Narrowing down Hawaii’s best in any category can be challenging. It is no secret that the beloved island chain is nothing short of amazing, and spectacular is a daily occurrence. But how do you distinguish the cream of the crop from the crème de la crème? Well, we’ve made it easy on ourselves and chose to make some picks from just one litter – which arguably is our most valuable – our beaches. And if you’ve island hopped enough, you’d probably agree with us that Oahu, is holding. Not that the beaches of our neighbor islands won’t take your breath away, but on Oahu, it seems as if everywhere you turn, on every side of the island, there’s another world class beach.
The following is a list of what we think are the best beaches on Oahu, and dare we say… the world.
5. Makaha Beach, West Side
Located on Oahu’s rugged west side, Makaha Surfing Beach is something out of a Hawaiian dream. With its laid back family vibe and perfect weather, it’s easy to see why this stretch of paradise is a local treasure. The waves can be playful enough for the whole family, or big and powerful enough to get your adrenaline pumping. But as with all beaches in Hawaii, if you take precautions to stay safe and remember to be respectful, you just might have the time of your life.
#4 Sandy Beach, Southeast Photo: Tony Heff
4. Sandy Beach, Southeast
The glittering sands of Sandy Beach is more for the intermediate to advanced level of beach lover. This shore pounding phenomenon is located around the bend from Honolulu, on Oahu’s south east side. Surrounded by rocky terrain giving way to ocean pounded lava, Sandys is a surreal destination and a local favorite. But take caution, this beach happens to have the most injuries, and the most lifeguard rescues, of any beach on Oahu due to the heavy surf breaking onto a shallow slab of sand.
3. Waikiki, South Shore
The stretch of coast in Waikiki may have been fabricated to become one of the best beaches on the island, and some may find fault with that. But it’s here to stay, and we love it. A one-of-a-kind, Waikiki seems to be out of some futuristic dream where overdevelopment has caused every stretch of coast to be met with bustling city. But this Metropolistic-Atlantis has grown to be beloved by those who live here, and the playful waves bring out a playful vibe in the people. It’s amazing to see that Aloha is still alive and well here, despite the crowds. Pull up a patch of sand if you can find one, and take it all in, there’s something for everyone here.
2. Waimea Bay, North Shore
The beach at Waimea Bay is legendary, and sometimes scary. The majestic destination is probably the most popular of all of Oahu’s sandboxes and there’s room for all who beckon. The massive stretch of course grained sand meets a sea of aqua blue on most days. On others, you may be met with a line of red tape and a lifeguard shouting at you to stay clear of the shoreline. Either way, the view is nothing short of breathtaking. You’ll find rock jumping, sea turtles, dolphins, and you may even spot a whale or two. Parking may be tricky, the beach park lot is usually full, but just on the mauka side of Waimea Bay is Waimea Valley, and there you can find ample parking.
#1 Pipeline, North Shore Photo: Mike Latronic
Pipeline, North Shore
1. The best beach in the world has to go to the beach in front of Pipeline on the North Shore. Most surfers who have been all over the world and seen countless beaches would attest to this. There is just nothing like it on earth. Where else can you stand a mere 50 meters from a near triple overhead wave with your feet safely in the sand? Not just any sand though. The shoreline of the North Shore, from Sharks Cove to Sunset Beach, is the prime example of a healthy coastline, with a natural recycling of sand that creates an aquatic playground like no other. It’s the crown jewel of the seven mile miracle, and even on a day that Pipeline isn’t breaking, you can enjoy an unforgettable stretch of sand.