Travel insights from O'ahu Visitors Bureau

Your Guide to the Beaches of Oahu

Oahu’s beaches are a true taste of paradise—whether you’re looking for high adventure on the sea, gentle waves for your first surfing lesson, a romantic sunset view or a family-friendly swimming spot. While you might already be familiar with world-famous Waikiki Beach and the high-octane winter waves of the North Shore, there’s even more to discover along the island’s 112 miles of coastline. Explore Oahu’s beaches below by region below.

North Shore Beaches

Sunset Beach spans from Ehukai Beach (Banzai Pipeline) to Sunset Point, encompassing a dozen different reef breaks. This two-mile stretch of sand is considered one of the longest rideable surf spots in the world, and it’s also a venue for the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing (November-December).

Waimea Bay Beach Park is notorious for producing monstrous winter waves, so it’s one of the first places surfers began to ride big waves in the ’50s. In the summer, the swells subside for great swimming and snorkeling. With full facilities, this is a popular beach for locals and visitors alike.

Ehukai Beach (Banzai Pipeline) is known for powerful waves that break over a sharp reef no more than a few feet from the surface. These massive tubes make this one of the most dangerous surf spots in the world and one of the venues for the Triple Crown of Surfing.

Haleiwa Alii Beach State Park is popular with surfers with waves that can reach over 25 feet in the winter months.

Haleiwa Beach Park has some of the calmer waters of the North Shore beaches.

Chun's Reef a great beach for all ages and features a freshwater pond which is perfect for keiki (children).

Ke Waena Beach is not as well-known as other North Shore beaches, but is largely popular with surfers and known for big waves during the winter that only professionals should attempt. Summer brings calmer waters for swimming.

Kawela Bay/Turtle Bay is located on Oahu’s northeastern tip, past Haleiwa and near Kahuku. It’s protected from large waves and surf, making it a great place to snorkel. You might even catch a glimpse of a honu (Hawaiian green sea turtle).

Windward Coast Beaches (Eastside)

Kualoa Regional Park is across from Kualoa Ranch. This beautiful beach park offers spectacular views down the east coast of Oahu as well as Mokolii, an islet off the Windward Coast.

Makapuu Beach Park is sea cliffs and is very popular with bodyboarders and bodysurfers alike. Around the corner is the Makapuu Lighthouse.

South Shore Beaches

Waikiki Beach is one of the most popular beaches in the world, boasting more than four million visitors every year and breathtaking views of Leahi (Diamond Head). The Duke Kahanamoku statue welcomes you to Waikiki, one of the best places in Hawaii to learn how to surf or paddle a canoe thanks to its small but long-lasting wave break. Waikiki is actually made up of a few beaches, including Fort DeRussy Beach to the west, Waikiki Beach (fronting the Royal Hawaiian Hotel and Westin Moana Surfrider), Kuhio Beach (along Kalakaua Avenue) and Queen Surf Beach, home to quieter stretches on the Diamond Head side of Waikiki.

Waikiki - Duke's Beach is named in honor of the Olympic swimmer, Duke Paoa Kahanamoku and is one of the smaller beach strips in Waikiki that makes up a larger beach.

Waikiki - Kuhio Beach is nick-named "Kuhio Ponds" as the beach is divided by two walls. This is a smaller beach strip in Waikiki that makes up a larger beach.

Waikiki - Queen's Surf Beach is popular among bodyboarders and surfers and is also a smaller strip of beach that makes up a larger Waikiki beach.

Waikiki - Sans Souci/Kaimana Beach Park is shallow and sandy and free of strong currents - perfect for families!

Ala Moana Regional Park is just minutes west from Waikiki. This half-mile beach is protected by a fringing reef for calm waters. Tables are available for picnics.

Magic Island Lagoon extends out from Ala Moana Regional Park beach, a manmade peninsula with large seawalls and a shallow lagoon, making it a perfect place for keiki (children) to swim.

Leeward Coast Beaches (Westside)

Depot Beach Park is a locals favorite with a wide stretch of white sand.

Makaha Beach has the best surfing on Oahu’s west coast and is one of the places where big wave surfing was pioneered. Beware of the sloping sand beachhead that can cause backwash and catch unsuspecting visitors off-guard.

Keawaula Beach (Yokohama Beach) is the last sandy stretch on the Leeward Coast. Its curvy beach and turquoise waters are a great spot to sunbathe and watch surfers and dolphins. If you’re an avid hiker, nearby Kaena Point offers a trail with rewarding ocean views.

Ko Olina Resort and Marina is where you’ll find man-made lagoons created for the Ko Olina Resort, home to the J.W. Marriott Ihilani Resort & Spa and the Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa. With parking, restrooms and showers available, this is a perfect beach for families.

Please note the following safety advisories:

  • To ensure that your clients are able to find the perfect beach – whether it be a family friendly beach with calm waves or a more adventurous spot for surfing –, and to ensure that your clients can optimize their enjoyment, please refer them to the following websites:  www.hioceansafety.com and www.hawaiibeachsafety.com.  These official sites are continuously monitoring and reporting on surf and wind conditions for public safety. 
  • Remind clients to enjoy beaches with lifeguards, avoid beaches without lifeguards, to adhere to lifeguard signs and to be careful of changes in surf, current and wave activity.   What may seem like mild waves may have strong and dangerous undertow. 
  • Please recommend that your clients watch the video on general beach safety https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KkMJl3w-oNM and video on ocean conservation at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jlRnwekgcIc  before leaving for the Hawaiian Islands.
  • Advise your clients to park in legally sanctioned areas – car parks, street parking, etc – around Oahu’s beaches for safety reasons, legal reasons and to be respectful of local communities in the area.

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