Oahu has over 100 beaches to choose from, including some of the best beaches in the world! With that many beaches, and just a week (or less!) on Oahu, how are you to decide which beaches to go to?!
Well, here are some Oahu beaches to narrow down your list of choices to add to your Hawaii travel bucket list. 🙂
But first, here’s the quick list for easy reference!
What are the best beaches on Oahu?
Most popular beach on Oahu
Snorkeling near Waikiki away from the crowds
Named one of the best beaches in the world
Enclosed lagoon on the North Shore
Good chance to see turtles at sunset
Popular marine life conservation district
Free hula show at sunset
Map of these Oahu beaches
It’s an interactive map of Oahu beaches on Google Maps, so go ahead and click to explore! If you’re coming from mobile Pinterest, it will work better if you first open up this page in your web browser. Then click on the map!
- Hawaii: What to wear hiking in Hawaii | Hawaii sunscreen ban
- Caribbean: Cruise formal night outfit ideas | Key West sunscreen ban
- More travel: When to avoid a trip to Japan
What are some of the best beaches in Oahu?
Waikiki Beach: Most popular beach on Oahu
Waikiki is the area where you’ll find most of the island’s hotels and shopping, so naturally, the beach in Waikiki is among the most convenient for many. Waikiki Beach stretches about 2 miles, and it’s a public beach.
Queens Beach: Near Waikiki away from the crowds
If you want to get away from the Waikiki crowds without completely getting away from Waikiki so you don’t have to deal with a rental car or bus, you might consider heading to Queens Beach.
Depending on where in Waikiki you’re located, it’s a 15-20 minute walk to reach Kapiolani Park and Sans Souci park, where you’ll find Queens Beach.
The park and the beach are named after Hawaiian royalty Queen Kapiolani. It would also be an easy bus ride too.
The lifeguard stations are numbered and lettered, so walk until you come across lifeguard tower 2F.
This is a good spot to set up for a picnic at Sans Souci Park, or set up for snorkeling at Queens Beach!
You’ll likely find lots of fish swimming here, and if you’re lucky, you’ll spot a sea turtle too! Also look for crabs crawling on the pier.
Being here, you’ll get the iconic Waikiki skyline in one direction, and if you wade out into the water far enough, you’ll see the iconic Diamond Head Crater views behind you too! (The Diamond Head Hike is the best hike on Oahu for views of Waikiki and Honolulu!)
There’s nothing that makes you feel like you’re in Hawaii than getting both of these views when you’re swimming, right?! 😉
Lanikai Beach: Named one of the best beaches in the world
For another iconic view of Hawaii, you can head to Lanikai Beach to see the Mokulua Islands. The pristine beach of Lanikai has been named by TripAdvisor as one of the best beaches in the world.
By car, it’s about a 30-40 minute drive from Waikiki.
If you’re not planning to rent a car for your whole trip on Oahu, you can make a car rental worth it by also adding in a hike with the Lanikai Pillbox Hike that’s just nearby!
The pillbox hike is about a 5-10 minute walk from Lanikai Beach.
You can take a bus to Lanikai too, but outside of Waikiki and Honolulu, the bus just isn’t as frequent, so you’ll have to time it well so you’re not waiting a long time for the bus.
It will also likely take at least 1 transfer to get to Lanikai from Waikiki by bus.
Sharks Cove Beach: Enclosed lagoon on the North Shore
For another place on Oahu that will make a single-day car rental worth it, you can head to the North Shore.
Here you will find lots of worthy stops to find a full day of activities in the area.
So make it a day trip to the North Shore from Waikiki!
The North Shore is known as the place to go on Oahu for high surf during surfing season, which generally speaking, is during the winter months.
When there’s high surf, these waves can coming crashing over the barrier at Shark’s Cove making for undesirable snorkeling conditions.
- Things to do with one day on the North Shore
- Things to know about Shark’s Cove
- Shark’s Cove snorkel rental prices
- What to wear snorkeling
Laniakea Beach: Good chance to see turtles at sunset
Sticking with the North Shore, you’ll definitely want to add Laniakea Beach to your list of places to visit when you’re on the North Shore if seeing turtles is on your bucket list of things to do on Oahu.
Laniakea Beach is also called Turtle Beach, and it is one of the most reliable beaches for turtle sightings on Oahu.
So if you’re looking for where to see turtles on Oahu, try this beach!
This doesn’t mean that a turtle sighting is guaranteed when you go, as there are plenty of people who have gone to Laniakea Beach and not see a turtle, only to leave disappointed.
At this beach, there are 3-4 of the same turtles who regularly come to the beach, and the evening before the sun goes down is a good time to catch at least one of them basking in the sun.
There are volunteers here who make sure that everyone keeps their distance from the turtles to keep the turtles safe and well for years to come!
Waimea Bay is another North Shore beach you’ll pass on your way to Shark’s Cove and Laniakea Beach when you’re coming from Waikiki.
Hanauma Bay: Popular marine life conservation district
Hanauma Bay is another place where you’ll find volunteers to protect marine life. Hanauma Bay is also one of the Marine Life Conservation Districts on Oahu.
This means that special care is taken to protect the marine life here. Queens Beach and Sharks Cove are also a part of other Marine Life Conservation Districts.
Hanauma Bay is also one of the most popular snorkeling spots on Oahu.
This means that it’s even more important that everyone who visits does their part to keep ideal living conditions for the marine life who depend on the bay as their food source.
There’s even a mandatory video that you need to watch before you enter the waters of Hanauma Bay.
This is so that you can help to keep the coral reefs of Hanauma Bay healthy and long lasting. Preserving the coral reefs will help to keep those colorful tropical fish in the bay for years to come too!
Koko Head is located pretty much right in front of Hanauma Bay.
Kuhio Beach: Free hula show at sunset
Surely when you visit Hawaii you want to experience a bit of Hawaiian culture too? 😉
Well, for a bit of a taste of that Hawaiian culture, you don’t even need to leave Waikiki!
Several times a week, there is a free hula show with a display of Hawaiian dance and music in the heart of Waikiki at Kuhio Beach.
It’s the perfect opportunity to enjoy the views of the sunset on the beach while waiting for the hula show to begin.
Just before the cultural show begins, there’s also the lighting of the torches and blowing of a conch shell.
Things to maybe pack for your trip to Hawaii!
Now, here are some things that you just may want to add to your Hawaii packing list for beach trips and more!
- This case so you can take pristine underwater pictures with your phone when swimming! (It’s cheap!)
- This waterproof pouch so you don’t have to worry about leaving valuables on the beach
- These types of beach shoes so you don’t have to worry about hidden rocks under the sand!
- This type of beach bag that’ll help you dry things out so you can be ready for the next beach day!
- For your beach outfits, take a look at…
- These packing cubes so you can find the stuff in your suitcase easily once you land in Hawaii so you waste no time getting out and about!
HAPPY OAHU BEACH PLANNING!
Best shoes for your active vacationHit search at the top for any of these items to get more variety on Amazon through these affiliate links!
- Walking: These types of hiking sandals. For walking in hot weather, they are more breathable than shoes, while still giving you necessary traction on the trails. Also see these travel sandals.
- Beach: These types of beach shoes. For beach walking, wading in the water, and rocky shorelines, they can prevent cuts from hidden rocks or when bumping into coral reef.
- What to wear hiking
- What to wear snorkeling
- What to wear on a cruise formal night
Best things to pack for active travel- First-time snorkelers love full-face snorkeling masks.
- These UV protection shirts are a hit so you don't have to keep re-applying sunscreen and don't have to worry as much about getting sunburn!
- These types of small backpacks are perfect for a day out so you can carry essentials... and snacks!
- And these popular packing cubes can be a life-saver when you're traveling!
Don't get your valuables stolen when you travel- On city excursions: This neck pouch that tons of people love. It makes it harder for money to be stolen, and RFID-blocking feature stops thieves from scanning your credit card info when they are close to you.
- At the beach: This type of pouch that you can easily take your wallet in the water with you, instead of leaving on the beach.