There a few cons about Bellows that you should know about:

  1. If winds are blowing in from the ocean, the Man-o-war can get pretty bad.  These are a nasty type of jelly fish that have a sting with a pop.  I’ve had my fair share of stings from them, and we always put ‘meat tendorizer’ on them.  Does it work?  I don’t know… but it was my mom’s favorite remedy.  We always had a little spice bottle of it in the beach bag.
  2. It can be windy.  If it is a windy day, it’ll be windy on the beach.  This NEVER bothered me, and I never noticed it until I took my wife there on one of our first trips to Hawaii.  She wanted to lay down and read a book, and quickly got annoyed that it was a little gusty and at times sand was flying.  I don’t think it is always that bad, but it has never bothered me.
  3. It’s a long drive by Hawaii’s standards.  Be sure to plan a few things to see on the drive out there, such as the Napali lookout.  From Honolulu it can take about 40 minutes with no traffic, so just be prepared for a bit of a treck.

The Pali lookout has a panoramic view of the windward side of the island. You can see about half of that view in this photo.

Bellows offers the chance to get off the beaten path, and yet still find rest and relaxation in a safe place.  Being right next to the military base, you shouldn’t have any problems with a bad crowd of people.  I try to get to Bellows every time I’m in Hawaii.  Sure, it is a bit nostalgic for me, but it is a great beach that everyone should visit.

Photos courtesy of:  Vinylonlaminate, Abellon

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