The Best Beaches on Oahu Hawaii

Hawaii is known for sun, sand, and surf, and although there is plenty to do on Oahu, no trip to the island is complete without a fair amount of time spent on Oahu’s pristine beaches. We spend much of our time on North Shore when we visit, but there are gorgeous beaches all over the island. Here are the best Oahu beaches that are worth checking out!

best beaches on oahu hawaii

Waikiki Beach

The world-famous Waikiki Beach — which is actually a series of beaches that includes Kuhio Beach and Queen’s Surf Beach — is a popular spot for tourists since it’s located downtown Honolulu, near most of the high-rise hotels. Since there are thousands of tourists in Honolulu at a given time, Waikiki Beach tends to get pretty crowded, but it’s still well worth checking out. Waikiki is always abuzz with activity, with nearby restaurants and open-air bars, beach volleyball courts, surfing lessons, and available dinner and sunset cruises and outrigger canoe rentals. This is also an excellent place to take beginning surfing lessons.


Kuhio Beach, in the heart of Waikiki, is a great place to learn to surf, with small, tame waves that break well offshore. There’s also a retaining wall here, which creates a calm, sheltered swimming area. Queen’s Surf Beach, located between Kuhio Beach and Diamond Head, is popular for bodyboarding, surfing, swimming, and snorkeling. At the end of the day, pick any spot along Waikiki Beach to soak in a gorgeous sunset.

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Lanikai Beach and Kailua Beach Park

Lanikai Beach and Kailua Beach Park are located in the same general area, on the windward side of Oahu. Lanikai is a beautiful stretch of soft, sandy beach with warm, turquoise-colored water and picturesque views of the Mokulua Islands just offshore. The beaches here aren’t near as crowded as those in Waikiki, and the water is excellent for swimming.

Beware of jellyfish (Portuguese Man-of-War) in this particular area, especially from June through September, and watch for warning signs indicating the presence of jellyfish. Lanikai Beach doesn’t have any public facilities; for a beach area with restrooms and lifeguards, head just north from Lanikai to Kailua Beach Park, which features the same warm, turquoise waters as Lanikai!

North Shore

Oahu’s North Shore is made up of world-class surfing spots and beaches. Waimea Bay Beach Park, Sunset Beach Park, and Ehukai Beach Park — home of the famous Banzai Pipeline surf break — are all beaches with lifeguards on duty. Check out Waimea Bay and Ehukai Beach during the winter months to watch big-wave surfers take on giant breakers, and head to Sunset Beach for a two-mile stretch of sandy beach and tide pools to explore. Green Sea Turtles can be found at Turtle Bay on the North Shore, and Pupukea Beach Park offers excellent snorkeling and scuba diving with an abundance of turtles and fish.


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