Oahu Beaches

Find the Perfect Beach on Oahu

Oahu, at 44 miles long and 30 miles wide, with over 200 miles of shoreline and home to roughly 1 million people, is the third largest and most populated island in the state. Aptly called “The Gathering Place,” Oahu offers some big city attractions with bustling restaurants and the world’s largest open air shopping mall. However, let’s be real — it’s all about the beaches!

Here's the Breakdown

Oahu-Map-Local Getaways-illustration by Audrey Towle

The North Shore has some of the longest and prettiest stretches of beaches on the island, is world famous for its big waves in the winter season and optimal year round surfing. The summer is much calmer and a good time for snorkeling. 

The West Side, on the leeward side, has a hot and dry climate with less crowded beaches, some excellent snorkeling, and good chances to encounter dolphin pods. It is, however, a little more rugged than the other parts of the island. 

The East Side, a.k.a. the windward side, is generally a little more wet and windy than the rest of the island, lined by the Ko’olau Mountain range, and is home to the famous Lanikai, Kailua and Makapu’u beaches. 

The South Side, referred to by Kamaainas as “town,” is home to Waikiki Beach, Diamond Head, and fun surf year round, but mostly in the summer months.

Oahu Beaches

Some like ’em hot (shade isn’t an issue), some like long (contemplative walks, anyone?), and others really only care about the surf break. Whichever way you like your beach experience, we’ve got the what’s what at a dozen of Oahu’s most popular beaches. For the 411 on showers, nearby food stops, and (as often as possible) the story behind the name of the beach, click below.

East Side

We have stretched the boundaries for East Side/Windward Side of Oahu. These range from the often wet Kahana  to always wild Makapuu.

South Side

Is there a more gentle, dependable wave on the planet than those found in Waikiki? Nope. But the south side offers an array of other great options too.

Pick Your Beach Type

Photo: Outrigger Waikiki

Photo: @HawaiiIslander

Photo: Ryan Pernofski

Last But Not Least — Safety First!

The ocean is powerful and unpredictable and sadly, too many visitors learn about this power, the hard way. To ensure a safe, injury free experience, select beaches with lifeguard towers, and always check for and read the signs on the beach about the water’s currents and conditions. Ask locals and lifeguards if you have any questions. Here are some quick tips:

  • Never swim alone, in high surf, or in murky waters near the river mouths.
  • Remember: eight days after the full moon, keep your eyes out for man-of-war jellyfish (look like blue bubbles) mostly on the East Side of the island and box jellyfish in Waikiki Bay, check the Waikiki Aquarium’s helpful schedule
  • If there aren’t any people in the water, there’s probably a reason for it.
  • Never turn your back to the ocean, and always remember, when in doubt, don’t go out into the surf unless you are completely confident of your abilities.

Visit hioceansafety.com for up to date information on Hawaii’s water conditions and beaches.

Photo: Subtle Cinematics

Safety First-Oahu Beaches-credit Subtle Cinematics:Unsplash-400x600 vertical
More Oahu Activities
Best Surf Schools on the North Shore
Best Golf Courses on Oahu
Love Whales? Here’s How to See Them and Protect Them at the Same Time

The Best Places to Scuba Dive on Oahu
The Best Music Venues in Waikiki Can Be Found at These Three Outrigger Venues

Did we miss your favorite spot?

Please let us know! Email us at editorial@localgetaways.com or tag us on Instagram @localgetaways_hi.

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