Hawaiian Traditions
at Pokai Bay Beach Park

Family reunions at the beach are some of my fondest memories of Hawaii

By M. Keala Milles, Jr.

One of the most widely celebrated modern Hawaiian traditions are mini-family reunions at the beach. At Pokai Bay in Waianae, every weekend, you will find families setting up large tents and tarps where they eat, sleep, and spend time together, all weekend long. These Hawaiian-style get-togethers are not only about the local kine grindz, but also a reminder that family is important, a value I’d like to pass on to my daughter.

The perfect spot for family rest and relaxation
Photo by M. Keala Milles, Jr.

Family Time

Several generations of parents and children will spend two or three days together, cooking, eating, sleeping and playing in the simplest and greatest ways; a tradition you will never experience on the mainland. Not that I’m complaining, I rather appreciate Hawaiian traditions like this, and I look forward to seeing the tents every time I visit Hawaii.  It reminds me that the “aloha spirit is alive and well and that ohana is still a priority. 

I grew up in Washington state, but spent my summers in Waianae, so Pokai Bay Beach Park is one of my favorite places to go when I’m visiting Oahu (I’m sure anyone who lives on the Westside will likely agree.) Now days, I take my daughter to Pokai Bay; she’s all smiles whether climbing a tree, enjoying the playground, or exploring the rest of the grounds. 

Baby's first beach day
Photo by M. Keala Milles, Jr.

The Next Generation

Her first day at the beach was only a few months after birth. Pretty much as soon as she started lifting her head and moving on her own, I brought her to Pokai Bay, the beach I compare all other beaches to.  Hopefully she won’t grow up to be as snobby as I am, Pokai Bay is pretty much the only beach I like, anywhere on the island or otherwise.

This is my daughter climbing a tree in the park at Pokai Bay, five years later.  I love this picture because it captures her joy and also reminds me of a time when my brothers and I used to climb the trees at our Aunty Healani’s house in Nanakuli.  In Washington state, the trees are either deciduous (like an Apple tree) or coniferous (like a Christmas tree), not really great for climbing, at least, not like this

Climbing trees, another of our family's Hawaiian traditions
Photo by M. Keala Milles, Jr.

My daughter on the playground
Photo by M. Keala Milles, Jr.

You can also see that this is a different day because she is wearing different clothes (and even different rubba slippahs!)  It was probably two consecutive days—if she had her way, we’d probably be out there every day!

I visit Pokai Bay Beach Park with my daughter every chance I get, it is  one of my favorite Hawaiian traditions to share with her. This was her first beach and a place I know she will remember for the rest of her life, just like I do.

What are your memories of the Westside?

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