9 Gorgeous Oahu Beaches. How to get there, where to park and what facilities they offer.
When you think of Hawaii, you think of white soft sand and palm trees. You may even hear someone playing the ukulele as waves crash on the shore. Every beach we’ve been to in Hawaii was gorgeous and has different things to offer.
Whether it be going surfing, or just relaxing on the beach.
Since we had a young family, we were looking for calm water and a beautiful view. Here our some of our favorite beaches along with a couple of tips on how to get here.
Gorgeous Beaches of Oahu
Lanikai beach is known for its soft white sand and crystal blue water. In 2018 it came in number 23 for the top 50 beaches in the world. The two islands offshore are called the Na Mokulua with the one to the right being a bird sanctuary.
Lanikia is only a half mile long but if you come early to watch the sunrise there are only a handful of people around you.
To get to this beach you’re going to pass by Kailua beach. The road takes you around the corner to the left with a pillar that says Lanikai.
It’s a one way that goes to the right with side streets that lead to a one way back out towards Kailua. To get to the beach there are small sandy paths in between residential homes that lead you down to the water.
As the day progresses is can become crowded, especially on the weekend. Being as it is located in a small residential area with only one way in and one way out, there are parking bans along the side streets to help with the flow of traffic.
You can park to the side of the road, but space is limited and be respectful of residents driveways. If you are able to, try going early during the weekday.
- There are no public restrooms or changing areas but down the road at Kailua beach you can find both and a designated parking area.
Kailua Beach Park
Kailua beach is located in the town of Kailua on the windward side. From downtown Waikiki it is a 35 minute drive, depending on traffic. This beach stretches 2.5 miles with soft white sand and turquoise clear water.
Kailua beach has mostly calm water with a gentle slope that allows you to walk out a good distance before getting waist deep.
A little ways off shore to the left is Popoia Island, also known as flat island. A popular kayaking destination with a small beach area.
After you’ve enjoyed a day of relaxing at the beach, there is a restaurant across the street with indoor/outdoor dinning, along with a marketplace down the road. Or driving into town and check one of the many great restaurants.
- This beach park offers free parking, restrooms, outdoor showers, picnic areas and nearby kayak rentals.
Bellows beach is located in the town of Waimanalo. Turning onto Tinker road you’ll follow it around a couple of turns before you see this beautiful beach.
Bellows beach offers stunning views of the mountains, soft white sand and beautiful turquoise water. It can be a bit windy at times and the water a little more rough. Bring a body board and try your luck at catching a wave or two.
- This beach is split into two areas. The first area is the public beach open Friday through Sunday that offers restrooms and a camping area.
- The second is part of the Air Force station that you will need to show a military ID to enter. Through the gate you’ll find parking, restrooms, a convenience store, mini golf, playgrounds and cabin rentals near the beach.
Both parts of this beach are beautiful and worth the drive to get there. If you don’t have a military ID remember that the public area is only open Friday through Sunday and may be closed other times due to training.
Alan Davis Beach
Alan Davis Beach is located off to the side of Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail. Parking is in the same lot as the lighthouse trail. Both the Lighthouse trail and this beach area have the same entrance.
As you walk through you’ll see signs for the Kaiwi Shoreline Trail off to the right. Follow this unpaved trail for about 8 minuets and you’ll come to Alan Davis Beach
We had always seen signs for the beach but had never checked it out. One morning we decided to have a day date and go snorkeling at Hanauma Bay. Sadly the parking was completely full and we continued along the road. We decided to give this beach a shot.
Now there are some pros and cons to the beach. The sand isn’t as soft and white here and view around you isn’t of large, green mountains. But what you are getting is a very secluded beach.
Since its in a cove the waves aren’t to bad but if you’re up for more of an adventure, go around the corner to the left (looking at the water) you’ll find a path that leads you to a 2×6 plank that you can jump into the clear water below.
- This is a carry in carry out situation.
- Parking is in the same lot at the Lighthouse
- No public restrooms
Hanauma Bay is a popular tourist destination for those who love the beach and snorkeling. This popular spot fills up FAST! Getting there early is a must otherwise the lot fills up and you are turned away.
This park opens at 6am and is open every day except Tuesday, Christmas and New Years Day. It’s a dollar to park and $7.50 per person to enter the swimming area. Residents with proper ID, active military with ID and children under the age of 12 are free of charge.
Before walking down to the beach you have to watch a 10 minute presentation about the reef and how to protect it.
If you plan on coming back more than once a year you can sign up and skip the movie every time you enter within that year.
They have shuttles that offer rides down and back if you choose not to walk. At the bottom you can rent lockers for you wallet, phone, keys and anything else you need to lock away. You can also rent snorkels, fins and they even have prescription masks for those who are nearsighted.
We always enjoyed snorkeling at this popular spot. My favorite side is to the left looking at the water. It’s a bit more sandy in the water and I found it was easier to maneuver around.
Remember to try to contain your excitement. Otherwise you might hit your husbands head with the trunk of the car, knock over his energy drink and later gets stung by a man of war jelly fish.
Also hold tight to your wedding rings. My husband lost his while snorkeling there, so I guess you can say our love is as deep as the ocean. Rose and Jack…
- Parking fills up quickly and costs $1 per car.
- Must watch a 10 presentation before swimming in the bay
- Lockers and snorkeling gear are available to rent.
- Restrooms in the top main facility and down towards the beach.
The Ko’olina lagoons are located on the Leeward side of Oahu. Taking the Farrington hwy all the way to the resort exit, you’ll follow Ali’inui Dr past the resorts to lagoon #4.
This lagoon has free parking along with showers and restrooms. Although the parking lot is not very large, it is larger than the other lagoons when it comes to free parking.
These man made lagoons are gorgeous with its crescent shaped beach and rock walls protecting you from large waves. Although we didn’t see a ton of fish while snorkeling, it was still fun to snorkel around this calm lagoon.
Umbrellas are not allowed on any of the lagoon beaches, so be sure to leave this beach norm in the car. If parking is full you can pay for parking the next lot over at the Ko’olina Marina. Or try your luck at the Teeny Tiny Public lot off of Olani St, which will lead you to lagoon #1.
The Ko’olina resort area is such a fun spot to explore and do some shopping. The pathway winds around to all four of the lagoons.
Make sure you stop by Ko’olina shopping center across from the resorts. There you’ll find little boutiques and our favorite restaurant in the area, Monkeypod Kitchen.
- Free parking that fills up quick on the weekends.
- Restrooms and outdoor showers.
- No umbrellas allowed on beach.
Kaneohe sandbar isn’t exactly a beach but truly a fun adventure. If you’re military and have a boating license, you can rent a pontoon at outdoor rec, on the Marine Base in Kaneohe. Otherwise you can rent a kayak or take a tour with one of the companies in town.
This sandbar is only waist deep during high tide and soft white sand during low tide. Here we’ve seen a couple of sea turtles, fish and even man’o war jelly fish. So check the local news and maybe plan around when the jelly fish are in the area. They usually come around 9-12 days after a full moon.
Otherwise pack a lunch, bring a couple of floats and a football and get ready for an awesome day!
Although this is a high traffic tourist spot, its still fun to say you’ve been! If you can look past the crowd you can find a lot of fun things to do and maybe try surfing for the first time.
Our favorite thing to do was to walk the beach in the evening. The sun sets over the water and even though there are other tourists around you, its still an amazing memory.
After watching the sun set head on up towards the road. You’ll find high end boutiques and so many delicious restaurants. Lulu’s, Tikis bar and grill, Dukes and the Yard House were a few of our favorites.
- You’ll see signs for parking at many different hotels. Our favorite places to park were the zoo, off of Monsarrate Ave near the shell-free, across from the aquarium-meter parking, or across from the Hale Koa Hotel in their parking garage.
Hickam AFB Dog Beach
Our most easy, fun beach day was always at dog beach. I guess its really called Kamehameha Beach but that’s not what anyone on base would call it.
Despite its name, dogs are not allowed on the beach. A few years back they were, but that has since changed.
If you have access to Hickam Air Force Base, this is a kid friendly place to be. You turn onto a dirt road by the black building on your way to Hickam beach.
You can back your car up almost right to the beach. Bring a lunch or enjoy the sunset. The water never gets above your waist and at low tide you can walk out a good distance before it gets to rocky.
Sometimes in the mornings we were the only people there. It is the perfect spot to read a book in your Tommy Bahama chair, while the kids make sand castles and wave to the passing ships out on the water.
It was truly our own little piece of paradise.
- Parking in a dirt lot.
- No restrooms
Swimming in Hawaii can be dangerous. Always be prepared and understand your limits and skill level. The content on this website is for entertainment and informational purposes only. The information is to give a better understanding of what to expect although these are my personal experiences and yours may be different. This website, and person writing this post, is not responsible for any accidents, inconvenience, injuries, rescues, or loss of life by anyone who swims these beaches. Swim at your own risk.