With 227 miles (365 km) of coastline, there’s no shortage of spots to soak up the sun and surf on beautiful Oahu. Work on your tan at some of the most scenic shores in Hawaii by heading to one of the island’s best beaches. Whether you want to watch pro surfers riding the waves, snorkel in tropical serenity, or pack a picnic for a day of family fun, there’s something for everyone on the island nicknamed The Gathering Place.
- Lani Kai: With its vibrant turquoise water, palm-shaded sands, and steady sea breeze, Lani Kai, on Oahu’s windward side, lures locals and windsurfers alike seeking a non-touristy spot for enjoying the sea. The local pros at Kailua Beach Experience can introduce you to the best spots on this side of the island for snorkeling and swimming, giving you the chance to scope out green sea turtles in the protected waters of Kailua Bay and go for a dip at Lani Kai with access to showers, changing rooms, and beach equipment.
- Kahala Beach: A beat away from Waikiki, Kahala Beach is a quiet South Shore slice of island idyll and the perfect spot for a day spent building sandcastles, swimming along the shore, or cruising over the fish-speckled reef on a stand-up paddle board. Flanked by an affluent neighborhood and a golf course, there’s only one hotel on this peaceful strip of sand, giving it a completely different feel than Waikiki.
- Waikiki: It wouldn’t be a trip to Honolulu without a little time spent on the island’s most iconic stretch of sand. Splash in the waves where surfing greats like Duke Kahonomoku rode to fame, pop into historic hotels like the bright pink Royal Hawaiian, and grab a shave ice to cool down after a day spent swimming and surfing with Diamond Head as your backdrop. To get the hang of the island’s signature sport, sign up with the expert instructors at Ohana Surf Project, who can show you the surfing ropes during a private lesson tailored to your ability level.
- Sandy Beach: With its powerful shorebreaks, the surf at Sandy Beach is for experienced bodysurfers only—but it’s a great place to park on the sand and spectate as the island’s most skilled swimmers and surfers tackle the waves. Work up an appetite as you watch these aquatic athletes from the beach, and then head back into town for a tasty walking tour with the foodie guides at Aloha Food Tours.
- Waimea Bay: Venture up to the North Shore to beautiful Waimea Bay. In the winter, sky-high swells make this beach ideal for world-class surfing tournaments— guaranteed entertainment for beach-goers of all ages. In the summer, camp out under an umbrella with all the beach gear you need— you can even consider working up the courage to jump off the bay’s iconic rock if you’re feeling daring. With The Surf Bus, you can uncover all the best sights of the North Shore, and take your pick of outdoor activities, whether you want to bike, surf, boogie board, or just indulge in a classic plate lunch of garlicky shrimp and rice.
Looking for something more lively? Check out the top spots on the island for outdoor adventurers!