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Popular Beaches on Oahu

Waikiki catamaran
Waikiki Beach

Most popular amongst tourists, you'll find beach-goers of all ages and interests frolicking in the water or lounging about on the sand, soaking up the warm island sun. Most of Hawaii’s beaches offer a plethora of exciting activities, and Waikiki Beach is a great introduction. Most popular is swimming and surfing, body- and boogie-boarding. There are also numerous stretches of small parks and pavilions that line the beach, with plenty of space for all sorts of outdoor activities— no activity at all.

Kaimana beach sunset
Kaimana Beach

Kaimana Beach, also known as Sans Souci, is a wide expanse that offers a welcoming ocean bottom both shallow and sandy. Protected by a reef, it's also an access point for surfers, who paddle out at the popular surf spot Old Man's. The current can be strong, especially after a high tide when the water is flowing out. Ask the lifeguard on the beach if you're not sure about the tides and wear fins if you plan to swim further out.

Kuhio Beach Waikiki
Kuhio Beach

Kuhio is a great place for swimmers to enjoy the warm tropical waters of Waikiki beaches. This beach also features more sand and less of the rocky coral reefs found further west along the Waikiki strand. Kuhio Beach has all park amenities including restrooms, showers, and picnic tables on grassy lawns. Local vendors have a variety of water sport equipment available for rent, including surfboards, body boards and snorkeling gear.

Laniakea Beach

At Laniakea Beach, the most important VIPs are sea turtles. Often called “Turtle Beach”, Laniakea is your best bet for an up close and personal experience with the rare and endangered Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle, called “Honu” by locals. These beautiful sea creatures flock to Laniakea because of the plentiful seaweed (called “limu”) which the animals feed on, and because this particular beach and reef area are largely safe from tiger sharks and other natural predators.

sunset beach view
Sunset Beach

During the warm, calm summer months, Sunset Beach is a great family destination for anyone looking to enjoy a beautiful stretch of one of Hawaii largest beaches. Over two miles in length, Sunset Beach accommodates large numbers of visitors without ever feeling as crowded as Waikiki. A sharp drop of the ocean bottom just offshore and a rip tide mean that swimming should be attempted only by veteran ocean swimmers. However, this same drop of the ocean floor makes a relatively friendly area for snorkelers looking to see some curious tropical fish out around the reefs.

Waimea bay beach
Waimea Bay Beach Park

Waimea has it all, and is an amazing beach to visit year round. If you’re lucky enough to visit Hawaii in the summer, the Waimea Bay Beach Park is an ideal calm and placid spot with white sandy beaches, perfect for picnics and amateur snorkeling and swimming. If you find yourself fortunate enough to see this same beach in winter, you will stand awestruck at walls of surf towering twenty to forty feet high, conquered by only the most courageous and intrepid surfers. No matter the season, this famous beach is a must-see destination.

Kailua Beach

Less than an hour outside of Waikiki, Kailua Beach is popular with locals for its half mile of soft white sand, turquoise water and gentle breezes, and is consistently rated one of the best beaches in America. Here you can learn to windsurf, body board, kayak or parasail, explore the dive shops and beachwear boutiques located near the beach, or just enjoy a picnic in one the area’s many shaded spots.