Oahu's Best Beaches

The best thing about Oahu’s beautiful beaches? Like snowflakes, no two are exactly alike. Some are wide, others are narrow. Some are protected by fringing reefs, and others have huge waves breaking right onshore. All are special.

Here are some of our favorite stretches of sand, where you can make your home away from home:

Best for Families

Ko Olina, West (Leeward) Oahu. Four man-made lagoons are totally protected and offer great grassy spots to grab a nap. Plus, Disney’s Aulani resort is nearby if the kids get restless and need a Mickey fix.

White Plains, West (Leeward) Oahu. Not only are there bathrooms, barbecues, and picnic tables here—there are even sleeping seals. What more could a kid want?

Best for Big Waves

Haleiwa Alii Beach Park, the North Shore. The Vans Triple Crown of Surfing kicks off at this beach in November, and the small town of Haleiwa is a surfing mecca. From board shops to galleries devoted to inside-the-tube photos, you’ll experience the full range of the surfing lifestyle.

Waimea Bay, the North Shore. In summer, snorkeling is great at this beach. But in winter, surf’s up, so be careful if you don’t know what you’re doing. Pros flock here for contests—"the Eddie," a competition honoring big-wave-surfer Eddie Aikau, is held here only when waves are at least 20 feet—and fans flock to watch. Come early in the morning when there are waves and claim your seat on the dunes.

Best for People-Watching

Kuhio Beach Park, Waikiki. Everywhere along Waikiki’s shoreline is pretty packed, but Kuhio is home to some of the area’s more active, and fit, beachgoers. Nice restaurants and clubs are nearby.

Best for Flying a Kite

Sandy Beach, Southeast Oahu. If you’re afraid you'll break your neck bodysurfing in the waves here, retire to the shoreline and watch kites perform acrobatics in the gusts.

Kualoa Regional Park, Windward Oahu. This expansive park gives campers and others plenty of space to spread out and take advantage of the wind with two-handed kites. Chinaman’s Hat, an offshore island, provides a great backdrop.

Best for Soft Sand

Ala Moana Beach Park, Honolulu. Just steps away from food and shopping outlets, this beach offers extraordinarily fine sand, though there’s little shade. When you get warm, the equally smooth water beckons.

Lanikai Beach Park, Windward Oahu. This spot and adjacent Kailua Beach Park have powdery white sand and some trees for shade. But good luck finding a parking spot on weekends.

Best for Watching the Sun Rise and Set

Bellows Beach, Southeast Oahu (Sunrise). Try camping out (weekends only) at this eastward-facing beach so you can catch the earliest rays. Nearby Waimanalo Beach Park offers another option.

Sunset Beach, the North Shore (Sunset). The name says it all. From here, you can see all the way down the North Shore toward Kaena Point in the west, and enjoy the last rays before the sun dips below the horizon.

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