Oahu’s Best BEACHES!

When most people think about Hawaii, they think about the beach. Rightfully so! Oahu has some of the best beaches in the world. Here is a list of my top beaches to visit – Oahu edition.

Fort Derussy Beachpark

While Waikiki Beach is arguably one of the most famous beaches in Oahu, there are other options close to the main hotel strip, Fort Derussy being one of them. Located right next door to Beachwalk, Fort Derussey is easily accessible from all of Waikiki. This long stretch of beach allows you to find a spot that is not overrun with tourists. You also have the option of renting an umbrella and chairs by the hour from one of the many rental companies along the path. Not only is there a fabulous beach, but there are also grills, racketball courts, a running track, and a playground. It’s fun for the whole family! Plus, the water is pretty calm and can accommodate the little ones with no problem. They also offer showers and a bathroom if needed.

Magic Island and Ala Moana Beach Park

Ala Moana Beach Park is located just next to the Hilton Hawaiian Village and across the street from the famous Ala Moana Mall. This the local’s version of Waikiki away from all the tourists. The water is extremely calm and a great spot for the little ones to play. Inside the park is a man-made lagoon known as Magic Island. The water is like glass with no waves at all. So, if you have tiny keikis, this is a perfect spot! The walk from the main strip on Waikiki is about 1.5 miles so easily accessible without a car. They have bathrooms and showers, as well as a fabulous running trail. This is the perfect city beach! The views of Diamond Head aren’t bad either. Oh, did I mention there is an L and L Barbque in the park? It’s a Hawaiian staple and a perfect lunch option.

Hanauma Bay Nature Perserve

Just outside of Waikiki and roughly a 30-minute drive is Hanauma Bay. Hanauma Bay is a magical place, sporting over 400 different species of fish and wildlife. My favorite are the green sea turtles! This is one of the best spots in Hawaii for snorkeling. A few key points when visiting Hanauma: 1) Get there early. They only have 300 parking spots, so once it’s full, they shut the gate! They open at 6AM. 2) The best day to visit is Wednesday, due to the park being closed on Tuesday. 3) You have to pay a $1 parking fee and there is a $7.50 charge for anyone over 12 years old. 4) They do offer shuttles from Waikiki if you don’t want to deal with parking. Make sure you make a reservation though – spots get filled quickly. 5) AND finally… Please take care of the beach and treat this land with respect. Every time I have visited in the past few years there is an abundance of guests that discard their trash on the beach. It’s heartbreaking and very bad for wildlife. Please treat this land with aloha!

  • This picture was taken at 7:30A. You can only imagine how this looks at 10A.

Halona Beach Cove

Halona Beach Cove sits right next to the Halona Blowhole and steps away from Sandy Beach. This is not a beach park, so no bathrooms or showers. You can however drive next door to Sandy Beach if you need those things. You can park in the parking lot for the blowhole and climb down to the beach. It’s small so it can get overrun with tourists pretty quickly. I would recommend getting there early. Nicknamed “Eternity Beach” as it’s the spot where they filmed that famous scene in From Here to Eternity, starring Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr back in 1953. It’s a must-see for movie fans and beach fans alike.

Waimanalo Bay Beach Park

Waimanalo Bay Beach is one of my favorites. It’s never really crowded and the water is perfect! It’s not really a beach hit up by tourists, so you can always find a spot to make you feel like the beach is all yours. The sand is pure white powder! You can also camp in the park, they have about 6 spots to do so. If you are interested, you must make a reservation for camping. There are also amenities if you need to shower, or use the bathroom. It’s a perfect spot for a picnic and to forget the day!

Lanikai Beach, Kailua

Lanikai Beach happens to be my absolute favorite beach on the planet! I have been all over the globe, and I always come back to this beach. Lanikai is located in Kailua and is a half-mile stretch of beautiful white sand and crystal clear water. The water is very calm, so it’s great for little ones! It also has a fabulous view of the Mokalua Islands. Getting to Lanikai is about 35 minutes from Waikiki via the H1. Now, this is not a typical beach park. There is no parking lot, showers, or bathrooms either. Parking can be a bit of an issue. There are 11 beach access points off Aalapapa Drive. You will have to find street parking, which can be tough at times, especially on the weekends. This is a must not miss!

Sunset Beach

Sunset Beach is one of the most famous beaches in the world, and the crowning jewel of Hawaii’s North Shore. Surfing’s “Mecca,” if you will! This is where the Banzai Pipeline is located, one of the best waves in the world. I travel every year to Hawaii and make sure I am there for the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing and the Big Wave Invitational in Memory of Eddie Aikau. The Triple Crown’s dates change to accommodate the conditions, but it’s normally the last week in November/early December. In the summertime, swimming is great fun for the whole family. In the winter, it’s another story! Waves can reach 30 ft and are very dangerous. There is a lifeguard on duty, though, if you feel brave. This is not only a great spot to enjoy the sun, but it’s also great to watch some of the world’s best surfers. Be aware parking is a nightmare. You will need to find street parking if there are not spots available, so be prepared to walk.

Waimea Bay

Just like Sunset Beach, Waimea Bay is night and day in summer, versus winter months (Nov – Feb). Waimea is known for its big wave surfing. This place has some serious history in the surfing community. If you want to check out some pretty impressive surfing… this is the spot! In the summer, this is one of the best beaches for family fun, and also a great spot for bodyboarding, swimming, and snorkeling. The parking lot is insanely packed 90% of the time. You will drive around it 100 times before getting a spot! There really isn’t any street parking, so the parking lot is your only option. Just be patient! They do have showers and a bathroom, if needed. If you are feeling brave and the swell isn’t too terrible, you can jump from the “jumping rock”. No matter when you visit, Waimea won’t disappoint!

The beaches in Oahu have a little something for everyone. Surfers, bodyboarders, snorkeling, swimming, or just sunbathing. There is a spot for your pleasure! Next up… MAUI! Mahalo for now…

Hi, I'm Tracy Kirssin Hanes

For over two decades, I’ve helped my clients explore and experience the world by seeking out the best it has to offer and sharing it with them by creating bespoke dream vacations. As a travel consultant, my work is so much more than booking hotel rooms, securing a rental car, and juggling a lot of logistics. (Though, of course, I take care of all that stuff too.) It’s about lining up those one-of-a-kind experiences that make you fall in love with a new place. All you have to do is pack your bags.

Nice to meet you!