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5 best beaches on Oahu
Uncovering Oahu's best beaches
Hawaii’s stunning beaches are renowned worldwide. One of the most iconic beaches on the island of Oahu is Waikiki, a strip of sand framed beautifully by swaying palm trees, luxury hotels, and Diamond Head Crater at its back. Check out the postcard rack in any of the island’s ubiquitous ABC Stores and you’re sure to spot Waikiki.
Waikiki Beach is one of Hawaii’s major tourist hot spots, but the island boasts a number of beaches fit for sun worshippers and surfers alike. We’ve composed a list of a few of our favorite Hawaiian beaches for your next trip to paradise.
Lanikai is a quintessential Hawaiian beach. With powdery white sand and clear, calm azure waters, Lanikai fits its Hawaiian translation of “heavenly sea” perfectly.
Bring a cooler stocked with drinks and snacks, lay down your beach towel, and relish in the tropical scenery. This is where you come to sit back, relax, and live a little aloha. Depending on the day, Lanikai can get a little crowded. If that’s the case, head around the corner to Kailua Beach, where the sand and surf is just as nice.
Marine life abounds at Hanauma Bay
Ko Olina Lagoons
The Ko Olina Resort area sits on the leeward side of the island, and is home to four beautifully manicured, man-made lagoons. The lagoons are a great place to bring the whole family as rock levies act as sea walls and make for calm waters and easy swimming.
Pack a few floating tubes and spend the day drifting around the lagoon of your choice. Free parking is available but spots are limited. If you’re willing to pay, park at any of the hotels or resorts that surrounds the area.
For snorkeling, look no further than Oahu’s famous Hanauma Bay. The protected bay, formed within a volcanic crater, is home to a plethora of native aquatic wildlife including the vibrant state fish, the humuhumunukunukuapua’a. Hanauma Bay is B.Y.O.S.G. (bring your own snorkel gear), or you can spend US$20 to rent your digs at the park. Either way, make sure you have a great pair of goggles for viewing the local wildlife.
Entry to the park is US$7.50 per person and grants you all-day access.
Viewfinder Tip: The parking lot to Hanauma Bay fills up quickly. To ensure a spot (and entry into the park) book a shuttle or arrive early.
Waimea Bay Beach Park
Located on the North Shore of the island, Waimea Bay offers a little something for everyone. Avid surfers will encounter some of the best waves on the island, adrenaline junkies will relish in plummeting off of Waimea Bay’s famous jumping rock, and sun worshippers will enjoy the soft sand and ample sunlight.
Life guards patrol the beach and are a great resource if you’re uncertain about the tide. Be sure to heed their warnings as surf can become dangerous (especially in the winter months).
Given the name, it’s a safe assumption that Sunset Beach is the place to be as the sun goes down. This is also a great place for avid surfers and boogie boarders. While the surf is relatively tame in the summer, the winter months bring in a powerful rip current.
My personal favorite activity at Sunset Beach is to watch the outline of surfers catching the last few waves before the sun kisses the horizon goodnight.
What are some of the most beautiful beaches that you’ve visited?
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Chris and Tawny have had articles and videos published on USA TODAY TRAVEL, BBC Travel, Matador Network, as well as appeared as guest stars on TLC Asia's Fun Taiwan television series. When not on the road, you can find Chris and Tawny nestled in their home in Tacoma, Washington fueling up on coffee and cat cuddles while planning their future adventures. You can follow their travels on their blog, Instagram, and YouTube