Top Oahu Beaches: From Waikiki to Waimea Bay

Bring your bikini or your board shorts, because from powdery shores and dramatic coastlines to shimmering hues of deep turquoise and picturesque waves, Oahu is home to more than 130 beaches.

Once frequented by Hawaiian royalty for its calming waters and sexy sunsets of deep orange hues, Waikīkī is ideal for sun-bathing, people watching, and beginners’ surfing and paddling. If you have the chance, venture beyond the city as many other sandy shores beckon. To the east, the Ka Iwi Coastline features spectacular views and dangerous shore breaks at Sandy and Makapu‘u beaches. In between, Halona Beach Cove is better known as Eternity Beach because of its role in the classic “From Here to Eternity.” Windward Oahu’s Lanikai Beach and Kailua Beach Park are great for families and all-day-long barbecues.

On the west side, Ko ‘Olina Resort’s tranquil lagoons are ideal for small children. Wave enthusiasts and surfers need to head out to the North Shore as it boasts some of the best (but dangerous) breaks in the world. From windward or leeward, this is an island of exceptional beauty and miles of enticing shorelin

Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve

Snorkelers of all levels of experience can explore this marine life conservation area. Stunning from the lookout and staggering from in the water, the turtles, sea urchins, eels and a living coral forest are pure underwater eye candy.

Lanikai Beach

Lanikai’s turquoise waters, powdered-sugar sands and swaying palms rank this Windward beach among some of the best in the world.  Sheltered by a wide, protective offshore reef, this half-mile strand of beach provides ideal swimming conditions, as well as kayaking, outrigger canoeing, sailing, surfing and windsurfing.

Kailua Beach

With its steady breezes and sandy shoreline, Kailua is Oahu’s windsurfing capital. Take a lesson, rent equipment or just relax in the sand and gentle surf.  Located at the end of Kailua, turn right on Kalaheo Drive. Restrooms are available.

Makapuu Point Lighthouse Trail

Allow at least two hours to complete the hike. Wear sunscreen and bring plenty of water, the trail is exposed to the sun and heat. Located on Kalanianaole Hwy. (Hwy. 72), just past Sandy Beach. Parking area is adjacent to the highway.

North Shore

Known as Oahu’s “country,” communities here lead a laid-back lifestyle, making Honolulu’s hustle and bustle look like New York City by comparison. In Haleiwa Town, natural food stores and cafes sit alongside surf and souvenir shops.

Makaha Beach

Mākaha is found at the western tip of the Waianae Coast and is best known for its rolling winter surf.

Kaena Point

Located at the westernmost tip of the island, Ka‘ena Point is a relatively remote wild coastline that boasts a large sandy beach at Keawa‘ula Bay. Stroll along the 2.7-mile (one way) volcanic coast and discover tide pools, small natural stone arches and picturesque views of the Makua coastline.

Waikiki Beach

Waikiki Beach is perhaps the world’s most famous strip of sand and was once the playground for Hawaiian royalty. Translated, Waikīkī means “spouting water,” a reference to the rivers and springs that once richly flowed into the area.