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If you’re looking for an epic beach vacation, Oahu is the place to be. From tranquil coves to world-renowned shore dives and surf breaks, the best beaches in Oahu have something for everyone. We spent most of our days exploring many of Oahu’s amazing beaches with our toddler, and I’m excited to share the best of what we found.

If crystal-clear water, pristine white-sand beaches, and gentle breezes sound like paradise, Oahu should be your next vacation destination. From the North Shore to the eastern and western sides of the island, you’ll find more beautiful beaches than most people have time to enjoy.

But while several of Oahu’s beaches conjure images of paradise, the island has a diverse array of beaches that offer much more than just views and relaxation. World-class surfing, incredible biodiversity and calm, kid-friendly waters are all features of Oahu’s beaches, depending on where you choose to visit.

Read on for my best Oahu beaches list!

Short on Time? Here are the Top 5 Beaches in Oahu:

  1. Ko Olina Beach Park, for the best family-friendly beach
  2. Shark’s Cove, for the best beach for diving
  3. Kaaawa Beach, for the most picturesque beach
  4. Kailua Beach Park, for the best eastern shore beach
  5. Kuilima Cove (Turtle Beach), for the best low-key beach

Looking for more information on Oahu? I have lots of posts on the island, including some on the best and most unique things to do, the best family-friendly hotels, and the best restaurants

Want to Explore Several Sights and Ticketed Experiences on Oahu?

Consider booking a Go City All-Inclusive Pass that includes 40+ Attractions!

The 13 Best Oahu Beaches

1. Hale’iwa Beach Park

13 Best Beaches in Oahu

Hale’iwa is a favorite among both tourists and locals for its laid-back vibe, incredible views, and green sea turtles. Part of an area renowned for surfing, its calmer waters provide better conditions for beginners and swimmers than most of the nearby beaches. It’s also easy to access off of Kamehameha Highway.

2. Ko Olina Beach Park

The Ultimate Ko Olina Guide (Where to Eat, Stay, and Play)

Ko Olina, the planned vacation and resort community in Oahu’s southwest corner, boasts four beautiful lagoons that provide an idyllic beach setting. With protected, calm waters, they’re great places for kids to swim. If you are planning a trip to this area, I have a complete guide to Ko Olina, including where to stay, eat, and play.

3. Kaaawa Beach

13 Best Beaches in Oahu

Kaaawa Beach, set below sheer cliffs on Oahu’s eastern shore is one of the most picturesque beaches on the island. The beach is stunning, but the strip of sand is narrow and the water is often rough or cloudy. Because of this, it is not ideal for swimming or sunbathing. People most often use the beach for photography, fishing, camping, and picnicking.

4. Shark’s Cove

13 Best Beaches in Oahu

For diving enthusiasts, Shark’s Cove is the place to be. Part of Pupukea Beach Park, this small, rocky bay is teeming with sea life that hides in the smooth boulders and coral heads that line its bottom. It’s been called one of the top shore dives in the world, but those who prefer to stay above the water can visit its tide pools.

5. Kailua Beach Park

13 Best Beaches in Oahu

This gem on Oahu’s east coast is a 30-minute car ride from Honolulu and worth visiting. Kailua Beach Park is a perfect beach for families. At about 2 miles long, it’s one of the largest and nicest beach parks on this side of the island, offering white sand beaches, excellent paddling conditions, lots of shade, and places for kids to swim. Parking is abundant and free.

6. Waikiki Beach

13 Best Beaches in Oahu

Perhaps the best-known beach in Hawaii, Waikiki Beach is a must when on Oahu. It’s home to several hotels and resorts and boasts great views of Diamond Head Peak. There’s so much to do in this area in addition to the beach itself, too. For a culinary guide, check out my list of the best restaurants in Waikiki.

7. Sunset Beach

Located among the North Shore beaches in one of the world’s top surf spots, Sunset Beach is a great spot to catch premier surfers in action during the winter months. In the summer, with flat water, it’s a great haven for snorkeling, not to mention watching the sunsets it’s named for. If you’re looking for more to do on Hawaii’s North Shore, read my post on the best things to do in the area.

8. Kuilima Cove (Turtle Beach)

13 Best Beaches in Oahu

Kuilima Cove — a small, shallow bay on Oahu’s North Shore — is sheltered and tranquil, making it one of the island’s best places for beginner snorkelers. Even with its shallow depths, it’s easy to spot abundant marine wildlife here. The cove sits next to Turtle Bay Resort, one of the best hotels in Oahu for families, but because it’s a lesser-known beach, it’s not usually crowded.

9. Makaha Beach

13 Best Beaches in Oahu

Makaha Beach, a pioneer in big wave surfing, holds the distinction as the best place for surfing on Oahu’s west coast, with waves reaching up to 25 feet in the winter. In the summer, when the water is calm, it’s a popular dive site. Beach amenities include showers, restrooms, parking, and a lifeguard.

10. Waimanalo Bay Beach Park

13 Best Beaches in Oahu

The longest stretch of beach on Oahu’s eastern side, or windward coast, Waimanalo Bay Beach State Park is a favorite among residents. It’s located on a 5-mile white sand beach on Waimanalo Bay, which boasts gorgeous panoramic vistas. It’s bordered by a distinctive Ironwood pine forest that sits between the beach and parking lot.

11. Lanikai Beach

13 Best Beaches in Oahu

With a name translating to “Heavenly Ocean,” Lanikai Beach is a sight you won’t want to miss. Many consider it Oahu’s most beautiful beach and one of the best in the world, with clear, aqua-blue water and pristine white sand. Sometimes called a hidden beach, there is no designated parking lot, but you can find residential parking nearby.

12. Waimea Bay Beach

13 Best Beaches in Oahu

A great beach for all sorts of water-based recreation (depending on the time of year), Waimea Bay Beach Park, located on the north side of Oahu, is the perfect place to spend a sunny afternoon. Big waves in winter can be intense, touching 30 feet. But in the summer, the waters are calmer, allowing for swimming and snorkeling.

13. Hanauma Bay

Things to Do in Oahu

Once a volcanic crater, Hanauma Bay is now a protected marine life conservation area. It’s a top snorkeling spot on the island thanks to its scores of tropical fish and coral reefs. This snorkeling tour includes round-trip transportation from Waikiki hotels and can help you avoid the hassle of parking and renting equipment.

What to Know About Visiting Oahu Beaches

What is the Nicest Beach in Oahu?

It’s an incredibly tough call to pick the nicest beach on Oahu with so many strong contenders. However, Hanauma Bay often comes up in conversation for the top-ranked beach given its unique landscape, epic snorkeling and incredible views.

Are there Sandy Beaches in Oahu?

There is an abundance of sandy beaches on Oahu, including some of the most iconic beaches in the world. Most of the beaches on this list will satisfy your criteria for a sandy beach on Oahu to enjoy.

Which Side of Oahu is Windier?

The windward side of Oahu is its eastern shore, where wind comes in to blow across the island. This is on the opposite side of Oahu from popular beaches like Waikiki and Ko’Olina, which are considered part of the leeward side of the island.

Tips for Being a Responsible Beachgoer

To protect the environment and Hawaii’s wildlife, it’s extremely important to leave no trace, which means making sure to dispose of all your litter and food waste. Wearing reef-safe sunscreen is also essential in Hawaii to avoid endangering its marine habitats.

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13 Best Beaches in Oahu

PS — Are You Booking a Trip Soon? Use My Booking Checklist!

These are the sites I use most to book my own trips. Using the links below is a great way to support Bon Traveler’s travel journalism at no extra cost to you. If you need help organizing your itinerary, get my free travel itinerary template here.

1. Book Your Flights

Use Skyscanner to find the best flights. It searches 100s of airlines and websites across the globe to ensure you’re not missing out on any route options or deals.

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Use for hotels and guest houses. They have the biggest inventory and consistently offer the best rates.

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Use Viator or Get Your Guide to find the best tours and experiences. They are my favorite tour search engines. I always check both as their inventory varies depending on the destination.

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Use Discover Cars or to find the best car rental deals. I recommend comparing rental agency reviews on Google to ensure you are booking with the best company in that destination, as the reviews are often more accurate than the car rental search engines.

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