At the best beaches in Honolulu, soft white sand and gorgeous views of the crystal clear ocean are never far away.
The Best Beaches in Honolulu
From hidden local gems to more widely known tourist hot spots, here are the top beaches in Honolulu.
Honolulu’s busiest and most well-known beach, Waikiki is where the majority of Honolulu’s hotels and resorts are situated. Busy and always packed with tourists and visitors, the swimmable beach offers wonderful views of Diamond Head and the Honolulu skyline, and is steps away from many resorts, resort restaurants, and beach bars.
Family-friendly and with enough waves for anyone wanting to try their hand at surfing, Waikiki is also perfect for a myriad of other water sports, from canoeing to paddleboarding. Resort loungers are usually limited to resort guests, but the beach is open to public access, which means as long as you can find a spot to situate yourself, you can bring your towel, lounge chair, umbrella, and enjoy.
There’s a well-known love scene from the movie From Here to Eternity during which actors Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr share a kiss at this famous cove. Also known as Halona Cove Beach, and located next to Halona Blow Hole, the site has been popularized as Eternity Beach thanks to the movie. Water shoes are advisable.
A small and busy subsection of Waikiki Beach, Kuhio Beach is its own strip of beach on the other side of Kalakaua Avenue. Resorts such as the Aston Waikiki Circle, Alohilani Beach Resort, Park Shore Waikiki, Waikiki Beach Marriott Resort and Spa, and the Hyatt Regency Waikiki are just across the street from this beach, which is a good spot for a swimming in the ocean thanks the rock walls that shield it from the current.
It’s also a wonderful spot from which to view the sunset. On Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, weather permitting and subject to change, the beach is also the location of Waikiki’s free hula show, complete with tiki torch lighting and traditional blowing of the conch.
Ala Moana Beach Park
Just across the street from Ala Moana Center, this Honolulu beach boasts about half a mile of soft white sand surrounded by tree-shaded areas with picnic tables. With several concession stands and a grassy area which is part of the park grounds, this beach is popular with joggers and surfers alike. A walk through the paved park pathway also leads to a crescent-shaped beach area called Magic Island with the Honolulu skyline as a backdrop. Magic Island is a popular spot for sunset wedding photos.
Those in the know come to this small but wide strip of beach on the Eastern edge of Waikiki, adjacent to Kapiolani Park, for a quieter beach experience. Calm waters and a soft, sandy ocean bottom make swimming, snorkeling, and kayaking the favorite activities on this Honolulu beach, which is family-friendly and much less touristy than nearby neighbor Kuhio Beach. Guests staying at The New Otani Kaimana Beach Resort also have direct access to this beach.
On the windy eastern side of Oahu is this 5.5-mile stretch of stunning white-sand beach with turquoise ocean views as far as the eye can see. The sand is soft and super fine, and there are trees that offer shade from the sun. The waves are bigger here than in Waikiki, and because of its distance from the touristy areas, it never gets crowded. You’ll need a car or transportation to get to this beach, but it’s worth it. This spectacular gem is one of the best beaches in Honolulu.
Offering views of the Koko Head Crater and China Walls, this secluded stretch of beach in the affluent Kahala community is fronted by the famed five-star Kahala Resort. Situated in such a way that the sun rises over the ocean each morning, it is a relaxing, quieter beach for those who want to unwind, or families with small children. As an added convenience, there are public restrooms and showers. Water shoes are recommended for swimmers due to the coral in the area. Locals like to bring their dogs here.
Duke Kahanamoku Beach
Located just in front of Hilton Hawaiian Village, and adjacent to a small cove that’s popular with paddleboarders, this Honolulu beach is similar to Waikiki but a tad quieter. With facilities offering beach chairs, umbrellas, paddleboats, kayaks, and canoes, this beach has a resort-like feel. Easy access to public restrooms and food trucks selling shrimp rice plates or shaved ice, along with views of Diamond Head and Waikiki beach, makes for fantastic all-day frolicking in the sun.
Just south of Kuhio Beach past The Wall is Queen’s Beach or Queen’s Surfer Beach, so named because Queen Kapiolani once had a beach house there. A subsection of Waikiki beach, it’s popular among bodysurfers, surfers, and snorkelers. With its own pier and lifeguard tower (2C), this beach is located about 15 to 20 minutes by foot from Waikiki, and is near Honolulu Zoo and Waikiki Aquarium.
Sans Souci Beach Park
Away from the hustle and bustle of touristy Waikiki, one of the best beaches in Honolulu is this local favorite called Sans Souci (French for “without worry”). Known for its calm waters and tranquil vibe, this beach is located adjacent to Queen Kapiolani, features a lovely palm tree-lined pathway, and is the point from which you can watch Honolulu’s fabulous sunsets with the Honolulu skyline in view. Dogs are prohibited.
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– Original reporting by Mai Pham