Chun’s Reef: Tide Pooling Fun on Oahu’s North Shore

What’s one of the best, most useful travel tips out there and one you hear most often?  For me it’s one simple piece of advice that seems to come up over and over again.

Ask a local.

Following this tip almost always yields good results, and hey, if not, at least you struck up a conversation with someone new.  You never know where that connection might lead you.

Chun's Reef: Tidepooling Fun on Oahu's North Shore |

When visiting Oahu’s North Shore last fall, I was fortunate in being able to meet up for coffee with an old friend.  A friend who’s been living on the North Shore for quite some time now.  We volunteered together with Americorps (a stateside version of Peace Corps) many many years ago, so after catching each other up on our lives and families, I decided to pick his brain.

Slaed and I took a break from planning the day, and let Jesse tell us what we should see and do.  Jesse surfs, dives, works, studies, and most importantly adores living on Oahu.   He was enthusiastic, confident, and excited for us!  These are the best types of people to interact with when you want good advice. As a matter of fact, he desperately wanted to join us, but unfortunately had classes and work keeping him busy.

Thanks to our local buddy, we were not only fueled for the day with the best coffee on the island, but we had a clear plan for our morning,  A plan complete with handwritten maps that were detailed and labeled.  He even suggested (and marked on the map) exactly where to jump into the water for the best waves and snorkeling!

Chun's Reef: Tidepooling Fun on Oahu's North Shore |

We set up our base, containing the usual beach gear of towels, low-back chairs, a cooler, and sand toys, at Chun’s Reef.  Chun’s is located south of the more popular and well known Waimea Bay, and unless you have a trusty hand-drawn map, plus a few visual clues, it can be tricky to find.  We explored, walked, and admired surfers all along this stretch of beach for about a half mile or so, but we spent the majority of our time right at this spot by the rocks.

And the highlight of that entire day was tide pooling with my tiny (3 year old) beach explorer.  We saddled right up to the rock formations, let the water crash all over us, and just marveled at the amazing creatures we’d find.  The changing surf and varied water levels uncovered new and different species to gaze at, point out, and wonder about.

Chun's Reef: Tidepooling Fun on Oahu's North Shore |

Chun's Reef: Tidepooling Fun on Oahu's North Shore |

Chun's Reef: Tidepooling Fun on Oahu's North Shore |

Tide pooling on Oahu’s North Shore was different than exploring at low tide back at home in Washington.  There’s the obvious temperature factor.  No way would I be wading in ice cold Pacific Northwest waters.  Another difference that I noticed was that all the little Hawaiian tide creatures blended right into the rocks, sand and sea.  At least in this particular spot, the color differences were subtle compared to the boldly colored sea stars, anemones, and urchins back home.

Also in case you were wondering, I was about 7 months pregnant while on this travel adventure in Oahu, and not exactly feeling light on my feet! The water provided relief from the hot and unusually humid conditions.  It was also the best way I’d found to take some of the pressure off from that growing baby inside, giving me a feeling of weightlessness.  Needless to say, it wasn’t easy leaving paradise.

Info to Know:

  • Chun’s Reef is located south of Waimea Bay on Oahu’s North Shore.
  • No bathroom or showers here.  Head North toward Waimea or South toward Haleiwa for full bath/shower facilities.
  • Even though we were exploring fairly freely, it’s still very important to pay attention to weather reports and use your good judgement with the surf.  Be mindful of sharp rock edges too!
  • We also traveled (walked) south on the beach and found it quite fun to watch surfers of all levels and skill riding the waves.

When is the last time you asked a local for advice? Did it work out as well as our morning did?

Chun's Reef: Tidepooling Fun on Oahu's North Shore |

More on Oahu: Take a look at our North Shore vacation rental, gather tips for visiting Pearl Harbor & check out where you can sample delicious pineapple ice cream! More still? Just type “Oahu” into our search box!

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6 thoughts on “Chun’s Reef: Tide Pooling Fun on Oahu’s North Shore

  1. Our kids have spent many a day playing in tidal pools at the beach. We have found that even though we spend endless hours planning adventurous activities for them, some of our best family days have been laid back ones spent at the beach. Great post 🙂

  2. I think my favourite photo (almost!) has to be of the letter / post boxes, they seem to sum up Hawaii’s colourful, laid-back feel. My eldest is a huge fan of tidal pools and can easily spend most of the day playing in them. Sounds like a great day out.

  3. We love exploring tide pools. It is so true that for the true flavor of a destination you should always ask a local. The pictures are stunning and you’re making me want to visit Hawaii again. It’s been too long!

  4. I love tidepooling, but am used to the cooler temperatures of the Pacific Northwest too. This warm beach in Hawaii looks like a wonderful place to spend a day with the family.

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