Alan Davis Beach and the Kaiwi State Scenic Shoreline

South Shore (Honolulu)

Alan Davis Beach is a secluded little beach tucked away in the shoreline near the Makapu'u Lighthouse Trail. This hidden gem is great for exploring tide pools, wading and swimming, hiking, and just relaxing and enjoying the view.

To access the beach, there's a short, scenic walk down the Kaiwi Shoreline Trail. At the end of the trail, there's a small cove good for wading and swimming, as well as beautiful tide pools that can be enjoyed when the tide is low.

The small, calm bay at Alan Davis Beach

About Alan Davis Beach

I didn’t discover Alan Davis beach until I had lived on Oahu for almost a year—nestled up against the cliffs that form the island’s eastern-most tip, it’s a little off the beaten path. You can’t access the beach directly from the parking lot. Instead, you’ll need to hike about half a mile down a gravel path to the shoreline.

Once there, take in the views of this unique, secluded beach. The water in the small bay is shallow when the tide is low, with a rocky bottom, but good for wading (bring water shoes/sandals if you can!) There are two partially enclosed rock pools that are shielded from the waves, a great place to sit and vibe and watch the water flowing into the bay.

There’s some shade provided by copses of small trees, but plenty of room for sunbathing, too. On weekdays, the beach is rarely crowded. On weekends, beachgoers often congregate to jump off the nearby cliffs into the water below.

If you’re in the mood to explore, there are plenty of connected trails that form the Kaiwi State Scenic Shoreline. Further along the beach, there are rock tide pools partially protected from the waves.

Location: South Shore (Honolulu)

Amenities: None

Free parking: Yes

Recommended activities: Swimming, hiking, tide pools (and cliff jumping if you’re brave!)

Rocky tide pools at Alan Davis Beach

Getting to Alan Davis Beach

Alan Davis Beach is located on the easternmost edge of the island, just before the south side of the island curves up into the windward side. To get there from Honolulu, you’ll need to drive out past Hawaii Kai. The drive is scenic, with plenty of places to pull over and stretch your legs or take pictures. You’ll pass the entrance to Hanauma Bay, for which reservations are required, as well as the Halona Blowhole lookout and Sandy Beach.

You’ll want to navigate to the parking lot at the Makapu’u Point Lighthouse trailhead. Parking is free, but can fill up fast, especially on the weekends. Many people get there early to hike the lighthouse trail for sunrise, but it clears out somewhat in the afternoon and evening.

Once you’ve parked, instead of hiking up the paved path toward the lighthouse and the summit, at the end of the parking lot you’ll take a gentle right and follow the gravel path downwards towards the shore. After a few minutes’ hike down the trail, you’ll reach the beach. From here you can stop and enjoy the beach, continue along the trail as it traverses the shoreline to the right, or climb up into the cliffs to the left of the beach.

Optional: if you’re interested in hiking the Makapu’u lighthouse trail, you should do that first. The steep, paved trail is exposed to the elements and can get very hot and sunny as the day goes on. We recommend hiking the Makapu’u lighthouse trail early in the morning, then heading down to Alan Davis for a refreshing dip on your way back down.

View of Alan Davis and the Kaiwi Scenic Shoreline

Activities and amenities at Alan Davis Beach

Alan Davis is the perfect secluded spot for an afternoon picnic or beach day. While parking is free, this beach does require a short hike from the parking lot. There are no restrooms or other facilities, and no lifeguards.

The water at Alan Davis can be shallow when the tide is low, but the sandy, rock-lined pools are a wonderful place to sit and relax in the water, like a little mini ocean hot-tub. Brave beachgoers may try jumping from the cliffs to the left of the bay and into the water below. Beyond the rock pools and the bay, the water becomes rougher as strong waves crash against the rocks. Unless you’re an especially strong swimmer or very familiar with the beach, it’s a good idea to stick to the shallower, more protected areas.

Alan Davis is also a great place to explore tide pools. These pools range from shallow dips in the rock to pools that are deep enough to sit in. When exploring the pools, be cautious of waves breaking over the pools; stay out of the tide pools if the water is too rough.

Alan Davis Beach and Pele's Chair

Pele’s Chair at Alan Davis beach

To the left of the beach, near the cliff jumping area, is a rock formation known as Pele’s Chair. From a certain angle, this rock formation looks like a massive chair. Pele is the Hawaiian goddess of volcanoes and fire, responsible in Hawaiian mythology for creating the island chain. 

The eastern-most tip of Oahu, where Alan Davis and Pele’s chair is located, is the youngest part of the island, and raw rock formations and lava-like flows are still visible.

View of the Kaiwi Shoreline Trail

About the Kaiwi State Scenic Shoreline and the Kaiwi Shoreline Trail

To get to Alan Davis, you’ll need to hike the Kaiwi Shoreline Trail. This trail, which is part of the Kaiwi State Scenic Shoreline, is a gravel trail at a gentle downward incline that heads down to the shore.

Once you get to the beach itself, the trail continues on and you have the option to follow it to the right along the shoreline. This area is composed of a series of connected trails that loop back upon one another. You can hike the trail all the way down to Koloko Beach, or just explore a little way’s down the coast before looping back to Alan Davis.

The going is relatively flat, with maintained sand and dirt paths to walk on. There are plenty of native plants on display, along with birds and insects. Peaceful and serene, it feels a world away from the hustle and bustle of town.

Things to do near Alan Davis Beach

Alan Davis may feel completely secluded, but it’s near a variety of other popular destinations and attractions. These include:

  • The Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail, a steep paved trail up to a lighthouse that offers spectacular sunrise views
  • Sandy Beach, a nearby beach with monster waves enjoyed by experienced bodysurfers
  • Waimanalo Beach, a picturesque beach with turquoise waters on Oahu’s windward side
  • Leonard’s malasada truck, a food truck in Hawaii Kai serving the most delicious malasadas, a fried donut inspired by Portugese and Hawaiian cuisine

FAQs about Alan Davis Beach and the Kaiwai State Scenic Shoreline

How long is the hike to Pele’s chair?

The hike from the Makapu’u parking lot down to Pele’s chai and Alan Davis is a short one of under a mile. The trail is rough gravel, so you’ll want sturdy hiking shoes (it can be difficult in slippers/flip flops). Once you reach Alan Davis, you’ll hike a little further up and to the left to get to Pele’s Chair.

Who is Alan Davis Beach named after?

The beach is named after Alan Sanford Davis, who leased the surrounding land for a cattle ranch in the 1930s and 40s.

Can you snorkel at Alan Davis Beach?

Depending on the tide, it’s possible to snorkel in the calm, protected waters of the small bay. The water is typically clear, and there are often fish to be seen. There are also plenty of tide pools full of marine life to explore.

Maggie W.

On a mission to explore every beach on Oahu.

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