Best beaches in Oahu, Hawaii
Each of these best beaches in Oahu has something special that makes it different from the other beaches. Beaches located on the North Shore boast some of the best waves in the world and are popular among surfing enthusiasts. Those located in the south and eastern part of Oahu (including the famous Waikiki beach) - are calm and ideal for a family vacation.
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Waikiki Beach - South Shore
Waikiki Beach is not only one of the best beaches in Oahu, it's also famous all around the world. Most Oahu hotels are located here.This beautiful stretch of white sand draws over 4 million visitors a year and is rated as one of the top beaches in the world. Located on the south coastline of Oahu, Waikiki Beach has a 2-mile stretch of soft sand. The beach area is busy most times of the year there are plenty of activities for you to enjoy that range from swimming to surfing to sailing. Waikiki Beach has two distinct areas with the east end at Kaplolani Park where you can relax and the west end is marked by the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon where a statue of the famous surfer can be found. When you visit Waikiki Beach you can pack a picnic or visit one of the many restaurants and bars in the area like Duke’s Waikiki for superb Polynesian cuisine.
Photo by katsuhiro7110
Waimea Bay Beach- North Shore
Waimea Bay Beach is one of the best beaches in Oahu in the North Shore area. Known as Red Water in Hawaiian, the Waimea Bay Beach has many attractions from its historic past to the perfect cultural experience to the finest surfing in the world, Waimea Bay Beach continues to satisfy everyone’s interest. The Waimea Bay Beach can be found along the Kamehameha Highway near the town of Haleiwa. The area has an important historic significance when after the death of Captain James Cook in 1779 the remaining crew of the HMS Resolution moored in this picturesque bay. You can visit one of the most important Hawaiian temples called a Pu'u o Mahuka Heiau. Over two centuries later, the Waimea Bay Beach still is impressive with its expansive views from the highway and the big waves which have attracted the finest world class surfers chasing the waves.
Surfing at Waimea Bay Beach Park is the number one activity during the winter months when waves can reach heights of 20 feet or greater. When surf is up you can be assured of watching some of the best surfers in the world when they compete in the Quicksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau surfing competition. Since the 1950s the Waimea Bay Beach Park has been in play with adventurous surfers who are looking for the perfect wave. During the winter months the beach area can be crowded and entering the water is discouraged by an actual line drawn in the sand by the lifeguards. In the summer months Waimea Bay Beach Park is a haven for swimmers and snorkelers with glass-like water.
Photo by Daniel Ramirez
Sunset Beach Park - North Shore
Sunset Beach Park is among the best beaches in Oahu whether you are visiting in the winter or summer months. The Sunset Beach Park is a wonderful 2-mile stretch of some of the softest white sand in the world with a few trees to provide shade. The beach area is ideal for picnicking anytime of the year and there is also a grassy area for family fun. In the winter, you will be able to watch some of the biggest waves in the world as well as numerous professionals hanging ten on the water. Summer months bring calmer water which is perfect for swimming and snorkeling. The tidal pools are a favorite with local beach combers looking for unusual shells. No matter what time of year you decide to visit Sunset Beach you will find interesting people, beautiful white sand and some of the most breath taking beach scenery in the world.
Photo by Wally Gobetz
Banzai Pipeline - Ehukai Beach Park on the North Shore
The Banzai Pipeline is perhaps the most famous of all surfing spots in the world as well as one of the best beaches in Oahu for you to watch the ocean in all of its glory. Also known as ‘Ehukai Beach, this area has waves that are massive and reach heights of 20 feet in the winter. When professionals take to the water for the Billabong Pipe Masters’ Challenge in December, spectators will be reminded why the Banzai Pipeline is the last stop of the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing. Created by a shallow coral shelf, the Banzai Pipeline is a special place that will leave you in sheer awe of the forces of nature. The ‘Ehukai Beach is a favorite for beach goers looking for an incredible experience with ample beach space for you to enjoy the beauty of the waves and the world class surfing provided by the monstrous waves of the Banzai Pipeline.
Photo by The.Rohit
Laniakea, or Turtle Beach - North Shore
Laniakea Beach, also known as Oahu Turtle Beach, is the best beach in Oahu for you to safely view the green sea turtle while snorkeling in pristine water. You will be amazed by the number of turtles that are swimming in the water along this portion of the North Shore. You will also be in awe of these turtles when they exit the water and sunbathe on the soft white sand that exist between the several rock outcroppings on the shoreline that enhance the wild feeling of Laniakea Beach. The turtles enjoy the rock shelf just off the shoreline where they gorge themselves with tasty seaweed. Surfers also flock to Turtle Beach where they can find such offshore surfing delights like Laniakea, Hultin’s and Himalayas. If you want an up close and personal view of the great green sea turtles which are thriving in their own environment, then you must visit Laniakea Beach.
Photo by Jennifer Boyer
Kailua Beach Park - East Shore
Kailua Beach Park combines everything you are looking for in best beaches in Oahu into one spot. Located on the eastern or windward side of Oahu, Kailua Beach Park is situated within 35-acres and has a long 2.5-mile stretch of white sand which is dotted with several ironwood and coconut palm trees for shade. Kailua Beach Park is ideal for families and the water is usually calm enough for good swimming. Other activities include kayaking to nearby Popoi’a Island and the small breakers offshore are perfect for beginners taking up surfing. In the afternoon, kite and windsurfing take center stage on the water. Kailua Beach Park has a boat ramp for easy launching and there are several places to barbeque as well as picnic in the grassy areas. Kailua Beach Park can get breezy in the evening, so it is best for you to bring a jacket.
Photo by Art La Flamme
Lanikai Beach - East Shore
Lanikai Beach is one of the most picturesque best beaches in Oahu and is the ideal spot for solitude. Located on the eastern shoreline, Lanikai Beach has a half-mile stretch of perfect white sand which is accompanied by a few trees for shade but you should probably take an umbrella. Also known as the “heavenly sea” Lanikai Beach is a popular spot for snorkeling, windsurfing and scuba diving. You might try kayaking to the nearby Mokulua Islands but be prepared for a long journey. Access is available by a series of walking paths that wind through an upscale neighborhood. Weekdays are best for solitude and the weekends do tend to be crowded. There are no services at Lanikai Beach. If you are interested in eating later or taking local goodies with you, then stop for fresh fruits and Thai cuisine at Ka-Lae Garden Restaurant, Fruit Stand and Farm.
Photo by Mathieu Thouvenin
Ko Olina Beach Park - West Shore
Ko Olina Beach Park is one of the best beaches in Oahu on west side to enjoy a pleasurable day at the beach. Located within the 640-acre Ko Olina Resort Community which houses several upper-end vacation resorts, the Ko Olina Beach Park has spectacular white sand that was actually imported from the island of Lania. The beach area is bordered by a grassy lawn and the four man made lagoons are ideal for swimming. The lagoons provide a perfect spot for you to enjoy the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean while relaxing on some of the finest white sand on the island of Oahu. You can also enjoy a variety of beverages and cuisine at several local restaurants like the Monkeypod Kitchen or Polynesian cuisine at AMA Ama. When you are looking for a perfect swimming beach with lots of character, then Ko Olina Beach Park is the right selection for you.
Photo by Jimmy Smith
Ala Moana Beach Park - South Shore
Ala Moana Beach Park is one of the best beaches in Oahu on the South Shore, when you want to spend time on a festive beach with plenty of local flare. Located on the Honolulu coastline, Ala Moana Beach Park has excellent half-mile of white sand and over 76-acres within the beach park. There is plenty of sand for you to find a nice spot to enjoy such games as volleyball or soccer on the beach. The lagoon is protected and offers superb swimming as well as an offshore reef which attracts plenty of surfers. Ala Moana Beach Park has plenty of trees for shade in the grassy area and there are also beachfront tennis courts which are quite popular. The Ala Moana Beach Park is the perfect place for families looking to throw out a blanket or umbrella on the sand and enjoy the beautiful water as well as the local flare of fellow beach goers.
Photo by Ricky Duane Grohe
Magic Island - South Shore
Magic Island is a popular Oahu beach situated within Ala Moana Beach Park and is located between Waikiki and downtown Honolulu. Located on a manmade peninsula, Magic Island one of the best beaches in Oahu for when you are looking for a variety of leisurely watersports like swimming, bodysurfing and surfing. Some people do prefer swimming at the larger Ala Moana Beach Park because of the somewhat rocky bottom. The lagoon is protected by a rock wall which makes the warm water perfect for these activities, if you don’t mind a few rocks in the sandy bottom. Magic Island has a nice stretch of beach with little shade but there is a grassy area with trees for people to enjoy a picnic. The area is also popular with joggers with many trails throughout the 30-acre compound. For an urban beach that has easy access, Magic Island will satisfy all your needs in a beach.
Photo by Daniel Ramirez
Waimanalo Beach Park - East Shore
Waimanalo Beach Park is among the best beaches in Oahu, with 3-mile stretch of perfect white sand with sufficient ironwood trees just off the sand for shade. Located on the eastern or windward side of Oahu, the Waimanalo Beach Park is nestled between the Koolau Mountains. The water is perfect for bodysurfing with the waves breaking close to shore for you to enjoy. Many people also fish from the shore at Waimanalo Beach Park as well as enjoy an all-day barbeque on the beach or on the grassy area. During the weekdays you will find solitude and few visitors at Waimanalo Beach Park but the weekends can be busier with locals. If, you didn’t bring a picnic then you can try ‘Ai Love Nalo which has great vegan food or Ono Steaks and Shrimp Shack for fish tacos. In the winter months you might think about taking a jacket with you.
Photo by Sean Munson
Hanauma Bay - South Shore
Hanauma Bay is one of the best beaches in Oahu when you want to experience some of the best snorkeling off the island. Located near Hawaii Kai, Hanauma Bay is situated on the southeastern coastline. The white sand beach has several trees for shade and space to lounge. Once you enter the warm water you will be fascinated with over 450 species of tropical fish while you swim and snorkel in Hanauma Bay. Hanauma Bay is also one of the deadlier beaches on Oahu and you should always swim in pairs. The area that surrounds Hanauma Bay is a nature preserve and you will have to watch a short video on the ecosystem as well as the bay’s history before entering the beach area. This is the only beach on Oahu which you will need to pay a fee to visit.
Photo by Prayitno
Sandy Beach Park - South ShoreDaniel Ramirez
Sandy Beach Park is a great place to go watch experienced bodysurfers and bodyboarders take on some of the roughest breaks on the island of Oahu. Located on the southeastern coastline, Sandy Beach Park is known as the “the beach with broken necks” and is visited mostly by locals. The powerful currents and steep shorebreaks combined with outcrops of sharp coral as well as a quick drop-off of the ocean bottom, makes this one of the best beaches in Oahu among experienced bodyboarders and bodysurfers. Swimming is discouraged because of the riptides. The shoreline has a nice stretch of white sand and there is a grassy area with picnic tables for you to enjoy the action while sunning. There is a lack of shade at Sandy Beach Park, so you should bring your own umbrella. There are plenty of places to picnic as well as Chow Down Shrimp Truck for you to enjoy.
Maunalua Bay - South Shore
Maunalua Bay is one of the best beaches in Oahu if are interested in kayaking, canoeing or boating. Located on the south coastline near Hawaii Kai, Maunalua Bay was named after the two mountains known as Koko Crater and Koko Head. Swimming is not the best at Maunalua Bay because of its shallow waters and rocky bottom. The shoreline and beach area are grassy but you can find several stretches of sand for your enjoyment. Snorkelers and scuba divers like to explore the reef in this area where you will see plenty of colorful fish and green sea turtles. There is an excellent boat launch at Hawaii Kai Marina where you can find that perfect watersport adventure for the day. When you are hungry you can enjoy Sophie’s Gourmet Hawaiian Pizza. Maunalua Bay is a great place to enjoy big sweeping views and a quiet day in the sun.
Photo by Heather Harvey
Map of the Best Beaches in Oahu