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Honolulu, O'ahu

Best beaches in Honolulu/Oahu?

We will only have a few days to explore, so want to make sure we go to the best beaches. We are willing to take a trip outside of Honolulu if the beach is worth it. What are your favorites and why? 

10 Answers

top answer by
Courtney P. from Portland

Lanikai Beach, hands down! It's usually quiet, with gentle waves, and the whitest, softest sand around.

It's only half an hour away from Honolulu, and the drive on the Pali Hwy is quite scenic. You can even stop and take in the view at the Pali lookout drive way and take an easy hike on the Old Pali Rd on the way there.

The snorkeling isn't as dense as popular spots like Hanauma Bay, but it's calm and easy, which is quite relaxing. I've spent a few trips just floating around and following Honu (sea turtles). You can also kayak out to the Mokulua Islands State Seabird Sanctuary and back (although I believe they don't allow visitors to get on the islands often).

Stop in Kailua town for a meal on the way in or out, a snack at Kalapawai Market or just a shave ice at Island Snow Hawaii.


Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Lanikai Beach (attraction)
  2. Pali Hwy (attraction)
  3. Pali lookout drive way (attraction)
  4. Old Pali Rd (attraction)
  5. Mokulua Islands State Seabird Sanctuary (attraction)
  6. Kailua (city)
  7. Kalapawai Market (attraction)
  8. Island Snow Hawaii (attraction)
6 thanks

answered by
Michael from Honolulu

Let me start by saying that depending what days you are here i would try to go to the beach during the weekdays when most locals are at work.

When my nieces and nephews were little we would take them Waimea Bay for them to go swim. During the non winter months Waimea Bay doesn't have high surf and is pretty flat which is great for swimming and snorkeling. 

Personally as a kid I would go to Waimanalo Beach Park or what locals call Sherwoods. Which has a lot of parking and different amenities. 

On the weekends I would definitely avoid Lanikai Beach cause that place is a traffic nightmare and you risk having your car ticketed and/or towed if parked in the wrong area. You can google Lanikai + traffic if you no believe. This also goes for Kailua on the weekends.


  • If there has been heavy rain and/or heavy rain in the area try not to go swimming there especial near mouths of streams. 
  • Always lock your car and make sure there are no valuables inside.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Waimea Bay (attraction)
  2. Waimanalo Beach Park (attraction)
  3. Lanikai Beach (attraction)
5 thanks

answered by
Jenn from Boston

You definitely want to get out of Honolulu. Watching the surfers on the other side of the island is a ton of fun. I love the beaches near Turtle Bay Resort where you can swim in the bay and look out for sea turtles. Check out Kuilima Cove Snorkeling to rent equipment and/or get tips on where to swim.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Turtle Bay Resort (attraction)
  2. Kuilima Cove Snorkeling (attraction)
3 thanks

answered by
Nalin from Cypress

My favorite spot is Hanauma Bay. It could be a bit crowdy so I'd suggest you going early.

Chinaman's Hat is a quite place, and may be you might be able to walk to this island. 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Hanauma Bay (attraction)
  2. Chinaman's Hat (attraction)
2 thanks

answered by
Andrew from Singapore

Check out Lanikai Beach

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Lanikai Beach (attraction)
1 thanks

answered by
Terry from Honaunau, Hawaii

In the Summer months the North Shore beaches are fantastic.  Sunset and Waimea Bay are beautiful for swimming and strolling.  I have to add Waikiki just because it is the world's most famous beach!  Great for people watching.  For a big city it is amazing how clean the water is!      

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Waimea Bay (attraction)
  2. Waikiki (neighborhood)
1 thanks

answered by
James from Fremont, California

Definitely have to make the trip up to the North Shore. Must hit Pipeline, Oahu, Hawaii and Sunset Beach. Waimānalo is perfect to just chill. Makapu‘u Beach is fun as well. Waikiki is crowded but it's always fun to rent a surfboard and hit the waves. 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Pipeline, Oahu, Hawaii (attraction)
  2. Sunset Beach (attraction)
  3. Waimānalo (region)
  4. Makapu‘u Beach (attraction)
  5. Waikiki (neighborhood)
1 thanks

answered by
Rick from Denver

Don't miss Lanikai Beach. It's a must see. Nearby Kailua Bay is worth a visit too. The beach at Bellows Field Beach Park is probably my favorite on Oahu, but it's open to the public only on the weekend. Drive in as far as you can, past the bathrooms and camping, all the way to the military gate. That's the best spot on all of Waimanalo Bay. I sometimes spend the whole weekend here. Sandy Beach is a great place to spend some time with the locals. It's a little rough for swimming, but a great place to experience local beach culture. Same for Makapu'u. If you can kayak out to Mokulua Islands State Seabird SanctuaryMokulua Nui has a beautiful beach too (and a thrilling cliff-jump on the back side of the island). Kawela Bay used to be a best kept secret, but the secret is quickly getting out.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Lanikai Beach (attraction)
  2. Bellows Field Beach Park (attraction)
  3. Sandy Beach (attraction)
  4. Mokulua Islands State Seabird Sanctuary (attraction)
  5. Kawela Bay (attraction)
1 thanks

answered by
Rob from Honolulu

Hand's down Oahu's best beach is Lanikai Beach on the windward side of the island.   The view is incredible, sand is perfect, the water is clear and the waves are not too big you can often see kayakers out on the water.  If you want to join them you can rent a Kayak from Kailua Beach Adventures which is next to my second favorite beach on Oahu, Kailua Beach.  What I love about Kailua Beach is you can get a good walk in along the beach.  If you come in December there is a chance you will get stopped by secret service at the end of the beach where President Obama frequents.  

Up on the North Shore of Oahu is my 3rd favorite beach, Sunset Beach.  This is known for its surfing (just down from Pipeline, Oahu, Hawaii) and is a must see on an Oahu visit.  

A few less traveled beaches include "Electric Beach" at Kahe Point Beach Park named for sightings of stingrays and the beaches along the coast near Chinaman's Hat.

Oh... and there is Waikīkī Beach, not really on my list of great beaches, but if you are there walk towards Diamond Head State Monument until you find Kaimana Beach which is where many locals go.

If you want an adventure check out Sandy Beach or Makapu‘u Beach... just try not to break your neck.  Also be sure to check a Jellyfish Arrival Calendar to avoid getting stung!

Be sure to check out my Creative Commons images of Oahu's Beaches on Flickr.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Lanikai Beach (attraction)
  2. Kailua Beach Adventures (attraction)
  3. Kailua Beach (attraction)
  4. Sunset Beach (attraction)
  5. Pipeline, Oahu, Hawaii (attraction)
  6. Kahe Point Beach Park (attraction)
  7. Chinaman's Hat (attraction)
  8. Waikīkī Beach (attraction)
  9. Diamond Head State Monument (attraction)
  10. Kaimana Beach (attraction)
  11. Sandy Beach (attraction)
  12. Makapu‘u Beach (attraction)
1 thanks

answered by
Michael from Honolulu

K, since people are still reading answers I thought I would update mine. AVOID Lanikai Beach and Kailua  (this is coming from a local that actually lives here). If you decide to go to Lanikai make sure to call the City and ask if parking is allowed especially during holiday weekends and where you can legally park.  


This Memorial Day weekend as an example from Sat to Mon parking on all public roads, streets, and shoulders in Lanikai won't be allowed. Police will be enforcing the ban by ticketing and towing vehicles.  


I am just putting this out there because a lot of people have suggested Lanikai but trust me it's just not worth it. The Lanikai community is angry about the traffic and will call and complain about your car.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Lanikai Beach (attraction)
  2. Kailua (city)

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