Hawaii is one of the most fabulous places in the world to enjoy a good beach. The weather is wonderful, the ocean is crystal clear, and there are so many beaches that one is sure to meet perfection no matter what your ideal beach is.
Of all the Hawaiian islands Oahu has perhaps the most accessible beach land and diversity. Beach goers can enjoy numerous beach parks as well, where services such as bathrooms and showers are readily available. This is by no means necessary but I think it enhances a beach day trip.
We were lucky enough to spend 5 months on Oahu, some of that time in Waikiki at a hotel and the majority at a great rental home on the Leeward side. Throughout that time I would say we averaged 4-5 beach days a week. We made a point of visiting many different beaches and have picked these 5 from quite a large pool of well over 20 different spots.
Here is our pick for top 5 beaches on Oahu:
Located on the North Shore of Oahu, this beach is stunning and offers something very few beaches can...isolation! There will be others on this beach during the week but only a couple. It does get a bit busier on the weekends but it adds up to practically nothing in comparison to most of the other beaches.
The TV show Lost was filmed here and it is easy to tell why. An almost cliche spot, it is beautiful with clear waters and a mountain backdrop. Only downside is no facilities, so bring some bottles of water to drink and a few to rinse off with.
Pros: Reef for snorkeling, sea turtles 99% of the time, glider planes doing tricks right over head, soft sand, fairly calm waters although not best for small children or poor swimmers (no lifeguards).
Waimea is also located on the North shore. In the winter this beach has a raging pipe that only the most experienced surfers even dare to enjoy. But in the spring and summer months Waimea becomes a tranquil spot perfect for children and swimmers of all ability levels.
There are lifeguards, bathrooms and showers as well as vendors most days selling t-shirts and drinks. It is also a great spot as the Waimea botanical garden and waterfall is across the street so you can enjoy that as well as the beach.
The part my oldest son loves most is the famous jumping rock. A large rock, roughly 25 feet high, that juts out into the ocean is on the far side of the beach. You can climb up, wait in line and go for it! Get there early, the parking lot fills up fast.
Pros: Possibly the clearest water on Oahu on a good day, turtles most of the time, basic tide pools available to snorkel, facilities, and a cool jumping spot!
Lanikai is located down the street from the more popular Kailua beach in a residential and affluent community on the windward side of the island. I wish we had visited this one earlier in our trip, it is that great! The beach itself is pretty, nice soft sand, but really it is the activities here that set it apart.
Lanikai is a great spot to kayak, with a lovely seabird sanctuary island a short paddle away. The reef is not in great shape here but it is right off of shore, full of beautiful fish, and has a calm and gentle sloping entrance making it great for all ages.
You do need to park on the side of the road and walk a short path to get there and there are no services at all but believe me that won't matter. Now how to come up with a million dollars so I can move to this great beach area!
Pros: Great snorkeling, perfect launch area for kayaks, arguably one of the most beautiful areas of the island, calm waters!
White Plains Beach
Surfers take note, this may be the best beach for beginners on the entire island. Most people flock to Waikiki but there are so many people in the water that it quickly becomes irritating. A common second choice is the North shore but in the summer months the ocean is like glass on that side so again not great for surfing.
If you have your own board and are in the Leeward side this is the spot for you. The waves are strong enough to catch yet the area is calm enough that inexperienced surfers can really hone in on the basic skills. And as a parent I am thrilled with the 3-4 lifeguards always on duty.
Pros: Great surfing spot, lifeguards on duty, nice picnic and green space for throwing a ball and having a picnic, during the week you practically have the beach to yourself, full facilities, and a small restaurant.
Otherwise known as "back break beach", Sandy's is beautiful but should not be trifled with. We loved this beach for its gorgeous white fluffy sand, pounding waves, beautiful coastline views, and services available. It is located just down the street from Hanauma Bay on the windward side of the island, with a perfect view of the Halona Blowhole.
Even if you do not dare to enter the water, like me, you will enjoy watching the surfers and basking in the sun. This is a great beach but I cannot stress enough how rough the water can be. Sit on the beach and watch a bit before heading out and always heed the warnings of the lifeguards and posted signs.
Pros: Lifeguards are plentiful, full services including food, loads of parking, fun body boarding if you dare, and beautiful location.
Have you been to Oahu? Which is your favorite beach and why?