Fave Five Oahu Beaches

Associate Editor Deanna Ting picks some of Oahu's best places for sun, sand and surf

By: By Deanna Ting

A quick disclaimer: There’s no argument when it comes to the beauty of Hawaii’s beaches. Those beaches, found on all eight major Hawaiian islands, are undoubtedly some of the most enchanting in the world, each with its own unique charms. I’m no certified expert on all the beaches on every island, but I will say that the following are some of my personal favorites. Feel free to clue me into some of your favorites, too, by leaving a comment below.

Kailua Beach Park 

Kailua Beach Park // (c) 2008 Honolulu.gov
Kailua Beach Park
(c) Honolulu.gov

What I can’t get over after is how blue the water is at Kailua. It’s not that murky sort of blue; rather, it’s something clearer and purer — almost turquoise in fact. What I love most about this beach, too, is the number of activities you can do, from kayaking to swimming and bodysurfing. Even better, you can picnic at a grassy park that borders this windward beach. The sand here is ultrafine, too, making for soft landings but not so great snorkeling conditions. Trees along the park provide just the right amount of cover if clients are caught without a beach umbrella. Advise clients to pay attention to the strong undertow, too. The waves might look calm but they really aren’t.

Waimea Bay 

Definitely a daredevil’s paradise, thanks to its famous, perfectly situated rock, Waimea Bay is one of North Shore’s best beaches for free divers, scuba divers and even rock climbers. (I’ve spotted a few along the cliffs). While this beach can produce waves of up to 50 feet high, it’s rather calm in summer. I can definitely see why they film “Lost” here, thanks to the idyllic summer setting and unsettling winter conditions. Another plus to this beach is its proximity to one of my favorite eateries on the island: shrimp trucks parked along the road in Kahuku and Haleiwa.  

Ala Moana Beach

This might not be the prettiest beach in town, but it’s certainly one of the busiest, excluding Waikiki, of course. Why? I think it’s a combination of great location (just across the street from the massive Ala Moana Shopping Center) and accessibility (the waves are calm; it’s shallow; and you can spot fish here while you snorkel). For families who want to spend a day at a beach that isn’t as packed as Waikiki, this is ideal.

Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve

A snorkeler’s paradise. Trying to make it out here in time might be harrowing for non-early birds, but no matter — it’s worth the early morning wake up call. Even if you’re not a snorkeler, the hot conditions are perfect for laying out, soaking up rays and people watching, too. Clients who want to learn more about all the forms of marine life they spot while snorkeling along the curved bay should check out the 10,000 square-foot Marine Education Center.

Makaha Beach Park

I’m no local, so I tread lightly when I come to this beach, located on the leeward side of the island. This place is home to Hawaii’s big-surf competitions, so I hope one day I’ll get to visit in winter, just to sit on the beach and watch the monster waves crash along the sand. In summer, though, it was definitely calm and peaceful. Tranquil almost. The sand even glitters as if it were gilded. 

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