7 Best Beaches on Oahu
Hawaii is known for it’s beautiful beaches and Oahu has some of it’s best. From the busy sands of Waikiki to the serene shores of Oahu’s North Shore. Here are the 7 beaches you must put on your Hawaiian vacation to-do list.
(Click on the links to get more detailed info and routes for the hikes.)
The Vibe: Chill day at the beach
Voted by numerous travel outlets as one of the world’s most beautiful beaches to visit, Lanikai Beach is like no other. With its powdered white sand, calm waters, and hotspot for turtle spotting it’s one of the most serene places on the planet.
Located in Kaʻōhao, a surferesque community in the town of Kailua, Lanikai sits on the eastern side of Oahu giving its early bird visitors an absolute breathtaking view of the sunrise. As for those who are night crawlers, this beach is positioned perfectly for watching the moonrise over the Mokulua islands, especially when a full moon is provided. It’s also far enough away from the city lights to go out for some stargazing in the later evening.
Low tides, azure blue waters, and a surprisingly not so overcrowded destination is what attracts locals and visitors alike to this mesmerizing location. Grab a kayak from Kailua Beach Rentals, and set sail to explore the surrounding area where you get a snorkeler’s view of the sea life through Lanikai’s crystal clear waters.
The Vibe: Get some sun and some drinks at the resort
A beach as legendary as the man it’s named after, Duke Kahanamoku Beach is one section of Hawaii’s most visited Beach, Waikiki. It is located to the front of the Hilton Hawaiian Village. It is Waikiki’s largest stretching beach that also has a nearby lagoon of the same name, Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon.
This beach was voted one of the nations top beaches for its family friendly environment. It’s maintained in superb conditions year round and offers its visitors a few different rental options for water sporting. Duke’s lush golden sands and gorgeous blue waters are significant features that earned this beaches rankings as one of the best. For those who are just beginning to surf to those who are at a more moderate level, Kahanamoku’s an excellent site to catch some waves, as the waters are normally calm.
The Vibe: Take a day on the North Shore and watch some surfers
Waimea Bay is a beach world famous for its big wave surfing. During the winter months the waves can top out over 30 feet tall. It’s the home of The Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational surf competition, known as “The Eddie”, which only runs in years when the waves are big enough. It’s only run 9 times since 1984. Even outside of the competition, during the winter it’s a great place to post up on the beach and watch the big wave surfers courageous enough to brave the monstrous waves.
While the waves may be dangerous in the winter months, in the summer they’re calm and perfect for swimming, snorkeling, diving and all kinds of water activities. Make no mistake though, this beach is no hidden gem, expect big crowds yearlong, especially on the weekends and holidays. There’s also a big cliff-jumping rock right in the middle of the beach.
The Vibe: A day of snorkeling or scuba
Looking for a beach with a calm atmosphere and a relatively smaller crowd? Kahe Point Beach is an excellent choice for those wanting to get away from it all and enjoy a day at a beautiful beach with plenty of space to unfold.
Nicknamed Electric Beach because of the nearby electric powerplant, Kahe Point is well known by locals as a superb spot for snorkeling as the warm waters of the area caused by the powerplant provide a wonderful environment for a variety of sea life. Although we recommend you at least be an intermediate level snorkeler, there is many shallower areas for beginners to wet their snorkeling beaks. It is of course best to be cautious when swimming in the deeper spots as the currents can get very strong.
A defining feature of Electric Beach is the family of spinner dolphins that enjoy feeding in the evening and resting near the shallower areas with their kids during the day. Some of the other sea creatures you have an opportunity to see here are the surgeon fish, tang, wrasse, squirrel fish, big eyes, butterfly fish, parrot fish, damsel fish, perch, trigger fish, the previous Hawaii State Fish Humuhumunukunukuapuaa, goat fish, snapper, hawk fish, jacks, mackerel, and cornet fish to just name a few. There is also a good chance you’ll be able to spot a few green sea turtles swimming about near the coral.
The Vibe: More relaxed day off the beaten path
Waimanalo is location to many feature films and television shows like Tom Selleck’s Magnum, P.I. and Adam Sandler’s 50 First Dates. Being one of the longest stretching coastlines on the island of Oahu, Waimanalo provides its visitors with plenty of beach to enjoy a day out with family and/or friends.
With the Ko’olau Mountain Range in the background, and the vast blue ocean waves at the front of this beach make Waimanalo an excellent choice for a relaxing day in a quiet surferesque town. This windward side beach allows for many activities including light surfing, fishing for ono, or soaking up on the sun. At times, Waimanalo can get windy, but this only makes the conditions for boogie boarding and long walks that much better.
The Vibe: Catch a great sunset on the North Shore
This North Shore beauty is admired for not only its gorgeous sunsets, but also it’s world class surfing. Just like its neighboring beaches Ehukai and Waimea, Sunset Beach gets extraordinary waves normally reaching anywhere from 15 to 30 feet during the winter months. You’re bound to be blown away when you come to view some of the world’s best surfers riding in the Triple Crown Surfing Competition.
The Vibe: Camp on a remote beach on the Leeward coast
Looking for a secluded beach far away from the city scene? Makua Beach is as far away from the city you’ll most likely get. It’s located to the front of the Waianae Mountain Range and Makua Valley, and its white sands stretch around one-mile long.
For most of the year you’re likely to see very little tourist traffic here as there’s no bus access or tour buses traveling to this coastal side of Oahu. This makes for an excellent spot to escape from the world and discover what untouched Hawaii looks like. Since Makua is so sequestered it can be a perfect place to camp for the evening, with this being said it is best to be cautious about your belongings as thievery has been reported in this area.