The Best Beaches in Oahu, Hawaii

| January 18, 2012 | 51 Comments
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Sun, surf, white sand …Oahu has dozens of beaches scattered all around the island from which to choose. Being in Hawaii all of them are gorgeous in one way or another, but which are the best beaches in Oahu? The following are my favorite of all that I visited when I was recently there and are generally considered among the best too. I have, however, included one that is very well liked but did not impress me much. Which one is your favorite?

Waimea Bay Beach Park

Located in Oahu’s North Shore the beach in Waimea is relaxing, family friendly beach when the sea is calm and an exciting, adrenaline packed destination when the surf is big. The beach is about 700m long and has several facilities free of charge, including showers, toilet and a drinking fountain. There is a designated parking lot too, which although free is rather small and only holds about 70 cars- more often than not you will find cars parked on the main road’s shoulder.

waimea bay

Things to do in Waimea Bay beach include swimming, suntanning, jumping off the rock on the western end is very popular and, if there are waves and you’re an accomplished swimmer, then bodyboarding, surfing or bodysurfing will be a thrill and a challenge. If not you can always try one of these sports on Waimea river during the rainy season as it’s a lot of fun and not life threatening.

If here during the winter season you’ll be able to watch massive 10m plus waves and hardcore surfers riding these behemoths, and perhaps might be here during the legendary Eddie Aikau Memorial surf contest, held in memory of of this legendary surfer and local lifeguard who disappeared when attempting to reach the coast from a stranded papyrus boat during an expedition in 1978. The contest, by the way, only happens when the waves have at least 40ft faces! (don’t skip the video- you’ll be happy you’re watching the action from a distance and are not one of the surfers featured in it!).

Waikiki Beach

The view of Waikiki beach with extinct volcano Diamond Head in the background is probably the most famous of all in Hawaii and one you must not miss. The beach is long but narrow, crowded but fun, busy yet energizing a the same time, and a heck of a lot of fun. It’s a great place where to learn how to surf (ask for Max Surf rentals- he´s been here for 25 years, has the biggest board assortment and is the most affordable too), try traditional outrigger canoeing or gaze at spectacular sunsets from the western end of the beach, right beyond historical Royal Hawaiian Hotel, the only pink hotel in the islands.

waikiki

Lanikai Beach

Lanikai Beach is considered one of the best beaches in the island and some say in the world, which I find rather preposterous.  I have yet to find the overwhelming appeal, but have included it in this list because many travelers seem to be delighted with it. Perhaps its beauty might derive from the conifer trees that abound instead of palm trees, there’s plenty of public parking and has little to no surf most of the year, making it ideal for families with young children.

Sunset Beach

Also in Oahu’s North Shore Sunset Beach is picture perfect by any standard. The beach is wide and long enough to accommodate comfortably alll visitors, and the clean white sand contrasts with the ocean’s deep blue water. Sunset beach is world famous for its surf, so you’ll find plenty of action too. Perhaps the biggest drawback is that there are no convenient facilities, yet the closest snack bar, supermarket and surf shop are just a five minute drive away along the main road- if there’s no traffic.

sunset beach

Sandy Beach

Sandy beach is relatively isolated, about a 5 minute drive from Hanauma Bay or 25 minutes from Waikiki. The beach is relatively small yet has public showers and toilet facilities as well as free parking. It’s a great place to get away from Honolulu’s urban lifestyle and relax- or not. The shore break is powerful and dangerous, making it ideal for bodyboarders and bodysurfers who come here to ride big waves just a few meters away from dry sand, but dangerous for the average swimmer.

sandy beach

Pipeline (Ehukai Beach Park)

There is only one reason that has put this beach on the map despite it’s natural beauty: a powerful wave that breaks here and attracts surfers from all over the world to challenge their skills, particularly during the winter season. The wave is big, hollow and a challenge for even the most accomplished surfer.

The beach has a free small parking lot, but no toilet facilities, and is just a five minute drive west from Sunset Beach- unless there’s a big swell in which case traffic will bring you to a stop. The beach usually attracts younger crowds and surf enthusiasts, yet I recommend you stop by and witness the show when there’s a good swell.

Turtle Bay

The beach in Turtle Bay is very family friendly and safe for swimming. It might not be as exotic as the others in the list, but it has something instead that they don’t: wild turtles. Appropriately named Turtle Bay this is the best place where to spot and swim with wild turtles in Oahu without having to join a tour of pay any fees. You will simply need snorkeling gear (if at all) and to swim around this secluded bay until you find one; it could be a great opportunity to bring your waterproof camera because there is no easier place where to take pictures of turtles in the wild- simply watch this video of a turtle I filmed.

swim with turtles

Hanauma Bay

Postcard worthy Hanauma Bay beach is extremely popular among tourists and locals because of its snorkeling. It is a national park (there is a fee to enter) and a must visit when in Oahu. To learn more about the bay read my post about snorkeling in Hanauma Bay.

hanauma bay

These are my favorite and what I consider to be the best beaches in Oahu, but now it’s your turn:

Which is your favorite beach in Oahu? Why? Any tips or opinions about the beaches in this list? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below, and this post too if you liked it!

This post is brought to you with the collaboration of Flight Center Australia, Australia’s leading flight booking agency with great deals on Bali flights. I did not use their services on this trip, but I did when I traveled  to Bali.

Category: Americas, Destinations, Hawaii, latest, Pacific Islands, United States

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51 Responses to “The Best Beaches in Oahu, Hawaii”

  1. Herr Manfred F. says:

    Lanikai Beach is soooo great!

  2. Mira-belle says:

    Use the bus! It’s cheap and convenient if you want to explore the island:
    http://www.leblogdelamirabelle.net/mes-photos/en-route-pour-ala-moana-on-the-road-to-ala-moana/

    Honolulu is a great place! Don’t forget to visit it thouroughly.
    The harbor : http://tinyurl.com/honoluluharbour
    and : http://tinyurl.com/alohatowercruiseship

    The Chinese influence : http://tinyurl.com/chinatowninhonolulu

    Visit locations of the series “Lost” and see sharks in the Honolulu harbor!: http://tinyurl.com/lostlocations

    See weird churches and temples on Oahu!: http://tinyurl.com/weirdchurches

    And of course: Waikiki Land and its beaches! : http://tinyurl.com/waikikiland

  3. Recent Hawaii tourist says:

    Lanikai is the most overrated beach ever. I went in January 2012, the traffic, the ridiculous amount of Kayak’s, paddle boards, trash, people etc. made it one of the worst experiences of my trip. I couldn’t wait to leave Kailua and get back to the quiet of Waikiki!

  4. Great article – fantastic beaches. I’ve been to Waikiki beach and Hanauma Bay. Both great beaches for very different reasons. My vote will have to go to Hanauma because of the great snorkeling!
    Geoff

  5. Damn, I’m envious. I’m freezing my butt off right now :P This looks very inviting :)

  6. Ja-C says:

    I really want to travel!!

  7. Abi says:

    Sooo dreamy. Going to be hard to concentrate on work now. Sigh…

  8. maitravelsite says:

    Thanks for the heads up

  9. Shirah says:

    I think I really need this post because at this point, I am looking for a place where i can spend my vacation…

  10. Mark says:

    Beaches of Oahu are truly amazing! And choosing one of them is a tough job. All of them have unique features. But I think sunset beach is very beautiful! The white sand and serene blue sea makes it a must visit beach. One will surely get refreshed by the fresh air and the picture perfect view of the beach.

  11. Alvin says:

    I am a big beach lover and like visiting the warm regions to get a nice tan. By the looks of it, Oahu in Hawaii seems like the place I need to visit to have a dose of the same. The winter this time around is a little extra chilly, will take a break from work with the family and hit the beach in Hawaii.

  12. Abby says:

    Just the post I needed to read as I sit here listening to the freezing cold winter wind outside! I want to go to the beach!

  13. Alex says:

    Federico I must say that the videos you added really are a great idea and contribute to giving a better feel to the beaches rather than the words and pictures. They seem like a good option to engage the reader. Love your idea, think it is a great idea, especially for a travel blog. Keep up the good work and all the best for the next trip.

  14. Zvi says:

    Surfing is one thing which I would love to do in Oahu. I am not a regular surfer but sometimes I enjoy surfing. But after reading your post I think I would love to surf on Oahu beaches. Waimea bay is the one I am planning to visit in this year’s winter. I have heard about the contest before and it seems fun to participate in it. Thanks for the information.

  15. Denial says:

    Oahu, Hawaii is one of the beautiful places in the world I think. I have been there with my family and enjoyed a lot. My kids loved Turtle bay which also has Kawela Bay name. Swimming with honu which is Hawaiian green sea turtles was an amazing experience. We had never experienced it before. Your post refreshed all the memories of our Hawaii vacation. Thanks!

  16. I imagine it is hard to choose which beaches to visit because there are so many. Good to have some info to help make such an all-important decision :-)

  17. Theo Magen says:

    Beaches are the best places for vacationing with family. Surfing in winter will truly be an amazing experience I guess. The Eddie Aikau Memorial surfing contest at Waimea beach looks interesting and also fun. Will plan my vacation along the same time. Kids would love to swim with wild turtles. Also as you have mentioned that Turtle Bay is safe and friendly planning to take my kids there.

  18. Arjee says:

    I have some relatives in Hawaii and I’m planning to take a visit there. I love their beaches and other spots. Thanks for sharing some of your photos.

  19. Marshall Miller says:

    I hail from a family who loves to travel. As a kid I was in a boarding school so my mother and father could travel the world. I never seemed to mind that as my siblings were also with me. But our time at home was also a vacation. I have visited 24 countries of the world as a child. But I was not aware of the scenic beauties that exist here in our country and must say you have outlined a great itinerary for a Hawaiian trip for anyone to take to Oahu island with your write up here.

  20. All the beaches in the Oahu is truly great and attractive! I am most like the Turtle Bay because there you can see huge number of Turtles. Wow I love your travel career it is really inspiring especially in traveling all over the world. :)

  21. Jazmin says:

    Hmm..I think there are a lot more beach more beautiful than this…

  22. jami says:

    My favorite beach on Oahu is the beach right next to the blowhole. Some call it “Blowhole Beach”, others called it the “From Here to Eternity” Beach and I’ve also heard it called “Secret Beach”. There is a small stairwell hidden by the wall of the parking lot for the Halona Blowhole that leads to rock scrambling to get to the beach. Why it’s my favorite? Small, usually only locals there. Walk out on the black rocks to the right of the beach, dive in and ride the waves into the shore. Love this place!

    • maitravelsite says:

      I saw that one too Jami, it’s very close to Sandy Beach as a matter of fact. The sea was a bit rough and did not allow any swimming though, but there was a couple hanging out there that did not seem to mind. Thanks for stopping by and your suggestion!

  23. All of these Hawaii posts are making me want to go! The water at Sandy Point looks amazing. Too bad I can’t surf!

  24. Sebastian says:

    Wooow, these beaches are huuuuge! I wish I would be good enough to surf them :)

  25. Renny says:

    Sun, surf and white sand is the definition for the perfect vacation for me. I love surfing! After reading your post you have made me excited to visit Oahu! The Turtle Bay is one of the places which I am looking forward to visit. I have never tried swimming with wild turtles anytime. The photos which you posted are just amazing. It seems Oahu is the beautiful place which is worth watching!

  26. Carrie says:

    What a very lovely place!!Thanks for providing the great post here then…

  27. David says:

    You have made me see a whole new world in Hawaii through this blog. I had visited Hawaii as a kid but had not been to Oahu and will most definitely visit it soon. I think people should visit our coast more often. I know so many people going to South Africa, Australia and Europe to enjoy the beach, wonder why they do it when we have great beaches here itself. Thanks for the post.

  28. Surfing looks cool but difficult. I might just snorkel..

  29. Ayngelina says:

    I must get there! Maybe this year…

  30. Erica says:

    Oh man, I’ve always wondered about the beaches – I need baby waves for my crappy surfing abilities!

  31. Hogga says:

    Surfing seems like so much fun until you actually try it… that’s a hard sport dude!

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Hi, I'm Federico. Join me as I travel the world visiting world famous destinations and explore those not as known, offering money saving tips and unique insights for your ultimate trip.

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