Oahu’s Best Beaches

It’s time to take a trip around the ever-famous island of Oahu for a beach bopping bonanza (I couldn’t help myself with the alliteration)! There are so many worthy beaches on this small but populated island that I’ll be breaking down my favorite beaches all the way around. There are seven of ’em (there was no way I could narrow down the list), so let’s get started.

Magic Island: Your visit to Honolulu wouldn’t be complete without a picnic at the ever-tranquil, always crowded, and aptly named Magic Island. It’s really not an island; rather, this is a beach park with a long stretch of man-made beach with tranquil waters that are protected by a man-made reef. Outside the reef are some of Ala Moana’s best surf breaks — namely Courts, Concessions, Big Rights, and Marine Land. Whether you’re visiting the Magic Island during the week or on the weekend, you’re sure to catch a scent of the kalbi or burgers on a barbecue grill, and the sight of at least a half dozen stand-up paddlers exercising their shoulders inside the reef pool.

Waikiki Beach: The beach itself is packed with tanning tourists, and the waters are jammed with beginner and local surfers, but there’s something uniquely Hawaiian about the “scene” around Waikiki Beach. This is quintessential Hawaii, and to not spend at least some time people watching or wading in its tranquil waters is like saying you’ve never been to Hawaii at all. Be sure to snap a shot of the Duke statue in front of Queens Break while you’re at it.
Diamond Head: It windsurfing is your thing, the Diamond Head is your haven. From atop Cliffs, you can see the snake-like swell for miles and watch the surfers and windsurfers catching their rides of the day. Head down the paved ramp to the beach, and claim a plot of sand for yourself. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot the beach’s frequent visitors — Hawaiian monk seals, who enjoy sunbathing by day. A word of caution, the beach can get a bit windy, and it’s not wise to park it under the rocky cliff, as rock slides are common.

Sandy Beach: The popular video of Barack Obama bodysurfing at Sandy Beach makes the waves here seem manageable, but proceed with caution: many amateurs have broken necks in the shorebreak at Sandy’s and the rip currents on any given day are not to be taken lightly! Sandy’s can draw majorly local crowds especially on the weekends. It is well-known as a high school hangout spot, but the scene here is just part of its appeal. The flat, open green is perfect for flying kites, and it’s an ideal place to barbecue or just chill out.

Lanikai Beach: This list would be incomplete without a shout out to perhaps the state’s most famous beach, Lanikai, just east of Kailua. Lanikai Beach has long been named as one of the world’s top ten most beautiful beaches — and deservedly so. The sand here is so white and fine, you might wonder whether you’re walking on a cloud, and the water is so calm and crystal clear that you can see your little pinky toe. It’s really a sight to behold.

Ehukai Beach: While Ehukai Beach itself isn’t anything too special, when winter rolls around, the pounding surf makes this the place to be. That’s because Ehukai is home to none other than the one of the world’s most famous surf breaks: the Banzai Pipeline. If you get here on a good day — or when a surf contest is being held (usually in December), you’ll be completely shocked and pleasantly surprised by the population of onlookers. Every foot of sand is claimed by hot surfers, bikini babes, and other attractive people. It’s really the place to be — but only in the winter months. If you for some reason miss the swell, head just a mile west and check out the turtles at Laniakea Beach.

Makaha Beach: If you’re brave enough to venture way out to the wild west of Oahu, your trip would not be complete without at least a brief stop at the beautful Makaha Beach. Perhaps the least crowded of all the beaches on this list, Makaha (the Hawaiian word for “fierce”), is also the most authentically Hawaiian beach of the bunch. The Keaulana family and Rell Sunn made this beach famous, and the place remains steeped in history and legend.