Glide Guide: Sandy Beach to Magic Island, Honolulu

Submitted by Jennifer Lee

Put-In: Sandy Beach

Takeout: Magic Island

Distance: Roughly 13 miles

Wind Direction: E, SE, S

About the Run: The run from Sandy Beach to Magic Island in Honolulu, Hawaii offers all conditions for the avid downwind paddler. Put in at Sandy Beach and paddle out the channel just to the right of the rock at the inside of Half Point (a surf break) and left of Pipe Littles (a bodyboard break), hugging the coastline past Hanauma Bay and following the cliffs. The water here is very choppy but is downwind, providing runners in abundance. In spite of the choppy water, the views are spectacular.

Once you get to Portlock Point aim slightly in toward the blinker buoy just to be safe (especially if winds are coming strong out of the north or northeast). Then make a beeline for Diamondhead. The swells from Portlock to Diamondhead are spectacular most of the time. Once you get to Diamondhead, watch what the waves are doing and plan to go just outside the surf line. If you end up too far out it will be hard to come in for the Waikiki section of the paddle.

Once you pass Kaimana Beach you want to aim in so that you end up just outside Pops (the surf break just outside of the Sheraton Waikiki), continuing to stay just outside the surf. You will pass a set of channel markers in front of the Hilton Hawaiian Village; keep going. The next set of channel markers that you will see are where you want to turn right. You will know you are there if you see the Hat buoy; hang a right there and paddle up the channel. This is the mouth of the Ala Wai, so it’s best not to fall in. Paddle all the way up to the boat launch ramp. Done.

Be Aware: This run is a formidable challenge for EXPERTS only (always do it with a local). Make sure you have a phone and/or a rescue beacon and always paddle with a buddy. Many of the local SUP shops like Blue Planet are willing to take visitors and newcomers to the sport downwind paddling.