Oahu Best Beaches
South Shore Beaches
For those who love the beach, look no further than Waikiki. With its long stretch of white sand and turquoise blue water, everyone enjoys this paradise for swimming, surfing, snorkeling, and more. From Hilton Hawaiian Village on the west side to Kapi'olani Park on the east, Waikiki boasts a beautiful tropical climate with tons of activities and events for all ages. Find more high-rises, high-end restaurants, and resorts pepper along this popular destination's borders.
History of Waikiki: The Present Meets the Past
Waikiki, which means spouting waters in Hawaiian, holds a beautiful history of great water activities in Hawaiian culture. For instance, in the 1800s, the Hawaiian royals created Waikiki as their playground, where they enjoyed surfing on longboards. Today, the longboard tradition continues, as the water here provides the best conditions. Eventually, the royals initiated several launching of smaller hotels in the 1800s. By 1901, they launched their first large hotel, the Moana Surfrider. Historic hotels dating back to the early 20th century include the beautiful Royal Hawaiian Hotel. Today, the area boasts every kind of accommodation to cater to the tourists drawn to Waikiki Beach every year.
Directions to Waikiki Beach
When visitors come to Waikiki Beach, most come to stay for easy access by foot to this beach area. However, consider taking the public bus or rideshare services if you're coming from another Oahu site. Parking here is such a hassle.
- Beach Showers –All beach sections have different shower options.
- Bathroom facilities – You can find public bathrooms at Fort DuRussy, Kuhio, Queens & San Souci Beach. For other beaches, head to local establishments for bathrooms.
- LifeGuard Stations – All beaches except Outrigger Canoe Club Beach & Grey's have them onsite. Watch out for body surfers and surfers, as they may not see you. Inexperienced swimmers watch out for all waves, which can become dangerous when met aboard.
- Restaurants and food stalls: Many beachfront hotels and small shops have different options.
- Barbeque Grills & Tables – Head to Fort DuRussy , San Souci and Kapiolani Park.
- Parking – Find street parking in front of Queen's Beach, San Souci, and Outrigger Beaches. You can find a parking garage at Fort DuRussy Beach Park.
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2023 Oahu Visitor Guides
If you're visiting Oahu soon, be sure to download your copy of one of our updated 2023 Oahu Visitor Guides. We've updated both travel guides with a lot of new great information for potential visitors (and those who've been a time or two as well).
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Enjoying Waikiki's 8 Best Beaches
Waikiki offers plenty of variety regarding its beaches, and this shore is divided into several sections. The beaches we have selected are some of the most popular in Hawaii and Waikiki. Whether you're looking for an easy day trip from Honolulu or want to spend your whole vacation there, here is a list of 8 must-visit beaches on Oahu:
1. Duke Kahanamoku Beach
Duke Kahanamoku Beach holds an excellent reputation for its fantastic water sports. Every day, people flock to this famous beach. Just as it can accommodate sunbathers, people galvanize here for kite surfing, swimming, windsurfing, and paddleboarding. Additionally, you can access surfing lessons, rental kayaks and paddleboards, sailing classes, scuba diving, snorkeling tours—the list goes on and on! The calm waters also make it one of the best swimming beaches in Waikiki, with lifeguards on duty daily. Additionally, visitors can access the beach's artificial lagoon for swimming with its boardwalk.
2. Prince Kuhio Beach
The best part about visiting Kuhio Beach is that it's safe for children and easy to explore. You can play in two waters: thrashing ocean waters or the enclosed swimming area known as the "The Ponds." "The Ponds" consist of two back-to-back concrete walls that stretch about 40 yards into the ocean. Such an enclosure provides a calm saltwater pool that is great for leisurely swimming, especially for children.
3. Royal Hawaiian Beach
What are some of the incredible views you can enjoy while relaxing on Royal Hawaiian Beach? As you look over Diamond Head, pause to reflect on its beauty. Then wade into the Beach's warm, blue waters. Additionally, savor the pink Royal Hawaiian Hotel with its mission-style bell towers.
If you're lucky enough to visit this breathtaking Beach, take advantage of all the great activities it offers. There's something for everyone here, from swimming and sunbathing to kayaking and paddleboarding. The nearby beach activity center offers canoe rides, surfing lessons, and more! Plus, with views like this, who could resist? Aloha!
4. Gray's Beach
Gray's Beach is a small beach on the east side of the Halekulani Hotel. It is located just west of Diamond Head; this Beach can be inundated with water at high tide. Hence, we warn against swimming during certain times of the day. Moreso, Honolulu's local government recently replenished much of Waikiki's sand, but Gray's section still lacks enough sand.
5. Fort DeRussy Beach Park
Fort DeRussy Beach Park offers space for you and your family to explore and spread. Besides the beachside, enjoy this Park's vast grassy section for picnicking, playing volleyball or tennis, playgrounds for children, grilling, or relaxing. Other features include free access to the military museum, which greatly values by any history buff. On the beachside of Fort DeRussy, discover the beauty of another Waikiki beach without any crowds. The water is clear, blue, and usually calm- perfect for paddle boarding. Head to nearby rental stores to rent equipment or take lessons in surfing or paddleboarding!
6. San Souci Beach
Kaimana Beach-also known as San Souci Beach- has a mild, gentle wave pattern. The calm waters make for great swimming, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding. Kids especially enjoy playing in the shallow portions of this beautiful Beach. The walls of the War Memorial Natatorium partially enclose these shallow waters, which makes this Beach so kid-friendly. Head to (south of) the War Memorial Natatorium to reach this beach.
7. Queen Kapiolani Beach
Queen's Beach starts right at Kapahulu Avenue, at the pier. Queen's Beach runs parallel to Kuhio Beach Park. This area may draw more folks during weekends, but fewer crowds gather here on weekdays, especially compared to other beaches. Waves here are quite gentle, so they're usually suitable for kids too! If you're looking to spend your time in the water, this is a perfect spot. Not only can visitors rent boards and play along the Waikiki Wall, which offers views of oceanic action and a gorgeous skyline, but they should also try boogie boarding! Queen's Beach launched its first outdoor 1000-foot movie screen in entertainment! They hold special movie screenings known as "Sunset On The Beach." Before every screening, the community puts up stalls dedicated to music, comedy, food, and other types of entertainment. Hopefully, during your visit, you will get a chance to witness this display.
8. Outrigger Canoe Club Beach
The last stretch of Waikiki Beach is a private paradise where you can enjoy beautiful Hawaiian sunsets. To access it, one must walk across the eastern end of San Souci beach, which has stairs to take them over onto Outrigger Club beach. For easier access, walk through the Lotus at Diamond Head Hotel parking lot and find the small alleyway next to the Colony Surf Hotel that will lead you down onto Outrigger Club Beach. Wearing reef shoes during low tide will make accessing this Beach safer and more accessible.
Oahu is known as "The Gathering Place," Waikiki Beach does this moniker justice. Visitors worldwide enjoy world-class dining, shopping, activities, and resorts, particularly along the main strip of Kalakaua Avenue. There are so many things to do in Waikiki that there's something for everyone.
- Surfing: Waikiki Beach is a popular spot for learning to surf. Though the wave size can rise during the summer, the waves remain relatively stable. This makes it ideal for beginners to learn surfing. For this reason, you can find some surfing lessons here. Even advanced surfers will enjoy the rides here! Some of the best surfers in history used this beach as one of their stomping grounds.
- Snorkeling: Snorkeling at Waikiki Beach is a great way to experience the ocean and find colorful fish and sea turtles. We recommend applying reef-safe sunscreen and checking ocean conditions before getting in the water. You can easily find rental equipment at various ocean sports shops at this beach.
- Sailing(tours): Do you want to see Waikiki's towering skyline and Diamond Head Crater? Consider going on a sailing tour. Sails depart daily from the shores to provide excellent views for you and your family. Sunset hour sails take advantage of an open bar for a romantic getaway.
- Standup Paddle Boarding: Enjoy some standup paddleboarding depending on water conditions. You can rent the boards at almost any surf shop, and the shop can suggest the best point of entry, given the current conditions.
Nearby Oahu Beaches
The Waikiki neighborhood extends from Ala Wai Canal in the northwest. It also boasts a beautiful 100-acre Ala Moana Beach Park, with a mile-long stretch of sand on the northern side. On the East, you can find Diamond Head. The surf here is known for a long, rolling break, ideal for taking a surf or paddleboard lesson. The ocean is relatively calm year-round, but it's pretty shallow, with numerous rocks.
Nearby Activities and Sights
Enjoy the many things to do in Waikiki for everyone. Visitors worldwide enjoy world-class dining, shopping, activities, and resorts, particularly along the main strip of Kalakaua Avenue. There are myriad events, such as surf competitions, outdoor music events, hula dancing, and outrigger canoe races every year.
Into the broader vicinity are a variety of attractions such as Pearl Harbor, Iolani Palace, Hanauma Bay, Chinatown, and so much more.