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Oahu Beach Guide

The 12 Best Oahu and Honolulu Beaches

Updated March 2024

Coastline of Oahu
Coastline of Oahu

Welcome to Oahu

Oahu offers some of the world’s best beaches and a true taste of paradise. Whether you’re looking for gentle waves for your first surfing lesson, a romantic sunset view, or a family-friendly swimming spot, there are many beaches to discover along Oahu’s 112 miles of coastline. The only challenge you will have in this dreamy tropical paradise is choosing the best beach to spend the day relaxing on! Keep reading to explore the best beaches in Oahu.

Oahu offers some of the world’s best beaches and a true taste of paradise. Whether you’re looking for gentle waves for your first surfing lesson, a romantic sunset view, or a family-friendly swimming spot, there are many beaches to discover along Oahu’s 112 miles of coastline. The only challenge you will have in this dreamy tropical paradise is choosing the best beach to spend the day relaxing on! Keep reading to explore the best beaches in Oahu.

Oahu Map

Oahu Map

Overhead View Of Oahu Beach

The Best North Shore Beaches

Palm tree on Waimea Bay Beach Park in Oahu
Palm tree on Waimea Bay Beach Park in Oahu

Waimea Bay Beach Park

Waimea Bay Beach is one of the world’s most famous big-wave surf destinations. In fact, in the 50s, this pristine Oahu beach is where big wave surfing was born. The winter months produce monstrous waves that bring locals, surf legends, and daredevils to take a chance at catching a wave. The big waves subside in summer, and Waimea Bay Beach is the perfect spot for the whole family to snorkel or swim.

Beach Amenities: Ample Parking, Picnic Tables, Public Restrooms, Public Showers, Lifeguard On Duty

Sunset on Sunset Beach in Oahu
Sunset on Sunset Beach in Oahu

Sunset Beach

Sunset Beach is an idyllic paradise on the North Shore with sugary white sand, deep turquoise waters, and beautiful sunsets. This surfing haven offers some of the best waves on the island. This two-mile stretch is the venue for the Vans Triple Crown Surf competition in November and December each year. Summer waters are calm and ideal for snorkeling and swimming. There are also several tide pools to explore on Sunset Beach. While the ocean is calmer during the warmer summer months, remember when in doubt, don’t go out!

Beach Amenities: Ample Parking Across The Street, Public Restrooms, Beach Showers, Picnic Tables, Lifeguard On Duty

Turquoise waters of Pupukea Beach Park in Oahu
Turquoise waters of Pupukea Beach Park in Oahu

Pupukea Beach Park (Shark Cove)

Pupukea Beach is incredible at low tide and allows you to wade through this shallow basin dotted with lava rocks. Despite the name, you won’t find any sharks at this beach, but there are plenty of other sea creatures. Make sure to pack your snorkel gear for Shark’s Cove, which is perfect for beginners. For the best snorkeling, visit during summer because North Shore beaches are surf meccas during winter.

Beach Amenities: Ample Parking, Public Restrooms, Public Showers, No Lifeguard

Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle at Kawela Bay in Oahu
Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle at Kawela Bay in Oahu

Kawela Bay (Turtle Bay)

For calm, clear, and gentle waters, head to Kawela Bay (Turtle Bay). The cove is protected from larger waves and surf, which makes it a fantastic place to snorkel. Keep an eye on the waters, and you might even catch a glimpse of “honu,” also known as the Hawaiian green sea turtle. The stunning cove is surrounded by palms that sway in the breeze and provide shade. Soak in the sun in paradise at Kawela Bay; trust us, you won’t be able to stop pinching yourself.

Beach Amenities: Street Parking, No Additional Amenities

The Best Windward Coast Beaches

Sunset and Palm Tree at Lanikai Beach Park in Oahu
Sunset and Palm Tree at Lanikai Beach Park in Oahu

Lanikai Beach Park

Often ranked one of the best beaches in the world, Lanikai Beach is a tropical paradise complete with soft ivory sand. You can start your morning with a peaceful swim or keep an eye out for green sea turtles who frequent the beach. Head to this beach for great windsurfing, sailing, and snorkeling. You can also hike to the nearby Lanikai Pillbox Trail for a stunning beach view. Lanikai Beach is a place you have to see to believe.

Beach Amenities: No Public Parking Lot (avoid parking illegally because fines are excessive), No Lifeguard, nearby Kailua Beach Park (see next) has Restrooms, Picnic Tables, and Outdoor Showers

Turquoise water and white sand beach at Kailua Beach Park in Oahu
Turquoise water and white sand beach at Kailua Beach Park in Oahu

Kailua Beach Park

Considered one of Oahu’s most beautiful beaches, Kailua Beach Park is the perfect place to lounge and soak up the Oahu sun. The fine white sands are particularly suited for families, thanks to the calm waters. This beach is excellent for kayaking, standup paddle boarding, and swimming. It’s also known for windsurfing, and you can rent equipment and take lessons from several shops in Kailua.

Beach Amenities: Ample Parking, Public Restrooms, Beach Showers, Picnic Tables, BBQ Pits, Volleyball Courts, Lifeguards On Duty

Island off Waimanalo Beach Park in Oahu
Island off Waimanalo Beach Park in Oahu

Waimanalo Beach Park

The gentle waves of Waimanalo Beach make it ideal for families. You can enjoy boogie boarding, swimming, and body surfing, and the beach is perfect for children and beginners. The endless white sands are made for taking a sunset stroll, and the views of the cliffs and the island of Lanikai will take your breath away. Remember that Waimanalo Beach can get crowded on weekends, but don’t let that stop you from exploring this beautiful beach.

Beach Amenities: Ample Parking, Public Restrooms, Public Showers, Picnic Area, Pavilion, Camping By Permit

The Best South Shore Beaches

People on a white sand beach at Hanauma Bay in Oahu
People on a white sand beach at Hanauma Bay in Oahu

Hanauma Bay

This stunning bay transports you to another world and is only 30 minutes from Honolulu. Hanauma Bay is an ancient volcanic crater that protects the cove from strong waves and currents. The large Hanauma Bay is surrounded by the lush green, gently rolling hills of Koko Head. Consider visiting in the morning for a more secluded and tranquil experience. This beach is excellent for snorkeling and can become busy during the day. It’s home to vibrant fish, colorful coral, and green sea turtles.

Due to its unique nature, Hanauma Bay is a protected area, and strict entrance regulations apply:

  • Paid Reservation Required
  • Cost: around $25 per adult (children 12 and under free) + $3 parking.
  • Closed Mondays & Tuesdays To Allow Recovery
  • Admission is Wednesday – Sunday from 6:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Strict Closing time: 4 p.m., but you must leave the beach after 3:30 p.m.

Beach Amenities: Reservation Required, Paid Parking ($3), Lifeguard On Duty, Public Restrooms, Public Shower, Locker Rental, Snorkeling Gear Rental, Snack Bar and Concessions, Beach Wheelchairs Available

People on Waikiki Beach on Oahu
People on Waikiki Beach on Oahu

Waikiki Beach

Waikiki Beach is one of the world’s most famous and iconic beaches, boasting over four million visitors every year. The breathtaking views of Diamond Head and the Duke Kahanamoku statue welcome you to Waikiki. The golden sandy shores, swaying palm trees, and colorful umbrellas make Waikiki Beach an idyllic Oahu must-see. This is one of the best beaches in Hawaii to learn how to surf, thanks to the small but long-lasting wave breaks. Waikiki Beach is also incredibly family-friendly, with gentle waves perfect for beginner boogie boarders, particularly kids. The proximity to Honolulu allows you to enjoy the city, while also enjoying the dazzling Waikiki Beach.

Beach Amenities: Public Parking, Public Restrooms, Public Showers, Picnic Tables, Food Concessions, Lifeguards On Duty

Shoreline at Ala Moana Beach Park in Oahu
Shoreline at Ala Moana Beach Park in Oahu

Ala Moana Beach Park

Ala Moana is a half-mile beach with turquoise waters, white sands, and picturesque settings. Overlook the Waikiki skyline, it’s no wonder this beach has been called “the place to be.” The shallow turquoise waters lure locals and tourists to Ala Moana Beach Park for various activities, including swimming, sunbathing, and fishing. Don’t miss out on strolling the ivory sands at sunset at Ala Moana Beach Park. Or rent a Biki Bike in the park for around $3.50 and cruise around the beach park.

Beach Amenities: Ample Parking, Multiple Public Restrooms, Beach Showers, Picnic Tables, BBQ Grills, Walking Paths, Tennis Courts, Concession Stands (Seasonal)

The Best Leeward Coast Beaches

Oahu Beaches
Oahu Beaches

Makaha Beach Park

Makaha Beach has some of the best surfing on Oahu’s west coast. This is one of the places where big wave surfing was pioneered. Remember that during the winter, the surf is often up, and there is a strong shorebreak and rip currents. However, during the summer, Makaha Beach offers bodyboarding, good swimming, and surfing conditions. If you are concerned about the water conditions, it’s a good idea to ask the lifeguards on duty. The beach is rarely crowded due to its location on the Leeward Coast of Oahu.

Beach Amenities: Ample Parking, Public Restrooms, Public Showers, Lifeguards On Duty

Kauai Beaches Guide: The Best Beach In Kauai
Kauai Beaches Guide: The Best Beach In Kauai

Ko Olina Lagoons

On the leeward coast of Oahu, you will find Ko Olina, home to four lagoons and several luxury resorts. The rock levies of Ko Olina break up the waves and ensure the waters are calm for swimming, making it perfect for families. The lagoons are fantastic for swimming and lounging. The water of Ko Olina is generally too murky for snorkeling, and few fish can be found in the lagoons. While both are located in the Ko Olina Resorts, the beach and lagoons are open to the public.

Beach Amenities: Public Parking, Public Restrooms, No Lifeguards On Duty, Kayak and Paddleboard Rental

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