Located just south of the Wailua River, Lydgate Park is like a dream come true for families traveling with babies and children. This beach park has a lot to offer to families including: large and small pavilions for shade and parties, picnic tables, bathrooms, showers, a lifeguard, two large community built playgrounds, walking paths and large grassy areas. The beach consists of two ponds protected by a rock wall barrier that dissipates the energy of the incessant east side wind waves. The large pond is great for swimming and trying out your new snorkeling skills, while the smaller pond is perfect for wading with your infants and toddlers.
The ponds were built to allow the water to move freely through the spaces between the rocks. Juvenile fishes also move into the pond via these crevices and if they remain inside the pond and grow, they are unable to escape. That’s good news for those of you that like to snorkel. I often see over thirty species of fishes when I snorkel here. Turtles and eels can also be found in the pond from time to time, especially after a high tide. The protected area, calm water, posted lifeguard and variety of fish make this the perfect location to teach your kids (or yourself) how to snorkel. You can rent snorkel gear at any of the numerous snorkel rental locations around the island or pick up a cheap set at Wal-Mart near the airport. Be sure to bring a fish identification book to answer all your kids’ questions about what kinds of fish they saw.
Directly across the parking lot from the swimming area is a large community-built playground. There are swings, slides, bars, tires, walkways, swinging bridges, a volcano, tile benches, drinking fountains and all that wonderfully soft sawdust they pour on the ground to pad any falls. This playground is guaranteed to wear your little ones out! If it doesn’t, a second playground and bridge is located about ¼ mile away just south of this area. To get there you may drive, take a nice walk along the beach or use one of the many walking paths.
The Wailua area in general is rich in ancient historical sites. These sites are worth investigating. At the north end of Lydgate Park, you will find the Hauola Place of Refuge. This Place of Refuge was considered a safe zone for commoners who had broken a kapu or committed a crime. The rock wall remains also mark the site of the Hikini a ka la Heiau. You may also hunt for petroglyphs buried in the mouth of the Wailua River when it is calm and the water level is low. Be warned however, the beach at Wailua can be rough and a lifeguard is not always posted.