Top beaches in Oahu (beautiful beaches to swim, snorkel, water adventures)

Top beaches in Oahu (beautiful beaches to swim, snorket, water adventures)

Oahu has come of the most beautiful beaches to explore and enjoy on the island. You have your choice of soft sandy beaches, gorgeous aqua colored ocean that transitions to deep blue, fantastic beaches with snorkeling or beaches you can do some fun adventure activities. We share the best beaches in Oahu below for you to experience a fun beach day on the island.

As one of the oldest islands in the chain, Oahu has some of the most beautiful beaches that are viable year-round and some that disappear with winter storms to come back in around the spring to late summer season.

We will share some of the best family friendly beaches, the top favorite beaches on the east side to North Shore and down to the south side in Waikiki area and some of the more hidden and off the beaten path beaches that mostly locals love to just hang out in.

Here’s our favorite top 20 beaches in Oahu to enjoy now

Here’s our favorite top beaches in Oahu to enjoy now

Ready to explore these exciting beaches in Oahu? We’ve got you covered with highlights to visiting each beach park and how to get there on the island below.

Southern Oahu coast beaches

Waikiki Beach

Waikiki Beach

Waikiki Beach is actually a series of 8 beaches that connect to each other into a 2-mile span of the Waikiki district. This iconic beach in Waikiki is lined with gorgeous hotels, restaurants and bars and the various beaches here have very popular tourist spots and also local beach areas that a little less visited that you can enjoy and spread out.

Waikiki is a water adventure lovers beach with activities that covers swimming, snorkeling, boogie boarding and surfing to sailing, outrigger canoe to parasailing, truly the full gamut of outdoor fun you can do on the beach here.

Must do’s – outside of all the beach fun activities and water sports, check out the promenade walking venues, watch the free hula shows and night time fireworks or just enjoy a refreshing tropical drink beachside and enjoy an amazing sunset view in Waikiki

Facilities at Waikiki Beach

Beach area covers over two miles of 8 combined beach parks

Picnic areas and barbeque pits at several beach parks

Restroom and shower facilities at many of the beach parks

Lifeguard stations – located throughout the entire Waikiki Beach

Parking – mostly street metered parking or private garage parking areas

Activities includes

Surfing, swimming, snorkeling, boogie boarding, Outrigger canoe, parasailing

Check out more details to visiting Waikiki beach here for more information and photos.

Ala Moana Beach

Ala Moana Beach

The Popular beach park south of Waikiki is popular with locals and tourist alike with plentiful free parking and a gorgeous beach area to walk around and find some fantastic beach spots to enjoy. The area has a nice long waterfront trail area and a small peninsula that contains Magic Sands a lagoon area with beach that is protect with barriers and a perfect family friendly beach to enjoy some beach time.

The beach park is very scenic with gorgeous views looking out to Waikiki beach all the way to Diamond head on one side and on the other, wonderful views to downtown Honolulu all the way past the airport area.

Facilities at Ala Moana Beach

Picnic areas and barbeque pits at several areas around the park

Large expansive grassy areas

Covered Pavilions

Restroom and shower facilities at various parts of the beach area

Lifeguard stations – located at both Ala Moana and Magic Sands

Parking – Parking is free on the street or parking lot areas

Activities includes

Surfing, swimming, snorkeling, boogie boarding, bike and running lanes, tennis courts, volleyball courts

Eastern / windward side Oahu beaches

Hanauma Bay

Hanauma Bay

The popular snorkeling area close to Honolulu actually has a gorgeous beach park to also enjoy making this a great combination beach and snorkeling spot on the island. You almost feel like you are in a giant aquarium in this marine preserve which is full of gorgeous tropical fish, coral and occasional marine life that frolics in the outer bay area.

The beach park is very family friendly oriented but visitors must do a strict check in process and marine video viewing to visit along with making a reservation online so they can regulate the amount of daily visitors to the marine reserve.

Must Do’s

This is primarily a snorkeling venue but the beach area is also nice for enjoying some beach time, beach walks or just lounging around.

Facilities at Hanauma Bay

Lifeguard stations – on the beach

Parking areas – yes fills up all day long

Picnic areas – yes

Concessions and storage – yes above at center

Restroom and shower – yes

There is a strict rules with no sunscreen allowed at the sanctuary swimming areas and a reservation system set up to limit daily visitors to the area. Also parking fills up so arrive early or go later in the afternoon.

Tip – There are many package day tours that includes visits to Hanauma Bay, so you can book with these tours to avoid the booking and reservation system that might not work with your scheduled visit to Oahu.

East or Windward Oahu area

Waimanalo Beach Park

Waimanalo Beach Park

One of the most beautiful beach areas located on the eastern side or the island and rarely busy, the beach at Waimanalo is expansive and wide at over three miles in length

 With the gorgeous windswept mountains mauka (uphill) on one side and beautiful aqua colored ocean and side beach areas of Waimanalo, this entire beach area is less crowded and really offers a calm and wonderful beach day experience.

This family friendly beach has calm waters to mild waves that is ideal for swimming, body surfing and boogie boarders from kids to adults. You can enjoy most of the beach areas with sparse visitors during the weekdays but it does get busy on weekends with day trippers to the area.

Must do’s

Enjoy some fun water sports like snorkeling, kayaking or do some fun fishing, picnic or barbeque fun on the beach for a fun beach day experience.

Facilities at Waimanalo Beach

Picnic areas and barbeque pits at several areas around the park

Large nice grassy areas and shady trees

Restroom and shower facilities at various parts of the beach area

Lifeguard stations – located throughout the beach park area

Parking – Parking is free on the parking lot areas

Activities includes

Surfing, swimming, snorkeling, boogie boarding, beach walks, barbeque and fishing

Check out more details to visiting Waimanalo beach here for more information and photos.

Lanikai Beach

Lanikai Beach

One of the most sought-after beaches to visit in Oahu because of its popular appeal and Instagram fame, Lanikai Beach does deliver on the spectacular combination of beach and beautiful ocean combined with gorgeous coastline views.

Even though Lanikai is a desired beach area to discover, getting here and parking is not an easy thing to do here with limited street side parking and facilities for beach time fun and services at the beach area.

But, even with all the troubles trying to get to the beach and find parking, it really is worth it for enjoying this dazzling beach, clear and clean waters and just savoring the experience here – it just feels special.

Must do’s

One of the most popular experiences is to kayak around the beach or do some water sports activities with the calm waters. Kayaking to the offshore islands at the Mokes is really a fun challenge that a lot of visitors love to do in the area.

With clear waters, swimming and snorkeling is a very popular pastime on the beach area in Lanikai.

Facilities at Lanikai

Picnic areas and barbeque pits – none

Restroom and shower facilities – none

Lifeguard stations – none

Parking – Parking is mostly just street parking with limited parking areas in the neighborhood

Activities includes

Surfing, swimming, snorkeling, boogie boarding, beach walks, relaxing

Check out more details to visiting Lanikai beach here for more information and photos.

Kailua Beach Park

Kailua Beach Park

Kailua beach park is an ever changing town that caters to a more upscale and trendy part of Eastern or the Windard side of the island with a very popular beach park to hang out in.

The beach at Kailua is popular with locals and now with visitors to the area with nice parking areas and a beach area that stretches over 2.5 miles with soft powdery sand, aqua to blue colored waters and nice shady areas with these ironwood trees for cover.

Must Do’s at Kailua

Outdoor activities are popular with SUP, kayaking, wind surfing and many other watersports on the beautiful and calm waters around the beach area. With calm waters swimming and snorkeling are also fun activities to do on the beach.

Further out from the beach are competition canoe clubs that practise late in the afternoon and are fun to just watch them do their runs in the beach areas further outside the ocean waters.

Facilities at Kailua

Picnic areas and barbeque pits – yes

Restroom and shower facilities – yes

Lifeguard stations – throughout the beach park

Parking – Parking is on beach parking lots and also on street parking

Activities includes

Surfing, swimming, snorkeling, boogie boarding, beach walks, wind surfing, fishing, relaxing

Check out more details to visiting Kailua beach here for more information and photos.

Kahana Bay Beach Park

Kahana Bay Beach Park

This more remote and off the beaten beach park is mostly popular with locals in the area enjoying a beach day, picnics or relaxing on the each. You’ll hardly find visitors enjoying this beach or mostly just zipping by on their way to The Polynesian Cultural Center or North Shore areas.

Tall cliffs on one side and a gorgeous bay area on the water surrounds the gorgeous beach sands and camping is a favorite pastime in the beach park.

Must Do’s

Along with the typical beach and swimming activities, camping is popular here. Outdoor activities includes hiking in the area and water fun activities like kayaking, Sup boarding and snorkeling.

Facilities at

LIfeguards – none

Picnic and bbq – yes

Toilets and shower – limited

Beach activities

Surfing, swimming, snorkeling, boogie boarding, beach walks,hiking, kayaking, relaxing

North Shore Beaches

Sunset Beach at the North Shore
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Sunset Beach at the North Shore

This iconic beach is where surfing legends are made and some of the best waves to watch surfing during the winter months when the waves are really big. But in summer time, the waters are very calm in the area making it family friendly and relatively safe to swim in.

With beautiful soft white sandy beaches and aqua colored waters, swimming and snorkeling fun is the thing to do along with nice beach walks, exploring tide pools or some other water adventure activity on the water.

Must do’s

Enjoy some fun water sports like snorkeling, kayaking or do some fun fishing, picnic or barbeque fun on the beach for a fun beach day experience.

During the winter season, the wave action is huge here and fun to see local surfers and events happening here at Sunset Beach

Also, coming here late in the afternoon to sunset is also a popular time to end your day and enjoy the views with sunset along the coastline.

Facilities at Sunset Beach

Restroom and shower facilities at various parts of the beach area

Lifeguard stations – located throughout the beach park area

Parking – Parking is mostly street parking

Check out more details to visiting North Shore beaches here for more information and photos.

Waimea Bay beach park and the famous rock outcrop
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Waimea Bay Beach Park

Located on the North Shore, Waimea Bay is one of the most popular spots for beach, bay, adventure and fantastic beach facilities to enjoy at the beach park. With a medium parking lot which fills up quickly during the day time, beach goers know this is the popular beach area to get to early to get a prime parking spot in the lot or look for streetside parking.

Must Do’s

The star attraction at Waimea Bay is the Rock on the far-left hand side of the beach that every local kid wants to climb and jump off into the ocean from different heights. Even the rock has some cool tunnels and caves carved out and fun to explore within safe distance from the jumping crowds.

The surfing action is very popular here in the winter months to watch all the big waves, local surfers and competitions that happen in the area.

Tip – Waimea Bay is very popular with locals and visitors and the parking lot fills up early so get here early in the morning or later in the day when everyone starts to head out.

Facilities on the Beach

Lifeguards – stations around beach area

Picnic tables and bbq pits – yes

Grassy areas – yes

Restroom and shower areas – yes

Parking lot – medium size lot or street side parking

Food Venues – local food trucks located up on the streets

Activities includes

Surfing, swimming, snorkeling, boogie boarding, beach walks, barbeque and fishing

Check out more details to visiting Kailua beach here for more information and photos.

Hale'iwa Ali'i Beach Park

Hale’iwa Ali’i Beach Park

The large beach park area at Haleiwa is a popular local gathering spot to hang out, swim, snorkel or do some of the popular water activities in area like kayaking or sup boarding. There is a protected swimming area to the south side of the beach park and the area is also popular with surfers looking to surf the shallow waters in the beach park.

Must Do’s

A popular beach park area and water activities on the beach is typical along with a variety of water sports. In Winter time when the waves are extreme in the beach park, you can watch all the surfing action on the beach. The rougher waters are considered more dangerous for any swimming or water actvities here.

Facilities at Haleiwa

LIfeguard stations – yes

Picnic areas and bbq pits – yes

Parking lot areas – yes

Restroom and shower – yes

Beach Activities

Surfing, swimming, snorkeling, boogie boarding, beach walks,hiking, kayaking, relaxing

Turtle Beach

Turtle Beach

Located in the North Shore on the northeastern tip of Oahu and fronting the one major resort at Turtle Bay Resort, Turtle Beach is also known as Laniakea Beach for the small protected bay area with over 5 miles of wide beach area to hang out in.

Named for the honu or the green sea turtles that frequent the area, Turtle Beach is family friendly and safe for swimming and snorkeling in. The waters are relatively calm with some minor waves on the rocky areas below which is a haven for the many tropical fish living out in the bay waters.

Must Do’s

Snorkeling and water activities like kayaking and sup boarding are popular activities in the calmer waters of Turtle Beach. There’s also over 12 miles of hiking trails with views in the area for those that want to do more active trekking in the area.

Facilities at Turtle Beach

Lifeguards – yes

Bathroom and showers – none

Parking area – yes across street

Shady areas – yes

Concession – at the resort hotel

Beach activities

Surfing, swimming, snorkeling, boogie boarding, beach walks,hiking, kayaking, relaxing

Western Leeward side Oahu Beaches

Ko’olina Lagoons on the windward side of Oahu

Ko’olina Lagoons

The Ko’olina Lagoons are four actual man made lagoons that were created in a development project with resort accommodations in the western or leeward side of Oahu. The protected lagoons are family friendly and safe to swim In with protected breakers that open into a lagoon and beach area in the four main lagoons of Ko’olina.

Even though there are resorts situated next to the lagoons, these are public beaches with open access for public use of the beach and lagoon areas. Parking lots are busy and tend to fill up after 10am so come early or later in the afternoon and enjoy those sunset views

Must Dos

Water activities and sports, hiking around the various lagoons and relaxing on the beach or even finding a place for a refreshing drink or meal at any of the close by resorts in the area.

Beach Facilities

Lifeguards stations – yes

Shower and restrooms – yes

Parking areas – yes

Kaena Point

Kaena Point

Located on the far western point of Oahu, Kaena Point has cultural importance as the point where those departing this world would leave from Kaena to the new realm and spiritual world. The rugged coastline of Kaena Point is wild and untamed with rocky shoreline and sandy beaches, tide pools, cliffs and gorgeous coastline views.

Water access is typically rough with waves and undertow so swimming and water activities is not encourage in the beach areas of Kaena Point.

Must Do’s at Kaena

Hiking in the area and visiting the many areas of the Kaena Point trail either on the Mokuleia side from the Farrington Highway or from the Yokohama beach side and hiking over 2.4 miles until you reach the beach area with the green cliffs to your right and the ocean and rocky areas on your left.

Beach Facilities

Lifeguard station – none

Restroom and showers – none

Parking area – yes

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Top beaches in Oahu (beautiful beaches to swim, snorkel, water adventures)
Top beaches in Oahu (beautiful beaches to swim, snorkel, water adventures)

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Meet Noel Morata

Noel Morata is the creator of This Hawaii Life along with a small team of contributors. Living on the Big Island and traveling regularly to the neighbor islands, Noel and team actively search and share the latest information and updates to Hawaii travel, food, adventure and various lifestyle activities on the islands for your planning and vacation. Aloha and enjoy This Hawaii Life.