Lanikai Beach: Is This The Best Beach on Oahu?

Lanikai Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Oahu, but it’s often crowded and hard to find parking.

Don’t let this disappoint you though, as there are ways to help deal with the enormous crowds.

As a frequent visitor to Lanikai Beach, I’ve put together this guide to help you make the most of your experience at this popular location.

If you’re looking for a breathtaking beach to relax on during your vacation, look no further than Lanikai Beach. It’s known for its clear turquoise waters and soft white sand. You’ll surely fall in love with this paradise-like beach.

View of the Mokulua Islands with perfect white sand and blue water from Lanikai Beach

Pack your sunscreen and swimsuit because you’ll want to take a dip in the ocean while you’re here! And don’t forget to bring your camera to capture all the memories you’ll make at this stunning beach.

In this blog post, I will be sharing everything you need to know about visiting Lanikai Beach, including how to deal with the huge crowds it draws.

Oahu Cheet sheet with a view of China man's hat.

    How to Get to Lanikai Beach

    The easiest way to get to Lanikai Beach is by driving. Alternatively, you can also Uber or take the bus if you must.

    Our preferred method is to drive since it gives us the most flexibility.

    The beach is located in Kailua, about a 30-minute drive from Waikiki.

    Lanikai Beach does not have public parking, but there is limited residential parking at the end of Kaelepulu Drive.

    Please note that parking in the residential neighborhood is only available on weekdays; parking here on weekends is no longer allowed.

    To be honest, when we first found out that parking on weekends was no longer allowed, we were pretty disappointed since this is our favorite beach on Oahu.

    After much thought, it makes sense due to the number of visitors that flock here every day. This makes it easier for the residents that live there, and its what’s best for them. This is their home after all and their place of peace.

    Parking at Lanikai Beach

    Weekdays: If you’re visiting Lanikai Beach on a weekday, you can park in the residential area at the end of Kaelepulu Drive.

    Cody walking in the residential parking are of Lanikai Beach. Cars are parked on the side of the road.
    The Ka'elepulu Dr road sign where people park when they go to Lanikai Beach in Oahu.

    Pay very close attention to the “no parking” signs and follow proper Hawaii parking protocols. Every time we go here, we see at least one car with a ticket; don’t be that person!

    We made that mistake once, and that was the first and last ticket we received in Hawaii. We now pay very close attention.

    Also, make sure to be respectful to the residents that live here. If you go to Lanikai Beach for sunrise, remember that people are still sleeping in their homes. Be as quiet as possible and do not block any driveways.

    Weekends: Unfortunately, if you’re visiting on the weekend you will not be able to park in the residential area. The best place to park is at Kailua Beach Park, about a 20-minute walk from Lanikai Beach. Kailua Beach is located 1-mile from Lanikai Beach.

    Parking and Lanikai Beach Map

    Overview of Lanikai Beach

    Lanikai Beach is located on the windward side of Oahu. This beach is well known for its turquoise blue waters and soft white sand.

    The word Lanikai means “heavenly sea” in Hawaiian, and this beach definitely lives up to its name. It’s one of the most beautiful beaches on the island and is a must-see if you’re visiting Oahu.

    Me and Cody walking towards the water with a view of the Mokulua Islands with perfect white sand and blue water from Lanikai Beach

    The beach is about a mile long and is one of the most popular beaches in Hawaii.

    From Lanikai Beach, you can also see gorgeous views of the Mokulua Islands, which are two small uninhabited islands located just offshore.

    The Mokulua Islands are also a popular spot for kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding.

    Me taking photos with a view of the Mokulua Islands with perfect white sand and blue water from Lanikai Beach
    Me and Cody taking photos with a view of the Mokulua Islands with perfect white sand and blue water from Lanikai Beach

    Things to Do at Lanikai Beach

    There’s no shortage of things to do at Lanikai Beach. Here are some of our favorite activities:

    Swimming: The water at Lanikai Beach is calm and clear, making it the perfect spot for swimming.

    Stand-Up Paddleboarding: If you are looking for a fun adventure, try SUPing (stand-up paddleboarding) at Lanikai Beach. This is a fun activity and a great way to take in the gorgeous scenery.

    Kayaking: If you’re looking for another active activity, Lanikai Beach is one of the best places in Oahu to kayak

    Man kayaking towards the twin islands from Lanikai Beach

    You can explore the surrounding area and kayak to Flat Island or the gorgeous Mokulua Islands. Kaying to the Mokulua Islands from Lanikai Beach is a straight shot and should take about 30 minutes one way.

    Snorkeling: One of our favorite things to do at Lanikai Beach is snorkeling. While not the best spot to snorkel as compared to Shark’s Cove or Hanauma Bay, it is still a great place to snorkel for beginners or if you are already there. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a sea turtle!

    Catch the Sunrise: Lanikai Beach is the perfect spot to catch the sunrise. The beach faces east, which means you’ll get gorgeous views of the sun rising over the Mokulua Islands.

    Lanikai Pillbox Hike

    One of our favorite things about Lanikai Beach is that the Lanikai Pillbox Hike is located in the same area. This hike takes you to two abandoned military bunkers that offer stunning views of Lanikai Beach and the Mokulua Islands.

    Me sitting on top of the Lanikai Pillbox hike after the second bunker with views of the Koolau Mountains

    The hike is about 1.7 miles round trip and takes about 30 to 45 minutes one way.

    If you’re looking for one of the easier hikes in Oahu and one of the best hikes in Oahu, the Lanikai Pillbox Hike might be the answer.

    Cody and me on top of the Lanikai Pillbox Hike after the second bunker with views of the Koolau Mountains

    Be warned that others might NOT consider this hike easy due to some of the steep sections, especially towards the start of the trail.

    We rated this hike easy to intermediate, depending on who you ask.

    To learn more about the pillbox hike, you can check out our other article dedicated to the Lanikai Pillbox Hike.

    Lanikai Beach Facilities/Amenities 

    There are no facilities or amenities at Lanikai Beach.

    However, there are several restaurants and shops located in the nearby town of Kailua.

    Kailua Beach Park is your best bet if you’re looking for restrooms, showers, or parking. This beach is about a 20-minute walk from Lanikai Beach.

    See Also: 71 Awesome Things to Do on Oahu With Your Family

    Tips for Visiting Lanikai Beach

    Go early: To avoid the crowds, we recommend visiting Lanikai Beach early in the morning. The beach tends to be much more crowded past 10 am. 

    You will most likely have difficulty finding parking anytime after 9:30 am.

    By far, this is one of our favorite places to watch the sunrise. If you’re a morning person, getting here for sunrise is one of the best things you can do. The best part: You won’t have a hard time finding parking.

    Gorgeous view of the sunrise from the Lanikai Pillbox Hike with a view of Lanikai Beach and the Mokes

    Bring your own food and drinks: We recommend packing a cooler with snacks and drinks for the day. I wouldn’t recommend leaving to get food if you plan on going back to the beach due to the parking situation.

    Pack your beach essentials: Don’t forget to add reef-safe sunscreen or a sun shirt, as well as a hat to your Hawaii packing list. Also, bring a beach chair or towel and an umbrella if you have one. There is zero shade at Lanikai Beach, and the sun in Hawaii gets pretty hot.

    We cannot stress enough the importance of wearing reef-safe sunscreen. Many sunscreens contain chemicals that are harmful to coral reefs, and some of the chemicals are actually banned.

    If you don’t have reef-safe sunscreen, you can purchase it at most stores on Oahu or online before your trip.

    Gorgeous blue water and perfect white sand at Lanikai Beach

    Pack out your trash: Please be mindful of your trash and take any garbage with you when you leave. Lanikai Beach is a beautiful place and we want to make sure it stays that way!

    No lifeguard: There are no lifeguards present at Lanikai Beach, so please be aware of your surroundings and remain cautious when swimming.

    Do not leave valuables in your car: There have been multiple break-ins reported at Lanikai Beach. Take all valuables with you and do not leave anything visible in your car.

    In the Area

    Hike the Lanikai Pillbox Hike: This is one of our favorite things to do near Lanikai Beach. The views from the pillboxes are incredible!

    Visit Kailua Beach Park: As mentioned before, Kailua Beach is about a 20-minute walk from Lanikai Beach. It’s an excellent place for facilities such as restrooms, showers, and picnic tables. The Beach at Kailua is just as spectacular too!

    Explore the town of Kailua: Kailua is a great town to explore with plenty of restaurants and shops. If you’re looking for some souvenirs, this is the place to go.

    Visit Kailua Town Farmers Market: This is a great place to go if you’re looking for fresh produce or local souvenirs. It’s open Sundays from 8:00 am – 12:00 pm.

    Watch the sunrise at Lanikai Beach: As we mentioned, this is one of the best things to do at Lanikai Beach. 

    Check out the Mokulua Islands: These two small islands are located just offshore from Lanikai Beach. They are accessible by kayak or stand-up paddleboard and make for a great day trip.

    Two kayaks heading to the twin Islands from Lanikai Beach with clear blue waters

    Get Shave Ice: After a long day at the beach, head to one of the best spots in Oahu for some shave ice. Island Snow is our favorite spot on Oahu for this tasty treat!

    Lanikai Beach: Frequently Asked Questions

    Is Lanikai Beach free?

    Yes, Lanikai Beach is free to visit.

    Is Lanikai Beach open to the public?

    Yes, Lanikai Beach is open to the public. It’s not a private beach.

    Are there lifeguards at Lanikai Beach?

    No, there are no lifeguards present at Lanikai Beach.

    Are there sharks at Lanikai Beach?

    There have been no recent shark sightings at Lanikai Beach. However, it is always important to be aware of your surroundings and cautious when swimming in open water.

    Is Lanikai Beach safe for swimming?

    Yes, Lanikai Beach is safe for swimming. However, as with any body of water, it’s always important to be aware of your surroundings and use caution.

    What is the best time to visit Lanikai Beach?

    The best time to visit Lanikai Beach is early in the morning or late in the afternoon to avoid the crowds.

    The Wrap Up

    Lanikai Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in Hawaii. It’s definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area! The water is crystal clear and there are plenty of activities to keep you busy.

    There is something for everyonefrom swimming to kayaking and paddleboarding.

    Mahalo for reading our post! We hope this guide has helpful in planning your visit to Lanikai Beach. Until next time, aloha!