The Magical Mermaid Caves
Updated: Apr 20
When you first move to a new place, all you want to do is explore, explore, explore! At least that's how I felt when I moved to Oahu. It's kind of hard when you're a broke college student without a car, but when there's a will there's a way! One of the ways us college kids on the North Shore would get around was by The Bus. At first you don't want to be seen taking The Bus, but then you realize it's the norm out here. Some of my best days started out as a trip on The Bus! It's so worth forking out a couple bucks to get a ride to some of the best beaches in the world, and just spending the whole day there.
Life here is so different compared to how it was where I grew up. I was so used to deserts and cities and tourists and nightlife, not ocean and little towns along the coast and everything sleeping by 10pm. I definitely wouldn't have taken a bus anywhere in Vegas, either. Despite the differences, Hawaii quickly grew on me. Plus I've always loved the ocean so I really can't complain.
One of my absolute favorite places I've been to since I lived here is the mermaid caves on the west side of the island. The day I went there was actually one of my favorite days ever. It started when my girls and I piled into a small car we rented and drove from the North Shore to Waianae. We were hot and sweaty but that's going to be everyone on the island since it's so humid. We didn't care though - all we cared about was reaching our first destination: the Maili Pillbox hike.
This was definitely my favorite hike I've ever done. It's not too hard, and doesn't take too long, but in the end there are the best views you'll ever see. We stood on the pillboxes and all around us there was something different to see. One side of us had mountains, the other had the ocean, and there was the cute towns around us. Don't forget to actually go inside the pillboxes too if you ever do this hike! They're a really cool part of history, and now they're all painted and really are just art. There are openings in the pillboxes so you can see the views from inside as well. Check out these breathtaking views!!
After our hike we started our short drive to Nanakuli Beach Park - the beach with the famous "mermaid caves." Now, before I went I didn't really know much about this spot. I had seen pictures and knew it looked cool, but I really wasn't prepared. When you get to the park, you have to actually find where the caves are, which wasn't easy. After we found them, we saw what getting into the caves was really gonna be like.
The caves are in the midst of lava rocks, which can cut your feet, so don't walk barefoot! When we found the cave, we had no choice but to literally jump in. It was maybe a 10-15 foot drop? I honestly don't know, I'm so bad at gauging height. We timed our jump with the waves to make sure we didn't knocked over. Once we all made it in the cave, we realized how truly amazing it was down there!
The water was a beautiful blue, and the tide was perfect so there was space for us to stand before we reached the water. The waves were somewhat strong, but didn't pull us out which is good. The hole to get in the cave wasn't thaaat big, but inside the cave actually seemed huge! There's so many good photo ops in there too. It was so fun to just sit in the cave and let the waves cover me. I could've stayed in the cave for hours, but at least we spent a couple hours laying on the beach afterwards.
I highly, highly, hiiiiiighly recommend visiting the mermaid caves - just be safe and prepared! Climbing out of the cave is not easy at all. We had to have strangers help pull us out - we were lucky they were there. Because of this, I'd recommend bringing something like a step stool or even a small ladder. It may feel weird to carry that around with you, but trust me, you want it. Also make sure you're checking the tides and going at a safe time! The water can rise quickly, and it's very strong. You don't want to get stuck and pulled out by the waves.
The west side of Oahu really is underrated. I won't lie to you, it has a bad rep. Go anyways! If you ever make a trip to the island, or even if you live here and have never been, I definitely recommend taking a day to explore the west coast! Start your day off at Electric Beach and maybe swim with some dolphins, make your way up and hit all the beach and hiking stops, then end the day watching the sunset at Yokohama Bay.
I want to hear your experiences while visiting the caves or doing this hike! Also let me know about any spots I need to check out on Oahu!
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