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The Best Beaches on Oahu – Best Popular and Easy-to-find Beaches

When talking about an island made up of nothing but great beaches we could be here forever, so I’m going to break this post up a bit. These beaches are my favorite of the most popular beaches – the ones that are easy to find and filled with people. Going during the week will ease the crowding quite a bit at all but Waikiki Beach.

Waikiki Beach – I know, anyone who knows anything knows that Waikiki beach is very overrated. However, I still like it. It’s a long, it’s a wide, its convenient. There are breakwalls to create bathtub conditions for the babies in one section, and moderate waves (most of the time) for surfing lessons on another section. Restaurants, hotels, stores, and a walking trail line the back of the beach. There is literally something for everyone. You can paddle an outrigger canoe or the whole family can learn to surf. There are often concerts and free hula shows on the beach. One of the hotels gives a fireworks show on Friday nights. The sunsets are amazing.

Ala Moana Beach Park – this beach park is very similar and very close to Waikiki Beach. More local families hang out here and it lacks the stores and bars and restaurants packed right up against the beach, but behind the beach there is a fantastic large park with running trails and shaded picnic areas, plus enough space to play a game of frisbee.

Waimanalo Beach – This beach can be very crowded on the weekends. I like it because camping is allowed, the swimming and sand-play are great, it’s got plenty of facilities and shade, and it’s mostly gentle waves. Plus I prefer windward weather (the rest of the island is just to hot and dry for me).

Kailua beach – A wide, gorgeous beach with great kayaking and windsurfing and boogie boarding. The views are amazing. It’s crowded on the weekends like plenty of other beaches, but it’s worth it.

Lanikai Beach – Lanikai beach is right next to Kailua beach. It’s not a wide beach but it is a beautiful one. Just looking at Lanikai beach makes you think of the most perfect beach you can imagine. Consider a vacation rental in this area.

Sharks cove – Sharks cove on the North Shore is not a beach but it is fantastic for snorkeling. It is a protected underwater marine reserve meaning no one can catch fish here. Like all the protected marine reserves in the islands you’ll see more fish in one place than you can imagine. You might even see an octopus or a small bait ball. Only swimmable in summer months. Winter brings high surf.

Ko Olina lagoons – These west-side lagoons were made by the Ko Olina resort developers. As such they are practically perfect. There are 4 of them. They are perfectly-crescent-shaped lagoons fringed by sand and protected by rocks. Swimming is good all year long and snorkeling is decent out by the rocks. Great place for kids. Just tell the gate guard for the Ko-Olina Resort you are going to the lagoons.