Oahu is home to some of the island’s most sought-after beaches…
In fact, one of these beaches I will go over was named the #1 beach in the entire United States!
Curious as to which beach it is – and what are the 21 best beaches on the entire island of Oahu?
Well then continue reading…
Ready? Ok, awesome. Let’s get into it:
Introducing: The 21 Best Beaches In Oahu, Hawaii
(in no particular order)
1. Lanikai Beach
What this beach is best for: lounging, stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking
Just named the #1 beach in the united states, Lanikai beach is out of this world.
This place checks all the boxes for a “Hawaiian paradise”.
Named the top beach in the entire United States, this turquoise blue water and white sand beach is the perfect place to lounge, swim, kayak, or even stand-up paddleboard.
You can even kayak out to these two beautiful islands which locals call the “mokes” short for the Mokuleia Islands which are located just a few miles offshore.
It takes approximately 45 minutes – 2 hours to kayak out to the Mokulua Islands.
Kayaking out to the Mokulua Islands is not only a great way to exercise, but also the best way to escape the crowded Lanikai Beach during weekend — while still immersing yourself in what still feels like Lanikai Beach.
During weekends- it’s like a party at the Mokulua Islands. People bring coolers of food and drinks and hang around for the whole day.
And- on calm days, it is fairly easy to paddle out to, however, during windy days it can be quite difficult to paddle out to because you have to work against the wind.
The closest and most convenient place to rent out a Kayak from is Kailua Beach Adventures, their prices are listed below:
Single Kayak – 1⁄2 Day $49.00 / Full Day $59.00
Double Kayak – 1⁄2 Day $55.00 / Full Day $65.00
Triple Kayak – 1⁄2 Day $79.00 / Full Day $89.00
The only issue is during weekends, parking gets near impossible to find. So we recommend coming to Lanikai Beach as early as possible.
2. Waimanalo Beach Park
What this beach is best for: best beach for relaxing
This beautiful white sand beach with vibrant blue waters is one of the next best alternatives to Lanikai Beach if the parking is filled at Lanikai/Kailua. And- my favorite park about Waimanalo Beach Park is the incredible Ko’olau Mountain backdrop right behind! Also, there is plenty more parking- with two separate parking lots, restrooms, showers, and even tons of street parking! And the best part: Waimanalo Beach Park is located just 10 minutes
3. Waikiki Beach
What this beach is best for: hanging out with the family, swimming, surfing, sunbathing
One of the most famous beaches not only in Hawaii – but in the world.
Most people don’t know, but Waikiki actually consists of quite a number of different beaches such as the Fort DeRussy Beach, Queen Surf Beach, Kuhio Beach, Duke Kahanamoku Beach, and much more!
All these beaches are great for snorkeling, swimming, learning how to surf, sunbathing, and just lounging around.
And… every Friday night at the Hilton Hawaiian Village puts on a free firework show around 7:45 PM or 8:00 PM and usually lasts about ten minutes.
4. Sunset Beach
What this beach is best for: watching the sunset, watching pro’s surf
During winter months, Sunset Beach is the perfect place to visit to watch professionals surf some of the biggest waves on the island. Sunset Beach is home to the World Cup of Surfing competition and some other big surf competitions. With its soft sand and cool waters, it’s a solid beach that you just cannot miss out on.
While during summer months, waves cool down and you’ll be able to swim and lounge around on this beautiful golden sand beach.
Side note: Located right across from Sunset Beach Park is where you’ll find yourself snapping a picture in front of the picturesque Sunrise Shack. If you’ve been looking at Instagram for travel inspiration, I’m almost certain you’ve seen this cute little shack pop up on your feed! Created by 3 local brothers, this place is popular for their Bulletproof Coffee’s, cold-pressed juices, smoothie bowls, and vegan treats! If that doesn’t make you hungry, I don’t know what will!
5. Waimea Bay Beach Park
This beach is best for: cliff jumping
Waimea Bay is one of the most lively beaches on the island – every time I visit there’s always something fun going on- with people playing football, soccer, rock climbing, snorkeling, etc.
If you’re trying to jump off the famous Waimea bay rock, which is also to referred to as Devil’s rock, we recommend going during summer months. The rock is 7 meters in height (or 23 ft.).
During winter months, the waves reach up to 30-40 feet high, which is a good time to sit back and relax and watch the professionals surf.
At Waimea Bay, there is a wall that people can rock climb year round which is 8 meters tall (or 26 ft.)
The only downside to Waimea Bay is the small parking lot – so make sure to come early! (before 8 a.m.)
6. Laniakea Beach
What this beach is best for: spotting turtles!
This beautiful beach is awesome to sun bathe and lounge around – but not so much for swimming due to the reef. …But this beach is awesome for spotting turtles! Seriously- almost every single time I’ve gone to Laniakea Beach I’ve seen at least one turtle lying on the beach! Another well-known beach for spotting turtles is also Haleiwa Ali’i Beach Park. Just don’t tell anyone I told you 😉
7. Ko’olina Beach Lagoons
What this beach is best for: lounging around, swimming, relaxing in paradise
If you’re looking for the ultimate place to lay down and relax on the west side of Oahu – the Ko’olina Lagoons are the place to be.
It can get pretty crowded on the weekends, so we recommend coming earlier in the day.
Side note: the sun sets on the west side of Oahu, so this is one of the best places to be at to see the sunset right in front of you!
8. Kailua Beach
What this beach is best for: louging around, kayaking, family fun
Located on the Eastern Shoreline of Oahu, this pristine white powder sand, turquoise blue water beach is incredible for not only lounging around at but for kayaking, paddleboarding, and any sort of water sports you can imagine!
And, located right next door is the Kailua town which is booming with awesome places to stop and grab food for any time of the day, snacks and drinks, and everything in between.
If you choose to only visit one beach on the island, I’d choose Kailua Beach or Lanikai Beach!
9. Makua Beach
What this beach is best for: your own little private getaway and escaping the busy Waikiki
Located almost the furthest west point on Oahu, Makua Beach is like a secluded paradise…
And the saddest part: 95% of all tourists miss out on this hidden gem!
The best part about both Makua Beach and the west side of Oahu is: most tourists never see this side of the island. (which means you’ll be one of the few who actually does!). Most people traveling to Oahu just skip over the West side of Oahu entirely…
To be completely honest- this side of the island is really so underrated!
In fact- if you choose to visit this beautiful, pristine beach, you’ll probably find that it’s empty (unless you visit during a weekend, where you might find some locals taking advantage of this hidden gem!)
Although, during winter months, the beach is more well-suited for surfing bodyboarding – while during summer months, this beach (and all the other beaches on West Oahu) is perfect for swimming.
If you’re planning on visiting this beach, then you definitely have to bring snorkeling gear because you can spot dolphins here (you can swim with dolphins either on your own or with a tour company that specializes on snorkeling with dolphins).
10. Electric Beach
What this beach is best for: swimming with turtles or dolphins
Not the best beach to lounge around at and relax at… but this place is awesome for snorkeling at!
The name “Electric beach” is in reference to the power point right across the street from it…
And, because of the power plant, the water around this area is very warm that acts as a magnet for all kinds of underwater life. (aka- turtles, dolphins, etc, etc!)
Although, I would recommend coming here with someone who has snorkeled here before because it can get a little harsh at times.
11. Malaekahana Beach
What this beach is best for: camping, swimming, kayaking
This beautiful long white sand beach is located on the North Eastern shore of Oahu and is perfect for camping, swimming, beach walks, relaxing, and kayaking.
It’s also good for bodyboarding and surfing during the winter months when the surf is up.
Also: sometimes sea turtles can be spotted from here!
12. Ala Moana Beach Park
What this beach is best for: family day outings, stand-up paddle boarding
Ala Moana Beach Park is a half mile beach strip of white sand and is a popular spot for locals to host parties and family gatherings – but is also a treat for swimmers and people learning stand-up paddle boarding. Ala Moana Beach Park offers acres of shady trees, picnic tables, showers, and bathrooms. You can easily access and find this beach because it’s right across from Ala Moana Mall.
13. Makapu’u Beach Park
What this beach is best for: body boarding
Makapu’u Beach Park is an awesome beach to visit after your hiking endeavors if you’re looking for a thrill. This is not the beach to visit if you are trying to relax – and is very much similar to Sandy Beach Park in the sense that it can have very rough conditions. It’s a very solid beach to visit for those looking to bodyboard/boogie board or surf.
14. Makaha Beach Park
What this beach is best for: snorkeling, body boarding, sunbathing
With its beautiful white sand and vibrant blue waters, you’ll quickly realize how beautiful and peaceful this beach is.
During summer months, the waves are calm and this beach is perfect for snorkeling at with some live coral (and maybe even some turtles!).
Although, during winter months, the waves can get quite tough and would be tough to snorkel at because waves can get up to 25’ in height – and I only recommend professional surfers or frequent surfers & bodyboarders.
And the best part: the parking lot is pretty big and doesn’t tend to get that crowded.
15. Diamond Head Beach Park
What this beach is best for: surfing
Diamond Head Beach Park is, of course, located right next to Diamond Head State Monument, an extinct volcano popular for hiking.
This beach is the perfect choice when you want to get away from the busy city of Waikiki.
Located only a few minutes from this beach is Rainbows Drive-In (a very popular plate lunch spot), Da Health Bar and Cafe (a delicious juice place, acai bowl, and smoothie shop), and Banán (a vegan ice cream & frozen yogurt food truck) and much more!
Diamond Head Beach Park is popular for surfers… but not so much for swimming due to the shallow reef – so if you’re looking for a beach to swim at, then this is not the beach to go with.
16. Nanakuli Beach Park
What this beach is best for: mermaid caves, tanning, body boarding
Located just 10 minutes away from the beautiful paradise of Ko’olina lagoons is Nanakuli Beach Park, a 40-acre park named after the town of Nanakuli. And- what most people don’t know (except for the locals…) is a hidden gem called Mermaid Caves.
Although, it’s not called Mermaid Caves because there are mermaids there – but because it looks so magical – and when the sun peaks in during parts of the day it looks like a dream.
A little warning: it can at times be potentially dangerous to visit the Mermaid Caves due to the swells that can fill up the cave. So please enter this place with caution! (side note: after visiting the Mermaid Caves around five times, I’ve never seen it too dangerous to enter and check out)
17. Kahana Bay Beach Park
What this beach is best for: camping
This little best-kept secret, crescent-shaped bay is nestled between the beautiful Ko’olau mountains and is right next to one of the popular hikes (albeit illegal) called the Crouching Lion Hike.
The waters here are generally calm – which would make for a perfect swimming environment except for the fact that the waters tend to be so murky – so most people opt to not swim here.
18. Kualoa Beach Park
What this beach is best for: escaping the crowded city of Waikiki, lounging around
The Secret Island at Kualoa Ranch is easily accessible by stopping at Kualoa Regional Beach Park. Located here is also Chinaman’s Hat – which is also referred to as Mokolii. The best part of this place is there hasn’t been a time when I visited this place and it was crowded – so it really lives up to the “Secret Island” name.
I would definitely classify this place as a hidden gem – if you’re driving by this place, then I will 100% recommend you stop by, even if for a few minutes. And- right across the street from Secret Island & Kualoa Regional Beach Park is Kualoa Ranch – the setting for films like Jurassic Park and Pearl Harbor… And home to some fun activities like ATV riding, zip lining, Jurassic Park tours, and so much more!
19. Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve
What this beach is best for: Snorkeling
Located on the East side of Oahu, Hanauma Bay is the most famous snorkeling locations on all of Oahu due to its high fish population and calm shallow waters.
We recommend visiting Hanauma Bay very early in the morning because there is limited parking and once it’s full, they stop letting people in.
The entrance fee is $5 per person, but the fee is waived for those under 13 years of age or for residents of Hawaii.
Snorkeling at Hanauma Bay is something that you absolutely cannot miss out on.
The only caveat is Hanauma Bay is closed on Tuesdays.
20. Haleiwa Beach Park
What this beach is best for: picnics, eating an acai bowl at, lounging around
Haleiwa Beach Park is an awesome beach for relaxing during lunch and having a nice little picnic.
It’s a narrow sand beach and swimming isn’t too good here due to the shallow and rocky ocean floor.
Although, the park is nice with benches and a nice peaceful and laid-back atmosphere.
21. Sandy Beach
What this beach is best for: body boarding, body surfing, watching the sunrise
One of the most popular local beaches on O’ahu, Sandy’s is known for its excellent body boarding and body surfing opportunities due to waves that break very close to the shore. Beautiful to look at, but only the most experienced should brave these waters!