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Your beach vacation deserves the best Hawaiian Island for beaches. Here are the best beaches on the Hawaiian island with the best beaches.
With 227 miles of shoreline, Oahu is the best Hawaiian Island for beaches. Oahu has the best beaches in Hawaii due to Oahu’s many protected bays, reefs surrounding the island, gold-sand beaches, and calm waters year-round.
Oahu is the Island in Hawaii With the Best Beaches
We will be honest here. The best beaches in Hawaii come down to Oahu and Maui. They both have gold-sand beaches that go on for hundreds of yards, miles in some places. But, after living on Oahu and Maui, Oahu is the clear favorite. As Oahu has the most swimmable beaches and most easily accessible beaches, it takes the prize for the best beaches in Hawaii.
As the second oldest major Hawaiian Island, Oahu has 227 miles of shoreline. You won’t find towering sea cliffs on Oahu as you find on Kauai or Molokai. Oahu’s two ancient shield volcanoes have slowly eroded, making the mountains slip into gold sand beaches across the entire island.
Oahu has the best beaches in Hawaii due to the following:
- Easily accessible – either in Honolulu or a quick drive away, beaches are easy to reach
- Beach Park facilities – most of the best beaches have restrooms, showers, and free parking
- Calm waters / swimmable – even during the high surf of the winter months, one can find beaches on Oahu that are safe for swimming (but stay clear of the North Shore beaches during the winter!)
- Gold and white sand beaches – while there are no black sand beaches on Oahu, you will find ample gold and white sand beaches to explore
- Many secluded beaches – while Waikiki is popular, there are many other less crowded Oahu beaches
Oahu is the best Hawaiian island for beaches because of these top 10 beaches:
- Sandy Beach, Windward Oahu
- Makapuu Beach, Windward Oahu
- Waimanalo Beach Park, Waimanalo
- Lanikai Beach, Kailua, Oahu
- Kualoa Regional Park just north of Kaneohe, Oahu
- Pupukea Beach (Shark’s Cove), North Shore, Oahu
- Waimea Bay, North Shore, Oahu
- Ko Olina Lagoons in Ko Olina Resorts on the west side of Oahu
- Ala Moana Beach Park, Honolulu, Oahu
- Waikiki Beach, Honolulu, Oahu
See our 10 Best Oahu Beaches article for more details on the ten beaches above.
Waikiki Beach and Lanikai Beach near Kailua Town are world-famous. Lanikai with its turquoise waters has the Mokulua Islands offshore and lush, tropical mountains behind it, making Lanikai a popular place for locals and visitors. Parking can be hard to find at Lanikai as there are no public parking spots. Similar to Waikiki, Lanikai Beach can get busy.
Arrive early to find street parking and be courteous to those that live in Lanikai by not blocking driveways.
Looking for all things Oahu? Check out our Oahu Travel Guide for details on visiting Oahu.
While Waikiki Beach is infamous for being crowded, the beach is still worth a visit. Nestled underneath Diamond Head and a mere 15-minutes from downtown Honolulu, the 2-mile stretch of beach has something for everyone. One can go surfing, paddle boarding, outrigger canoeing, swimming, or just relax on the beach.
Related article: How Much Does a Trip to Hawaii Costs for a Family of Four?
If you are looking for a quieter part of Waikiki Beach, go to the far ends like Queens Beach on the Diamond Head side or Duke Kahanamoku Beach on the Ewa Side (west side).
Our favorite areas with long stretches of beach are Oahu’s North Shore and Waimanalo Beach on East Oahu. These beaches are ideal for walking, swimming, sunbathing, and exploring.
Oahu Beaches are the Best for Calm Waters
If you are looking for the best beaches in Hawaii for swimming, Oahu is the place to go. South Oahu, from Honolulu to Ko Olina has calm waters year-round.
For the best beaches for swimming due to calm waters, check out Ala Moana Beach Park just outside of Waikiki. Ala Moana Beach is in front of the Ala Moana Shopping Center. The large park and beach is a favorite for locals.
At Ala Moana Beach, head to the cove near Magic Island, on the Waikiki side of the beach. Here you will find a large reef protecting the beach, perfect for swimming.
But the best place for calm waters on Oahu is the Ko Olina Lagoons. Four man-made lagoons are part of the Ko Olina Resorts. You don’t have to stay at the resorts, like the Aulani Resort and Spa by Disney or Four Seasons, to swim and relax at these lagoons.
The Ko Olina Lagoons are perfect for families as the rock jetties make the water just lap the beach. Lie in the sand as the kids play in the shallow waters. Or swim laps in the lagoon as they can feel like swimming pools.
All beaches are public in Hawaii, so enjoy all the beaches you can reach!
Secluded Beaches on Oahu
Escape the crowds of Waikiki Beach to explore the many other beaches surrounding Oahu. Oahu can feel busy with the skyscrapers and the traffic. All the more reason to hunt down these secluded beaches on Oahu.
Here are our favorite secluded beaches around Oahu.
- Sandy Beach, East Side
- Makapuu Beach, East Side
- Waimanalo Beach, East Side
- Electric Beach, West Side
- Ko Olina Lagoons, West Side
- Kualoa Beach Park, Windward
- Ke Iki Beach, North Shore (summer months only)
Hop in a rental car, take The Bus, or the Waikiki Trolley to escape from your resort to find a secluded beach. The beaches above are either large or not well-known to attract crowds. Either way, you won’t be fighting for a place to lay your beach towel.
Oahu Beach Safety and Ocean Temperatures
A word of caution on visiting Oahu beaches. The beaches on Oahu’s North Shore and East Side experience high surf and strong currents during the winter months. Look at lifeguard flags and check the weather report for going into the water.
If in doubt, don’t go out.
You will find warm waters throughout the year, across Hawaii’s beaches. No island has beaches warmer than another. You can expect ocean temperatures to hit a low of 75 degrees during the winter and a high of 80 degrees during the summer months.
Check out this article for the best Hawaiian Island to visit during the winter.
The Second Best Beaches in Hawaii
Maui has the second-best beaches in Hawaii, in my opinion. Some will say they are the best but we can’t ignore the many accessible beach parks across the island and the calm waters at the fabulous southern beaches on Oahu.
If you have your heart set on Maui, then you will not be disappointed in the selection of lava coves and turquoise waters. Plus, Maui is the best Hawaiian Island for snorkeling so enjoy!
Explore the articles above to find the best beach on Maui for you and your group.
What is the Calmest Beach on Maui?
Maui has a lot of tucked-away coves and picturesque bays that make for calm waters. Swimming is popular all year long but during the winter months, some of the most popular beaches like in Northwest Maui can become too dangerous for swimming.
For the calmest beach on Maui, look no further than Lahaina’s Baby Beach. Lahaina’s Baby Beach is the best beach for families in Maui.
Baby Beach has a large reef 100 yards offshore, making for calm waters inside the reef. Soak up the sun, play in the sand, and don’t stress about the kids playing in the water.
Does the Big Island Have Nice Beaches (Island of Hawaii)?
The Island of Hawaii (Big Island) has some of the best beaches in the state along the west coast. As the youngest Hawaiian Island, the Big Island is best known for its black sand beaches like Punalu’u black sand beach. The Big Island also has amazing white sand beaches like Hapuna Beach and Manini’owali Beach.
If you’re looking for a beach vacation with some adventure, we recommend visiting the Big Island. While the Big Island doesn’t have the volume of beaches like Oahu, you can find plenty of excellent snorkeling and sunbathing beaches.
As we mentioned, the best beaches are found along the Kohala and Kona Coasts on the west side of the island. You will also find the best weather along the west side of Hawaii, meaning warmer and sunnier days than on the Hilo side of the island.
Some of our favorite Big Island beaches are the following:
- Manini’owali Beach at Kua Bay (Kona Coast)
- Kikaua Point Park (South Kohala District)
- Hapuna Beach (South Kohala District)
- Spencer Beach Park (South Kohala District)
- Punalu’u black sand beach
- Magic Sands Beach Park (Kailua-Kona)
- Papakōlea green sand beach (southern tip of Hawaii)
Does Kauai Have Good Beaches?
Kauai is full of beautiful beaches (it is hard to go wrong with beaches in Hawaii). The best beaches are found along the north shore, east side, and south shore of Kauai.
Kauai has the longest beach in Hawaii. Located on the southwest side of Kauai, Polihale Beach is 17-miles long. But, that doesn’t make Polihale Beach a good beach to visit.
Polihale Beach is beautiful but strong winds, a military base, and a long drive will most likely result in you being stuck in the sand, making the beach a challenge to visit. But how are the other Kauai beaches?
During the winter months, the north shore experiences high surf making swimming and even visiting the beaches dangerous.
For the calmest beaches on Kauai, visit the south shore. Poipu and the surrounding beaches are the best year-round beaches to visit on Kauai. See our 7 Best Kid-Friendly Beaches on Kauai for more information on the calmest and safest beaches on Kauai.
Are You Still Deciding on the Best Hawaiian Island to Visit?
The best Hawaiian Island for beaches is but one reason to visit Oahu. But is Oahu the right island for you? While we love Oahu’s beaches, the nightlife, shopping, and hiking are other reasons to head to the Gathering Place.
But if you are looking for snorkeling, luxury resorts, and a volcano then perhaps Maui is your place to go.
Have some fun with our Which Hawaiian Island to Visit Quiz.
Once you pick your island, then finish your planning with our Hawaiian island itineraries. Our itineraries include planned excursion days on where to go, what to do, and where to eat. Your planning will be complete and then it is time to hit the beach. An Oahu beach of course!