On the south shore of Oahu is a beautiful beach where the waves look fun and the locals are friendly. The sand is gorgeous, the drive to get there will blow your mind, and it’s almost never crowded - but if you don’t respect the natural elements of this magical place - it can be hazardous to your health.
Sandy’s Beach, which has gotten pretty famous since it is President Obama’s favorite place to bodysurf - is a fun looking shorebreak with the power of a car running into you. Visitors come and see the local kids cavorting, body surfing, jumping into and out of the waves at Sandy Beach (locally known as Sandy’s) and they get in the water thinking it must be safe. The truth is though, Sandy’s is anything but safe. It’s a powerful shore break in shallow water.
What that means is that the depth of the water increases rapidly as you go out from the shore. Big swells come in from southern storms and as they hit the rapid upslope of the sand. These swells build into powerful waves that get huge and break close to the shore in very shallow water. Swimmers, surfers or bodysurfers who get caught in the break the wrong way can be picked up and slammed down on their necks or spines. Packed sand is not forgiving like a bouncy house. This is called 'going over the falls'.
Every year there are literally hundreds of spinal injuries at Sandy’s and sometimes fatalities. These are not all from malihini (the Hawaiian word for visitors) - some of them happen to be seasoned watermen who get caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. The ocean is powerful and even the very experienced can be caught off guard. In the history of surfing, there have been a lot of deaths to people who didn’t respect the ocean and also quite a few deaths of people who knew the ocean as well as anyone. The point is, never take the ocean for granted. Especially not the Pacific.
Sandy Beach has earned the local nickname Breakneck Beach - some of us think it would be a good idea to replace the name on the sign with that one. It might actually save a few "uncomfortable" situations.
Here at Private Tours Hawaii, we always suggest seeking the advice of a lifeguard and/or a local before entering the water at any of Hawaii's beaches. When in doubt, a safe viewing area is highly recommended.