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The Best Beaches in Oahu
If you’re planning an Oahu vacation and looking for the best beaches in Oahu, I’ve got you covered. Today I’ll share 21 Oahu beaches with something for everyone. So whether you’re looking for a great beach to kayak, watch surfers, snorkel, or soak up the sun, this list of the best beaches in Oahu will have something for you.
Oahu, also known as “The Gathering Place,” is home to some of the most spectacular beaches in Hawaii. With its crystal-clear waters, soft sandy shores, and perfect weather year-round, it’s no surprise that Oahu is a top destination for beach lovers.
Of course, you know about the famous Waikiki Beach, but is it the best beach in Oahu?! I would say definitely not!
You’ll need a rental car to access the best beaches in Oahu. You’ll find the best prices anywhere at Discount Hawaii Car Rental. Some people say you don’t need a rental car on Oahu, which is true! However, if you truly want to explore the island, I recommend having a rental car.
Oahu beach safety tips:
Before we get to the list of the best beaches in Oahu, let’s go over some general safety guidelines.
- Never turn your back on the ocean.
- The sun in Hawaii is intense! Even if you don’t tend to burn at home, make sure to wear reef-safe sunscreen if you need it.
- Beaches may be closed due to hazardous conditions. Always pay attention to warning signs or beach closings.
- It is absolutely not safe to leave valuables in your vehicle. Although Hawaii is safe for the most part, vehicle theft can be a problem. Make sure to leave anything valuable at your resort.
- Always clean up after yourself. In fact, pick up some trash while you’re at the beach! Leave it better than you found it.
- Do not take lava rocks or sand. Lava rocks might seem like a great souvenir, but legend says that Madame Pele will curse anyone who takes these items from Hawaii. The elements returning to Hawaii are the only thing that will lift the curse. You might roll your eyes, but the post office sees hundreds of lava rocks, sand, and other materials returned to Hawaii every year! Better safe than cursed, right?!
The best beaches in Oahu
Here are the 21 best beaches in Oahu, listed in no particular order.
Lanikai Beach is on the east side of Oahu. It is one of the best Oahu beaches for watching the sunrise in the morning. If you arrive early enough, you can find a free parking spot nearby. That way, you will only have a short walk to the beach and the morning’s excitement.
This is an excellent beach for swimming and long walks on the sand. Families with young children will love the calm, shallow waters.
Most people visit this beach in Oahu for kayaking. However, you can rent a kayak and take it out to the Mokulua Islands.
Those two islands are less than a mile from the shoreline. There is a bird sanctuary on both islands. Therefore, you must be careful about what you do near the islands.
You are only allowed to dock your kayak on the beach of the larger island. You can go swimming at that island beach. There are no lifeguards there, however.
Waikiki Beach is probably one of the most famous beaches in the world. It is in close proximity to downtown Honolulu.
This family-friendly beach is the perfect spot for swimming, taking surf lessons, or heading out on a sunset cruise.
Its location allows you to head to Kalakaua Avenue for shopping and grabbing a bite to eat. It’s a great spot with incredible views of Diamond Head and the city.
If you plan on spending a lot of time at Waikiki Beach, I recommend you stay in a hotel nearby. This way, you won’t need to deal with street parking whenever you want to go to the beach. However, I recommend that you get away from Waikiki and check out some of the rest of the best beaches in Oahu!
Sunset Beach Park
Sunset Beach Park is one of the most popular places for surfing on the north shore, especially during the winter when the currents are strong.
The summer months do bring calm waters to Sunset Beach. You can usually go swimming during the summer. However, you should check the water conditions before heading in.
This is one of the best beaches in Oahu for watching the sunset. That must be why it has the name Sunset Beach!
Kailua Beach Park
Kailua Beach Park is only one mile away from Lanikai Beach. So you can easily spend a day visiting both these beaches in Oahu.
This is a good place for swimming and snorkeling. The good news is you can also go kitesurfing and sailing at this Oahu beach.
Ala Moana Beach Park
The beach at Ala Moana Beach Park is only a half-mile long. But, that doesn’t mean you won’t have fun when you visit this beach on the island of Oahu!
There is a lagoon in between the shore and the reef. This ensures no strong currents are coming in while you are enjoying the water. This is the perfect place for swimming.
If you do want to surf, you must head out past the reef.
Just to the side of the beach, you will find grassy areas that are perfect for picnics. There are also volleyball courts, tennis courts, public restrooms, and a restaurant at this public park beach.
The best part about visiting this popular beach is you can arrange for a boat tour. Those tours are an excellent way to end a beach day.
Waimanalo Beach Park
At Waimanalo Bay Beach Park, you can spend your day in the blue water or on the sandy beach. If you decide to go swimming, pay close attention to the signs the lifeguard’s post throughout the day.
This beach in Oahu has picnic tables and public restrooms. That makes it the perfect spot for enjoying an entire beach day in Oahu.
Kahana Bay Beach Park
Spending time outside on the Hawaiian Islands usually means time in the sun. However, you will find some shade at this beach on the windward side of the island. That shade can even be found on other sections of the windward coast.
Grab a table in the picnic areas under the palm trees. Those are great spots for getting out of the sun.
Waimea Bay Beach Park
The water is calm at Waimea Bay Beach Park during the summer months. During that time, you will love entering the crystal clear waters to go swimming.
The winter months bring lots of changes to that turquoise water. The gentle waves turn rough. It is common for the waves to reach 30 feet. At that time, surfers arrive at Waimea Bay Beach to surf.
If you time your winter visit just right, you may be able to catch some of the Eddie Would Go Surf Competition.
After spending a few hours at this beach, you may want to head to the botanical garden in Waimea Valley. This botanical garden has a 45-foot waterfall amongst all the tropical plants.
Laniakea Beach is known as Turtle Beach to the local families. This is one of the best places to see Hawaiian green sea turtles on the most beautiful beaches in the world.
It isn’t recommended to swim at Laniakea Beach. This is because the water can be quite rough, especially during the winter months. There are also some rocks out in the water. Those rocks can make it difficult to walk around in between swims.
Crowds don’t usually appear on Malaekahana Beach. This is strange because it really is the perfect spot for swimming.
You may find yourself playing volleyball or hiking a nearby path when you are not swimming.
Makaha Beach Park
A great beach for local families in Oahu is Makaha Beach Park. You will find this beach on the west side of the island.
There is lots of marine life in the water here. You will find many different water sports opportunities while visiting this beach. A few of the water sports include snorkeling, surfing, and bodyboarding.
If you are looking for a beach on the south shore of Oahu, head to Kuhio Beach. This is one of four beaches that connect together to create one large beach in Oahu.
There are two concrete walls that were constructed out in the ocean at this beach. Those walls created an enclosure that makes the water calm for families who want to go swimming.
Bellows Field Beach Park
An offshore reef at Bellows Field Beach Park normally keeps the water calm. The small waves are perfect for learning boogie boarding.
This is one of the white sand beaches that gets really popular on weekends. It is best to arrive early to claim a parking spot and your place in the sand.
Keep an eye out for jellyfish during your visit. They love to hang out by the shoreline, and they won’t mind stinging you.
The beach at Hanauma Bay is one of the best marine ecosystems in the US. Check out the marine education center when you arrive. It is an excellent place to learn about the marine life in the bay.
During your visit to this beach, you can see Hawaiian green sea turtles, eels, and fish. The fish you will want to see the most is Hawaii’s state fish. It is called Humuhumunukunukuapuaa.
There is a reservation system for entrance to this park. You will need to schedule your visit in advance.
Diamond Head Beach Park
Diamond Head Beach Park isn’t too far from downtown Honolulu. You can spend your days exploring the park or enjoying the sand at the beach.
To reach this beach in Oahu, you must walk down a paved path. It is best to carry as little as possible for this walk.
This beach is quite rocky. Swimming is not recommended due to the rocks and coral reefs.
If you visit during the winter season, keep an eye out for whales in the water.
‘Ehukai Beach Park
‘Ehukai Beach Park can be found on the north shore of Oahu. The soft sand is perfect for walking.
The summer months do bring calmer waters to this beach. During those months, you can easily spend time in the shallow water.
The rest of the year, this beach is known for its surf breaks. The Banzai Pipeline is popular amongst surfers from all around the world. They arrive by the hundreds to catch the huge waves that roll in.
Even if you don’t surf, it can be fun to watch the surfers out in the water.
The parking lot at this beach is really small. You must arrive early if you want to claim a parking spot.
Keawaula Beach is also known as Yokohama Beach to the locals. You will find this beach on the west coast of Oahu.
The currents at this beach can be quite strong. It is common for large waves to roll in. It is best to check the water conditions before heading to this beach.
Ko Olina Lagoons
If you happen to stay at the Ko Olina Resort, you will love the four man-made lagoons. These lagoons were created by blasting out lava rocks. They have protected coves that are perfect for families.
You don’t need to stay at the resort to access these lagoons. They are open to the public for swimming. However, parking can be an issue as it’s very limited.
Snorkeling is a possibility in the lagoons. However, the water is usually too cloudy to see the tropical fish very well.
Sandy Beach Park
Sandy Beach Park is considered one of the most dangerous beaches on the Hawaiian Islands. There are usually red flags up to warn people not to go into the water.
So, why am I placing it on a list of the best beaches in Oahu?
Well, It is a wonderful beach to visit when you want to relax on the sand, watch the waves roll in, and take pictures! There are usually food trucks at this beach too.
There aren’t any sharks near this beach on the north shore. However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t stay aware in case one does get a little closer to the shore.
This beach is known for its underwater rock formations as well as the diverse marine life that lives in the water.
This is one of the amazing beaches in Oahu for exploring underwater caves and tunnels. Reef shoes are recommended due to all the sharp reefs in the cove. It is also best to only enter the water during the summer when it is calm.
Pokai Bay Beach Park
Pokai Bay is a protected bay on the west side of Oahu. The calm water at this beach makes it a great place for swimming. You can also relax on the sand while enjoying the quiet ambiance this beach offers.
the best beaches in Oahu
In conclusion, Oahu boasts some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. From the white sands of Lanikai to the stunning views of Waikiki, there is a beach for everyone to enjoy. Whether you’re looking to surf, swim, or relax on the sand, Oahu’s beaches have something for you.
Did your favorite beach make it on the list of best beaches on Oahu? If not, share it with us in the comments. Or don’t, and keep it a secret. 🙂
More Oahu travel tips
Want even more ideas for things to do during your Oahu vacation? Check out:
- 16 easy hikes in Oahu
- 30 free things to do in Oahu
- 2-Day Oahu Itinerary
- What is the best luau in Oahu in 2023?
- The best Oahu snorkeling
Although I am a Hawaii Travel Agent, I am only taking on a few clients per month. You can contact me if you’d like more information. I recommend starting with my Hawaii travel guide if you plan to DIY your vacation!
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