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Plan Your Trip to Oahu: Best of Oahu Tourism

About Oahu
Tropical breezes, lush foliage, volcano-studded landscapes—Oahu has all the scenery Hawaii’s known for, and a pretty incredible historical side, too. You'll find the Pearl Harbour memorial here, as well as Iolani Palace, the former royal residence. Oahu's surfing legacy goes back before the 1800s—and ask anyone who knows their way around a longboard, the waves are some of the best in the world. Travellers flock to the island specifically for its many shopping, restaurant, and nightlife options. But back to the views: Hike the Makapuu Lighthouse trail, take in Manoa Falls, explore Waimea Valley…it's a never-ending photo op.

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Essential Oahu

Destinations

6 Oahu beaches you can’t miss

Having spent many holidays searching for the quintessential sun-kissed beach, I can confidently say that Oahu’s are among the finest in the world. They epitomise what a beach should be: pristine waters and colourful marine life in a stunning natural setting. So, grab your “slippahs” (local slang for flip-flops) and reef-safe sunscreen, and set off to discover a few of my favourite spots.
Charlene Fang, Florida Keys, FL
  • Lanikai Beach
    3,091
    Renowned for its crystal-clear waters and powdery white sand, Lanikai is the perfect place for spending the day leisurely dipping in the water or lounging on the sand watching kayakers and outrigger canoes offshore. Parking is limited, so take an Uber or park at nearby Kailua Beach Park and walk from there. This beach is in a residential area, so stick to designated access points and keep noise and litter to a minimum.
  • Ala Moana Beach Park
    2,006
    For those looking to swim, paddleboard, and possibly spot turtles against the backdrop of the majestic Diamond Head volcano, Ala Moana Beach is the place to be. Popular among locals—especially on weekends—the beach comes alive with blaring boom boxes, barbecues, and bouncy castle birthdays along its half-mile sandy stretch. Conveniently located opposite Ala Moana Centre, you can easily grab a poke bowl from Foodland Farms and relax like a true local.
  • Waimea Bay
    1,301
    In summer, this North Shore beach is a favourite for its soft deep sand and gentle waters. Come winter, it’s a prime spot to catch surfers tackling 40 foot waves. Snorkelling reveals vibrant schools of fish and the occasional Hawaiian sea turtle. Onshore, you might stumble upon a sand surfing session—yes, you can ask to join in the fun. It’s also famous for its enormous half-submerged rock and the thrill-seekers who backflip into the crystal waters below.
  • Sandy Beach Park
    389
    This South Shore beach is a vibe. There’s always music blasting, plenty of body surfing happening, and bodyboarders facing off huge barrel waves that defy the imagination. Due to the dangerous combination of a powerful shorebreak and shallow water, you should always consult a lifeguard or local before entering the water—and heed any warnings to avoid learning why it’s ominously nicknamed “Breakneck Beach.”
  • Yokohama Bay
    137
    A 90-minute drive from Waikiki, this picturesque beach has stunning turquoise waters and a dramatic setting in the shadow of the rugged Waianae mountains. On some days, you—and the lifeguard—might be the only people there. Swimming is recommended only in summer and only when the sea is calm. Otherwise, it's a perfect spot for contemplation, watching the mesmerising hill-shaped waves, and keeping an eye out for breaching whales offshore.
  • Waikiki Beach
    18,801
    Waikiki Beach gets a bad rep for being overcrowded and commercial—and it is—but it’s also where you can easily surf two- to four-foot waves, do some decent snorkelling on Queen’s Beach, join in a pick-up volleyball game, and spend the whole day people watching. Go before 11 a.m. to grab a chair, or come a couple of hours before sunset when the scene is more relaxed and the sky is painted in hues of pink and purple.

Oahu Is Great For

Fun water sports and activities

Historic landmarks and memorials

Delightful farm and agri tours