“Sandy Beach on Oahu’s Northeast shore is the Most Dangerous Beach in Hawaii!”
Some friends and I, including a girl that I wanted to date (and impress) packed into the Jeep Wrangler and headed out to the beach.
“Where do you want to go?” I screamed over the wind ripping through our hair at 70 mph on H-1 freeway.
“No, let’s go to SANDY’S!” Kasey screamed louder than everyone because, he was louder everyone, unfortunately.
The girls screamed – “YEAH! SANDY’S!!”
I cringed, but I had to go with the flow. It was already about 10:30 am and I knew the parking lot would be getting packed. I knew the bodybags would be filling up quickly too because the place was known as the shore-break that breaks necks and backs.
I’d been to Sandy’s twice before this day and I watched teen after teen get hammered to hell in the shore-break. I did not see the fun in that AT ALL, and yet some kids stayed in there doing it for hours. I did go out in the water for a while and it was pure chop with waves breaking seemingly anywhere they chose. It is one of the weirdest beaches ever. Barber’s point is another weird one, but Sandy’s is so much worse.
I floated around in the water and tried to avoid kids on bodyboards flying down waves that just materialized for no apparent reason. I was bobbing up and down like a loose buoy. Really, no fun. No way for me to look cool at this beach.
The other time I was at Sandy’s I laid on the beach and was sandblasted to no end. It felt like I was getting a full-body tattoo. Seriously, the winds were not all that hard, but for whatever reason, the sand blows like mad at Sandy’s. It wasn’t consistent. It crept up on me that day. I was almost asleep and then BAM it got me. I snapped to. It abated. I tried to sleep again, this time wrapped in a towel. BAM it got my head. I had to lay there covering up and I was supposed to be working on my tan. I was there about two hours and finally had enough – the girl I was with was relieved I was ready to go too.
So, those were my experiences of Sandy’s. Oh, and the carnage. I’ll get into that in a minute.
We pulled into the road which led to the parking lot. Ambulance was already there waiting for the first of what would be three people with injuries that day. There was already someone flying a kite and a guy putting together a wind skateboard. It was really bright and sunny and the wind wasn’t too bad. Maybe it wasn’t going to be such a bad time after all. Then I saw, and my nerves twitched a bit – the surf was raging and spraying mist all over for a hundred yards.
Saltwater fog blew all over the beach, sunbathers, and cars. The foggy wet salt-bath which had become so familiar over the previous year. It was like wind-blown adrenaline that charged my veins. It meant freedom – waves – good times. At least at all the other beaches it did. I was so stoked to be at the beach after a week of working at the Air Force base! I even felt optimistic about being able to impress this girl in the midst of pure madness going off in the water. We parked and pulled out all our stuff – mats, towels, snorkels (we didn’t know better), and Turbo and Morey bodyboards and walked toward a spot well away from the water.
Then I saw just how bad it was. People were trying to jump over the shore-break and getting smashed to hell instead. The break here at the beach is so sudden, so fierce, and with so much energy that it defies physics. When you walk up to the water, you’re sure you can just jump right over – head above water – and get past the waves breaking on the shore, just like you did at dozens of beaches before.
If it’s going off that day? Good luck to you.
Sandy’s is different in most every way. Not many beaches have a huge open-air area right behind it where people by the dozen fly kites and use the wind to power all sorts of contraptions. Not many beaches have an ambulance on standby, and put someone in it daily. I don’t remember any beach on Maui or Kauai that was anywhere near this dangerous.
I guess this is what attracts the local teens to the spot. I’d say this beach has the most teens on the entire island. Why? They’re trying to be cool, like I wanted to be. They’re trying to impress their friends by being ‘that crazy kid’ that loves Sandy’s. I mean, if you say you LOVE SANDY’S, there is something wrong with your family tree. Your genes aren’t right. Somehow your bad genetics allowed you to live to this point, but you’re soon going to meet your maker if you really love this place. It’s a KILLER, pure and simple!
After we threw down our stuff, I just stood there for a bit and watched the insanity unfold. Some kids were bodyboarding out further and catching random chop that exploded into waves sometimes. Others were just playing in the wicked shore-break. I didn’t even know these kids, but I wanted to say, “HEY, PEABRAIN! GET OUT OF THE SURF, CAN’T YOU SEE YOU’RE NO MATCH FOR IT?”
Still, I shut up and just watched people get smashed by the waves. Time after time, and hour after hour. The SAME KIDS got beat up, and came back for more. AS IF they liked it.
The girls lay down and lathered up with Banana Boat’s finest. I noticed yet again, Jade was a GODDESS. I thought briefly about sitting down and chatting her up a bit. I knew what I had to do, but I felt a little fear that day. If you ever feel fear – listen to it. That’s what I learned that day.
I didn’t know what to do. I loved bodyboarding. I’d bodyboarded in 10 foot surf before, but not 10 foot chop and 8 foot shore-break. Kids on their boards seemed to be safer than those dorking around at the shore, so I grabbed my board and Churchill fins and walked tentatively down to the water, Kasey following with the same. Kasey always followed my lead. He wasn’t a great bodyboarder, but he was impossible to drown on his board. I was actually surprised he was going in – later I found out he ALSO wanted Jade, the girl I was after. Figures, right?
We sit down where I thought was safe, and I began pulling on my fins. A wave built up and crashed all in 3-seconds, and damn near washed me backwards feet over head. I was like, WTF!? I had to hop back to get one of my fins which was already being buried in the sand by the whitewash.
Kasey had pulled his fins on faster than me and so he was standing up laughing at me, cracking jokes in the snarkiest manner possible. He was so good at that too. I hoped the girls were laying flat and didn’t see anything, but I wasn’t going to turn around to check.
I pulled my other fin on and waddled down to the shore where it looked flat, but going to build again. DAMN IT! I cursed in my head, another one already?
Again, the wave built in a second and crashed as I tried desperately to jump over it and ride over top of it with my board. Instead it hurled me backward and pummeled me into the sand a good one! Then, to the absolute joy of two dozen people watching idiots trying to play in the surf, and for the first time in my life – I rode a wave backwards – feet first until the water ran back out.
I quickly stood up and and wiped the sand from my face. I dared not turn around because I was sure every eye was on me. Where was Kasey?
He backed up before I jumped in. He was in ankle deep water about 15 feet in front of me and laughing his ass off – jokes cracking, non-stop.
Though it hurt to stand back that far and assess the situation, that’s just what I did. I tried to read what was happening. I tried to find a spot down the beach that broke LESS treacherously. There wasn’t any. We definitely picked the wrong day to “go Sandy’s”!
Kasey backed up slowly, waddling up the hill a lot smoother backward than is possible forward.
“What’s the plan?” he said, big smile on his face, but obviously wanting me to figure it out so he could say I didn’t know what in the hell I WAS DOING.
“I think forget the fins. There’s no point. I can’t jump over an 8 foot wave with fins on my feet!”
We both took off the fins and went back to the towel, laying them down as lightly as possible so as not to wake Jade and Nells.
We walked back down to the water and I ran and jumped in, paddling furiously with my arms to get out before the next wave broke on my head. I got out a bit and was going like mad just to put some distance between me and the humiliating shore-breaking waves. It was almost like I was riding a wave, I was going out so effortlessly. I was actually riding a wave back out to sea. It wasn’t large, but it was a bump that was heading out back from whence it came.
Then underneath me it hit an incoming wave and it boiled under me and shot me up about four feet and then I crashed down. I was still on my board, and it was damn good thing because 10 feet away the REAL breaking wave was coming! And though it wasn’t quite like the monster 25 foot wave you see in the image at the top of this page, the idea was similar – that’s why I chose this photo from thousands I looked through. I wasn’t at the top of the wave, like the fool in the photo. No, worse. I was at the bottom of it.
That wave crashed down on me before I had the chance to turn around. No, I didn’t ride it backward. I rode it straight DOWN into the hard sand under the water. Another first for me, as I hadn’t ever ridden a wave straight down vertically, and nor did I ever think it was possible.
Sandy’s is a different place man. I stayed out there for thirty minutes, bobbing around and trying to guess where a rideable wave would pop up, but it was just random. I mean, I don’t know how in the world the local kids were able to find waves that day, but there were plenty of rides. I just never found one. Where was Kasey? He got smashed by the same wave I did, and he was up on the beach telling the girls how I was way outclassed on the waves and didn’t know enough to get my ass back in where it was safe on the towels!
There were three guys treated by ambulance personnel in just the couple hours we stayed there that day, though nobody with a broken neck. It happens though!
Do be very careful if you visit Sandy Beach on Oahu. Makapu’u has a shore-break too. It’s closer. It’s more beautiful. There are less crazy kids. Less sand-blast. It’s safer. Just go there, unless you love a good beating. That’s what Sandy’s has in store for visitors!
Sandy Beach on Oahu is Hawaii’s most dangerous beach in the minds of many.
What do you think? Do you know any more dangerous beach?
I mean for the common person who might just get in to have a swim and all the sudden find himself taking a ride in the ambulance to Tripler. No inexperienced tourist is going to get in at Jaws or Pipeline if it’s going off.
Are there other beaches that are as weird and dangerous as Sandy’s? Let me know!