There are few places on the planet with consistent gentle rolling surf ideal for beginners and waves big enough to satisfy the pros. The ease-right-in temperature of the ocean makes it hard to resist spending time floating Dead-Sea-style. For a quick and cheap flotation device, head to an ABC store and spend the $5 on a raft or tube, don’t throw them away, those pink and green rings can last for years, simply deflate at the end of the trip and spend $2 to have them blow them back up next time you visit.
From the Hilton Hawaiian Village at the north end to the Kaimana Beach Hotel at the south, the entire stretch of white sand is two miles long and with many distinct areas known to locals. For this post, we will distinguish a few of the best known. For the most part you will be able to walk in the sand, however, there are a few spots like in front of the Halekulani Resort, and the Sheraton, where the seawall meets the ocean with a cement walkway to connect you to the sand, just follow the signs to stay on the public path.
For a better overall view of walking Waikiki, check out this video by Gus Virtual Tours taken in December 2020, when there were very few tourists.
Kaimana Beach, also called Sans Souci (named for the first hotel in Waikiki), is located on the south end of Waikiki next to the War Memorial Natatorium and in front of the Kaimana Beach Resort. With plenty of room on the sand, and showers on the grass, and some public parking, this protected beach is a great spot for families and popular for locals. Don’t miss Kai Sallas Surf Shop, called KSLCO Store. If you want grab-n-go snacks, the Russel’s Convenience has most anything you would expect, for a sit down meal, Hau Tree at the Kaimana Beach Resort is our top choice.
Kuhio Beach Park is across from the Honolulu Zoo and just beyond the Waikiki Aquarium and is known for bodysurfing, boogie boarding, swimming, snorkeling and surfing. On land you can’t miss the co-ed volleyball games happening throughout the day. Kuhio Beach is known for the jetties that create shallow calm waters ideal for kids. Kids love to come here and let the tiny fish nibble their toes. Also, this stretch is ideal for swimmers who aren’t as comfortable with waves and deep water. Kuhio is named for Jonah Kūhiō Kalanianaole, who was a prince of the Kingdom of Hawaii, until it was overthrown in 1893. He then became a member of congress representing the Territory of Hawaii.
Queen's Surf Beach
This beach gets its name from the fact that Queen Liliuokalani’s beach home was located here. There is a convenient drop off and pick up spot around the huge banyan tree, for those heading out to surf.
Fort DeRussy Beach Park
Fort DeRussy Beach Park is the widest swath of white sand fronting the Hale Koa Hotel. There are plenty of shady spots on the grass, volleyball courts, beach rentals, showers and public bathrooms.
Kahanamoku Beach is a manmade section of beach and lagoon fronting Hilton Hawaiian Village that’s named for Duke Kahanamoku, who many consider the father of surfing. Atlantis Submarines launch from here.
The only two private spaces on Waikiki are in front of the Moana Surfrider and Royal Hawaiian Hotel, called Kahaloa and Ulokou. By private, this means there are sectioned off areas located near the hotels, up from the water for lounge chairs and umbrellas otherwise the beach is open to everyone.