A Guide to the Best Beaches on Oahu

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017

The island of Oahu is the third largest of the Hawaiian islands, and it’s home to roughly two-thirds of the entire population of Hawaii. Oahu has frequently been referred to as “The Gathering Place,” and it is home to the state capital of Honolulu, which rests on the southeast coast of the island.

Oahu is the 20th largest island in the United States. Oahu is a volcanic island. It has served as the location for numerous films, including “50 First Dates,” “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” “Godzilla (2014),” “Jaws,” “Jurassic Park” Films, “Pearl Harbor,” “The Hunger Games: Catching Fire,” and many more. As one can imagine with an island that is used often as the set for Hollywood films, it’s a majestic location with sweeping beauty.

Nearly 44 miles in length and 30 miles in width, visitors will be thrilled with the various attractions, wide array of beaches, as well as the capital city of Honolulu. Here we explore the best beaches Oahu has to offer.

Oahu Beaches

Oahu offers every style of beach visitors will need. No matter if you want a romantic and serene location for a date, a family friendly location, or the perfect surfing spot, Oahu beaches have got you covered. With over 112 miles of coastline, there’s a beach for everyone.

Premiere Location: Waikiki Beach


One of the most notable and historic beaches of Oahu, Waikiki Beach is the beachfront of Honolulu. This beach is located on the south shore if the island, but it encompass six different beaches, including: Queen’s Beach, Kuhio Beach, Gray’s Beach, Fort DeRussy Beach, and Kahanamoku Beach.

Guests of Waikiki will find white sand beaches and gorgeous sunsets. Many call the area the “Playground of the Pacific,” and the word Waikiki itself even translates to “spouting water.”

The iconic Waikiki Beach attracts tourists from all across the world, partly due to the slopes of the Diamond Head Crater, the 500-acre Kapiolani Park, the Waikiki Aquarium, Honolulu Zoo, and the international Marketplace that attracts shoppers right to the middle and heart of Waikiki. The beach is also popular for those interested in what Hawaii has to offer in terms of night-life.

The Beaches of the North Shore

Turtle Bay/Kawela Bay

Located on the northeastern tip of Oahu, this beach is protected from any large waves and surfs. It’s often regarded as one of the best places to snorkel in all of Hawaii. Guests who have any interest in getting up close and personal with Ocean life will be thrilled with their experience at Turtle Bay and Kawela Bay. It’s highly likely that guests even spot a honu, a great Hawaiian sea turtle.

Sunset Beach

This beach covers the distance between Ehukai Beach (the Banzai Pipeline) all the way to Sunset Point. At Sunset Beach there are over a dozen reef breaks, and with over two miles length in sand, Sunset Beach is thought to be the longest area of rideable surf locations in the entire world.

As you can imagine with such a popular surfing location, famous surfing events take place at Sunset Beach, most notably the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing. Guests looking for high-waves and popular surfing should look no further than Sunset Beach.

Waimea Bay

Waimea Bay is another famous and historic surfing beach on the Hawaiian islands. This beach is one of the first locations where surfers began to ride big waves, dating all the way back to the 1950’s. Waimea is known for large winter waves.

Guests seeking other quality beach activities will be pleased to know that the waves at Waimea Bay slow down in the summer. Summer swells subside to allow guests to snorkel, along with quality swimming. Filled with activities and facilities, guests and even locals are always pleased with Waimea Bay.

A Look at Oahu’s East and Winward Coast Beaches

Makapuu Beach

Makapuu is located 35 minutes east of Waikiki. The beach is known for laying on a slope underneath the Makapuu Lighthouse, and nestled among sharp cliffs and lava rocks that are home to a number of large tide pools.

Makapuu beach is a well-known location for those who are interested in bodyboarding. For families who want to take a break from surfing and stay physically active, Makapuu is a premiere location.

Waimanalo Beach

Guests who travel along the Windward Coast past Makapuu beach for 20 minutes will find Waimanalo Beach. This beach is a little slower than some of the others on our list.

With 4-miles worth of sand, visitors will find a premiere location to make a pit stop for the day. Waimanalo Beach is known for providing plenty of parking and being a premiere destination for picnics and and parties. The calm and clear waters allow families safe beach fun, and this is a common area for those who are learning how to bodyboard or bodysurf.

Lanikai Beach

Anyone looking to plan a trip to Hawaii has likely heard of Lanikai Beach. Conde Nast ranked Lanikai as the world’s number one beach in 1996. This beach is located in Kailua, which is a residential neighborhood.

Lanikai is known for its white sand, and calm waters, but still maintaining beach options for those who want to remain active. Those who are looking for activity can take kayaks from Lanikai to head toward a pair of miniature islands known as the Mokuluas, or Moks.

Kualoa Regional Park

The Hawaiian islands are home to a number of breathtaking and simply gorgeous beach parks and national parks. The Kualoa Regional Park joins the list of other remarkable Hawaiian parks.

At Kualoa, guests will have access to magnificent views that overlook Oahu’s east coast, including the islet that sits off of Windward Coast, Mokolii, known as “Chinaman’s Hat.”

Only The Beginning

As we mentioned previously, with over 112 miles of coastline, nearly 44 miles in length and 30 miles in width, Oahu is home to a number of outstanding beaches. This short list we have compiled is only the beginning.

Other incredible beaches include South Shore beaches: Ala Moana Beach and Magic Island, Sandy Beach, and Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve.

Great beaches are also housed at west, or at the Leeward Coast, including: Yokohama Bay, Makaha Beach, and Ko Olina Resort and Marina, which is home to the J.W. Marriott Ihilani’ Resort and Spa, as well as the Aulani, the Disney Resort and Spa.

Guests and Families Alike Will Be Pleased

Whether you’re traveling with a group of friends or with family and small children, guests of Oahu’s many beaches will be pleased. There is an option for everyone, and for every mood you’ll experience while in Oahu.

Whether you want to bodyboard, surf, snorkel, have a slow day with a picnic, or experience some of the activities the locals participate in, look no further than one of the many beaches at Oahu. This will be one of your favorite stops on the Hawaii islands. It’s even possible to spend an entire vacation here, but remember to venture out for some of the other unique experiences the Hawaii islands have to offer.