The Best Beaches on Oahu

hawaiistparksBeaches, Oahu, Things to DoLeave a Comment

top oahu beaches

Looking for the best beaches on Oahu? Check out a few of these beautiful beaches on your next trip.

Lanikai Beach

Its name means “heavenly ocean” and once you step on this secluded, soft-sand beach, you’ll see why. This little island hide-away, which is only half a mile long, is nestled in a residential neighborhood, boasts no parking lot but has beauty for days.

Arriving early in the morning will ensure a parking spot before the beach gets crowded and busy. There are no lifeguards or amenities but a nearby park has some usable facilities including picnic tables and outdoor showers.

The offshore reef at Lanikai means calm waters that are perfect for families who want to swim or snorkel, stand up paddle boarders, windsurfers, and kayakers. For those journeying out on the water, be sure to visit the nearby, offshore islands called Na Mokulua (or “The Mokes”). Here you will find more of Hawaii’s volcanic beauty as well as a bird sanctuary. Lanikai is one of Hawaii’s most picturesque and famous beaches and definitely one of the best Oahu beaches.

Waimanalo Bay Beach Park

One of the things that makes Waimanalo Bay Beach Park one of the best Oahu beaches is that it’s open seven a week. It’s one of the longest beaches on the island at nearly three miles and boasts soft, white sand. It’s surrounded by ironwood trees which are great for providing shade for a nap. The calm waters are great for boogie boarding, fishing, and simply walking along the beach enjoying the peaceful lapping of the waves. There is a former Air Force base at the north end of the beach and it is still a popular destination for military personnel. There’s free parking, and camping is available by permit.

Waikiki Beach

Waikiki Beach is one of the most famous and developed beaches in Hawaii. At nearly two miles long, Waikiki is home to many high-rise hotels, restaurants, bars, shopping centers, and other entertainment venues. Visitors can also enjoy the komodo dragons and wandering peacocks at the Waikiki Zoo and the living reef exhibit at the Waikiki Aquarium. Waikiki’s beautiful white sand draws beach lovers from all over the world and its fabulous surf attracts world-class surfers and amateurs alike.

Sunset Beach

Sunset Beach is one of the best Oahu beaches and can be as versatile as the seasons. In the summer, when the waves are flat, Sunset Beach is excellent for families who want to swim or snorkel. When winter arrives, strong waves, which are only appropriate for the most experienced surfer, come with it. Watching the world-class surfers is its own sport and the beach is often filled with spectators. Be sure to bring binoculars though as waves at Sunset Beach can crest far offshore. Sunset Beach is also one of the three locations in the famed Triple Crown Surfing Contest.

Kaiwi State Scenic Shoreline

While perhaps not a true beach destination, The Kaiwi State Scenic Shoreline has many opportunities to jump into the ocean from any number of rock outcroppings. It is home to historic Makapu’u, one of Hawaii’s 43 lighthouses. A one-mile hike will take you up the paved former lighthouse access road along which you will see majestic views of the Oahu coastline. During the migration season (November through May), you may even catch a glimpse of a pod of humpback whales.

Ahupuaʻa ʻO Kahana State Park

Formerly known as Kahana Valley State Park, this park is one of the wettest areas of Oahu. The large horseshoe-shaped beach is wide and beautiful. You will find plenty to do in Ahupuaʻa ʻO Kahana State Park including fishing, beach camping (10 on-beach sites are available, and a permit is required), and boating. Picnic tables, restrooms, showers, and water fountains are also available.

The park’s primary function is as an educational facility and there are thirty-one families that live in the park and help to educate visitors about traditional Hawaiian culture. Two hiking trails are available within the park and are easy enough for the whole family to hike together. The Kapa’ele’ele Ko’a and Keaniani Lookout Trail is a mile-long loop that has beautiful views of Kahana Bay. The Nakoa Trail – named for the numerous koa trees – winds its way through a rainforest and crosses the Kahana steam in which hikers can swim.

No matter which beach you choose on Oahu, you will not be disappointed by the beauty and abundance of activities available to you.