One of our most favorite beaches is located on the east side of the island. Although we currently live on the opposite side of the island, it's always been a bit of a drive but definitely worth it! The crystal clear waters and the silky sand make this beach an absolute must. Many people choose to visit the neighboring beach of Kailua since it offers more parking, but if you can score street parking in Lanikai, make your way down the ocean and you won't regret it!
Pros: Dog friendly! Warm waters, easy to swim
Cons: Limited parking **no street parking on holidays, no bathrooms
This beach is located on Bellows Air Force Base and is technically a military training facility, but what not many people realize is that the beach is accessible to locals and tourists outside of the main gate entrance. The same beautiful beach that extends along the military base also continues outside the gate for public access.
Pros: Open for camping with permit, not too crowded, public bathrooms available
Cons: No dogs allowed inside the military base
This beach is a drive for many people since it's located on the island's west side, but it also means that not many people will be around! Head to this spot if you're looking for a nice, peaceful trip to the beach with easy parking. The waves are moderate which makes for great boogie boarding and surfing.
Pros: Easy to park, dog friendly, spectacular sunsets
Cons: 1+ hour drive from most locations
4. Waimea Bay
Waimea Bay was the very first beach I visited when I came to Oahu. I was in shock at how big the waves can be here, especially in the winter months. Many surfing competitions happen at this beach and all along the North Shore of Oahu. The beach itself is set between two rock walls which gives you a secluded and private feel. But don't be fooled, lots of people flock to this one! If you intend to visit this beach, go early! There's limited parking available and it usually fills up quickly.
Pros: Great waves for intermediate-advanced surfers, surfing competitions in the winter months
Cons: Limited parking
5. Hanauma Bay
Known for its beautiful reefs and shallow waters, many people enjoy snorkeling at Hanauma Bay. The waters are typically crystal clear and perfect for spotting many different types of fish. The last time we visited, we even saw a sea lion sunning itself on the shoreline. Hanauma Bay is a nature preserve, so the state of Hawaii has taken precautions to maintain the quality of sea life. When you visit the Bay, you'll notice that there's a small fee for parking as well as for entering. The entrance fee, however, is waived for locals and military members and their families.
Pros: Great for snorkeling, snorkeling gear rentals available, public restrooms
Cons: Closed on Tuesdays, small parking and entrance fee, no dogs allowed
I hope this helps you find the very best beaches on your next vacation to Oahu! There are SO many incredible things to do on this island. Enjoy your stay!