Endearingly called the ‘Gathering Place’, Oahu is the third-largest island in Hawaii and happens to be the most visited island in the state. Also known for Pearl Harbour, this gorgeous Hawaiian island is a tropical paradise with a coastline stretching over 230 miles.
Here’s our pick of the favourite beaches in Oahu!
1. Kahala Beach – South Shore
Its tranquil character is the main drawcard for tourists, but the beach is visited by residents more than tourists; if you visit on the weekend, you’ll find scores of crowds here.
Calm waters and the soft sand bed are inviting for those who want a family picnic and the occasional swim. The beach is also great for diving.
To get to the beach, you have to walk a little from the parking lot. If you are here with your other half, we recommend visiting in the evening to enjoy the magical sunset.
2. Waikiki Beach
Arguably, the most famous beach in Oahu, Waikiki Beach, is found at the centre of Oahu tourism; you’ll find many luxury resorts and stores here.
With the perfectly soft sand and the calm waters that turn into a crystalline blue during the day, the beach is the perfect family getaway. You’ll also see several areas roped off for swimming.
Along Waikiki beach are several other beaches:
- Fort DeRussy
- Kahanamoku Beach
- Royal Hawaiian Beach
- Gray’s Beach
- Kuhio Beach
- San Souci Beach
- Queens Beach
- Kaimana Beach
*Renting beach chairs can be very expensive here, so we suggest you head to an ABC store to find beach chairs at an affordable price.
3. Sandy Beach Park
Located near a residential area and close to Barak Obama’s house, Sandy Beach Park is an excellent spot for bodysurfing.
From Waikiki, it takes about 30 minutes to get here, and from Hanauma Bay, it’s a 10-minute journey. The beach is also bordered by cliffs, so it looks more remote than other beaches.
You have two entrances and a large parking space. There are strong riptides, so this isn’t a great beach for swimming. Among the facilities are bathrooms, showers, and food trucks.
- Body surfing
- Boogie boarding
4. Makua Beach
With the backdrop of the Waianae Mountain Range, Mauka Beach is a scenic beach located down Mauka Valley.
This beach is in a remote corner and doesn’t really come to the attention of tourists, which is a great thing for anyone who doesn’t like to be surrounded by crowds.
The period from November to March is the best time to surf here.
The currents are strong, and the sea can get quite rough, so swimmers are advised to stay close to the shore – keep in mind that there aren’t any lifeguards patrolling the beach.
- Swimming (when the sea is calmer)
5. Yokohama Bay
This is the last beach you find at the end of the Leeward Coast of the island. Thanks to its golden sand contrasting with the turquoise hue of the ocean, Yokohama Bay is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in Oahu.
You’ll also find a hiking trail that leads to a lookout point that overlooks the entire beach and the bay. If you visit on a weekday, you can have the beach pretty much all to yourself.
- Dolphin and whale watching
6. Sharks Cove
A part of Pupukea Beach Park, Shark Cove is a collection of tide pools. The natural breakwater protects the cove from strong currents making the waters calm, meaning you’ll find excellent snorkelling opportunities here.
The Beach amenities include restrooms and showers, and you’ll also find a few food trucks nearby.
The shore is laden with lava rocks, and you need to do a bit of climbing to get into the water, so bring water shoes. And don’t forget your underwater camera!
7. Laniakea Beach – Turtle Beach
Famously known as Turtle Beach on account of its sluggish residents, Laniakea Beach is part of the North Shore and is famous for surfing.
Most people don’t do the walk down the beach to see the green turtles, although it is a must-do for the complete experience at this beach, so make sure you do that.
Visitors pour into the area on weekends, so finding a parking spot can be difficult, but the beach is quiet enough on weekdays.
- Seeing turtles
8. Three Tables
The name, Three Tables comes from the coral formations that look like tables. Currents here are sometimes rough, so check the conditions before getting into the water – there are no lifeguards, and the beach isn’t protected.
Snorkelling around the coral formations is excellent; you’ll discover a lot of tiny tropical fish. Three Tables belong to Pupukea Marine Life Conservation District, so there’s no fishing.
The coast is smooth enough, but you’ll find a few lava rocks, so keep your water shoes handy.
9. Waimea Bay
One of the best spots for surfing, Waimea Bay, sits on the North Shore. Experienced surfers love the strong wave breaks the beach is known for. But remember that these waves only occur during the winter; summer breaks are quite mediocre.
Waimea Bay is guarded by lifeguards, and you’ll find a few basic facilities like outdoor showers and restrooms. There are also a few food trucks.
10. Secret Island
Located along Kaneohe Bay, Secret Island can be accessed through the Kualoa Ranch.
You’ll need to sign up for a guided tour to get to the island; the tour will include other activities like paddle boarding and kayaking.
It can also be quite educational, with insights into history, culture, ecology, and movie-making.
The island also offers amenities like restrooms, showers, hammocks, volleyball, and ping pong. You’ll also see a few walking trails.
11. Sunset Beach Park
Conditions at Sunset Beach Park dramatically vary according to the season. During winter, giant wave breaks attract experienced surfers and swimmers to the beach, and during summer, the beach is calmer and turns into the perfect family spot.
For a break from the beach, make your way to the Polynesian Cultural Centre, a live museum located right across the beach.
12. Kailua Beach
Stretching over three miles with soft white sand, Kailua Beach is found on the edge of a recreational park that features a wide variety of outdoor activities. The beach is lined with several businesses offering dining, shopping, and bed and breakfast accommodation; you’ll also find Barak Obama’s favourite shaved ice spot here.
- Beautiful views
13. Aweoweo Beach Park
Another North Shore attraction, Aweoweo Beach, is hidden away in a residential area. This is a family-focused beach park with playground equipment for kids, a basketball court, and a drinking fountain.
This isn’t exactly a famous tourist attraction, but if you are staying nearby with your kids, you should definitely visit.
The beach is rocky, so bring water shoes. On the weekends, residents fill up the beach.
- Turtle watching
14. Waimanalo Beach Park
This is a wide four-mile beach on the east coast. Waimanalo Beach is a windward coast, meaning the beach isn’t protected from the wind.
You’ll find some basic facilities here, including picnic areas. The beach isn’t known for tall, strong waves; waves are quite small, perfect for bodysurfing and bodyboarding. Close to the beach, you’ll find several hotels and bed and breakfast establishments.
15. Puaena Point Beach Park
A prime spot for local surfers, Puaena Point Beach Park, is part of the island’s North Shore.
The beach is great for beginner surfers when the waves are calm, but when the waves are tall and strong, the beach is for experienced surfers only. However, beginner surfers can always take surf lessons here.
The beach is public but is bordered by private property, so if you decide to visit, make sure you stay within the limits of the beach.
Easy Way To Navigate The Oahu Beaches
- North Shore Beaches – Perfect for surfing
- South Shore Beaches – Known for luxury resorts; these beaches are ideal for leisure
- Leeward Coast Beaches – Peaceful beaches perfect for beginner surfers
- Windward Coast – Popular but unspoiled