Outside / Best gay beach on Oahu: Lighthouse Beach

For as long as anyone can remember, the scrappy strip of Diamond Head shore just below the Diamond Head Lighthouse has been Honolulu’s unofficial gay beach. With the scene at Queen’s Surf in Kapiolani Park shrinking quicker than its beach, and other nominally gay beach spots small and far-flung, Lighthouse Beach remains true to itself as a quiet yet enduring public gay space, recognized by kamaaina and eagerly sought out by malihini visitors.

The mystique, if you will, seems to have set in with 19th-century beachcombers–AWOL sailors, soldiers and other castaways–who found peace and quiet at Oahu’s southernmost shore, far (but not too far) from the hoi polloi of Waikiki. As early as 1900, according to one published report, a portion of Diamond Head’s beach, hidden then as now from public view, was divided into male and female sections where bathing au naturel was cool, and the segregated sexes cavorted freely.

Of course, nudity is now more or less against the law on Hawaii beaches and can provoke a humiliating and expensive arrest. As a result, naked bodies at Diamond Head, commonplace as recently as the 1980s, have all but disappeared.

Though it’s useless during really high tides, the stretch of beach rock and sand pockets between Beach Road and the surfer showers at Kuulei Cliffs Beach Park are nevertheless sacrosanct territory for generations of gay sunbathers and swimmers. They are fervent about the place, and they take care of it. And what’s not to like, between the quiet, the views, the magnificent reef, the trades and the winter sunsets?

Best bike lane: Ala Wai Boulevard

Flat, smooth, lined with palm trees–this is our best urban bike lane. Speeding along the Ala Wai, you can marvel at the beauty of the canal while moving fast enough to escape the smell.

Readers’ Picks

Best Local Spot to Reclaim from Tourists

Hanauma Bay (winner)

Duke’s (runner-up)

Best Site for an Urban Picnic

Kapiolani Park (winner)

Ala Moana Beach Park (runner-up)

Best Secret Spot to Watch Surfers

Point Panic (winner)

“Not Telling” (runner-up)

Best Camping Spot

Malaekahana Beach Park (winner)

Bellows (runner-up)

“Your Back Yard” (you said it)

“Sherwood Forrest” (you said it)

Best Hike

Koko Head (winner)

Diamond Head (runner-up)

“Tantalus when crazy pig hunters aren’t there” (you said it)

Best View Reached by Foot

Koko Head & Diamond Head (tie)

Best Staycation on Oahu

Turtle Bay (winner)

Hilton Hawaiian Village (runner-up)

“Da Back Yard” (you said it)