Ho’okipa Beach Park is widely renowned as one of the premiere windsurfing beaches in the world. It’s worth it to wait and visit in the afternoon when the surf is high and the wind has picked up—the people watching is top notch, and chances are if the orange flags that denote high surf are on display, at least a few of the carving, flying, surfing, shredding windsurfers you’ll see dancing beyond the shoreline are among the most accomplished professionals in the world. If you’re lucky, you could even catch a high-profile competition. There are two held there each year. If you’re considering taking lessons or you are relatively new to windsurfing, consider heading to Kanaha Beach instead.
That said, Ho'okipa Beach is still pretty good for swimming if you can catch it on an early morning when the current and strong surges are not yet in play. There’s a lovely coral reef off the coast that does a fair job of protecting snorkelers as well. If you are going to stick around and take advantage of the conditions, take note that in order to avoid conflicts and safety between windsurfers, kitesurfers, and divers, Hawai'i state law prohibits surfing before 11 a.m. Furthermore, windsurfers are considered sail craft and must give right of way to swimmers, divers, surfers, canoes, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards.
Ho’okipa is relatively well equipped with amenities: You’ll find restrooms, showers, picnic pavilions, and two relatively spacious parking areas. Be warned that break-ins are common here—be sure to keep all valuables out of sight. There are lifeguard towers at both ends of the beach.
Though the first thing you’ll notice are the massive, crashing waves, there are two small, shallow, protected pools for swimming on either end of the beach that are great for entertaining little ones. Additionally, there are tide pools that run the length of the middle of the beach that don’t host much sea life but will keep kids happily entertained. This reef effectively runs along most of the shorebreak, and if you look closely you’ll likely see a number of green sea turtles bobbing just beyond the edge. This is a supremely popular place for turtles, especially on the far end of the beach. Around sunset, you’ll see many turtles (and tourists) popping up on the shore to rest.
For the best bird’s-eye view of the action, drive up to the Ho’okipa Lookout. It has its own parking lot and overlooks the pavilions. On a high-wind day, you’ll have an excellent perspective on the windsurfers and board surfers. This sight is best during the winter months when the massive, frothing whitecaps crash against the rocky outcropping below, exploding in a magnificent, tumultuous fashion.