12 Best Beaches on Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi

Oahu landscape, drone photography
Brandon Colbert Photography / Getty Images

Oʻahu is one of the eight main Hawaiian islands and is home to the state’s capital, Honolulu. The island is nicknamed “The Gathering Place,” appropriate for its visitor and local-friendly districts. Oʻahu is home to approximately 70 percent of Hawaiʻi’s population, and with a melting pot of cultures, there’s something for everyone to enjoy, especially the beaches.

It can take as little as four hours to drive around all of Oʻahu. With the right planning, visiting a couple of beaches on each of the island’s four coastal regions is worthwhile. From north to south and east to west, each offers truly unique beach experiences.

Before heading out to these Oʻahu gems, be sure to get acquainted with local marine life and learn how to protect the livelihood of the ocean ecosystems. Once you know the best ocean safety practices, you can ensure a good time for everyone.

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Ala Moana Beach Park, Honolulu

Ala Moana Beach Park
Douglas Peebles / Getty Images
Address
1201 Ala Moana Blvd, Honolulu, HI 96814, USA
Phone +1 808-768-4611

This half-mile stretch of beach offers more than just a refreshing dip in the water. The beach park has sandy volleyball courts, a 2.6-mile running course on a sidewalk that parallels the beach, and a harbor where you can book boat and sea adventure tours. You'll also find grassy pockets and flat sandy areas for barbecuing and other fun beach activities that the whole family can enjoy. The lagoon between the shore and the reef prevents any rough surf from coming in, so waters are almost always calm for casual or even beach “lap” swimming. For those who enjoy surfing, there are plenty of surf breaks accessible just past the reef. The park has bathroom facilities, lifeguards, and even an L&L Hawaiian Barbecue restaurant.

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Diamond Head Beach Park, Honolulu

Above Diamond Head Beach Park

Daniel Ramirez / Flickr

Address
3300 Diamond Head Rd, Honolulu, HI 96815, USA
Phone +1 808-768-3003

Set on the foothills of Lēʻahi (Diamond Head), an age-old volcanic crater and Oʻahu’s most renowned landmark, is Diamond Head Beach Park. While it's a favorite local spot for surfing in the crystal blue waters and reef formations, the park is also great for sightseeing. When you arrive, stop at the lookout atop the cliff and take in the views. If you're visiting from December to May, bring a pair of binoculars: you may spot whales breaching.

Access to the beach follows a paved path down, so keep your load light. The beach is rocky and spread with coral reefs along the shore, so it’s not the best for swimming, but it is nice for taking down a beach towel to bask in the sun or walk on the sand.

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ʻEhukai Beach Park, Haleʻiwa

Surfer and surf photographer at Pipeline
Pete Orelup / Getty Images
Address
59-337 Ke Nui Rd, Haleiwa, HI 96712, USA

Set on Oʻahu’s North Shore, this beach break is home to one of the world’s best surf breaks: Banzai Pipeline. Every winter, surfers from all around the world come to surf and compete. The large, sloping sand area makes it great for staggering crowds to post up and watch the surfers carve their magic in the water.

While this beach is great for walking the vast stretch of sand, it’s not the most inviting to swim in. When the water and current are calm, typically during the summer season, there are shallow pockets along the shore where you can go for a refreshing dip. The parking lot is small and the one-way highways can get backed up, so try to get an early head start if you plan to go out.

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Hanauma Bay, Honolulu

Hanauma Bay – Oahu, Hawaii
KPegg / Getty Images
Address
Hanauma Bay, Hawaii 96825, USA

Formed in a volcanic cone, the beach at Hanauma Bay is home to one of Oʻahu’s most diverse and pristine marine ecosystems. First-time visitors are welcomed at the marine education center, where they will watch a nine-minute video to learn about the bay's marine life and preservation efforts, as well as safety rules for the park. Historically known for fishing and recreation, the reef and bay boast a variety of aquatic creatures such as Hawaiian green sea turtles, eels, and fish like the Humuhumunukunukuapuaa (the Hawaiʻi state fish). In order to protect this ecosystem that has suffered from overtourism, there is a new reservation system to visit the park.

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Kalama Beach, Kailua

USA, Hawaii, Oahu, Kailua Bay, Kalama Beach
Westend61 / Getty Images
Address
Kalama Beach, Kailua, HI 96734, USA

Kalama Beach is a 4-mile stretch along the grand Kailua Bay, nestled by views of clear waters and lush tropical greenery. Of all Oʻahu beaches, this might be the best for enjoying long walks. It’s situated in a mellow part of the bay, where you can set up some chairs and not worry about crowds. With picnic tables, showers, and bathrooms, Kalama Beach is a great family-friendly destination. Swimming is popular, but floaties are recommended. There are no lifeguards, so do be sure to check the water conditions before dipping in and beware of drifting too far from shore.

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Keawaula Beach, Wai’anae

Ka'ena Point State Park and Yokohama Bay Oahu Hawaii
Pgiam / Getty Images
Address
Keawaula Beach, Farrington Hwy, Waialua, HI 96791, USA
Phone +1 808-587-0300

Also known as Yokohama Beach, Keawaula is a jaw-dropper. Set between open turquoise waters and a breathtaking Wai’anae Range backdrop, the beach is located on Oʻahu’s west shore. On this side of the island, the weather remains hot and dry almost year-round, and the shore break and currents can be very strong and unpredictable. Check the conditions before jumping into the water, and plan to stop at Tamura Super Market on your way in, as there's not much here in the way of food or supplies. The beach park also hosts the trailhead to Kāʻena Point, a 2.7-mile hike (one way) that leads to the westernmost point of the island.

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Kualoa Regional Park, Kāneʻohe

White sand beach, Kualoa, Oahu, Hawaii
Barry Winiker / Getty Images
Address
49-479 Kamehameha Hwy, Kaneohe, HI 96744, USA
Phone +1 808-768-8974

If the surrounding view at this regional beach park looks familiar, it might be because you caught a glimpse of it in several blockbusters like "Jurassic Park," "Pirates of the Caribbean," "Lost," and "Jumanji." Centered around the almost otherworldly backdrop of the Koʻolau Range in Kāneʻohe, the beach park also opens up to a striking view of Mokoliʻi Island, located less than half a mile away from shore. You can kayak to the tiny isle offshore and even hike to the top, though it is steep and can be muddy after rainfall. If you're up for it, you can get a permit online to camp and behold the serene beauty of the bay overnight.

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Lanikai Beach, Kailua

Outrigger Canoe on Lanikai Beach of Oahu Hawaii
YinYang / Getty Images
Address
Lanikai Beach, Kailua, HI 96734, USA

Lanikai, which translates to "heavenly ocean," is an apt descriptor for this stretch of shoreline. Situated in the quaint town of Kailua on Oʻahu’s east side, it's one of the best places on the island for watching the sunrise. And with its sweeping views of the two Mokulua Islands, located less than a mile away from shore, Lanikai Beach offers a lovely setting for long walks and swimming. You can rent kayaks and journey through reefs thriving with marine life and paddle toward the Mokulua Islands. Both are protected bird sanctuaries and the public is only allowed to park kayaks on the beach of the larger island, Mokulua Nui. There are no lifeguards out there, so check the winds and currents before paddling out.

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Sunset Beach Park, Pūpūkea

O'ahu: Sunset Beach Park

Wally Gobetz / Flickr

Address
Sunset Beach Park, Pupukea, HI 96712, USA

Sunset Beach Park, originally Paumalū, is another beloved spot for advanced surfing on the North Shore. Its spacious sand area is inviting for those hoping to watch the epic surf. While waters can be calm and great for swimming during the summertime, it is known for a strong current, so it’s best advised to check on conditions before taking a plunge. And, as its name implies, this is one of the best beaches to catch a fluorescent sunset. Take a serene walk along the sand as the sun drops and behold the sky projecting swooping colors of pinks and purples.

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Waikīkī Beach, Honolulu

Hawaii beach Honolulu city travel landscape of Waikiki beach and Diamond Head mountain peak at sunset, Oahu island, USA vacation.
Maridav / Getty Images
Address
Waikiki, Honolulu, HI 96815, USA

Located in Honolulu's Waikīkī neighborhood, the former home of Hawaiian royalty, Waikīkī Beach is famous the world over. With sparkling emerald waters and the landmark Lēʻahi (Diamond Head) jutting up in the distance, it's well-suited for the whole family. Here, you can take surf lessons, swim in sand-ridden waters, jump on a day or sunset cruise, or even just sunbathe (umbrellas and lounge chairs are available for rent). Plus, Waikīkī Beach runs along Kālakaua Avenue, Honolulu’s main strip of hotels, restaurants, and shops. After grabbing a bite to eat or drink, or after dropping your bags off at your hotel, you can head straight to the water in just a few steps. While the winter season in Hawaiʻi can be rainy or overcast, Waikīkī Beach is especially known for its sunny coverage and calm waters year-round.

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Waimānalo Bay Beach Park, Waimānalo

Aerial view by drone, Waimanalo beach, Oahu Island, Hawaii, United States of America, North America
Christian Kober/robertharding / Getty Images
Address
Waimānalo Bay Beach Park, 41-1062 Kalanianaʻole Hwy, Waimanalo, HI 96795, USA

The beaches that stretch across Waimānalo Bay are nothing less than picturesque. From Waimānalo Bay Beach Park, you can enjoy breathtaking views of the Koʻolau Range, whose jagged peaks offer a dramatic juxtaposition against the park's long stretches of powdery sand and electric blue waters. With facilities like bathrooms, showers, and picnic tables, this is a great spot to visit. The water’s currents and undertows can be unpredictable, so look out for any signs or posts the lifeguards may put up. Because this beach is often breezy, we recommend securing your beach gear when winds are high so it doesn’t fly away.

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Waimea Bay Beach Park, Haleʻiwa

People standing on Jump Rock, Waimea Bay, Oahu, Hawaii, USA
annamarkiewicz / Getty Images
Address
61-31 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, HI 96712, USA

The iconic v is the epitome of all things beautiful on Oʻahu’s North Shore. With its large sandy area, blue-green waters, and surrounding mountains, this spot is a must-visit. With waves that frequently reach up to 30 feet, the bay has become the host site for the annual winter “Eddie Would Go” surf competition. In the summertime, though, you’d almost never know the energy this bay can produce. Calm warm waters are so inviting for floating, swimming, and snorkeling. There’s also a 25-foot high rock that locals like to jump off of. If you’re unfamiliar with the conditions of the beach, it’s best to just sit back and watch.

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12 Best Beaches on Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi