Oahu beaches are numerous. Here are some of the best….
Kailua Beach – Among the 139 Oahu beaches on 125 miles of sandy shoreline, Kailua Beach is generally considered the best all–around beach offering a variety of activities from swimming to sailing and surfing. The beach forms a roughly two-mile arc of pristine yellow sand with Kailua Beach Park at its southern tip located at the foot of the Koolau Mountains on the eastern side of the island where trade winds keep the coast cool most of the year. Less crowded than some other Oahu beaches, Kailua has it all–including year–round water temperatures of 75 degrees F. to 80 degrees F. (Swimming; Surfing; Wind Surfing; Body Surfing; Sailing; Kayaking)
Ala Moana Beach Park – An oasis of serenity sandwiched between the hustle and bustle of Honolulu and Waikiki, Ala Moana (“path to the sea” is an ideal place for families to relax, swim, picnic and play in a protected environment. This Oahu beach is located on the south shore, known for its many fine beaches for families. A reef that acts as a wave break protects the lagoon area, and the waters are warm and inviting. There’s also a deeper swimming channel, and an adjacent park includes softball fields, tennis courts and picnic areas. (Swimming, Snorkeling)
Lanikai Beach – The idyllic setting of Lanikai’s shimmering wide beach, gin-clear waters and gentle palm trees make it universally popular with islanders as well as visitors. This mile-long bit of paradise on the east side of Oahu–easily accessible from Waikiki–is protected by the twin bird sanctuaries of the Mokulua Islands and affords an excellent spot for a variety of fun activities from sun bathing to photography–as well as swimming for the entire family. (Swimming; Snorkeling; Surfing; Wind surfing; Kayaking; Sailing).
Hanauma Bay Beach – Located on the eastern end of the island near Hawaii Kai on the South Shore. Hanauma Bay Beach encircles the crater of an inactive volcano where an abundance of fish and marine life–as well as coral. This is a diver’s and snorkeler’s paradise. It’s also one of the most popular of Oahu’s beaches for swimming. Restrictions on use were enacted to protect the beach and marine life at this unique site, so early arrival is best. (Swimming; Snorkeling;).
Waikiki Beach – Celebrated in popular music, this beach is definitely where the action is! A two-mile beach between the bustle of Honolulu and Diamond Head on the South Shore, Waikiki is the meeting place for some 4 million visitors each year. The gentle waves offer beginning surfers a good place to practice, and there are many other activities including everything from boogie boarding to paddle boats. Food and drink are available all along this two-mile beach. (Swimming; Snorkeling; Surfing; Body boarding; Kayaking; Outrigger canoeing).
Waimea Beach – A seasonal beach on the island’s north coast, Waimea offers spectacular sport surfing in the winter and calmer swimming waters in the summer months. Waimea Beach is known worldwide for its 30-foot high winter waves that draw some of the best international surfers while the less daring and skilled watch safely from the beach. The sands of this one-third-mile-long beach also shift seasonally from west to east. A large rock outcropping also serves as a point where local youths dive. (Surfing; Wind Surfing; Body Surfing; Snorkeling).
Ehukai Beach (“Pipeline”) – Perhaps “going down the tube” originated at this famous beach at Pupukea on the North Shore. Home of the Banzai Pipeline, down which skilled surfers ride when the surf is “cranking,” Ehukai Beach was featured in the 1950s film, “Surf Safari.” These huge and powerful waves can appear in a flash and break violently on the shallow reef so extreme caution is urged in riding these breakers. In summer months, the beach is tamer and fine for swimming. (Surfing; Swimming).
Sunset Beach – Just a mile north of Ehukai Beach Park, this Oahu beach is also popular with surfers. It offers many of the thrills of Ehukai but with somewhat smaller waves. In winter, the surf produces 10-foot-high waves making it a perfect location for the World Surfing Cup. During the summer, the 200-foot-wide beach is popular with swimmers and bodysurfers. (Swimming; Body surfing).
Sandy Beach – It’s another famous Oahu beach. It is known as one of the world’s best body surfing and body boarding beaches. And it’s known locally for its high proportion of rescues by Honolulu lifeguards, ambulance calls and injuries. When the surf is up, unless you’re an expert it’s best to stay out of the water. Enjoy the year-round trade winds that have made this beach popular for kite flying.(Body surfing; Body boarding).
Makapu’u Beach – For body surfing, paipo and body boarding, Makapu’u is one of the very best beaches in Hawaii. Located on the East Shore, this Oahu beach is subject to high winds and waves in winter months that can produce shore breaks and undertows. In the summer, the surf is calmer and recreational swimming is safer, but it’s advisable to ask lifeguards about any hazardous conditions. Adjacent to Makapu’u Beach Park is Kaupo Beach Park, where even calmer waters draw snorkelers and novice divers. (Body boarding; Body surfing; Scuba Diving; Snorkeling).