10 Best Beaches to Experience In and Around Honolulu



It's safe to say that most visitors to Honolulu choose this destination with visions of relaxing on long white sand beaches with crystal clear blue water. Luckily for those ocean goers, the coast of Oahu is riddled with the kind of beaches featured on travel agency posters and brochures. From beaches that offer a calm paradise in the summer, to others with world class surfing in the winter, and even more that are great for cocktails and people watching, Honolulu has a wide spectrum of sun, sand, and surf.

For beach goers looking for true paradise by the ocean, head out to the North Shore picturesque, white sandy beaches. At Waimea Bay treats visitors to a pristine calm bay in the summer, contrasted by monstrous surf in the winter. A jump rock and river add to the fun. Down the road at Sunset Beach, visitors will find... You guessed it, a wonderful place to watch the sunset. In addition, in the winter it's a perfect place to watch pro surfers dominate mind blowing waves, and in the summer it's generally calm.

On the east side, gems like Lanikai Beach and Kailua Beach Park are ideal beaches for ocean activities. These two locations are perfect for snorkeling, kayaking, boogie boarding, and wind surfing. In the heart of Honolulu is Kuhio Beach Park, a good spot for a break from the busy streets of Waikiki.

When exploring Oahu, remember that a wonderful beach is never more than ten minutes away.



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Malaekahana State Recreation Area and Goat Island


 

Relatively secluded, this strip of windward coastline plays host to overnight campers as well as to day visitors. Waters stretching alongside a white-sand beach make for incredible swimming, and you'll also find restrooms, showers, and picnic areas for your convenience. If you want to explore a bit, wade or swim to Goat Island (aka Moku'auia), a wildlife preserve that offers additional privacy and delightful stillness. It affords excellent swimming and lets you experience the islands as the ancients must have known them. This is favorite place for locals with families, who often take children to learn to surf when the waves are small.


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Created from a collapsed volcano crater, this bay is protected and calm, ideal for snorkeling, as you'll see from the crowds around you. The snorkeling is truly amazing, since the preserve protects the wildlife and creates a favorite place for the fish to come eat. It offers great opportunity for viewing marine life and also boasts a terrific beach and hiking trails. Additional facilities include picnic areas, showers and restrooms, concession kiosks, a volleyball court, and lifeguards. Although parking can be difficult if you don't arrive early, a shuttle bus runs from Waikiki in the mornings and makes return trips in the afternoons.


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Set along Oahu's windward (east) coast, this beautiful beach is ideal for swimming and for windsurfing. It affords amazing views of the area and isn't as crowded as some other island beaches. A stream bisects the park and adds another dimension to aquatic activities. Lifeguards watch over the beach, and you'll also find picnic areas, a volleyball court, restrooms and showers, food services, a bike path, and equipment rentals. This beach is in close proximity to Kailua town, where you can find an abundance of shopping, restaurant, and other hip town things to do. Come here if you're looking for ocean activities.


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One of Waikiki's first outdoor areas to be refurbished, Kuhio was once the favorite beach of former Olympic athlete and Honolulu sheriff, Duke Kahanamoku. Nowadays, the beach is a wonderful place to catch some rays, especially since its landscaping has been added to and improved, and there are new water features and hula mounds. The Wizard Stones � said to have been given healing powers by ancient Tahitians � have gained new prominence, and a statue commemorating Duke stands near his old stomping grounds. Take surf lessons at nearby Queens Beach, and enjoy the food and nightlife of Honolulu after dark.


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Home to the world famous surf spot known as the Banzai Pipeline, Ehukai Beach Park is one of the most coveted places to visit on Oahu. Also home to surf spots called Gums, and Ehukai, the beach is made of fine what sand that goes on for miles. Located across form Sunset Beach Elementary School the park isn't hard to find and has plenty of parking. You'll find cold water showers and bathrooms, and food isn't far away. Swimming is very dangerous in the winter and it's best to watch the surfers at that time. This is a great place for surf watching.


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Set on Oahu's windward coast, this gorgeous white sand beach offers incredible waters and the picturesque presence of two small, offshore islands. About a mile long, the beach varies in width, although its entire stretch provides soft sands and beautiful vistas out towards the ocean and of the Koolau Range. Along with swimming and snorkeling, kayaking and windsurfing are popular pastimes. The beach is protected by an offshore reef, making the waters calm on this quiet stretch of coastline. This is an ideal beach to spend a full day enjoying fun in the sun, complete with beach toys, snorkeling and lunch.


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Absolutely gorgeous, boasting what could possibly be the best sunset on the North Shore, as well as some of the craziest waves in winter and some of the best swimming in summer - that's how you can describe Ke Iki Beach. There are no showers, bathrooms or amenities here, but they're not far away at other beaches. Bring sunblock and water, although a supermarket is just minutes away if you need it. If the waves are big, look for swimming ponds farther up on the sand, they offer a safe haven to swim away from the open ocean. Simply put, Ke Iki is exquisite.


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Mother's Beach
Photo courtesy of Jade Eckardt


 

Located to the east of Sunset Beach, Mother's Beach is a section of white sand that offers calmer swimming than the rest of the area. It's a hot spot for parents and children, and on any given sunny day you'll find children building sand castles, climbing trees, body boarding and swimming. There's a picnic table in the shade of a tree offering a sun free lunch spot, but usually it's enjoyed by locals checking the surf. Mother's is accessible through a beach access path off of Huelo Street, or by walking a few hundred feet east from Sunset Beach, right off of Kamehameha Highway.


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This North Shore beach is a favorite with folks who follow the surfing circuit. During the summer, its two miles of white-sand shores are relatively safe, and you'll find swimmers and snorkelers frolicking among milder waves. Come winter, though, the surf runs high, and rip currents can be deadly. At this point, it's best to leave the imposing waves to experts and simply watch experienced folks tackle the ocean from a safe perch on the beach. There's full amenities - bathrooms and cold, outdoor showers - located across the street from the beach. Lifeguards add to the safety level in the winters especially.


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Deceptively beautiful, this scenic cove � home to some of the planet's most unforgiving surf � can mean death to naive swimmers. That is, in winter, anyway, when the waves churn up and some of surfing's best talents take to the sea to prove their mettle. In this season, rip currents are strong, and waves can rise to thirty feet. Summer brings calmer waters, however, and even mere mortals can enjoy the beauty of Waimea. Then, they're under the protection of lifeguards and can take advantage of picnic areas, restrooms, and showers. Located at the start of the North Shore, the beach should be enjoyed with the rest of the area.


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Meet Jade Eckardt

Raised on the Big Island of Hawaii, Jade has traveled the world and doesn't intend to stop, yet the Hawaiian Islands are still her favorite place. She spent seven years living on Oahu and...  More About Jade

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