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Oahu Beaches

Beaches in Hawaii range from beautiful to absolutely drop dead gorgeous. In my travels to the beaches of Hawaii, I will aim to give you a layman's look at all these beaches, without all the commercial hype you may find on travel websites.. I will try and pass on sensible information about each location, to hopefully help you choose where to go during your always, all too short, vacation here in Hawaii. For most beaches, plan on getting there as early as possible.  Parking can be an issue, especially for the more popular beaches.  There are parking garages a short walk from Waikiki Beach, and others have limited parking.

Electric Beach

This is a nice beach, although on the small side.  Its biggest draw is snorkeling, freediving  and scuba diving, as the underwater pipe from the power plant attracts a multitude of sea life.  The coral is about 100 yards off shore. It can be a little tricky going in, as the waves come in pretty good.  It is also a good area to explore the shoreline or sunbathe.  You will often see scuba divers going in the water for training.

Pictures coming soon

Eternity Beach

 Halona Cove, is below the highway next to the Halona Blowhole viewpoint. It's a nice rest stop on your way to other adventures, and if your feeling like a dip, you can traverse on down the hill to the beach cove.  The beach, also know as Secret Beach, got its name because you can't see it from the road. Scenes from the old movie "From Here to Eternity", and also “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “50 First Dates” were filmed there.

Haleiwa Beach Park

Haleiwa Beach Park

This beach resides on the outskirts of historic Haleiwa.  A neat little town to walk around in, look through the shops and grab a bite to eat.  Seemed like there was more then enough parking, and when I was there, it was not crowded at all.  There is a beautiful monument there, paying tribute to local fallen soldiers.

Hanauma Bay

Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve is a beautiful destination located on the southeastern side of Oahu. It is formed within a volcanic cone and is a great place to snorkel or scuba dive.  The bay is protected by vertical crater walls and a reef which help keep the water calm.  You need to make a reservation in advance.  Plan on arriving early to insure you get a parking spot.  They will not let you in until your reservation time.

Joe Lukela Beach

This beach park was named after Joe Lukela. He was the famed Lawai’a (fisherman) of Maunalua Bay.  Lukela was respected for his traditional Hawaiian knowledge of the tides and currents and moon and stars. There is a large park area with a few picnic tables, and does not seem to get to crowded. Not a lot of parking spaces though. It seemed to be a nice place to kick back and watch people out on the water or just have a nice picnic. There is sand but unfortunately it is littered with small rocks from the ocean.

Kahanamoku Beach

I personally frequent this beach a lot, as it doesn't get quite so packed as Waikiki Beach just down the road a little bit.  There is also a small man-made lagoon behind the beach where kids (and adults) can play without the waves to worry about. Several sections in the beginning, do have a lot of rocks when you first enter.  So if you are wanting to go in and out of the water, bring water shoes to protect your feet, or go more down the beach near the bend where it is usually a lot sandier to enter.  A descent amount of parking, that cycles through quite frequently with beach-goers and surfers coming and going.  It's right next to one of the Marinas and there is McDonalds across the street and a small hole-in-the-wall pub on the corner, that serves pizza as well as other foods and Chart House Restaurant/Bar on the second floor above.. 

Kailua Beach

In the Hawaiian language Kailua means "two seas" or "two currents". Kailua Beach ranks as the second most beautiful out of all the Oahu Beaches. It has long, golden stretches of powdery fine sand, and beautiful views Mokulua Islands, with the Koolau Mountains in the backdrop.  There are three different parking lots, but as always, plan on going early to get a spot.  I didn't take as many pictures as I would have liked, because I temporarily parked in one of the lifeguard spots, so I could jump out real quick and shoot these. I also recommend stopping in downtown Kailua, which is only five minutes away from the beach. It has a beach town feel with no hotel towers, big resorts or giant malls.

Kaneohe Beach Park

Kaneohe Beach Park is located on Oahu's east side where the Kaneohe Stream empties into the ocean. There is a big grass area, bathrooms, showers, picnic tables with shade from large trees, and children's playground equipment. There is no sandy beach at this beach park but it can be a good place to launch a small boat or kayak. The water here tends to be quite murky since a stream empties out in this area. It's important to never swim in murky water since sharks tend to prefer murky water.

Kawaikui Beach

Kawaiku'i Beach Park doesn't really have a pretty sandy beach. The grass park area is a nice size and there are bathrooms and picnic tables. It's not a place you can really go to play in the water. It's very rocky and what sand is there is covered with rocks. The water here is calm so you could do kayaking paddle boarding. Not crowded at all and might be a nice place for a picnic with a nice view of the ocean.

Kawela Beach

A nice beach that wasn't very crowded when I stopped by and checked it out.  This beach had a lot of character and would be a nice place to stop and take a walk, and just explore. Seemed like ample parking available.  No actual bathroom facilities, but there was a couple of outhouses.

Lanakai Beach

The word “Lani Kai” literally translates to “Heavenly Ocean”.  It is not only described as "most beautiful" of all Oahu beaches, but Lanikai Beach has consistently ranked as one of the best beaches in the world. The sand is really nice and there seems to be plenty of room for everyone. Parking can be an issue here, as there is only street parking available..  As with any beaches here, plan on going early to get parking. You can see the famous Mokulua islands off-shore.  There is the Lanakai Pillbox Hike very close by, so you could make a nice day of it.

Magic Island

Magic Island Beach is part of Ala Moana Beach Park, a popular Honolulu city beach, located between Waikiki and downtown Honolulu. Many local residents and visitors alike come to Ala Moana Beach Park and adjacent Magic Island to swim, bodyboard, surf, picnic or exercise (jogging, walking, etc.). Even though it's called Magic Island, this is actually a man-made peninsula. The small curved beach is located at the end of the peninsula. Most people prefer to swim at Ala Moana Beach instead of at Magic Island Beach. The reason is that the ocean bottom at Magic Island Beach is a bit rocky in some areas and the sand is not as smooth. Also, the swimming area here is a lot smaller. Magic Island Beach has a rock barrier, so it is protected from incoming waves. However, when the surf is up, the waves can still wash over the rocks, so then it's best stay away from the barrier. Also, it's not a good idea to swim in or through the openings of the rock barrier because the current can be strong in this area. Magic Island Beach is backed by a large grassy area with trees and picnic tables.

Pictures coming soon

Makapu'u Beach

Nice smaller beach equipped with bathroom facilities. The beach has strong waves breaking close to the shore. Its a great spot for body boarders. The sand is really nice and there seems to be plenty of room for everyone. The parking area seemed like there was ample parking.  As with any beaches here, plan on going early to get parking.  One end of the area is all lava with some tidal pools and the other end is a medium sized beach area. The beach lies below the Makapu'u Lighthouse, so you could do that hike and then cool off in the water.

Sandy Beach

A really nice beach equipped with life guards and bathroom facilities with outdoor showers. The beach has strong waves breaking close to the shore.  If your not paying attention they will knock you right off your feet.  Swimming is frowned upon here, but its a great spot for body boarders. The sand is really nice and there seems to be plenty of room for everyone. The parking area seemed like there was ample parking.  As with any beaches here, plan on going early to get parking.  The day I went there was also a nice Shaved Ice, drinks, smoothies, etc. stand.  I'm sure they are there often, I would think, especially in the summer.

Sunset Beach

A really nice beach.  Parking on the road in front of it and a big parking lot across the street.  Just be careful crossing.  Cars are moving fast along on this road.  Big bathroom facility also across the street.  Lots of nice sand on a good stretch of beach.  Seemed like lots of room for everyone.  Beautiful scenery.  I really liked this one.

Three Tables Beach

Three Tables Beach got its name from the three sections of flat reef that will appear during low tide. The snorkeling and diving conditions are good if the ocean is calm, usually between May and September. The water is about 15 feet deep and you will be able to see all kinds of colorful fish and underwater lava tubes, ledges and arches. Sometimes you will be able to see sea turtles here.

Tracks Beach

Nice beach on the west side of Oahu, also known as the leeward side.  Sand was soft and plenty of room to enjoy.  Great beach for snorkeling with lots of different fish in the vicinity. If you snorkel off towards the front of the electric plant, you can find a lot of fish and turtles hanging out in the warm waters. Caution:  It is a $10,000 dollar fine if you touch or harass the turtles.  No joke.  They are a protected species, and they take it very serious here.  Seemed like a decent amount of parking, but as with everything in Hawaii, I would plan on going early.

Waimanalo Beach

Very nice beach.  I was pleasantly surprised.  Sand was gorgeous and the water and waves looked fantastic.  There were restrooms and outside showers there, which makes it so nice, to be able to rinse off after a day in the surf.  Seemed like there was a decent amount of parking, and on the day I went, it really wasn't very crowded.  I got there around 1:30pm.  

Waimea Beach

Great beach equipped with life guards and changing facilities with outdoor showers. There is a cool rock nearby that you can jump off from. The beach drops off quickly as you enter the water, which leads to waves breaking close to the shore.  In the winter, these waves come in fast and can get pretty tall. If your not paying attention, they will knock you right off your feet. The sand is really nice and there seems to be plenty of room for everyone. The parking lot gets full pretty quick, so I ended up parking up the road a little bit.  Plan on going early. Also, a cool side note; this beach has been featured on the show "Live Rescue" on AMC.

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