Oahu Beaches

The 10 Best Beaches in Oahu

Hawaii is known to be pretty much the definition of heaven on earth. It looks like the place where we all want to vacation and spend our days lounging in the sun. But Hawaii has many, many beaches. They all have their own charm, but Oahu stands out as a paradisiac island where time doesn’t go by as fast as it does in other parts of the world.

Oahu is the third-largest of the Hawaiian islands, following the Big Island and Maui, and home to over two-thirds of the state’s population. Honolulu is located on the southeastern coast of the island and is the capital. The Pacific Ocean bathes the entire island and makes the beaches on Oahu impossible to forget. And with a total of 112 miles of coast, Oahu has a lot of beaches.

The island is also known as “The Gathering Place.” It’s no surprise that Oahu has gotten this nickname, really. Besides being home to most of the state’s population, it’s also one of the most diverse places in the United States. Oahu is a welcoming place where thousands of families from all over the world have come to stay. You can see this on the island itself. You’ll find that the values, the traditions, the people, and the cuisine reflect this diverse background. Oahu is a unique place where the Eastern, Western, and native Hawaiian cultures have blended to create something unbelievable.

Even if you’re in Oahu just to experience the best coastlines the island has to offer, you’ll feel this perfect blending of cultures. Whether you’re looking for the best Oahu beaches with turtles, for the infamous Oahu secret beaches, or to simply have a great time playing water sports, Oahu is the perfect place for you. So get out of the city feel and away from Ala Moana beach park and find yourself a more rugged slice of paradise!


But what are the best beaches in Oahu, Hawaii for you? We’ve come up with a list of the top ten beaches on the island so you can decide for yourself.


1) Kailua Beach – Oahu, Hawaii

Kailua Beach - Oahu, Hawaii

Kailua Beach is the first on our list of the top beaches in Oahu, and one of the most popular. It’s located in the quiet and sleepy beach town of Kailua, a mere thirty-minute car drive away from Honolulu. This beach is picturesque but, unlike a lot of much-photographed beaches, it’s not boring.

In Kailua, you will surely find ways of passing the time during your vacation. If you like to lay out in the sun all day doing nothing but daydreaming, you can. Bring a towel, a parasol, and you’ll be set for the day. You’ll also be happy to know that the sandy beach is soft and fine, making Kailua Beach even more perfect for sunbathing.

But if water sports are more your thing, Kailua Beach also has you covered. The offshore reef keeps the water calm and still year-round. This, together with the fact that the water is perfectly crystalline and turquoise, makes Kailua a fantastic snorkeling destination. You’ll be able to spot several species of colorful reef fish and sea turtles. Small waves, no strong currents, and shallow waters welcome swimmers of all ages and skill level. Alternatively, you can try sailing and windsurfing on this dazzling beach.

When you get hungry, you can go to one of the beachside restaurants and get a taste for local cuisine. You can also take a trip to Lanikai beach, Oahu, for a quick change of scenery too. If you don’t want to leave the beach, simply pack your own picnic and feast on one of the picnic tables available for visitors. There are also restrooms on the beach, a thirty-acre public park, and numerous shops where you can rent sports equipment. What else could you ask for?

2) Waimanalo Bay Beach Park

Waimanalo Bay Beach Park - Oahu, Hawaii

This is one of the longest beaches on the island. In total, there’s five miles of uninterrupted sandy beach where you can lay your towel and spend a therapeutic day in the sun. Waimanalo Bay Beach Park stretches from Wailea Point to Makapuu, on the windward side of the island.

You’ll hear the northern part of the beach being called “Bellows” by locals. That section got its name because it’s the place where there once was an air force base. Despite it being closed today, Waimanalo Bay is still one of the famous Oahu military beaches. It’s where a lot of military personnel come on vacation during their breaks. And once you see pictures of the beach, you’ll know why!

The first thing that pops out is the fine, delicate white sandy beach. Secondly, the ever-stretching turquoise waters invite all beachgoers for a swim. When you’re on the beach facing the sea, you’ll see the small Rabbit Island covered in luscious green vegetation.

Here at Waimanalo Bay Beach, you should only go for a swim if you’re fairly good at it. The waters are somewhat rough, which can throw inexperienced swimmers off. But swimming isn’t all that you can do! Besides laying out in the sun, you can also walk along the shoreline, and go fishing.

This beach is so stunning that in 2015, it won the award for “America’s Best Beach.” It’s definitely worth a visit.

3) Waikiki Beach

Waikiki Beach, Oahu

If you’re on the south coast of Oahu, Waikiki Beach should be in your travel itinerary. It’s one of the most popular and visited beaches of the island with four million visitors each year. Although you won’t find this on the list of top Oahu hidden beaches, it has its charm — not to mention convenience. Instead of being lined by jungle and tropical trees, Waikiki is surrounded by numerous luxury resorts and five-star hotels.

Are you a fan of water sports? Or have you always wanted to learn them but never had the chance to? If so, Waikiki is just the place for you. The legendary Hawaiian surfer Duke Kahanamoku grew up surfing here. After becoming an Olympic gold medalist in swimming, he opened a school where he taught visitors how to surf at the turn of the century. To this day, you can still learn how to surf and canoe in Waikiki. In fact, you can even find a statue of Duke to celebrate his legacy!

If you get tired of being at this awesome beach, you can always take a break and stroll through the several high-end boutiques, shops, and local restaurants. Waikiki Beach has managed to pack everything beachgoers are looking for in its two miles.

4) Sunset Beach

Sunset Beach, Oahu

North shore Oahu beaches don’t get much better than Sunset Beach. This beach with a very appealing name constantly attracts vacationers and visitors to spend a relaxing day in the sun. It stretches out for miles and has enamored all kinds of beachgoers.

In the summer months, you’ll find the golden-sanded shoreline irresistible. The calm, crystal clear blue waters remind visitors that heaven on earth really does exist. The water here is perfect for swimmers and snorkelers of all ages, as its calm and safe for everyone. Whether you’re planning a romantic getaway with your other half or a week at the beach with your family, this heavenly beach is perfect for you during the summer months.

But during the winter, this beach is completely different. Because of stronger winds, the large waves are any surfer’s dream. Only those experienced in the sport should go into the water, but lovers of the sport are welcome to watch! Seeing the pros surf 15- to 20-feet-high waves is truly memorable.

5) Waimea Bay Beach Park

Waimea Bay Beach Park

Surfers absolutely love Waimea Bay. One of the best north shore beaches on Oahu, Waimea is known all over the world for its huge waves you can see from October to April. During that season, only professional surfer and enthusiasts of the sport are seen here. This famous beach is so good for surfing that every year the Vans Triple Crown Surfing competition takes place here!

If you’re not a surfer, rest assured. You can still spend a memorable stay here at Waimea. In the summer months, swimming and scuba diving conditions are perfect. Even if you’re a beginner, you can take your first steps with the sports here.

From May to September, the choppy sea gives way to calm waters with no waves or strong currents. To top it all off, the fine golden sandy beach makes the beach picture-perfect. During this time, Waimea Beach Park is enjoyed by families with keikis (children), honeymooners, and energetic young people.

One of the popular local activities in the summer is to swim out to “Da Big Rock” — a rock located off shore, — climb up 30 feet, and to jump down into the deep, turquoise waters. This is forbidden for being (as you probably could have guessed) very dangerous, so do it at your own risk!

6) Kahana Bay Beach Park

Kahana Bay Beach Park

Kahana is one of the best secluded Oahu beaches on the east side. It’s surrounded on all three sides by the awe-inspiring Ko’olau Mountains. The mountains are a sight in of itself, but the fact that they’re covered in green and thick vegetation makes Kahana Bay even dreamier.

This entire area is unlike any other beach in Oahu. The sandy beach isn’t white, but instead isn’t fine and has all kinds of colors. The water also isn’t crystal-clear like other Oahu beaches (like Lanikai beach on the windward side, for example). Kahana Bay is the place where the Kahana Stream meets the ocean, which means that the waters are murky from all the runoff from the river. The sea bottom is also rocky, making this not a perfect place to go for a swim.

But this doesn’t stop locals and visitors from having fun. It’s quite common to find people camping on the beach, chilling on the sand, having a picnic, going hiking, and just enjoying the breathtaking views of the Ko’olau Mountains. Kahana Bay is a unique place that not many tourists have taken note of yet.

7) Malaekahana Beach

Malaekahana Beach

If you look at the Oahu map of beaches, you’ll find the Malaekahana Beach on the northwestern coast of the island. This immaculate sandy beach stretches out for a mile and is perfect for beachgoers looking for some action on the beach.

Malaekahana Beach, unlike some other Hawaiian beaches, has rocks and waves. While it might not be perfect for swimming, it’s a good opportunity to spend more time on the sand. You can play ball games, relax on the sun, or even go for a walk to see all that the beach has to offer.

The nearby island of Moku’auia, also known as Goat Island, is a white sanded beach where the water is shallow. Here you’ll get the chance to swim in the crystal-clear turquoise waters Hawaii is famous for. It’s even an awesome place for swimming and snorkeling, making it one of the best beaches in Oahu with turtles, which you can spot if you bring your own equipment.

8) Pokai Bay

Pokai Bay

Pokai Bay is the place to be if you’re a fan of secluded beaches. Not only is this a hidden local gem, but it’s also breathtakingly beautiful. The clear and clean water is still, calm, and inviting of a swim. Even if you’re traveling with children, Pokay Bay is the ideal destination.

Pokai Bay is known as one of the great Oahu beaches for snorkeling. The waters are clear like diamonds and there aren’t strong currents or waves in the summer months. This means you’ll be able to see several species of tropic and colorful fish swimming from one place to the other just below the surface. The little ones especially will love this!

You’ll mostly see locals enjoying the sun at Pokai Bay. It’s a local spot where families come to have picnics on sunny days with their children. Give it a shot as well — no better way to get involved in the Hawaiian way of life!

9) Hanauma Bay

Hanauma Bay

Just 10 miles east of Waikiki beach, Hanauma Bay was once a volcanic crater that has since been turned into a protected marine life conservation area. Founded in the 1960s, it’s much loved by marine-animal lovers from all over the world. People come from afar to take a look at the impressive marine wildlife diversity — and you can too!

Despite being a protected conservation, people can come here to snorkel and spend the day at the beach for a small fee. You’ll be able to not only rest on the white-and-yellow sand, but also dive into this underwater haven for small fish. Hanauma Bay is hands down the lead in the Oahu best beaches for snorkeling list. Here, you can spot more than 400 species of Hawaiian fish. That includes the famous state fish, the humuhumunukunukuapua’a!

This bay has a long history of dazzling people with its diverse wildlife. Many many years ago, before Hawaii was annexed to the United States, royalty used to come here to fish and spend some days away from their royal obligations. Nowadays, it’s open to everyone but still loved just as much.

10) Makapuu Beach Park

Makapuu Beach Park

The last beach on our list is the Makapuu Beach Park. It’s located on the southeastern coast of Oahu and known for its strong currents and high waves. Both during the summer and the winter, the beach isn’t good for swimming, but it’s amazing for bodyboarding and windsurfing.

But what makes this beach so unforgettable is the black-colored mountain covered in luscious green that surrounds the beach itself. If you’re ever in the region, we recommend coming here to see the sights and the crystal-clear waters.

Frequently Asked Questions about Beaches in Oahu

Does Oahu have white sand beaches?

In Oahu, there are plenty of white, clean sand beaches. The perfect example is Waimanalo Beach, on the eastern part of the country. The white, powdery and fine sand comes from the nearby reef material, such as crushed corals and shells.


Does Oahu have black sand beaches?

Many travelers marvel at how unique black sand beaches look. And since Hawaii was formed by active volcanoes that continue to spit out lava, it would make sense for there to be black sandy beaches on Oahu. Right? Actually, Oahu doesn’t have any black sand beaches.

In the state, most black sand beaches can be found in the Big Island, and in Waianapanapa on Maui.

What are the best beaches in Honolulu?

Kūhiō Beach, Queen’s Beach, and the Ala Moana Regional Park are all close to Honolulu. While these beaches are great, we suggest you get out of the city if you want to find that special secluded sandy beach Oahu is famous for.


Is alcohol allowed on Oahu beaches?

Just like in the other 49 American states, it’s not legal to have an open container of alcohol in public places. In Hawaii, this includes the beach. Because of this, drinking alcohol on the beach carries big fines if you’re caught by a law enforcement agent. A ticket can cost you anywhere between $200 and $300.

But if you want to enjoy a drink or two and still have the ocean and the beach as your view, just go to a beachside bar or restaurant and treat yourself.


Does Oahu have private beaches?

In Oahu, all beaches are public and open to everyone. Even if there’s a big luxury resort on a specific section of the coast, even the beach right in front of it is open for anyone to enjoy it.


When is the best time to visit Oahu and its beaches?

Oahu has fantastic weather year-round, so you’ll be able to enjoy the island life any time of the year. The winter lasts from mid-November through March. During these months, the high-temperature average is around 80ºF. In the summer, it gets much hotter.

During the winter months, Oahu also gets its fair share of rain. Even more than other islands. This is especially try on the leeward side, also known as the eastern coast. Usually, there are showers scattered throughout the day and the sun comes out to shine shortly thereafter.

If you’re looking to surf, the northern side of the island during the winter is perfect for you. The stronger winds cause big waves to crash against the shore, providing surfers with a great opportunity to catch high-quality waves. Ehukai Beach Park and Makaha Beach are particularly good for winter surfing!

If, instead, you want to lay out in the sun, snorkel, and swim, the best months for your trip would be from mid- to late May up until September.


Where can I stay in Oahu?

There’s no shortage of places to check into during your vacation in Oahu. You’ll find a plethora of different kinds of accommodation. There are luxury resorts, five-star hotels, short-term apartment rentals, bed and breakfasts, beachside cabanas, and camping sites all over the island.

No matter your budget, you’ll find a cozy place to rest after a long day in the sun.


What else can I do in Oahu?

If you want a break from hitting the beach every day, you can do a number of other activities. Hikes are very popular on the island since you can see extinct volcanoes and thick, luscious forests. Taking a trip to Diamond Head is definitely worth your time. Standing tall in the Diamond Head State Park, the actual Diamond Head is an imposing volcanic tuff cone that looks like it came straight out of a Hollywood movie!

If you’re a history buff, you can also visit the Pearl Harbor monument, known for the event that threw the United States into World War II.

Foodies will also find that Oahu is a paradise. The local cuisine here has had a lot of influence from Eastern and Western immigrant groups. It’s also shaped by how native Hawaiians ate and lived before being annexed to the United States. With dishes such as the crab-stuffed ahi plate, kalua pig, and much more, you won’t be able to resist the local delicacies.

For shopaholics, the Ala Moana beach area is loaded with awesome shopping malls and Hawaiian boutiques.

That being said, Oahu really is a beach paradise, and a haven for surfers. If you feel like getting your surf on, Ehukai Beach Park and Makaha Beach offer great waves.


Do I need a car to get around Oahu?

If you want to spend your time in Oahu exploring different parts of the island and seeing different beaches, it’s best to rent a car. Although there is a fairly good public transportation system, renting your own car makes things much easier and more comfortable.

If, however, you want to stay in Honolulu or Waikiki beach, getting a car really isn’t necessary.


For those seeking out tropical Hawaii beaches, Oahu is a dreamy island and one of the natural gems of the Pacific Ocean. It has 112 miles of jaw-dropping beaches where you can go to spend your holiday. Oahu is a diverse and welcoming island, and every tourist will find just what they were looking for here. Whether you’re a surfer, a bodyboarder, a swimmer, a lover of marine wildlife, or simply want to lay in the fine, light colored sand, Oahu will welcome you with open arms. You can’t go wrong with this island or its beaches!