Oahu beaches are listed here in geographical order starting from Waikiki and going around the island counterclockwise. Traveling in this direction affords you the safety of exiting and entering the road to your right without having to cross on-coming traffic.
The beaches listed here with lifeguards vary as to their hours. The hours per day vary and some are only present on weekends. Check with the lifeguard or local residents about current beach and surf conditions. Many beaches have restrooms but as with all public restrooms, their conditions vary greatly depending on how long it has been since they were cleaned.
Ala Moana Beach Park This beach with adjacent park is very popular with local residents. It has a protective reef which keeps the water calm and perfect for swimming. Though the quality of the sand is coarser and in some places rockier than at Waikiki, there is free parking which is almost non-existent in Waikiki. We have heard you should stay away from the beach and park after dark because it becomes a high crime area.
Waikiki Beach What is referred to as Waikiki Beach is actually 12 beaches covering almost two miles from Ala Wai yacht basin to Diamond Head. The beach is wide in some places to nonexistent in others during high tide as waves break against cement sea walls directly in front of luxury hotels such as the Sheraton Waikiki. The Kahanamoku Beach and Lagoon at the Hilton Hawaiian Village is an excellent beach with a reef that prevents unsafe swimming conditions. Next door at Fort DeRussy Beach you find more wide beach area that is rarely as crowded as Kuhio Beach Park that fronts Kalakaua Avenue further toward Diamond Head.
Fort DeRussy Beach This is one of the 12 beaches making up Waikiki. It fronts the Hale Koa military hotel and the U.S. Army Museum but it is open to everyone. It is one of the widest in Waikiki and is a great place for sunbathing and swimming. You can rent beach equipment here and beginning windsurfers enjoy the beach.
Hanauma Bay A breached crater creates an almost circular bay with a palm lined beach. This underwater park and conservation district has a rich coral reef with excellent snorkeling and there are areas in the reef near the beach which allow good swimming. Hanauma Bay is open 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. daily except Tuesday, when it is closed. It is popular so you need to arrive early to find parking and there is a fee for access.
Sandy Beach This is one of Oahu's most beautiful and dangerous beaches. It is a favorite for bodysurfing and boogie boarding. Visitors should be cautious because lifeguards make many rescues at this beach each year.
Makapuu Beach Makapuu is a favorite of island residents. Its water is calm enough for reasonably safe swimming in the summer, but be cautious because lifeguards make more rescues here and at Sandy Beach than anywhere else in Hawaii.
Waimanalo Beach Park A long stretch of golden sand beach on the windward coast. The water here is typically calm and gentle but can develop a shore break in rough weather. This is more of a "local" beach. Especially on weekends you will find many families picnicking and boogie boarders of all ages riding the waves. At times, some of the locals are not very friendly to tourists.
Kailua Beach Park This two-mile stretch of white sand beach gently slopes to the deep water. There are several contiguous beaches here and it is Oahu's windsurfing capital because there are normally onshore trade winds. Lanikai Beach is just south of Kailua Beach.
Kualoa Regional Park This is a very large grassy park with plenty of picnic areas and restrooms. It has a long narrow sand beach facing Mokolii Island, also known as Chinaman's Hat.
Sunset Beach This is the beginning of the famous North Shore beaches of Oahu. It is famous for its spectacularly large waves in the winter, but in the summer it is often as calm as a lake. Be sure to watch the waves from a safe distance when they are large because especially large swells can occur unexpectedly and have killed and injured many people over the years. It is located at approximately mile marker 9.
Ehukai Beach This beach is not visible from Kamehameha Highway but you can see the small parking lot and restrooms from the highway. The surfing area to the left of this beach is a very good place to watch surfers in the Pupukea and Banzai Pipeline (simply known as the Pipe by surfers) surfing area from the safety of the shore. There is plenty of room for sunbathing and when the ocean is calm in the summer it is also a good place for swimming. It is located at approximately mile marker 8.
Waimea Bay Beach Park
Haleiwa Beach Park This is a protected cove and offers safe swimming all year. It has a shallow sandy bottom. There are lifeguards during the summer months. The park is very large with shade and picnic areas.
Makaha Beach Park During the summer the beach is wide and can have a somewhat gentle slope. Dangerous conditions may exist between October and April and the beach becomes narrow. We rarely visit this area because it is on the northwest side of the island and is quite a drive from Honolulu.
Pokai Bay Beach Park A sheltered beach fronted by a sandy, gently sloping bottom with safe swimming year round. It is located across the bay from Wainae Regional Park in West Oahu off Highway 93.