Honolulu, the capital of Hawaii, is located directly on the coast and boasts miles of breathtaking beaches that stretch both east and west from the city’s central region surrounding the island of Oahu. Beachgoers have a choice of beaches within a 30-minute drive to the town, ranging from highly developed beaches fronted by hotels and condos, like Waikiki Beach or Ala Moana Beach, to more undeveloped and unspoiled beaches, such as Kailua Beach or the beach beneath Diamond Head.
Several types of tourists will be drawn to the various beach types. Beaches with roped-off swimming and wading areas protected by reefs, like Waikiki or Magic Island, are ideal for families with young children. Surfing beaches like Sandy Beach are great for those seeking waves to surf, boogie board, or bodyboard.
This list of the top beaches in the Honolulu region will help you locate the perfect stretch of coastline for your favorite water sport.
#1. Magic Island
This island, which lies between Ala Moana Beach Park and the Ala Wai Yacht Harbor, is really a man-made peninsula close to Waikiki. The entire peninsula was formerly created to be a resort but eventually turned out to be a park. A little harbor formed by a nice-sized, gently curving beach and protected by a man-made reef can be found near the end of the peninsula.
The waves are quite tranquil because of the reef, and the beach is level and smooth. On the other side of the yacht harbor, there is a beach that is not sheltered, although the waves are often calm. However, within the peninsula is a huge park with camping, hiking, and restroom facilities. Kayaking and SUPs are other popular activities on the beach.
#2. Kailua Beach
Kailua Beach Park, a short 30-minute drive from Honolulu, and is one of the top beaches in Honolulu. It offers a wonderful, authentic Hawaiian beach experience. With a warm, azure-blue sea, the three-mile-long beach is broad and has smooth, white sand. As a matter of fact, wading and swimming are both ideal activities in the calm surf. Also, a 35-acre park with hiking trails, basketball facilities, volleyball courts, and other recreational amenities surrounds the beach area.
There are lifeguards and a number of amenities at the beach (restrooms and outdoor showers). Kayakers and SUP users have easy access to Kailua Beach (stand-up paddleboards). In addition, are some hip, local spots to dine and shop in the little town of Kailua.
#3. Waialae Beach
Around 30 minutes from the center of Honolulu, Waialae Beach Park is a small, immaculate beachside park in the Kahala neighborhood. Shoes of some sort are required to enjoy the water at this beach. This is because of the coarse sand and rocky terrain. Towards the top of the beach, close to the tree line, there is a stretch of smooth, white sand. The beach is sheltered by a reef, so the surf is quiet despite the fact that it may be windy and the region is popular with windsurfers. You can fish from the beach, and the water is warm and vivid blue. Because of how lovely it is, many couples choose to have their nuptials there.
Furthermore, there are several parks and picnic places beyond the dunes. If you stay at the Kahala Hotel & Resort, it will take you six minutes to walk there. While not brand-new, this sizable resort is close to the beach and boasts a dolphin lagoon.
#4. Sandy Beach
A broad, curved beach called Sandy Beach, one of Honolulu’s best beaches is situated in a residential area about 40 minutes outside of downtown Honolulu. Apart from the gentle sand, food trucks frequently park at Sandy Beach. It is also a well-known surfing beach, swimmers should be careful because of the severe riptides and high waves that attract surfers. The beach is ideal for bodyboarding and bodysurfing since the waves break close to the shore. There are a few restrooms and outdoor showers, as well as on-duty lifeguards. There are various picnic places with tables away from the shore.
#5. Kahanamoku Beach
Although large and congested, Waikiki Beach is still a fantastic beach. Waikiki is made up of several, smaller beaches that stretch for more than two kilometers. The location where it is the broadest is called Kahanamoku Beach (named for Duke Kahanamoku, the father of surfing). On one side is a stunning, expansive white-sand beach, and on the other is a five-acre artificial lagoon. The lagoon has no waves at all, and the beach has mild waves, making it an excellent place to swim and stand-up paddleboard. A line of towering, swaying palm trees surrounds the space.
Even if the beach may be crowded, you can always locate an area of your own. The enormous Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort, most renowned for its 10,000 square-foot “Mega Pool” and the opulent Paradise Pool, a multi-level aquatic playground with waterfalls and a waterslide, sits just across from Kahanamoku Beach. Also, the resort offers planned children’s activities, a pool just for kids, free beach equipment, yoga, and fitness classes, and a full-service spa.
#6. Ko Olina
This man-made beach resort complex has some lovely, well-maintained beaches and is only 30 minutes from Honolulu. While there are just a few sizable resorts in the neighborhood, the beach is open to the public and has lifeguards, bathrooms, and outdoor showers. Also, there are many eating alternatives available because each resort has a number of restaurants. The beach is dazzling white with beautiful sand and a light blue sea. Wide and gently curved, the main beach lagoon is spacious. This beach is ideal for families with children because of the exceptionally gentle surf.
Moreover, the curved lagoon’s center lies directly in front of the Marriott’s Ko Olina Beach Club. Three outdoor pools, including one only for adults, various eating establishments, and an on-site spa are all features of the sizable resort. There is a kids’ club, so adults can have some alone time, and lots of activities for the whole family to enjoy. Outdoor fires, a grilling area, snack bars beside the pool, a convenience shop, and free beach equipment are additional property facilities.
#7. Hanauma Bay
Hanauma Bay is a beautiful natural bay that was created inside a long-gone volcanic cone. Being a popular snorkeling location, the bay is more of an attraction than the beach. It seems like you’re swimming in a huge aquarium because of the calm, clear water and the richness of marine life. It is a designated underwater park and marine life protection area.
Across the wide, flat beach, there are a number of restroom sites. Also, there is a shop to buy snacks and rent snorkeling equipment. Most importantly, there is an entrance fee for this beach as well as a fee for the shuttle from the parking lot (it’s a far walk). Nearly all resort hotels offer day tours to Hanauma Bay, which is roughly 30 minutes from Waikiki and includes transportation and snorkeling equipment.
#8. Sans Souci Beach
The far end of Waikiki’s Sans Souci Beach (also known as Kaimana Beach) is rarely populated. While mostly frequented by locals, it’s a fantastic area to get away from tourists farther down the beach. Sans Souci is located across from Kapiolani Park, which is home to the Honolulu Zoo and the Waikiki Aquarium, near the end of Waikiki Beach. The small, flat beach has soft sand and one lifeguard tower. Despite the absence of a reef to provide protection, the surf is mild. A grassy park area is located behind the beach, and there are facilities and outdoor showers there as well.
On the beach, you may find the New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel. The hotel delivers subtle elegance and commitment to customer satisfaction of the Japanese brand. Private balconies are a standard amenity in the guest rooms, which also include self-serve laundry, bike rentals, and restaurant room service.
#9. Ala Moana Beach Park
Between Waikiki and the downtown area lies this well-liked beach. The region may be more known for the sizable mall just across from the beach, but there is also a lovely, sometimes empty 100-acre beach park there. The super-smooth surf, produced by a 1,000-foot-long protected reef, is another attraction in this area. It creates a huge, shallow wading pool between the coast and the reef that is ideal for young children. The sand on this lengthy, flat beach is a gritty white color. Throughout the beach’s length, there are lifeguards, restrooms, and food concession booths. The park is bordered by a walking/biking path and features tennis and basketball facilities.
In addition to this prominent luxury resort hotel, The Prince Waikiki, is situated across a lagoon from Ala Moana Beach and a short stroll from Ala Moana Center and the Kaka’ako neighborhood’s shops and eateries. A view pool, hot tubs, spa services, a sun terrace, and on-site nightly entertainment are among the hotel attractions.
#10. Diamond Head Beach Park
Although the vistas and hikes in this region are well-known, the beach in front of Diamond Head is often quiet and empty. Diamond Head, an old volcano that resembles a mountain, is situated at the end of Waikiki Beach and towering above it. Just past Kapiolani Park, at the end of Waikiki, lies the beach area. Apart from the scenery, this little beach’s features include the tidepools, the Diamond Head Lighthouse, and the large waves that are popular with surfers. Swimming is dangerous due to the shallow reef and lack of lifeguards. A few streets from the beach, The Lotus Honolulu at Diamond Head is located at the foot of the mountain. Every suite has a private lanai, and some have eye-catching sites of diamond heads.
#11. Makalei Beach
At the eastern end of Waikiki, Makalei Beach Park is a small, undeveloped park right close to Diamond Head Beach Park. Due to the reef just offshore, the beach is not suitable for swimming. Makalei features a lot of shade thanks to a large banyan tree and the palm trees that line the beach, unlike some of the other Waikiki beaches in Honolulu. There is a grassy area with chairs and picnic tables beyond the private beach, which is not very broad, especially at high tide. There are no restrooms or lifeguards present.
At Waikiki’s easternmost point, the Park Shore Waikiki hotel is also close to the Honolulu Aquarium and the zoo. The location, which offers views of the ocean or the Diamond Head Crater, is about a mile from Makalei Beach. Private lanai porches are available in every guest room, and the hotel pool boasts beautiful views.
#12. Pu’uloa Beach
West of the city, around 25 minutes from the airport, lies Pu’uloa Beach Park, another municipal beach park. The beach is mainly lonely and is located in a residential area. The area, which is also called Iroquois Beach, has many curved beaches with a big stone jetty in the midst of them. In Honolulu, there are broad, flat beaches with harsh tan sand there. The beach is great for swimming and tanning because the water is usually calm.
A playground, grills, and picnic areas have situated a ways from the coast. Pu’uloa Beach’s amenities make up for the absence of lifeguards.
What Beach do Locals go to in Honolulu?
Sans Souci Beach. While mostly preferred by locals, it’s a fantastic area to get away from tourists farther down the beach. Sans Souci is located across from Kapiolani Park, which is home to the Honolulu Zoo and the Waikiki Aquarium, near the end of Waikiki Beach.
Which Side of Honolulu is Best?
The best places for tourists to stay in Honolulu are Waikiki (famous beaches, skyscraper hotels, dining, and nightlife), Ala Moana (amazing beach park, a ton of shopping), Downtown (arts district, historic buildings, upscale dining), Kaimuki and Kapahulu (adjacent neighborhoods with a local vibe and great restaurants), Diamond Head, and so on.