What are the best Oahu beaches? That would really depend on who you're asking. Are you a
- Surfer, boogie-boarder, or bodysurfer?
- Parent with small children?
Fear not...there is an Oahu beach for everyone. The island has over 130 world-renowned beaches. Some are busy...others are secluded. Some are rough...some calm. Some are full of tourists...others are mainly local.
Let me describe the best ones in detail for you. Hawaii is surrounded by water, so you may find your very own favorite Oahu beach somewhere off the beaten track.
TIP--Keep in mind that the sun rises in the east and sets to the west. Generally speaking, the beaches on the East and North shores will be in the shade by mid afternoon. This is especially true where there are steep mountains. Oahu beaches on the South and West shores will see sun late into the afternoon.
South Shore Oahu Beaches
- Ala Moana Beach Park
A short 5-10 minute drive away from Waikiki is this very nice Oahu beach that is a favorite of locals for good reason. Click here for more info...
- Waikiki Beach
This is probably the most famous of all Oahu beaches. It runs for miles and shares its shoreline with many world-class hotels.
It is a great place to bask in the sun, walk in and out of the various resorts, learn to surf, take a canoe ride, people watch, or anything else you feel like doing.
- Sandy and reef areas
- Concession stands
- Picnic areas
The water is generally calm year round, making it safe for children. It is mainly tourists here with a few locals here and there.
Waikiki Beach is one of the best places to take a surfing lesson and take a canoe ride.
Parking can be a problem...I usually park at the Honolulu Zoo a few blocks away. If one of my buddies is working, I park at one of the hotels on Waikiki Beach..:)
- Hanauma Bay
This is the best Oahu beach for learning how to snorkel. There is a calm, protected area for beginners, and more advanced swimmers can venture out beyond the reef. Click here for more info...
- Sandy Beach
(as the locals call it) is located on the south-
eastern shoreline of the island. This Oahu beach is famous for pounding waves loved by bodysurfers, boogie-boarders, and surfers alike. It is one of the few places where you can see all three in action.
It is actually split up into three breaks. As you look out toward the ocean from the beach, to your very right toward the Halona Blow Hole is "shorebreak." A little farther left is "Half-Point." Farthest to the left is "Full Point."
Because of its proximity to the eastern shoreline, the dominant tradewinds usually bring some kind of surf to Sandy Beach. For this reason, I do not recommend swimming here. I can't tell you how many ambulances I've seen here. In fact, it is ranked as the #1 beach in the nation for spinal and neck injuries. It is just too rough for the average person.
- Sandy and reef areas
- Picnic tables
- Grassy area (popular place for high-performance kites)
- Free parking
North Shore Oahu Beaches
Please keep in mind that North Shore beaches are generally not safe for swimming in the winter (October-March). Even if the ocean looks calm or the surf looks manageable, conditions can change very rapidly. I've seen the surf go from flat to 10 feet in a few hours.
In the summer (May-September), these same beaches are usually calm, but there are always exceptions so check with the lifeguards or call (808) 596-SURF for current conditions.
West Shore Oahu Beaches
East Shore Oahu Beaches
WARNING-Respect the power of the ocean. All that energy that comes toward the shore in the form of waves has to go out somewhere. Rip currents go back out to sea in the channels between the breaking waves.
For the most part, you cannot see these rip currents. Be careful...Obey all posted signs, and ask a lifeguard if it is safe to go in the water.
Return from Oahu Beaches to Oahu Vacation Guide.