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Best Beaches on O`ahu

Welcoming the largest number of visitors compared to any other Hawaiian Island, O`ahu is the perfect tropical paradise for all. The island features large urban areas and vast areas of natural beauty. Perhaps the most famous of its attractions are the many beaches found around the island. Which beach you decide to visit might depend on a number of factors from the season, your location, or your desired beach activities. 

Divided into four geographic areas, O`ahu’s shores each offer different experiences. For calmer, leisure beaches suitable for any swimming level, take a trip to the Leeward Coast or the South Shore. These beaches are perfect for all ages and many of them offer short-term rentals so you can try your hand at surfing, stand up paddle boarding, or snorkeling. The North Shore and Windward Coast features beaches that get sizable swells depending on the season. The North Shore during the winter months is famous for its large surf, attracting the best and bravest surfers from around the world.

Lanikai Beach

Located on the Windward Coast of O`ahu, Lanikai is perhaps the island’s most famous beach. The beach’s clear blue waters and calm waves make it the perfect place to relax and soak in the heat of the Hawaiian sun. A popular family beach, Lanikai is great for swimming and kayaking. A mere 10 minutes drive away will take you to Kailua. Here you will find a wide array of small, local businesses. After a long day at the beach, you may want to visit Island Snow, a regular shave ice spot for former President Barack Obama. Because of its location on the Eastside of the island, Lanikai is perhaps one of the best places to view the sunset. If you can wake up early enough and find a nice spot on the beach, you’ll be rewarded with unparalleled views of the sun rising over the Pacific Ocean. 

O`ahu's best beach - Lanikai Beach

The only downside to Lanikai Beach is the parking. Unlike some of the other beaches on O`ahu, Lanikai does not have a designated parking area. Instead, you will need to park on the street. Be aware of parking signs that prohibit parking as you will get ticketed or towed for illegal parking. The beach itself can be accessed through several beach access roads. Keep an eye out for the blue beach access signs or simply follow other groups in the area. 

Waikīkī Beach

Almost everyone coming to Hawai`i is familiar with Waikīkī. Featuring world-class dining, shopping, and entertainment, Kalākaua Avenue is never more than a few minutes away from Waikīkī Beach. Actually, the two-mile stretch of sand is made up of many different individual beaches but the area is popularly referred to as Waikīkī Beach. Once home to the legendary waterman, Duke Kahanamoku, Waikīkī Beach is a great place to learn how to surf. Featuring calm waves throughout the year, many beginner surfers can be regularly seen out in the water. Surf lessons and board rentals are scattered along the beach.

O`ahus best beaches - Waikiki

Hanauma Bay

Attracting thousands of visitors each day, Hanauma Bay is one of the top destinations on O`ahu. Home to hundreds of tropical fish and marine wildlife, Hanauma Bay is a must-visit for snorkelers of all ages. Measures have been taken ti preserve the area after it was declared a protected marine life conservation area and underwater park in 1967. Now, first-time visitors must watch a short educational video before entering the park. After watching the video, you will be able to walk or ride the tram down to the beach. There are snorkel and locker rentals available as well as a snack bar. 

O`ahu's best beaches - Hanauma Bay

For visitors, there is a $25.00 entrance fee and $3.00 parking fee to enter the parking lot. However, the parking lot fills up very quickly so we encourage you to find alternative transportation to the park or arrive early. Beginning in April 2021, a reservation system was put in place to limit the number of daily visitors. Tickets must be reserved and paid for in advance of visiting. Tickets can only be purchased two days prior to the reservation date and sell out quickly, so plan accordingly. 

Turtle Bay

Named after the large number of green sea turtles that inhabit the area, Turtle Bay is one of the North Shore’s most popular beaches. For those lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the sea turtles, please respect the wildlife and stay at least 10 feet away. Most species of sea turtle are endangered and protected under federal law. 

Outside of the sea turtle sightings, Turtle Bay is also a popular spot for surfing, diving, and fishing. Be aware that the waves can be dangerous, especially in the winter months. Stay out of the water if conditions seem rough as there are no lifeguards stationed here.

O`ahu's best beaches - Turtle bay

The above mentioned beaches are only the four most popular of O`ahu’s many beaches. With access to beach amenities and relatively easy access, there’s no wonder why these beaches attract such large crowds.

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