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Oahu Beaches

There is a wide range of beaches on Oahu and you can find one which will suit you whether your looking for a huge variety of your own species on wide sand beaches smelling of coconut oil, or a thrill seeker looking for the biggest waves to ride, or anything in between.

The South Shore

is where to more popular “family” type beaches are found. Swimming and snorkeling are the main activities here. Go there....

The East Shore

(the Windward Side) is where the most luxurious jungle growth appears, and where the trade winds are the most consistant giving good conditions for wind and kite surfers. Go there...

The North Shore

has many nice beaches suitable for swimming and snorkeling during the summer months, but the winter months are known for world class surfing with occasional periods of waves reaching heights of 25 feet. Go there...

The West Shore

(Leeward Side) also has many very excellent beaches. Go there...

Below we will list some of the more popular beaches, starting in the South Shore around Honolulu , and working our way counterclockwise from there. Just remember that not all Hawaiian beaches have lifeguards, and you should heed signs and advice about local water conditions.

The South Shore

Sand Island State Recreation Area –

A 140 acre landscaped park just out of Honolulu with picnicing and camping facilities. Small but nice beach area with nice view of Honolulu Harbor, but on the flight path of the airport, so not as quiet and peaceful as you might like.
Located at the end of Sand Island Access Road, off Nimitz Highway (Highway 92), town of Sand Island

Ala Moana Beach Park -

This is the largest beach park in Honolulu , with over 100 acres with sandy beaches, lifeguards, changing rooms, picnic areas, softball fields, tennis courts, food concessions, and parking. The waters are protected by an offshore reef, which makes this a very safe and popular spot for swimming. Easily accessible by public transportation, this is the second most popular beach area after Waikiki .
Facilities include lifeguards, picnic areas, phones, restrooms, showers, food concessions.

Waikiki Beach –

The word Waikiki means “spouting water” which refers to the springs, ponds and marshes that made up this area before resort development. It is now probably the most famous strectch of sand in the world. It runs about 2.5 miles along the beachside resorts from Hilton Hawaiian Village on one end to Diamond Head on the other, and over 4 million vacationers spread out over it’s sands every year.
If your looking for seclusion, this is not the place for you, but if your looking for others of your species, and availability of a wide variety of activities and facilities, you’ve come to the right spot. Waikiki actually consists of a series of differently named beaches which all have subtle differences.
Facilities include lifeguards, picnic areas, phones, showers, restrooms, food concessions.

Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve –

This is the favorite beach of many on Oahu , and is famous for it’s world class snorkeling. It is a protected area with restricted access, so you should try and get there early to be sure you can get in at all. Finding parking later in the day can also be difficult. Hanauma means “curved bay” and this distinctive natural area was created when a small volcanic crater was breached by the sea, evenutally creating a sandy beach and coral reef. Protected for a long time, there is an abundance of fairly tame sea life. It is not allowed to feed the fish or step on the coral, and when entering the area you go through the Marine Life Education Center where you are shown a video about the reserve.
Facilities include: Lifeguards, picnic areas, phones showers, restrooms.

The East Shore

Sandy's Beach –

Not a good beach for the casual swimmer, but a great area for body surfing and boogie boarding because of the steep waves that come in close to shore. The beach itself is 1200 feet long and 200 feet wide, and if the ocean is calm can be great for swimming, but when the waves are up it is best to be cautious. There are probably more rescues and injuries at this beach than any other on Oahu . The consistant trade winds here make kite flying a popular activity.
Facilities include: Lifeguards, picnic areas, phones, showers, restrooms
Located right off Kalanianaole Highway , 2 miles east of Hanauma Bay, just north of the scenic viewing spot for the blow hole

Makapu'u Beach –

The ocean swells can be big and powerful here, so swimming should be attempted only by those who can handle those conditions. This is a popular beach among the locals because of the great bodysurfing, but due to the almost continuous 3 foot waves it is more for the adventurous types. Due to limited parking it is best to get here early.
Facilities include: Lifegurads, changing house, picnic areas, phones, showers, restrooms.
Located 2 miles south of Waimanalo across from Sea Life Park .

Waimanalo Beach Park –

The beach here is one of the biggest and most beautiful on Oahu . There is plenty of parking and usually the park is not crowded. There are four miles of white sand framed by palm trees in an area that is primarily rural. The ocean is typically calm here, with small waves that are ideal for family swimming, boogie boarding and body surfing.
Facilities include restrooms, showers, lifeguards, picnic areas, camping sites and lots of parking.
Located just south of Waimanalo Town , look for signs indicating the park.

Bellows Beach –

Another of the more popular beaches with both locals and tourists. The main attraction here is the fine body surfing, boogie boarding and beginner surfing due to the shallow waters and consistant waves.
Facilities include lifeguards (weekends and summers only), picnic areas, showers, restrooms, plenty of parking.
Located near Waimanalo Town center, watch for signs along the road.

Kailua Beach -

Because of the steady breezes and calm waters here, it is a favorite of the wind surfers. The beach itself is 2 miles long, gently slopes into the sea, and ocean conditions are generally mild. It is a safe area for swimming, and beautiful enough to be consitantly considered one of the 10 top beaches in the United States . You can rent equipment for wind surfing or kayaking, and arrange for lessons in one of the nearby shops. There is a park area with excellent facilities.
Facilities include: lifeguards, picnic areas, phones, showers, restrooms, parking.
Located near Kailua town, turn right on Kailua Rd at the market, cross a bridge, then turn left into the parking lot.

Lanikai Beach -

Considered one of America ’s finest beaches, this mile long golden colored beach offers excellent swimming and snorkeling in the calm waters. The water is very clear, and the shoreline is fringed with palms making it a very picturesque area. Just offshore are the Mokulua Islands which are seabird sanctuaries, and a popular destination for kayakers, boaters and surfers.
Located just past Kailua Beach Park . Look for parking along Mokulua Dr where there are various public access points to the beach.

Kualoa Regional Park –

One of the more beautiful beach areas of Oahu with large grassy areas along a thin strip of sand and shallow calm protected waters ideal for swimming year round. There are spectacular views of the Ko’olau Mountains and Mokolii Island (often called Chinaman’s Hat).
Facilities include showers, restrooms, lifeguards (summer), picnic areas, phones.
Located just off Route 83 north of Waikane. You will see Chinaman’s Hat before reaching the beach entrance.

Kahana Bay Beach Park -

A very pretty cove with shallow calm waters suitable for families with small children. Neary is an ancient Hawaiian fish pond, and a grove of ironwood and pandanus trees offers cool shade for a pleasant picnic.
Facilities include showers, changing houses, picnic tables.
Located just north of Kualoa Park

Malaekahana Beach Park –

The white sand beach is crescent shaped and over a mile long. Most of the beach is fronted by a shallow sandbar with a gentle slope into the sea, making for gentle waves and great swimming, bodysurfing, boogie boarding and snorkeling most of the time. The main attraction is the nearby offshore island of Mokuauia ( Goat Island ) which can be waded to in the shallow waters. Be sure and wear some sort of foot protection, as it is rocky. The island is a bird sanctuary, as are all of Oahu’s offshore islands, but it is possible to go there as long as the birds are left alone. There is a trail that goes over the island.
Facilities include changing houses, showers and picnic tables.
Located a half mile north of La’ie along Kamehameha Hw. The entrance is easy to miss. Just after you pass the Hawaiian Temple going north, you will see a driveway on the right with a stop sign at the end of it. This is the parks entryway.

The North Shore

Sunset Beach –

Home to Oahu ’s most famous world renowned surfing spots, this two mile long beach is divided up into smaller sections according to the various surfing areas. It is also one of the widest beaches on Oahu , having an average width of over 200 feet. In the summer the area is a great stop for swimming and surfing, but in winter, the large swells create conditions which only experienced surfers should venture out in. Many surfing contests are held here, and if you are fortunate enough to be there during one you will see some of the best surfers in the world competing.
Facilities include lifeguards, picnic areas.
Located 1 mile north of Ehukai Beach Park along Kamehameha Hwy.

Ehukai Beach Park –

Home of the Banzai Pipeline where the waves are formed into huge tubes making for a surfer’s delight. During the summer months the swimming is good here, but during the winter the excellent surfing waves attract experienced surfers which are fun to watch.
Facilities include lifeguards, picnic areas, phones, showers and restrooms.
Located just north of Sunset Beach Park . Go 1 mile north of the Foodland store at Pupukea and turn into the small parking lot along the highway.

Waimea Beach –

This is the beach made famous by the Beach Boys way back when. During the summer the bay can be as calm as a lake and great for swimming, but in winter months you can see some of the biggest waves and most exciting surfing found that can be found anywhere. When the waves are up, spectators from all over the island line up to watch the show. Besides having waves of killer proportions, Waimea has the longest rideable surf break in the world, and thus this spot attracts the very best surfers.
Facilities include picnic areas, changing house, showers, lifeguard, restrooms, phones, parking.
Located across from Waimea Valley , 3 miles north of Haleiwa.

Hale'iwa Ali'i Beach Park –

Also known as “Royal Beach”, Ali’i beach has huge winter waves and good surfing, but during the summer months the ocean can be like a lake and excellent for family swimming. The best swimming area is in the small protected bay on the south side. There are broad grassy areas great for frisbee and picnicing.
Facilities include lifeguards, picnic areas, phones, showers, restrooms.
Located just north of the Hale’iwa town center and past the harbor.

The West Shore

Makaha Beach Park –

This 1000 foot white sand beach was made famous from the love scene in “From Here to Eternity”, and is a favorite among the locals. The swimming is good in the summer, but in winter the waves become rather huge. This was home to Oahu ’s first professional surf competition in 1952, but today board surfing is prohibited because of Makaha’s popularity for bodysurfing.
Facilities include restrooms, showers, picnic areas and lifeguards.
Located off Farrington Hwy (Route 93) about 2 miles north of Waianae.

Poka’i Bay Beach Park –

A very nice sandy beach with a coral reef that slopes gradually into the sea. It is an excellent swimming area all year round. This area was named for a legendary Hawaiian chief who reportedly brought the first coconut palm to the islands in the migration from Kahiki.
Facilities include lifeguards, picnic areas, phones, showers, restrooms.

Nanakuli Beach Park –

Being fairly well protected from the ocean swells, this area is popular for swimming, as well as snorkeling and scuba diving.
Facilities include lifeguards, picnic areas, restrooms, showers and phones.
Loacated in Nanakuli town.

Ma'ili Beach Park –

A large palm-lined grassy park with a beautiful 1.5 mile white sand beach with scattered rocks. It is named for the town of Ma’ili where it is located, and Ma’ili is a shortened version of a Hawaiian word meaning “little pebbles”, which are common here. These pebbles were used for many things in Hawaiian life, such as fishing sinkers, game pieces and as a type of percussion musical instrument. This is a good area for snorkeling. In the winter the beach erodes away.
Facilities include lifeguards, picnic areas, phones, showers, restrooms.
Located on Oahu ’s west side in town of Ma’ili along Farrington Hwy.

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