Is life really better at the beach? What better way to find out than by beach-hopping around Oahu and experiencing all the iconic and picturesque shorelines that the island is known for? 

Come along with us, and we’ll take you on a tour of the best beaches on Oahu, with options for every part of the island. After all, you want to spend as much of your day basking in the beauty of these beaches, not sitting in the car! 

Below, you’ll also find a Google Map of all the beaches listed in this article to help you get oriented and find each beach easily.  

The Best Beaches on Oahu’s South Shore 

Because of their proximity to busy Waikiki, the beaches on Oahu’s south shore can be a little more well-traveled. However, that’s not always a bad thing because it often means plenty of amenities (like showers and snacks)! Plus, some of these beaches are popular for a reason—because they’re gorgeous—so you don’t want to miss out! 

waikiki beach with surfboards
Waikiki Beach – Embrace the Legend 

Best for embracing that touristy vibe 

You’ve seen the pictures—two miles of white sand lined by high-rise buildings, capped off with the dramatic, steep walls of Diamond Head crater. You’ve probably also heard the rumors that Waikiki is busy and crowded. It is, but that’s all part of Waikiki Beach’s enduring charm. Whether you’re living on Oahu or visiting, lean in and play tourist for the day. Stroll the beach and people watch. Savor a mai tai at Duke’s on the beach. Grab a board and catch one of the beach’s gentle, rolling waves. When you embrace touristy Waikiki for what it is, it can make for a delightful day on the beach. 

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Ala Moana Beach Park
Ala Moana Beach Park – Fun for the Whole Family 

Best for embracing that touristy vibe 

If you’re looking for a south shore beach that’s little more laid-back, head over to Ala Moana Beach Park. Families gravitate toward the park’s sandy beach and calm swimming area, which is protected by a reefAdditionally, the 76-acre park also offers picnic tables, tennis courts, and walking paths, so there’s plenty to keep everyone occupied. You’ll also find convenient of amenities at the park, including restrooms, showers, concessions, and even free parking. Add to that to its central location, and you might just consider your time at Ala Moana the easiest beach day ever. 

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Sandy Beach Park
Sandy Beach Park – A Presidential Favorite 

Best for bodysurfing 

Busy Waikiki isn’t for everyone. If you’re looking for a south shore beach that offers a more mellow vibe, try Sandy Beach Park. It’s known primarily for its powerful shore breakwhich many enjoy for boogie boarding or bodysurfingas well as its reputation as one of President Barack Obama‘s favorites when he’s visiting Oahu. Because it’s about a half-hour drive from Waikiki, this beach park gets fewer visitors than some of the other southern spots. You’ll easily be able to claim a spot on the fine, white sand and enjoy a chill day at the beach. 

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The Best Beaches on Oahu’s Windward Coast 

Oahu’s windward, or eastern, side is chock full of long, gorgeous white sand beaches with picture-perfect water. You’ll find sandy stretches all up and down the coast with varying degrees of amenities and activity. Whether you’re in the market for a quiet day of uninterrupted lounging or a fun-filled atmosphere where your family can frolic, you’ll find a beach that fits the bill on the Windward Coast. 

Woman reading book on Waimanalo
Waimānalo Beach Park – A Close But Quiet Respite 

Best for a serene day with a book 

AWaimānalo Beach, you’ll find a wide, sandy beach with pristine turquoise waters—and very little else. No vendors or concessions. Way fewer people than busy Waikiki. Just you, the sand, and the shoreline, setting the stage for one of the most tranquil beach days you can enjoy on Oahu. Waimanalo is also one of the longer beaches on Oahu, so you can stretch your legs in between chapters of your favorite beach read. Plus, although Waimanalo gets many fewer visitors than other Oahu beaches, you’ll still find lifeguards, showers, and restrooms for a comfortable (and safe!) beach day.  

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Kailua
Kailua Beach Park – Fun for Everyone in Your Group 

Best for pleasing a crowd 

In and around Kailua, you’ll find several lengthy stretches of soft white sand alongside water in every hue of turquoise, including Kalama Beach Park and Lanikai Beach. Kailua Beach Park offers all of this, plus a number of facilities that make it a beach with a little bit of something for everyone. At the park, you’ll find plenty of room to spread out, with a healthy dose of shade for those who might want some relief from the Hawaii sun. You’ll also find an expansive swimming area, picnic tables, barbecues, and a few small shops nearby if you want to grab a snack or a shave ice. Finally, there’s also a dedicated parking lot for Kailua Beach Park, which makes for easier beach day logistics 

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Kokololio
Kokololio Beach Park – Enjoy the Serenity

Best for pretending you’re on a deserted island 

Located about an hour’s drive from Waikiki, Kokololio Beach Park is the kind of spot where you might just have the whole place to yourself for a few hours—or even the whole day. You can even camp on the beach, as long as you secure a permit from the county. There’s nothing like waking up to the sounds of water lapping at the shoreline (or crashing waves, if you’re camping during the winter months)! Even if you do find yourself sharing the beach with some other folks, because you’re off the beaten path, the atmosphere at Kokololio is much more laid-back than most of the south shore beaches. You might even feel like you’re on an island all your own, even if just for a few moments. 

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The Best Beaches on Oahu’s North Shore 

Oahu’s North Shore is a study in contrasts. In its small beach towns, you’ll discover a completely different pace of life than what you’ll find in downtown Honolulu. Haleiwa, Pupukea, Waialua, and the neighboring areas are quiet, laid-back places where life is meant to be enjoyed, not rushed. Contrast that with the powerful waves of Oahu’s North Shore beaches, which feature some of the biggest and most dangerous waves in the world. In other words, the North Shore is a largely unhurried place, spiked with the possibility of an adrenaline rush—or the wave of a lifetime. 

Ehukai
Ehukai Beach Park  – Watch World-Class Wave Action 

Best for spotting surfers 

Ehukai Beach is probably best known as the location of Pipeline, one of the most famous surf breaks in the world. During the winter months, the lineup at Pipeline is packed with skilled and daring surfers hoping to get barreled without getting raked across the razor-sharp reef. Pull up a chair and let yourself be mesmerized by their athleticism and grace as they test their limits 

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Laniakea Beach / Turtle Beach  Admire the Majestic Honu 

Best for spotting turtles 

Considering its name, you probably won’t be surprised to know that Laniakea Beach /Turtle Beach is one of the best beaches on the island for spotting honu, Hawaiian green sea turtles. At Turtle Beach, these gentle giants make their way onto the warm sand and settle in for a snooze in the sun. Stop by to see them sprawled all over the sand—perfect for a photo opportunity. (Remember: Please keep at least 10 feet away from these impressive creatures, so as not to disrupt their normal habits.)  

Once you’ve gotten your fill of turtles, there’s a nice long stretch of beach to stroll as well. Additionally, like at Ehukai, you might catch a glimpse of surfers enjoying the day’s swell. In other words, there’s no shortage of sights to enjoy. 

Waimea
Waimea Bay  Beach Adventures Abound 

Best for beach adventures 

When it’s calm, Waimea Bay is a great place to swim and snorkel. You’ll find plenty of tropical fish in the area, as well as honu. There’s even an underwater tunnel for experienced snorkelers to explore. Kids and adults alike can also enjoy jumping off the mammoth rock in the bay and plunging into the clear turquoise water below. (PSA from us: Jump with care, and know your limits!) 

When there’s more wave action, Waimea becomes a popular surf spot, usually best left to experienced surfers. (Waves can often get to 20+ feet in the winter months!) Even if you’re not up for testing your skills, a big day at Waimea can make for some fun spectating as you enjoy the sandy shore and warm sun. 

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The Best Beaches on Oahu’s Leeward Coast 

Hot, sunny, and lesser-traveled—that sums up Oahu’s Leeward Coast. As a result, the western side of the island is home to a number of beautiful sun-drenched beaches, which offer tranquil time by the water. While you’re exploring the beaches of Oahu’s Leeward Coast, take your time and enjoy the journey. There’s plenty to see along the way, including incredible coastal views right from Farrington Highway. 

Ko Olina
Ko Olina Lagoons  Play in Peaceful Waters 

Best for wading in calm water

If Oahu’s North Shore beaches are a little too action-packed for you, the serene lagoons at Ko Olina might be just the ticket. These man-made, crescent-shaped beach coves offer perfectly calm water to wade in, and they’re just right for little ones who are learning how to swim. The lagoons are located adjacent several resorts, including the Aulani Disney resort, the Four Seasons, and the Marriott Ko Olina Beach Club. Their proximity creates a lively, family-friendly atmosphere. If you want to keep your distance, go for Lagoon 4, which is the farthest away from the resort area. 

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Mākaha Beach
Mākaha Beach  Savor the Sunset 

Best for appreciating the present moment

Mākaha Beach has a lot to recommend it: snorkeling and diving opportunities when the water is calm and a surf break when there’s swell. Plus, because it’s a westward-facing beach, Mākaha is a great spot to enjoy the brilliant colors of a signature Hawaiian sunset. Fiery reds, deep tangerines, streaks of salmon pink—you never know what you’re going to get. Bring a chair, sit back, and enjoy the show. 

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Keawaula
Keawaula Beach / Yokohama Bay – A Beach, a Hike…or Both! 

Best for choosing your own adventure

Because it’s located nearly at the end of Farrington Highway, Keawaula Beach (also known as Yokohama Bay) is one of the more serene beaches on Oahu. Near the beach, you’ll also find the trailhead for the scenic Kaena Point Hike. The mostly flat trail offers stunning coastal views as it winds toward the Kaena Point Natural Area Reserve, home to a number of nesting birds. (Keep your eyes open for dolphins along the way!) Because there’s almost no shade on this trail, we recommend doing it early in the morning and bringing plenty of water so you can take your time and enjoy the scenery. 

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Plan the Best Beach Day on Oahu 

Now that you know our picks, which one will be yours? With miles and miles of beaches to explore over the island, you practically can’t go wrong. And who says you have to stick with just one? Pack some chairs and a cooler and hit the road. You’re sure to find the perfect spot in no time. 

Considering a move to Oahu? We’d love to help you make the transition, so you can make beach-hopping a way of life (and not just a vacation activity)! Reach out to one of our experts to get started with a free quote. 

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