23 BEST Oahu Beaches From A Local + Map

Aloha! Are you looking for Oahu beaches and want to know which ones are worth your time?

As a local, I’ve spent years exploring the many beaches Oahu offers and have narrowed down the top beaches you can’t miss on your visit. 

From secluded coves to bustling hotspots, there’s something for every type of beach-goer here.

So grab your sunscreen, towel, and snorkel gear, and let’s dive in!

Here are the 23 best beaches you must visit during your trip to Oahu, Hawaii.

Is it safe to swim on Oahu?

Yes, swimming in Oahu is safe, but it is important to be aware of potential hazards and take necessary precautions.

The island’s beaches are known for their beautiful scenery and crystal-clear waters, but they can also have strong currents and rip tides.

Pay attention to warning signs and flags posted at the beach and any instructions from lifeguards. 

Are beaches free in Oahu?

Yes, beaches in Oahu are generally free and open to the public.

However, there may be some exceptions where entry fees or parking fees are required for certain beach parks.

For example, Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve charges an entry fee for visitors to help preserve the natural ecosystem of the bay. 

Which side of Oahu is best for swimming? 

The South Shore and the East side of Oahu are the best for swimming and snorkeling.

On the other hand, the South Shore is known for its calm waters and sandy beaches, making it a popular destination for families with young children.

The island’s eastern side offers excellent swimming spots with beautiful views. No matter which side you choose, you’ll surely find some amazing places to take a dip in Oahu’s crystal-clear waters!

What sunscreen is allowed in Hawaii?

Hawaii has strict regulations on what type of sunscreen can be used in its waters due to the damage that certain chemicals can cause to coral reefs.

Only reef-safe mineral-based sunscreens that contain ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide are allowed in Hawaii.

These reef-safe options provide adequate protection from harmful UV rays while being gentler on both skin and the environment. Here are a few great reef-safe sunscreen options.

23 Best Oahu Beaches

Oahu is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Whether you’re looking for a quiet spot to relax or a place to catch some waves, there’s something for everyone.

1. Hanauma Bay Nature Perserve

oahu best snorkeling spot

Hanauma Bay is known for fantastic snorkeling, it doesn’t disappoint highly suggest going here to have a fantastic snorkeling session, knowing that many people always want to visit. 

Better to go during the week to avoid weekend crowds and have a reservation to enter. 

Showers, restrooms, and lockers are available.

They are closed on Mondays and Tuesdays. Bring your snorkel gear, but they rent equipment for $20 if you don’t have a set.

Great for: Amazing snorkeling, tanning, swimming, and for families.

Best time of year to visit: year-round

Parking: $ 3 parking per vehicle 

Distance from Waikiki: 20-40 min drive

Note: Reservation is needed,the entry fee is $25 per person.  

2. Waikiki Beach

Waikiki beach aerial view

Waikiki is within walking distance of the hotel area. 

The water is always blue and a great location to learn how to surf—this beach is for everyone. 

There are restrooms near the park and showers to rinse off.

Great for: learning to surf, paddle boarding, swimming, sunsets, views of Diamond Head, snorkeling, canoe rides, families, relaxing on a floaty, and catamaran trip.

Best time of year to visit: year-round

Parking: no designated parking lot; must valet in a hotel, paid street parking spaces, or nearby paid parking lots.

Distance from Waikiki: Few minutes walk from hotels

Best Oahu Beaches in Honolulu

3. Ala Moana Beach Park

watching the sunset at Ala Moana beach park

Ala Moana Beach Park is more residential than Waikiki but close enough to drive or walk to, and it’s a quieter and less crowded beach than Waikiki Beach.

This beach is excellent for those who don’t feel safe in the open ocean as a reef protects this beach, so the water is primarily flat by the shore.

And with plenty of amenities, including showers, restrooms, and picnic areas, it’s the perfect spot for a fun day in the sun with family and friends. 

Great for: Watch the sunset, swimming laps, tanning, SUP, beginner surfing lessons 

Best time of year to visit: year-round

Parking: Free; Parking spots available 

Distance from Waikiki: 15 min drive away 

4. Magic Island Lagoon

drone image of oahu beach in honolulu

Magic Island Is located right next to Ala Moana beach park.

The difference is that it’s a large lagoon. The lagoon is protected, which keeps the waves out and the water flat.

Magic Island has excellent views of diamond head and is the perfect spot to see the sunset.

Great for: Watching the sunset, swimming, tanning,

Best time of year to visit: year-round

Parking:  Free; Parking spots available 

Distance from Waikiki: 15 min drive

5. Sandy Beach 

acai pineapple snack at Oahu beach

This iconic spot is also a cultural hub, with locals and visitors coming together to enjoy watching body boarder catch some gnarly waves.

Dont be fooled. These waves are powerful and should be left to experts.

Sandy Beach is great for spending the day tanning and having a picnic.

Excellent for: Tanning, watching body borders catch some waves

Parking: Free; Parking spots available

Distance from Waikiki: 25 min drive

6. Diamond Head Beach 

surfer paddling out into an Oahu beach

Look no further than Diamond Head Beach in Oahu!

This stunning beach is one of the most underrated beaches on the island.

Diamond Head Beach has something for everyone, whether you’re looking to relax, soak up some sun, or get active with water sports like snorkeling or surfing.

Because this beach is on the bottom of a cliff, fewer people go here, but great for relaxing in peace watching surfers do their thing.

Great for: Watch the snorkeling, tanning, surfing

Best time of year to visit: year-round

Parking: Free; A few designated parking fills up fast.

Distance from Waikiki: 15 min drive

7. Makapu’u Beach Park

a beach day in oahu

Makapuu Beach is a stunning beach with torque water year-round it’s a must-visit.

Locals love to come here for a quiet beach day and to do some water activities.

The waves and currents were too strong to swim, but a gorgeous place to hang out for the afternoon.

Great for: Tanning, picnic, watching body borders catch waves

Parking: Free; Parking spots available

Distance from Waikiki: 30 min drive

Best Oahu Beaches on the East Side

8. Kailua Beach Park

kailua beach with clear water

This beach is a true gem and a perfect spot for every beach lover visiting Oahu.

This stunning beach is a must-visit destination for pristine white sands, turquoise waters, and breathtaking views.

With its gentle waves and vast expanse of sand, Kailua Beach Park is ideal for swimming, snorkeling, and paddleboarding.

And if you need a break from all that relaxation, there are plenty of nearby restaurants and shops where you can refuel before heading back out to the beach.

Great for: Watch the sunrise, snorkeling, swimming, tanning, kayaking

Best time of year to visit: year-round

Parking: Free; Beach parking lot

Distance from Waikiki: 30-55 min drive

Book your kayak to go kayaking to the Mokes Islands.

9. Lanikai Beach

mokes island and Lanikai beach

Lanikai Beach is worth the hype, with its crystal-clear waters, powdery white sand, and stunning views of the surrounding mountains. You will have a perfect view of the Mokulua Islands.

It’s the ideal beach to relax and do water sports like kayaking and snorkeling. And if you’re lucky, you might even spot some sea turtles swimming too!

I recommend bringing beach chairs, an umbrella for shade, sunscreen, a book if you like to read on the beach, towels, and a cooler with plenty of food and water.

There isn’t anywhere to get snacks or water within walking distance, so come to Lanikai Beach with everything you will need for the day. 

Keep in mind that there are no restrooms and no lifeguards at this beach, so plan accordingly.

Great for: Watch the sunrise, snorkeling, swimming, tanning, kayaking

Best time of year to visit: year-round

Parking: No designated parking; it’s a residential area. Most people park at Kailua beach park and walk over to Lanikai Beach.

Distance from Waikiki: 35min to 1-hour drive

10. Waimanalo Beach Park

empty beach perfect for Oahu locals

Waimanalo Beach Park is a hidden gem just a short drive from Honolulu, with crystal-clear waters and pristine white sand.

It is less crowded than some of the more popular tourist spots and offers excellent opportunities for swimming, snorkeling, and even boogie boarding.

Plus, plenty of amenities are nearby, including picnic tables, showers, and restrooms. 

Great for: snorkeling, swimming, tanning,

Best time of year to visit: year-round

Parking:  Free; Parking spots available 

Distance from Waikiki: 30-55 min drive

Best Oahu Beaches on North Shore

11. Ehukai Beach aka Banzai Pipeline

kai lenny on the beach of oahu in north shore surfing

Visiting Banzai Pipeline at least once is an absolute must. This legendary surf spot on the North Shore of Oahu is renowned among surfers for its massive waves, reaching heights of up to 30 feet.

If you’re lucky enough to visit during winter, you’ll witness some of the world’s best surfers competing at the very beach.

There aren’t any waves in the summer months, but there are strong currents, so it’s recommended not to swim here.

Great for: Watch the sunset, beach day, watch surfers catch massive waves

Best time of year to visit: year-round

Parking:  Free; Few parking spots available 

Distance from Waikiki: 55 min drive to 1hr 30 min drive

12. Haleiwa Beach

surfers at oahu beach

If you’re looking for a slice of paradise, Haleiwa Beach in North Shore Oahu is the perfect destination!

This beach is a true gem with its crystal-clear waters, pristine sand, and breathtaking views.

Haleiwa Beach has something for everyone, whether relaxing on the sand, dipping in the ocean, or trying water sports like surfing or paddleboarding.

The surrounding area is full of charming shops and restaurants where you can grab a bite to eat or pick up some souvenirs.

Great for: swimming, surfing, SUP

Best time of year to visit: year-round, more giant waves in the winter 

Parking:  Free; Parking spots available 

Distance from Waikiki: 50 min drive

13. Sunset Beach

sunset beach in oahu

First and foremost, Sunset Beach boasts some of the most beautiful sunsets you will ever see.

The golden hues of the sun sinking into the horizon are breathtaking and will leave you feeling peaceful and inspired.

In addition to its natural beauty, Sunset Beach is also a surfer’s paradise.

The waves here are some of the best in the world, attracting surfers from all over who come to ride the legendary swells. 

Sunset Beach is simply a great place to relax and unwind. 

Great for: sunsets, surfing during the winter 

Best time of year to visit: year-round

Parking: Free- minimal parking spaces

Distance from Waikiki: 1-hour to 1hr 30 min drive

14. Waimea Bay 

Waimea bay clear water on a summer day in Oahu

This stunning beach on the island’s North Shore offers visitors a unique and unforgettable experience.

With its crystal-clear waters, towering cliffs, and world-renowned waves, Waimea Bay is truly a natural wonder.

Waimea Bay has a long wide beach and lots of space for everyone. 

The famous colossal rock that many people cliff jump.

The water is calm and clear to swim in and snorkel during the summer. 

During the winter months, more waves make it suitable for surfing.

There are showers to rinse off and restrooms to change into.

Great for: swimming, cliff jumping, snorkeling, surfing in the winter, tanning 

Best time of year to visit: 

Summer months -great swimming and snorkeling,

Winter months -excellent for surfing 

Parking: FREE

Distance from Waikiki: 50 min-1hr 25 min drive

15. Kahana Bay Beach Park

oahu hike view

Add Kahana Bay Beach Park to your itinerary if you enjoy secluded beaches away from crowds.

This bay will show you the natural beauty of Hawaii in peace and tranquility.

Kahana Bay is surrounded by lushes green vegetation, making you think the place isn’t real. 

Great for: relaxed beach day, swimming, paddle boarding

Best time of year to visit: year-round

Parking: Parking spots available 

Distance from Waikiki: 55 min drive

16. Kawela Bay


Kawela Bay is a hideaway paradise located inside the Turtle Bay Resort.

The wind protects this beach; the water is usually shallow and warmer. It is super common to see Honu( green Hawaiian sea turtles).

It’s a great beach to have the perfect beach day.

Great for: Watching the sunset, swimming, tanning, snorkeling

Best time of year to visit: year-round

Parking:  Guest parking spots at Turtle Bay Resort

Distance from Waikiki: 1hr drive to 1hr 30 min drive

17. Malaekahana Beach

north shore beach with turtles during the summer

This beach is perfect for long walks without the large tourist crowds. This Bech will have you feeling in paradise. And if you are lucky, you can even spot Hawaiian Monk seal swimming offshore.

Great for: beach walks, swimming, tanning,

Best time of year to visit: summer

Parking:  Parking spots available 

Distance from Waikiki: 1hr 10 min drive

18. Pupukea Beach, aka Shark’s Cove

sharks cove in summer for snorkeling in oahu

Don’t worry. This beach has no sharks, as the name suggests. Shark’s Cove is a natural rocky tidal pool.

During the summer, it’s flat, and during the winter, waves go over the rock wall, filling the tide pool with more water.

There isn’t much sandy beach here as it’s primarily rocks. Expect to see crowds here, as it’s a popular spot for snorkeling. You can see so much marine life.

I have been lucky enough to see eels, octopuses, and massive schools of fish. Don’t forget to bring your reef shoes! Entering the tide pool is slippery; please be careful.

Great for: snorkeling

Best time of year to visit: summer

Parking:  Free; Limited parking spots available 

Distance from Waikiki: +1 hour drive

Here are the best things to do in North Shore while you are visiting

Best Oahu Beaches on West Side

19. Ko Olina Lagoons

kaolin lagoons

Koolina Lagoos is the perfect beach if you want resort vibes and fewer crowds.

This beach is a must for the perfect relaxing beach day. Located in a resort area but is still open to the public.

The lagoon areas are clean, manicured, and quiet. Great for families with or for people who could be better swimmers.

There are no waves as a rock wall protects it. So bring your beach towels, favorite snacks, and snorkeling gear. Showers and restrooms are available.

Items not allowed: Alcoholic beverages, cigarettes, pets, loud or distracting music, metal-detecting, fires, camping, tents, windbreakers, sun shades, bicycles, skates, skateboards, Frisbees, kites, ball playing, fishing, scuba, personal surfboards, and other watercraft.

Suitable for: Families, swimming, snorkeling

Best time of year to visit: year-round

Parking: Free; Minimal parking .$20 valet parking at Four Seasons

Distance from Waikiki: 35min -1hr 15 min drive

Pro Tip* Go to the 2nd or 4th lagoon as they are less crowded than the lagoons in front of the resorts.

20. Yokohama Beach

best beach in oahu

This beach is worth the long drive. Yokohama is a large beach to have the perfect beach day.

Only a few crowds, and they tend to be a local favorite. If you like to hike, there is a hiking trail you should go nearby and after take a did in the clear water.

Great for: Watch the sunset, swimming, beach day, hiking trails

Best time of year to visit: Summer

Parking: Free; Parking spots available 

Distance from Waikiki: +1hr 10 min drive

21. Pokai Bay Beach

The perfect beach for people that are not strong swimmers.The water is pretty calm and shallow.With soft and smooth sand you cant go wrong with the beach.

Great for: Watching the sunset and swimming

Best time of year to visit: year-round

Parking:  Parking spots available 

Distance from Waikiki: 45 min drive

22. Mākaha Beach

surfing in oahu best beaches

Makaha Beach is a great option to avoid tourist crowds.

This beach is excellent for a relaxing beach day to watch local surfers with a fantastic unobstructed sunset view, and it’s clean and has lifeguards on duty.

Great for: Watching the sunset, swimming, surfing

Best time of year to visit: year-round

Parking:  Parking on the side of the road

Distance from Waikiki: 55 min drive

23. Nānākuli Beach 

wide open beach in Oahu Hawaii

This beautiful beach is wide with fine sand perfect for swimming and a five min walk to the famous mermaid caves.

There tend to be big waves during the winter, and this beach has a restroom and showers available.

Great for: Watching the sunset, swimming, tanning,

Best time of year to visit: year-round

Parking:  Parking spots available 

Distance from Waikiki: 40 min drive

Map of Best Oahu Beaches

Best Tours in Oahu

🌺 Toa Luau At Waimea Valley

🤿 Go Snorkeling with Sharks Hawaii with One Ocean Diving

🚁 Full Circle Helicopter Tour Of Oahu

🦖 Drive Your Own 4WD UTV Through Kualoa Ranch

Where To Stay In Oahu

With Oahu being a dream vacation hotspot, it has many hotel accommodation options. Here are the best places to stay during your holiday in Oahu, Hawaii :

✔️Best Budget Accommodation 

Hotel Renew is a boutique hotel located in Waikiki, Oahu. The hotel’s prime location offers easy access to some of the island’s best beaches, shopping centers, restaurants, and nightlife.

The hotel is perfect for travelers looking for a blend of convenience and relaxation.

✔️Best Mid-Range Accommodation

Kaimana Beach Hotel in Oahu is a beautiful oceanfront boutique hotel with stunning views of the Waikiki skyline and Diamond Head.

The Kaimana Beach Hotel is also within walking distance of many popular attractions, restaurants, and shopping venues in the area.

It is an ideal accommodation for those seeking a peaceful and luxurious beach-front vacation away from the busy streets in Waikiki.

✔️Best Luxury Accommodation

 Halekulani Hotel in Waikiki is a true gem for anyone seeking a luxurious and unforgettable vacation experience.

Boasting stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, this hotel offers guests the perfect blend of natural beauty and contemporary design.

Three restaurants and a lounge on sight provide a flavorful escape for every taste bud.

The hotel’s location is also unbeatable – with easy access to Waikiki’s best restaurants, shops, and attractions, you’ll have everything you need right at your doorstep.

Wrap-up of 23 Best Oahu Beaches

Enjoy the island’s stunning beaches if you plan a trip to Oahu.

From the popular and crowded Waikiki Beach to the secluded and serene Lanikai Beach, there is a beach for every type of traveler to enjoy.

As a local, I can attest that these 23 best Oahu beaches are worth visiting. Whether you want to surf, swim, or relax on the sand with a good book, there’s no shortage of options.

So pack your reef-safe sunscreen and beach gear, and get ready for an adventure-filled day at one of Oahu’s beautiful beaches.

Planning a trip to Oahu, Hawaii? Here is a list of resources we use to book everything for our trips.

Skyscanner to search for the best flight deals

Booking.com for the best rates on hotels

Discount Hawaii Car Rental for the best car rental rates in Hawaii

Viator | Hawaii Tours for excursions and day tours


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