Avoid tourist traps: The best beaches of Oahu (Waikiki definitely not included)

See the best beaches when you visit Hawaii's most populous island, O'ahu

Avoid tourist traps: The best beaches of Oahu (Waikiki definitely not included)

A trip to any one of the Hawaiian Islands is understandably on a lot of people’s travel bucket list. The place is undeniably gorgeous. There definitely is the typical way to do Hawaii, get a hotel in Waikiki and stay at the beaches in the area. While this may be the convenient way to do things, you would be selling yourself short.

Venture away from the tourist trap of the island to experience cleaner and clearer water as well as stunning backdrops. And by all means this isn’t a definitive list, but it will highlight some must see beaches. So rent a car and be ready to hunt for parking, but what you will see will make your vacation.

Makapuu Beach

This is a body surfer/ boogie border beach, and is not for beginner swimmers. With that information this beach seems like an unlikely candidate for this list. What makes Makapu’u stunning, however is the vibrant blue waters and the setting. The beach is nestled under a cliff side with Makapuu trail and lighthouse above. The view at this beach is amazing, even if you don’t get into the water. The surrounding waters actually serve as a humpback whale sanctuary.

Eternity Beach

Up the road from Makapu’u, and before you hit Hanauma Bay is a beach that goes by a few monikers. Eternity Beach due to the famous scene from the 1953 movie From Here to Eternity. Parking is at the Hālona blowhole lookout (always be careful around the blowhole). The beach itself is unmarked, and there will be a trail off the side of the parking lot leading down to the cove. This beach is great for swimming, but be honest with yourself about your swimming ability, waves can get big here, and the current can be strong. It’s a small cove so it’s not totally protected from the open ocean.

Kalama Beach, and Kailua beaches

The ocean and sky at Kalama Beach are shades of pastel, the ocean a minty blue and the sky is lavender. This beach, and beaches around Kailua are more friendly for beginning swimmers. There are waves, but they are usually relatively calm. Kailua is where the Obama’s vacation when they head to the island.

Sunset Beach

On the world famous North Shore, so depending on the time of the year there will be some big waves. This spot is beautiful, pretty much what one would picture when thinking of Hawaii. Since you already found your way to that side of the island, definitely wander around and see the rest of the North Shore. If you have the chance, get some shrimp.

Kaena Point

These beaches are on the west side of Oahu at the end of Farrington Highway. The first is on the West Side beginning of the trail for Kaena Point. It’s usually not too crowded due to its proximity to the city.

Make sure to bring plenty of water and sunscreen if you decide to hike Kaena. If you do though, it will be worth it. The beach at the end of the trail isn’t a swim beach, but it is beautiful nonetheless. There are monk seals sighted quite often here and albatross nest here, so always be respectful of the wildlife as well as the land itself. Keana is a sacred place.

Again, this isn’t a definitive list. There are plenty of lovely spots in between the beaches on this list, even at the edge of yes, Waikiki (even though we said we wouldn't include Waiks, here it is). This is just a guide to get started on seeing the real Oahu. So get out there, and away from the crowds!


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