Three Tables Beach, part of Pupukea Beach Park.

© Leigh Anne Meeks/Shutterstock

Pupukea Beach Park

Top choice in North Shore & Central O‘ahu

With deep-blue waters, a varied coastline and a mix of lava and white sand, Pupukea, meaning ‘White Shell,’ is a very scenic stretch. The long beach encompasses three areas: Sharks Cove to the north, Old Quarry in the center and Three Tables to the south. The waters off Pupukea Beach are all protected as a marine-life-conservation district.

The reef formation at Sharks Cove provides an excellent habitat for marine life, including sea turtles, and is good for snorkeling. When seas are calm, this is a great area for water exploring; make sure you always wear shoes to protect your feet from sharp coral. Despite the cove’s name, the white-tipped reef sharks aren’t usually a problem; just keep your distance and don’t provoke them.

At low tide the rock features at Old Quarry appear as if they were cut by human hands, but rest assured that they are natural. Coastal tide pools are interesting microhabitats that are best explored at low tide during calm summer seas. Be careful, especially if you have kids in tow, because the rocks are razor sharp. There are showers and restrooms in front of Old Quarry.

The flat ledges rising above the water give Three Tables its name. In summer (only) the area is good for snorkeling and diving. The best coral and fish, as well as some small caves, lava tubes and arches, are in deeper water further out. Access to Three Tables is just beyond Old Quarry, where there are a few unmarked parking spots.

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