Part two of the series looks at luau, lodging, activities at the "must do" haven

WAIANAE, Hawaii - Nestled in a secluded beach cove is a hidden paradise where families are gathering to catch a colorful sunset, enjoy a luau and experience old Hawaii.
That paradise is Pililaau Army Recreation Center (PARC) at Pokai Bay, named one of the best beach facilities on the island and the best-kept secret of those stationed or visiting Hawaii.

The Army recreation facility is no secret to Warrant Officer Kevin Clark, 949th Transportation Company, who brought his family to PARC to enjoy the luau, Aug. 14.

"We're here with family on vacation," said the Baltimore resident.

"(PARC) is quiet, out of the way and off the beaten path," he added.

Located 35 miles from Waikiki and 18 miles from Schofield Barracks, PARC is a spot to be discovered not only for special events like the luau, but as a weekend destination, as well.

"PARC is a great destination for Soldiers and their families to enjoy a day trip, a weekend or longer stay," said Shelly Leslie, PARC administrator.

The recreation facility offers 39 beachfront cabins, a club facility and cove pavilion area for group outings. Cabins are air conditioned, and feature full kitchens equipped with cooking utensils and tableware, a private sun deck and barbecue grill. Units are carpeted and equipped with cable television and a DVD player.

Day trips to PARC offer some of the most pristine beaches in the islands, with water activities such as swimming, snorkeling, scuba and kayaking, fully supported by on-site beach equipment rentals.

"The beach is safe, sandy and gentle, great for playing and learning how to swim," added Leslie.

Overlooking the ocean, here, is the Sunset CafAfA's expansive lanai, which is often used for special occasions. The cafAfA offers dinner service seven days a week, and the popular bimonthly luau in a relaxed setting, perfect for families with small children.

And while it may seem impossible, there are even plans to improve paradise. Soon, PARC will receive interior cabin renovations and upgrades totaling more than $1.7 million.

Improvements include air condition upgrades, flat screen televisions, new appliances, cabinets, beds and showers.

Exterior improvements are also planned. Clusters of cabins will be painted in different colors representing the various Hawaiian Islands ready to greet visitors to the facility.

Leslie anticipates the completion of all cabins by May 1 of next year.

"The goal is to turn (PARC) into an educational destination, so people appreciate all the islands," Leslie said.

Col. Matthew Margotta, commander, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii, believes the Waianae facility merits greater attention from Soldiers and the Army community in general.

"I encourage our community to look again at Pililaau, whether it's for a retreat, a weekend getaway, or a day outing as a place to rest and recreate."

The beach is great and you will not see a more beautiful sunset on Oahu," Margotta added.

PARC is open to all active and retired military, members of the Reserve and National Guard, and active and retired Department of Defense civilian employees, including Coast Guard, family members and sponsored guests.

The PARC luau takes place the second and last Friday of each month.
The next luau is today, followed by Sept. 11 and 25. Dinner starts at 6 p.m.

Adults cost $17.95; children (5-12 years old) $10.95, 5 and under are free. Parties of four or more should call to reserve seating at 808-696-4778.