Guide to the Best Oahu Beaches Hawaii
Three-quarters of Hawaii’s population live on Oahu, which has monopolized the islands’ trade and tourism since the first European sailors realized that Honolulu offered the safest in-shore anchorage in thousands of miles of ocean. Oahu effectively confines tourists to the tower-block enclave of Waikiki, just east of downtown Honolulu; there are few rooms anywhere else.
Overcrowding and rampant development mean Oahu can’t be recommended over the Neighbor Islands (as the other Hawaiian islands are known), but it can still give a real flavor of Hawaii. There are some excellent beaches , with those on the north shore a haven for surfers and campers, and the cliffs of the windward side are awesome. The surfing beaches of northern Oahu are famous the world over, but they’re barely equipped for tourists.
Waimea, Sunset and Ehukai beach parks (the latter is home of the Banzai Pipeline, the most famous surfing spot in the world) are all laid-back roadside stretches of sand, where you can usually find a quiet spot to yourself. Sunset is best for savoring the atmosphere, though surfers can be an exclusive bunch. The tame summer waves may make you wonder what all the fuss is about; if you see them at full tilt in the winter, you’ll have no doubts.
Located across from Sunset Beach Elementary School, Ehukai Beach is home of the Banzai Pipeline, the most famous surfing spot in the world.
The surf being the most spectacular in the world, can also be the most dangerous. The waves are steep and powerful and can come up within seconds. They also break furiously on the shallow reef – the cause of many broken bones and lacerations.
Ehukai Beach is calm and safe during the summer and good for swimming.
Hanauma Bay, situated in the crater of a volcano, is one of the more popular recreational swimming, snorkeling and picnicking areas on Oahu. This most beautiful of places is ideal – if you are a new scuba diver or snorkeler; and – just for swimming.
There are hiking trails with very pretty vistas and the park areas have good picnicking sites. Avoid walking on the rocky ledges where waves are breaking, they can be very dangerous. Rocks become slippery and are sharp, abrasive lava stone. Lava is very porous and it crumbles easily. It is a conservation area, so has strict rules such as no smoking, no consumption, and only 2000 visitor per day, so go early in the busy season.
Located five miles past Waimanalo, Kailua Beach is a world-class wind surfing destination. There are several shops in Kailua town which offer rental gear and that can arrange for lessons. Wide, sandy beach, is great for diving, swimming, sailing, snorkeling, and board- and windsurfing.
On weekends, local families consider it the place to go. There are generally no significantly hazardous ocean or beach conditions. If there is a problem it’s the pond in the middle of the park. This public park also has a broad, grassy area with picnic tables, a public boat ramp, restrooms, a pavilion, a volleyball court, and food stands.
Lanikai Beach, along Mokulua Drive, is regarded as Hawaii’s best swimming beach by Oahu’s residents, and once voted as the America’s best beach by famous Dr. Beach. This mile long golden beach is clean, usually surf-free, and pretty with palm trees and offshore islands across the water.
The year-round calm waters are excellent for swimming, snorkeling, and kayaking. The offshore Mokulua islands have small beaches where you can land and swim. Offshore islands function not only as scenic backdrops but also as bird sanctuaries.
One of the longest sand beaches in Oahu running two miles in length and 200-300 feet wide. Surfers around the world know this famous site for its spectacular winter surf – the waves can be huge, thundering peaks reaching up to 15 to 20 feet. Sunset Beach is also the home of major professional events such as the World Surfing Cup.
In the Summer when the ocean is calm, this beach has crystal clear water and beautiful white sand. The area is great for swimming and snorkeling. There is also wonderful tide pools great for collecting shells and observing the wonders of nature. Located 40 miles from Honolulu on the North Shore.
Just east of downtown Honolulu there is located one of the world’s most famous beaches – Waikiki beach. Home to the world’s longest-running beach party, Waikiki attracts nearly five million visitors a year from every corner of the planet. This is basically a two mile stretch of coast fronted by hotels and tourism related facilities and the very beautiful Kapiolani Park.
In high season Waikiki Beach it’s packed towel-to-towel, but is a very nice area where one can swim, canoe, surf and snorkel. The areas towards Diamond Head are near to the expansive picnic and recreational facilities, including those of Kapiolani Park.
Located two miles west of Sunset Beach, Waimea Bay Beach Park is home of the largest, dangerous, most spectacular, ridable surf in the world. When the surf’s up, often to thirty plus feet, even just the inshore break can be big – sometimes even as high as twelve feet.
There’s also a strong rip current running out at the center of the bay that can be treacherous. During winter, the surf can reach heights of 40 feet. During the summer the waters are calm and great for swimming.