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Everyone who knows me also knows that Hawaii is the most beautiful place in the world for me! Especially because each island has its own special charm and is unique in its own way. In my opinion, Oahu should not be missing on any Hawaiian trip, because on the island you can find some of the most beautiful beaches, which I have ever seen. During the last years, I have explored Oahu many times and in this post I want to share the most beautiful beaches on Oahu with you, so that your own Hawaii trip will be unforgettable.

For a better overview, I have sorted the best beaches on Oahu according to their location and also rate them in different categories, so you can find the perfect beach for you quickly & easily.

Map with the best beaches on Oahu:

The best beaches on Oahu

The South

The densely populated and hotel-lined south side of Oahu offers less “secluded beaches” but also has its charms: these are the most beautiful beaches in the south of Oahu:

Waikiki Beach

Although Honolulu is in no way the definition of Hawaii for me personally, a walk on Waikiki Beach is a must on your list. Even though I’ve never laid down here to sunbathe & swim, Waikiki Beach is perfect for people watching, sipping a cocktail in the sun and watching the hustle and bustle.

→ Insider tip: The coolest beach access to Waikiki Beach is from Kalākaua Avenue via Surfboards Street (just after the Cheesecake Factory). The path is lined with surfboards and you’ll arrive right at the photogenic The Royal Hawaiian Hotel.

  • Visitor volume: Very high – The most famous beach in Hawaii (or even the world?) is ALWAYS well visited.
  • Accessibility: Easy on foot, but more difficult by car as parking is limited and expensive.
  • Are there showers on site? Yes, but not yet in all places
  • Is there the possibility to buy snacks / drinks on site? Yes
  • Suitable for swimming? Yes
Waikiki beach Oahu during sunrise seen from a drone, scenic view

Ala Moana Beach

You are in Honolulu, want to relax on the beach and Waikiki Beach is too loud and crowded for you? No problem! Only a few minutes away from Waikiki, there is a real insider tip in Honolulu: the Ala Moana Beach Park. Hardly any tourists ever come here, because there are no bars or souvenir stores, but the locals love it all the more. We first discovered this beach during our last Oahu visit and were immediately in love. Thanks to its location, you overlook the Waikiki skyline and Diamond Head, as well as surfers in the water. In the evening you can also enjoy the sunset. Locals meet here to jog, work out, barbecue and sit together. It’s a great atmosphere and a great contrast to touristy Waikiki Beach.

  • Visitor volume: Moderate to High – most visited during sunset, early morning (athletes) and weekends.
  • Accessibility: Good on foot and very good by car, there is plenty of free parking.
  • Are there showers on site? Yes
  • Is there a possibility to buy snacks / drinks on site? No
  • Suitable for swimming? Yes
sunset at the Ala Moana Beach on Oahu, Hawaii
overlooking the Honolulu skyline with a rainbow

Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve in the Southeast

At the southeast tip is not only one of the most beautiful beaches on Oahu but also the most famous snorkeling spot on the island: Hanauma Bay! The bay is an ancient volcanic crater that protects the bay from strong currents and waves, making it the perfect location for corals, fish and turtles. Because of this uniqueness, Hanauma Bay is a protected area and strict entrance regulations apply:

  • A paid reservation is required
  • Cost: $25 per adult (children 12 & under free) + $3 parking.
  • Closed Mondays & Tuesdays to allow the reef to recover
  • Admission Wednesday – Sunday from 6:45 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. (Closing time: 4 p.m., but you must leave the beach after 3:30 p.m.)

Hanauma Bay is incredibly popular and admission is strictly limited, so you should make your reservation several days before your planned visit.

→ You can find the link for the reservation here!

You’ll have the best snorkeling conditions during a Wednesday visit (after the bay has been closed for two days) as well as early morning!

  • Visitor volume: Moderate to High – strictly limited and by reservation only.
  • Accessibility: Good – there is paid parking. After entering, there is about a 15 minute walk. It gets a little more strenuous on the way there downhill and on the way back. However, there is also a shuttle on site for a fee
  • Are there showers on site? Yes
  • Is there the possibility to buy snacks / drinks on site? Yes
  • Suitable for swimming? Yes
The Hanuama Bay on Oahu, Hawaii with palm trees and blue water
The Hanuama Bay on Oahu, Hawaii with palm trees and blue water

Where else on Oahu is good snorkeling?

Alternatives to Hanauma Bay:

  • Kahe Point Beach Park in the east. It is also called “Electric Beach” because it is located near an electric power plant. Therefore you should not expect a dream beach, BUT the underwater world is one of the most beautiful on Oahu.
  • Kuilima Cove in the north. This spot is perfect for beginners due to its protected location. The beach belongs to Turtle Bay Resort, but is open to everyone for free.
  • Waimea Bay Beach in the north. Both a gorgeous sandy beach and an impressive snorkeling spot. With a little luck, seals (Hawaiian Monk Seals) can also be seen here!
sea turtle in Oahu, hawaii, snorkeling

Book your Hotel on Oahu for the best price:

 

The East

Between dream beaches and secret spots – the east of the island definitely has the most beautiful beaches on Oahu to offer! These are my favorites, which you can’t miss:

Makapu’u Beach

Imagine white sandy beach with turquoise blue water, black lava formations and green covered mountains in the background! All this embodied in the small Makapu’u Beach. When driving around the island, you can’t miss the Makapu’u Lookout, just a few meters in front of it! It offers the perfect view of the beach and the entire dream scenery! This special view always takes my breath away!

  • Visitor volume: Low to moderate
  • Accessibility: Good – there is a free parking lot with a small number of parking spaces.
  • Are there showers on site? Yes
  • Is there the possibility to buy snacks / drinks on site? No
  • Suitable for swimming? Yes
sitting at the Makapuu View point on Oahu, Hawaii, overlooking the Makapuu Beach

Waimanalo Beach

My absolute favorite beach on Oahu and for me also the most beautiful beach in the world! Waimanalo Beach has a very special place in my heart. The endless sandy beach has a great spot for everyone and the waves are usually just right to swim in without fear of being pushed too far out.

On weekends, it’s a popular spot for locals for BBQ’s and get-togethers with friends and family. Some even drive their trucks right up to the beach. A visit during the week is therefore much more relaxed – as a vacationer you always have time 🙂

Although there are no coconut trees at Waimanalo Beach (which, by the way, are not originally native to Hawaii, but were only ‘brought in’), but the conifers typical for Hawaii, but the view of the green overgrown cliffs and the island of Lanikai is just paradise.

  • Visitor Volume: Low to moderate during the week, higher on weekends
  • Accessibility: Very good – there are a total of two different parking lots directly on the beach
  • Are there showers on site? Yes
  • Is there a possibility to buy snacks / drinks on site? No
  • Suitable for swimming? Yes, if you are a good swimmer. Children should be accompanied in the water because of the waves.
the Waimanalo Beach on Oahu, Hawaii

Ka’a’awa Beach

A small and cute beach on Oahu, which is probably the most beautiful photo spot on the island! Ka’a’awa Beach offers a dreamlike photo backdrop, which seems to have sprung from a paradisiacal postcard. The beach itself is very narrow and offers hardly any space to spread out a towel in the dry, but a side trip to K’a’awa Beach should not be missed during your Oahu trip! Once you see this place with your own eyes, you’ll know why!

  • Visitor Volume: Rather low, many visitors only stay on site for a short time, as the beach doesn’t offer much sunbathing opportunities.
  • Accessibility: Very good – the beach is right next to the road. If you park your car on the side of the road and open the door, you are almost standing with your feet in the water.
  • Are there showers on site? Yes
  • Is there a possibility to buy snacks / drinks on site? No
  • Suitable for swimming? Yes
Sitting at the most beautiful beach on Oahu, the Kaaawa Beach
One of the most beautiful beaches in the world, the Kaaawa Beach on Oahu, Hawaii

The North:

The north of the island is known for its high waves and strong currents. Therefore, it is not the ideal coast for swimming, however, here you will find the best beaches on Oahu for watching surfers and admiring ‘locals from the sea’…

Sunset Beach North Shore

Sunset Beach, as the name suggests, is not only a beautiful place to admire the descending sun, but primarily known for watching surfers and the highest waves on the island! In winter, international surfing competitions are held at this very spot. But even if you miss this period, you will see talented surfers surfing here all year round. Really impressive! However, swimming can be life-threatening due to the high waves. So at Sunset Beach, you’re more likely to stay dry.

  • Visitor Volume: Moderate (high during competitions).
  • Accessibility: Very good – there is a big parking lot at the beach.
  • Are there showers on site? Yes
  • Is there a possibility to buy snacks / drinks on site? No
  • Suitable for swimming? No
sunset surfer in Oahu,hawaii at the sunset beach

Laniakea Beach

The best beach on Oahu for turtle watching is Laniakea Beach. Here you have, especially at sunset, daily an almost 100% certainty to meet the gentle giants while sunbathing and relaxing. Usually there is a turtle expert on site, who roughly marks out the area around the animals and answers questions from visitors. This way, the green sea turtles, which are unfortunately threatened with extinction, can recharge their batteries in peace and safety before they crawl back into the waves.

  • Visitor Volume: Moderate
  • Accessibility: Very good – there is parking on the opposite side of the road.
  • Are there showers on site? No
  • Is there the possibility to buy snacks / drinks on site? No
  • Suitable for swimming? Rather less, due to large stones in the water and strong currents.
sea turtle at the laniakea beach on Oahu, Hawaii, one of the best beaches on Oahu
sunset at the north shore beach of Oahu, Hawaii

The West:

Last but not least, the west coast must not be missing in this article with the most beautiful beaches on Oahu. In contrast to the south, the west is much less populated and there are no large hotels and shopping centers. When driving by car, to the western end of that road that leads around the island, you constantly see great sandy beaches. But most of them invite little to stop. But this is not because of the natural conditions, but because of the fact that there are alarmingly many tent colonies of homeless people settled here. It is hard to find a place which is not used as a campground… unfortunately, there are also garbage accumulations and the like to see… this I have never seen in Hawaii in this mass.

Nevertheless, a trip to the west side is worthwhile:

Keawaula Beach 

This beach has easily made it onto my list of the most beautiful beaches on Oahu: Keawaula Beach Park. Thanks to its location at the west end of the road, it’s the perfect spot to admire the sunset! Also the above mentioned colonies of tents are not to be found here!

But beware: Punctually at 7 pm, a ranger closes the barrier of the entrance to the parking lots. Who has not gone out before, must be until the next morning. however, there are some pitches on the roadside, which are still in front of this barrier and are accessible around the clock. So if you plan to visit Keawaula beach at sunset, you should definitely park your car there. You can enter and leave the beach on foot at any time – only the parking lot is closed off.

  • Visitor Volume: Low, hardly any tourists
  • Accessibility: Very good (parking possibilities see above)
  • Are there showers on site? Yes
  • Is there a possibility to buy snacks / drinks on site? No
  • Suitable for swimming? Yes
sunset at Keawaula Beach on Oahu, Hawaii

→ Tip: Although the road ends at this point, the Ka’ena Point hiking trail begins at the end of Kawwaula Beach. This leads to exactly the same place where the coastal road ends on the north coast. This is 4.2 miles / 6.7 kilometers per route, for which you should plan about 1.5 hours. You can also just hike a bit along the coast and then return to your starting point. Worth seeing is in any case the Monk Seal Beach, which is only accessible via this hike and where you can most likely see seals on the beach!

The beaches on Oahu are so diverse that the island has the perfect beach for everyone! Whether you want to snorkel, relax, experience something or swim in the waves – among the best beaches on Oahu you will surely find your personal favorite!

Do you have any questions about the beaches on Oahu? Feel free to write me a comment or a message on Instagram 🙂

sitting between shadows of palm trees at the most beautiful beach on Oahu,hawaii

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the best beaches on Oahu, Hawaii with map
the best beaches on Oahu, Hawaii with map

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