Kid Friendly Beaches Oahu
There are so many beautiful beaches on Oahu. When traveling with kids you might be looking for a few extra things such as a lifeguard, calm waters or access to equipment rentals such as Kayaks or snorkel gear. Whatever your interest, there’s a beach that’s both beautiful and practical for your family. Here are the very best beaches on Oahu for kids.
Lanikai beach is consistently rated as one of the best beaches in the world. Characterized by its stunning shoreline and views of Mokulua Islands. Rent a stand-up paddle board or kayak out to check out the islands. The waves are generally calm. Finding this beach can be a bit of a challenge since it’s in a residential area and there is no parking lot. You need to find an access point (there are several between homes) on foot after finding street parking. Avoid visiting on holidays and weekends when locals come from all over the island.
Best for Sunrise, Kayaking, SUP, Beach runs
Ko’Olina is a collection of man-made lagoons on Oahu’s leeward (west) side. This part of the island sees the least amount of rain, making it a top choice for vacationers who want to soak up the sun during the winter months. What really sets Ko’Olina apart though is it’s year-round calm waters. You will see plenty of families with small children. Babies and toddlers can happily splash around without the fear of a strong wave knocking them over. Ko’Olina is also the home of Disney’s Oceanfront resort, Aulani. To read more about the best things to do and places to stay in Ko’Olina, click here.
Best for: Toddlers, Babies, Sunset, Fine Dining, Stroller Walks, Disney Lovers
Hanauma Bay is the best place to snorkel on Oahu. In fact, it’s arguably one of the best places in the world! In addition to being a public beach, it’s also a nature preserve. Every Tuesday they close down so the marine life can have a day of eating in peace – everyone needs a day to relax right?? When you arrive you will be shown an educational video. The most important thing is to teach your kids not to stand on the reefs, if they aren’t strong enough swimmers, consider life jackets or stick close to the sandy shoreline. lifeguards are on duty and will announce any dangerous conditions over a speaker.
Rental equipment, lockers, and restrooms are available to rent once you reach the beach. The fee-based parking lot at Hanauma bay fills early (but not as early as most people say) get there before 8 am and you should be fine – or arrange for transport from your hotel. However, the beach itself gets very crowded and the waters are the clearest first thing in the morning so head over as early as you can.
Best for snorkeling
4Waimea Bay Beach
On Oahu’s north shore, you’ll find beautiful Waimea Bay. During the winter months, families can enjoy sitting on the beach watching all of the pro surfers on massive waves. Unless your older kids are very strong and experienced swimmers its best to enjoy from the sidelines.
During summers, the waves are much smaller and can be great for beginning or intermediate surfers. It’s also famous for “Da Big Rock” which is pretty fun to jump off of. The rock is about 30 feet high so obviously, there is danger involved. The safest thing would be to watch others jump off from down below but if you want to give it a try at least check in with the lifeguard on duty to check the conditions.
Best for Surfing, Rock jumping, Beach town
Kailua beach shares the beauty of its famous neighbor – Lanikai beach but it has a few logistical perks – especially for families. There is a large parking lot directly in front of the beach which fills VERY early on weekends so go on a weekday when there’s always parking. You’ll also find restrooms, lifeguards, and restaurants within walking distance. Try the breakfast burrito at kalapawai market. Smaller kids will appreciate the natural, shallow wading pool. Kailua beach is a top wind and kitesurfing destination which is pretty fun to watch, lessons are also available.
Best for Windsurfing, Sunrise, Beach runs, Beach town
Over 4 million people visit Waikiki Beach every year. It’s definitely the most popular beach on the island – technically it’s a collection of beaches but you know what I mean. The moderate waves make it a great place for beginning surfers – plenty of local companies to get a surf lesson from. Within walking distance, you have plenty of restaurants, the zoo, the aquarium and of course, shopping.
Waikiki Beach is actually my favorite beach to walk along at night. Something about the calming effect of the ocean mixed with the vibrant city nightlife soothes my soul. It is pretty well lit, not crowded (but not empty either) and there’s often entertainment somewhere nearby. Unlike the daytime though, there aren’t any lifeguards on duty.
Best for City Beach, beginners surf, Nightlife, Stroller Walks, Equipment rental, Tours
7Bellows Field Beach Park
Bellows Beach is a bit of a hidden gem since it’s an active military training area. On the weekends, the Air Force opens it up to the public. Bring a tent and you can even camp there but you’ll need to first get a permit from the Honolulu Department of Parks and Recreation first. If you are an active or retired military (or DOD) family, there is additional camping and over 100 beachfront cabins for rent on Bellows AFB itself. For more details or to book your stay click here.
It IS pretty far from anything touristy so you can’t really combine it with anything else. This would be best for a weekend camping trip. To get there, turn into Bellows Air Force Base -the restricted entrance to the base is pretty far back and you will see the beach on the right before you ever approach it. If you do reach the gate to the base, just can always turn around and go back.
Best for Camping, Off the tourist path, Military
8Secret Island Beach
Secret Island is part of Kualoa Ranch (another must do on Oahu) on the island’s windward (east) side. It’s a great place for families because they have a lot of equipment available (kayaks, SUP, snorkel gear, etc) along with picnic tables, hammocks, tree swings and more. Since you have to pay to enter it usually isn’t overcrowded. They offer a few different boat tours as well with amazing views of the Ko’olau mountain range.
Best for Boat tours, Equipment rentals, Picnics
9Ala Moana Beach Park
Ala Moana Beach Park is a local favorite. It is popular for birthday parties and weekend bar-be-ques. The waves are small thanks to the surrounding corral so it’s a great place for kids to swim. It’s close to the action of Honolulu but much less crowded than Waikiki.
Best for: Grassy areas, Picnics, and bar-be-ques.
Always Remember: Beach conditions can be unpredictable and carries inherent risk. Always check ocean and weather conditions in your area before swimming. Use a good zinc-based sunscreen – the rays are strong in paradise! Be sure to take the time to get off the beach and explore more family-friendly things to do on Oahu during your trip.
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