Hawaii is all around an amazing place! When we visited we did a ton of research about what beaches were a must to check out! We poured through tons of blog posts and articles online and we complied a list of the best beaches in Oahu Hawaii.
While in Oahu we were able to go to almost all those beaches and then some. The guide below will take the guess work out of how to strategically plan what beaches you should visit and when to visit each of them based on the best time to go and their locations in relation to one another. I’ve outlined the best beaches by location so you can plan to make stops to multiple beaches within the same area during your stay. Also, at the end of the post I’ve broken out the best beaches by activity (swimming, snorkeling, scenic, etc.).
Read on to learn more about the best beaches in Oahu Hawaii along with tips that will come in handy when planning your visit!
Best Beaches by Location:
Location: Haleiwa, HI 96712
Shark’s Cove is an awesome spot for snorkeling. We really enjoyed it! The water was a great temperature because it was shallow. The water was really calm because the area is enclosed. So it was easy to swim and find cool fish. The beach area is rather small but you will find a place to sit as there’s area of the grass as well. Definitely a spot you should check out if you’re in to snorkeling and visit the North Shore.
Location: Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, Oahu, HI 96712-1304
This spot is very pretty! The waves were pretty rough when we went so we didn’t swim but others were swimming. If you’re in the area, it’s worth checking out.
Yes, we went to sunset beach to watch the sunset. Yes I know, how cliche! Despite that, it was pretty and a nice way to end our evening on the North Shore after a full day of activities. There were other groups on the beach watching the sunset but it wasn’t crowded. The waves were pretty calm so it felt relaxing watching the sunset.
Location: 574, 61-574 Pohaku Loa Way, Haleiwa, Oahu, HI 96712
There’s the potential to see sea turtles here, we didn’t see any but is a good spot to check out if you have the time. Parking was sparse so I’d recommend getting their early or be prepared to park further from the beach and walk. Just remember, sea turtles are protected in Hawaii and are to be admired from a distance. Give them plenty of space and do not disturb them. They’re beautiful creatures and must be treated with respect.
Location: Lanikai Beach, Kailua, HI 96734, USA
This was our absolute favorite beach! It is gorgeous. It was pretty crowded but we did manage to find parking. I didn’t mind the fact it was as crowded as it was since it was so gorgeous. There was plenty of space around. We were able to snorkel and see some fish which was cool. The sand was very soft and it was nice laying on the beach. It was the first beach we visited and we really wanted to make it back a second time that’s how much we enjoyed it. Definitely check this beach out while in Oahu!
Waimanalo Beach Park
Location: 41-741 Kalanianaʻole Hwy, Waimanalo, HI 96795
This beach was pretty and more of a quiet beach (at least when we went). We stayed for a bit enjoying the view and sounds of the waves. We didn’t end up swimming but there were plenty of people in the water.
Location: 7455 Kalanianaole Hwy, Hon, Hawaii
The snorkeling was incredible! It was gorgeous seeing the beach from above and even more amazing seeing the fish. The water was pretty cold when we went, it could have been the time of year or the fact that it was early in the morning and it became cloudy. Hanauma Bay is a must visit spot if you’re interested in snorkeling. Everywhere online said to go on a Wednesday since they’re closed on Tuesday and the water is more clear on Wednesdays. It’s almost recommended to arrive before they open. We arrived 30-minutes before they opened and the parking lot was already getting filled.
- The coral reef is a living organism. Do not step on, touch or disturb it in anyway. It was heartbreaking seeing tons of tourists stepping and climbing on the reef despite watching a video before entering about the reef and how it’s important to treat it with care and respect.
- Do your research and find a sunscreen that’s reef safe! You cannot wear any old sunscreen and in fact, at any of the beaches you’re swimming at in Hawaii, you need to make sure your sunscreen is reef safe. This should go for any natural body of water you’re swimming in as well. We used mama KULEANA which is reef safe and Supergoop! which has mineral sunscreen that’s reef safe.
- They do have lockers and rent out gear if needed.
- Leave the beach the way you found it. It was sad seeing trash in the sand. Again I was surprised after watching a video how people were not more mindful.
- The entrance fee is $7.50 and a $1 fee for parking. Learn more about costs here.
Location: 8483 HI-72, Honolulu, HI 96825
This spot is cool to check out regardless if you intend to swim. There’s a lookout from above to see the blowhole which is a natural volcanic formation. The waves weren’t strong enough for us to see it in action when we visited, but we were able to explore the beach and rocks down below. We even saw someone setting up for a marriage proposal, very sweet.
Is it even a trip to Oahu without a stop at Waikiki?! Waikiki is iconic and an obvious must visit. We went there many times as it was near our hotel. If you’re interested to try your hand at surfing, Waikiki is a great beach to learn on. The surf is gentle and the waves are consistent. It can be crowded which can make it hard to catch a wave with so many other people out there doing the same.
Kalanianaʻole Beach Park and Mermaid Caves
Location: 89-410 Keaulana Ave, Waianae, HI 96792
The beach is beautiful and the rocks and caves are cool to check out. It was windy and overcast when we went so we didn’t get a chance to swim. The surf was strong so we didn’t get a chance to really explore the caves a lot. They can be dangerous so you need to exercise extreme caution when you go. Guayo went down in one of the caves and it was cool to check out but the waves were coming in quickly so he couldn’t explore very far for long.
Location: Kapolei, HI 96707
The Kapolei area has a lot of resorts with private beaches but there are some public beaches. We happened upon Paradise Cove and stopped to check it out. There was a luau going on near the beach and some locals were hanging out on the beach to watch the sunset. The beach is small and very pretty.
Best Beaches by Activity:
- Lanikai Beach
Best swimming beaches:
- Lanikai Beach
- Waikiki Beach
Most scenic beaches:
- Kalanianaʻole Beach Park and Mermaid Caves
- Sunset Beach
- Laniakea Beach
- Halona Blowhole
Best snorkeling beaches:
- Hanauma Bay
- Shark’s Cove
Have you been to any of these beaches? If you haven’t, which one looks the best to you? Are there any I left off from this list that should be included?