15 Best Beaches in Oahu You’ll Want to Visit
If you’re searching for the best beaches in Oahu, look no further!
We’ve compiled a list of the 15 best beaches on the island so you can make the most of your time here.
From the world-famous Waikiki Beach to lesser-known spots off the beaten path, we’ve got you covered.
Whether you’re looking for a quiet spot to relax or want to explore some of Hawaii’s famous waves, we’ve scoured the island and will surely cover your ideal beaches.
With crystal-clear water and soft white sand, these beaches will take your breath away. So what are you waiting for?! Pack your swimsuit and reef-safe sunscreen and get ready for some serious beach time!
Note: We have included some beach safety tips towards the end of the article. Be sure to read them entirely before heading out to the beach.
Disclaimer: Swimming or any water activity can be dangerous. Please assess your own mental and physical health before getting in the water. Content on this site is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical, health, or safety advice.
Map of Top 15 Beaches on Oahu
Top Beaches on Oahu
1. Lanikai Beach
Location: Windward side of Oahu
Activities: Swimming, Kayaking, snorkeling
Highlights: Fine white sand, clear blue water, view of the Mokulua Islands
Located in Kailua, Lanikai Beach is one of the island’s most popular beaches and it’s easy to see why: It feels like you’ve been transported to a tropical paradise with its powdery white sand and turquoise water.
The views of the Mokulua Islands from the beach are spectacular and make for a perfect photo op.
You can even kayak out to the islands if you’re feeling adventurous.
Lanikai means “heavenly sea,” and it’s easy to see how this beach got its name. Whether you’re swimming, kayaking, or simply taking in the views, Lanikai Beach is definitely worth visiting.
Tip: Parking is in a residential neighborhood and can be a hassle. Be sure to get there early and respect the residents that live there.
This is the same parking as the Lanikai Pillbox Hike parking. You can also park at the neighboring Kailua Beach and walk 15-20 minutes if there is no parking at Lanikai Beach.
You can read our article on the Lanikai Pillbox Hike to learn more about the exact place you can park.
2. Kailua Beach Park
Location: Windward side
Facilities: Restrooms, shower, picnic tables, lifeguard tower, playground, and parking
Activities: Swimming, kayaking, windsurfing, and kitesurfing
Highlights: Gentle waves, wide beach, fine white sand, and clear blue water
Kailua Beach is another popular spot on the windward side of Oahu. With its powdery white sand and clear blue water, it’s no wonder this beach is a favorite amongst locals and visitors alike.
Kailua Beach Park is part of the 2 mile-long stretch of white sand beaches that form Kailua Bay. It encompasses Kailua Beach Park, Kalama Beach Park, and Castles Beach.
With its gentle waves and wide beach, it’s the perfect place to spend the day with the entire family.
Tip: If you love kayaking, Kailua Beach is one of the best places on Oahu for kayaking. You can kayak to Flat Island and the Mokulua Islands. Best part?: Kailua Beach Adventures offers rentals on-site!
3. Waikiki Beach
Location: South Shore of Oahu
Facilities: Restrooms, showers, lifeguard tower
Activities: Surfing, Swimming
Highlights: Iconic views of Diamond Head and a world-famous beginner surfing spot.
Waikiki Beach needs no introduction. As one of the most famous beaches in the world, it’s a must-visit for any trip to Oahu.
With its iconic Waikiki skyline and beginner-friendly waves, it’s one of the most popular spots on Oahu and why many people come to Hawaii.
Whether you’re looking to catch some waves or take a leisurely stroll, Waikiki Beach is worth visiting.
Tip: The busiest time at Waikiki Beach is usually in the afternoon. If you want to try and avoid the crowds (which is nearly impossible), try going early in the morning or late in the day.
4. Sunset Beach
Where: North Shore of Oahu
Facilities: Restrooms, showers, lifeguard tower, parking on-site
Activities: Surfing, swimming, fishing
Highlights: World-famous surfing spot (in wintertime), and the perfect place to watch the sunset
If Waikiki Beach is one of the most famous beaches in the world, then Sunset Beach is a close second. Located on the North Shore of Oahu, it’s home to some of the biggest waves on the island.
Sunset Beach is one of the best spots on Oahu to watch surfers take on massive waves during the winter months (November-April).
But even if you’re not a surfing enthusiast, the beach is still worth visiting. Sunset Beach is a true slice of paradise with its golden sand and clear blue water.
In the summer (May-October), the waves are smaller, and the beach is perfect for swimming.
Tip: Be sure to check the surf report before heading to Sunset Beach. The waves can get massive—sometimes up to 30 feet high—and can become very dangerous.
5. Hanauma Bay
Where: Southeast side of Oahu
Facilities: Restrooms, showers, food concession, lifeguard tower, and parking
Activities: Snorkeling, swimming
Highlights: One of the best snorkeling spots on Oahu
Hanauma Bay is a must-visit for any trip to Oahu.
With its crystal clear water and abundance of marine life, Hanauma Bay is a true underwater paradise. It’s also one of the best spots on the island for snorkeling.
Reservations are recommended. Be sure to log on at precisely 7:00 am Hawaii time to book your appointment. Visit the Department of Parks and Recreation for booking.
Tip: Hanauma Bay is a Marine Life Conservation District. That means that there are strict rules in place to protect marine life. Be sure to follow all of the rules and regulations before entering the water.
6. Waimea Bay Beach Park
Where: North Shore of Oahu
Facilities: Restrooms, showers, lifeguard tower, picnic tables, parking
Activities: Swimming, cliff jumping (summer only), surfing (winter), bodyboarding, fishing
Highlights: World-famous surfing spot (winter), Waimea Bay Rock
Waimea Bay Beach Park is one of the most popular beaches on the North Shore of Oahu. With its dramatic cliffs and clear blue water, it’s no wonder why. Waimea Bay Rock is also one of the most popular places to cliff jump on Oahu (summer only.)
In the wintertime, Waimea Bay is a mecca for big wave surfing. The waves can get up to 30 feet high! But even if you’re not a surfer, the beach is still worth a visit.
The summer months are mellow, making it the perfect spot for swimming and bodyboarding.
Tip: If parking is full at Waimea Bay, you can try parking (paid) across the street at Waimea Valley. If you are doing the Waimea Falls Hike, you can combine the two activities in one.
7. Waimanalo Beach Park
Where: East side of Oahu
Facilities: Restrooms, showers, lifeguard tower, picnic tables, parking on-site, shaded grassy area, camping
Activities: Swimming, sunbathing, picnicking, fishing, camping, bodysurfing, and bodyboarding.
Highlights: One of the widest beaches on the island, gorgeous mountain views
Waimanalo Beach Park is one of the less-crowded beaches on the east side of Oahu.
Compared to some popular beaches on this list such as Lanikai Beach, Waimanalo is much more low-key. That’s one of the reasons why we love it!
Waimanalo Beach Park is a true paradise with its wide expanse of sand and gorgeous mountain views.
Tip: Be aware of jellyfish signs and take them seriously. Make sure to check the beach first before getting in the water. You can read more about this in our other article dedicated to Waimanalo Beach Park.
8. Bellows Field Beach Park
Where: Windward side of Oahu
Facilities: Restrooms, showers, lifeguard tower, parking on-site, camping, grassy area, BBQ grills, and picnic tables
Activities: Swimming, bodysurfing, surfing, picnicking, fishing, kayaking
Highlights: Secluded, gorgeous mountain views, clear blue water
Bellows Field Beach Park is a hidden gem on the windward side of Oahu.
It’s one of the most secluded beaches on the island, and it offers some of the best views of the Ko’olau Mountains.
It’s only open to the public on weekends (from noon on Friday to Sunday) and on national holidays.
Tip: Be aware of jellyfish signs and take them seriously. Make sure to check the beach first before getting in the water. You can read more about this in our article dedicated to Bellows Beach.
9. Kahana Bay Beach Park
Where: Windward side of Oahu
Facilities: Restrooms, showers, lifeguard tower, parking (dirt road, oceanside), picnic tables, shady area, boat ramp
Activities: Kayaking, picnicking, fishing, camping
Highlights: Gorgeous views of the Ko’olau Mountains, perfect for picnics, camping
Kahana Bay Beach Park is another secluded beach on the island of Oahu.
It’s located on the windward side of the island away from the hustle and bustle of Waikiki.
If you are looking for some of the best views on the island, then this is the place to go. Alternatively, if you are looking for a beach to swim in, this might not be the place.
Most people do not come here to swim due to the murky water caused by the Kahana Stream. However, it deserves a spot on this list due to the fantastic views.
Kahana Bay Beach Park is perfect if you are looking for a great place to picnic or just relax.
Tip: Kahana Bay Beach Park can get crowded on the weekends due to camping. This is one of the favorite camping spots for locals. If possible, try to visit during the week or go early on the weekends.
10. Malaekahana Beach
Where: North Shore of Oahu
Facilities: Restrooms, showers, parking
Activities: Swimming, surfing, Bodyboarding, camping, volleyball
Highlights: One of the most secluded beaches on the island, beautiful ocean views
Malaekahana Beach is one of the most secluded beaches on the island of Oahu. If you love smaller crowds and are on the northern side of the island, stop by and enjoy the gorgeous scenery.
If you are into camping, this is one of the best places on the island for it.
Tip: If you plan on camping at Malaekahana Beach Campground, be sure to obtain a permit well in advance.
11. Makapu’u Beach Park
Where: Southeast tip of Oahu
Facilities: Restrooms, showers, picnic tables, shady area, lifeguard tower, parking on-site
Activities: Swimming, bodysurfing, sunrise gazing, Makapu’u Tide Pools, whale watching
Highlights: Great place to watch the sunrise, clear blue water
Makapu’u Beach Park is one of the less-visited beaches on the island of Oahu. The views are absolutely gorgeous, especially during sunrise. It’s also a great place to watch whales during the winter season.
Tip: If you are hiking the Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail, be sure to stop by Makapu’u Beach after to enjoy a relaxing beach day.
Also, vehicle break-ins are commonly reported here. Do not leave anything visible or otherwise inside your vehicle.
12. Ala Moana Beach Park
Where: Waikiki/Honolulu region
Facilities: Restrooms, showers, lifeguard towers, food nearby, playground, picnic tables, parking (metered), shady areas, tennis court
Activities: Swimming, surfing, picnic area, bike rentals
Highlights: Located in the heart of Waikiki, across the street from Ala Moana Mall, and a great place to watch the sunset
Ala Moana Beach Park is one of the most popular beaches amongst locals on the island and is located in the heart of Waikiki.
This is a great place to come and enjoy a fun beach day, especially if you are staying close by.
Despite being located in a touristy area, Ala Moana Beach Park is a beautiful place to relax and enjoy the beach with the entire family.
Tip: Make sure to visit during the week if you are not a fan of big crowds. This is one of the places that gets packed on weekends and holidays. However, it’s very peaceful during the week.
13. Sandy Beach Park
Where: Southeastern coast
Facilities: Restrooms, showers, lifeguard tower, parking, grassy area, picnic tables
Activities: Swimming, bodysurfing, bodyboarding
Highlights: Gorgeous sunrise views
Sandy Beach Park is located on the east side of Honolulu and is one of the less popular beaches on the island.
This is a great place to visit if you are looking for some exciting waves to bodyboard or bodysurf. Swimming is nice here too, depending on whether or not the waves are calm.
The views here are absolutely amazing, especially during sunrise. If you are looking for a beautiful spot to watch the sun come up, this is it.
For those who do not like hiking to see a sunrise, this is one of the most accessible places to see one without putting forth too much effort.
Tip: This beach can get pretty crowded on weekends, so try to visit during the weekdays if possible.
14. Ko Olina Lagoons
Where: Leeward coast of Oahu
Facilities: Restrooms, showers, lagoon, lifeguard towers, parking
Activities: Swimming, snorkeling, stand-up paddleboarding
Highlights: One of the most popular beaches on the island for swimming and snorkeling for kids and adults, featuring four different lagoons
Ko Olina Lagoons are man-made lagoons protected by rock levies, which means the waves crash on the rocks outside the lagoon instead of on the shore.
This makes for a much more relaxing experience, and it’s definitely a place you’ll want to visit on your trip.
There are four different lagoons to choose from, each with its own unique characteristics. This is a great place to spend some time if you are looking for some relaxing fun and water activities.
Tip: If you are not staying in one of the hotels/resorts, be sure to find the public beach access parking. Try to arrive early as parking here, like many beaches in Oahu, fills up quickly.
15. Kuilima Cove
Where: North Shore of Oahu
Facilities: Restrooms, showers, parking on-site, restaurant on-site
Activities: Swimming, snorkeling, stand-up paddleboarding
Highlights: Good snorkeling, views of Kahuku Point
Kuilima Cove is located on the right side of the Turtle Bay Resort. Don’t worry, all beaches in Hawaii are public, and this one is no exception.
This is a great place to visit if you are looking to snorkel, swim or enjoy the gorgeous views.
This crescent-shaped beach has perfect white sand and shallow blue water.
Kuilima Cove is protected from the open ocean by natural volcanic rock, making the water here much calmer than other beaches on the North Shore.
Tip: If you are not staying at the Turtle Bay Resort, make sure to only park in the public beach parking spaces. Also, they tend to fill up quickly, so try to get there early.
Oahu Beach Safety Tips
Now that you know all about the best beaches in Oahu, it is time to talk about beach safety.
Swim with a buddy: The first and most important tip we can give you is always swimming with a buddy. Many dangers lurk in the ocean (strong currents, rip tides, etc.), and it is always best to swim with someone else just in case something happens.
Check the weather: Another thing to remember is the weather conditions. Check the weather forecast before you head out to the beach, as strong winds and high surf can make swimming and surfing dangerous.
North Shore beaches in the winter: Be very careful when swimming or surfing at any North Shore beaches during the winter months.
These beaches are known for their giant waves, and even the strongest swimmers can get into trouble if they are not careful.
Beach warning signs: If you see any dangerous or high surf warning signs, please heed them! These are put in place for a reason, and it is not worth risking your life by swimming or surfing in these conditions.
Do not leave valuables in the car: Please do not leave any valuables in your car when you go to the beach.
There have been many theft cases from cars parked at the beach; it is always best to leave everything out of sight.
Know your swimming abilities: Always know your swimming abilities and do not try to swim in places when you are not comfortable. There are plenty of beaches on Oahu for everyone, so find a beach appropriate for your skill level.
Bring water and sunscreen: Last but not least, always bring plenty of water and sunscreen with you to the beach. The sun can be very harsh in Hawaii. Make sure to stay hydrated and protect your skin.
Oahu Beaches by Area
Below are some of the best beaches in Oahu and others worth visiting if you have extra time. We numbered and bolded the ones we rated in this article.
- (1) Lanikai Beach
- (2) Kailua Beach
- (7) Waimanalo Beach Park
- (11)Makapu’u Beach Park
- (8) Bellows Beach
- Kualoa Beach Park
- (9) Kahana Bay Beach Park
- (6) Waimea Bay
- (4) Sunset Beach
- Ehukai Beach
- Three TablesHaleiwa Beach Park
- Laniekea Beach
- Kealia Beach
- Turtle Bay Beach Resort
- (10)Malaekahana Beach
- (15) Kuilima Cove
- Goat Island
- Yokohama Bay
- Ka’ena Point State Park
- Electric Beach/Kahe Point
- (14) Ko Olina Lagoons
- Makaha Beach Park
- Pokai Bay Beach Park
- Papaoneneone Beach
- Kea’au Beach Park
- (12) Ala Moana Beach Park
- Alan Davis Beach
- Halona Beach Cove
- (13) Sandy Beach
- (5)Hanauma Bay
- Kahala Beach
Oahu Beaches: Frequently Asked Questions
Which beach in Oahu has the clearest water?
A few beaches in Oahu have clear water, but some of the most popular ones include Lanikai Beach and Kailua Beach.
Which beach in Oahu is the best for swimming?
If we had to pick a personal favorite, Lanikai and Kailua Beaches are the top choices. However, Oahu’s windward side and the North Shore (in the summer months) have some fantastic beaches for swimming.
What is the most beautiful beach in Honolulu?
There are a lot of great beaches in Honolulu, but our top pick would have to be Waikiki Beach. This beach is world-renowned for its beauty, and it definitely lives up to the hype!
Note: if you do not like crowds, stay away from Waikiki Beach as this place tends to be very crowded. We only go here early in the morning before everyone shows up.
What are the best beaches in Oahu in winter?
It depends on what you are looking for. If your goal is to watch gigantic waves, head on over to Waimea Bay, Sunset Beach, or Ehukai Beach (The Banzai Pipeline).
If you want to swim and snorkel, head on over to Lanikai, Kailua, Hanauma Bay, Waikiki, or Ala Moana Beach Park.
What are the Best Beaches in Oahu for families?
We recommend the Ko Olina Lagoons, Lanikai Beach, Kailua Beach, Turtle Beach, Kuilima Cove, and Hanauma Bay for families.
What are the best beaches in Oahu for Snorkeling?
Check out our snorkeling in Oahu article. In short, the best places to snorkel on Oahu are Hanauma Bay, Shark’s Cove, Kahe Point Beach Park, Kuilima Cove, and Ka’ena Point.
The Wrap Up: Best Beaches in Oahu
The beaches in Oahu are stunning and perfect for a day of relaxation.
There are many different beaches to choose from, but these fifteen stand out among the rest, if we do say so ourselves!
Whether you’re looking for a quiet beach to relax on or one with plenty of activities to keep you busy, Oahu has something for everyone.
If you’re planning a trip to Hawaii soon, add at least two of these fantastic beaches to your itinerary!
We hope that this guide helped you plan your trip! Until next time, Aloha!
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