Best Beaches on North Shore Oahu: Top 8 Gems You MUST Visit

Welcome, fellow beach enthusiasts!

Let me tell you about the time my boyfriend and I finally got to experience the breathtaking beaches along the North Shore of Oahu! The more research I did into the area’s hidden gems – thanks to that ever-reliable adventurer spirit – the more it confirmed that these beauties were absolutely worth every sand-filled shoe and hair full of saltwater.

Some might think knowing what makes an amazing beach is just common sense; however, for someone like me who lives for sandy escapes, it goes way deeper than just crashing waves and golden shores.

So whether you’re adventure-seeking lovebirds like us or simply looking to unwind by yourself or with friends on a serene stretch of the coast – rest assured knowing that each recommendation has been carefully chosen based on personal experience combined with tireless research. Together they give you only the best that North Shore has to offer!

Warning: Visiting these exceptional locales may cause an irrepressible urge to seek out as many similar experiences as possible (all joking aside though; once bitten by that wanderlust bug? It’s tough letting go).

So without further ado – welcome aboard as we navigate through pristine waters towards an unforgettable beach hunting adventure!

Ehukai Beach Park – Best Surfing Destination in Oahu

The first time I took my boyfriend to the beautiful island of Oahu, we knew we had to visit Ehukai Beach Park (also known as Banzai Pipeline) on the North Shore. As a local, I was excited to show him what Hawaii truly has to offer – and he was absolutely blown away by what he saw.

The broad, wide beach with soft sand that flows between your toes is just the beginning of this magical place. The massive barrelling waves crashing on the shorelines make it a one-of-a-kind experience, especially for surfers. In winter months, Ehukai Beach is known for its gigantic swells that can reach up to 30 feet high and hosts international competitions like the “Billabong Pipeline Masters” and the “Triple Crown of Surfing.” Even during the summer months, you can still find eager young surfers trying their best to conquer these gnarly waves.

Not only did we spend hours just relaxing on this pristine beach (thankfully I remembered beach towels), but we also explored nearby attractions such as the Ehukai Pillbox hike. This short yet easy hike offers a breathtaking view from atop which overlooks both Ehukai Beach Park and beyond – making it an adventure worth having not only for couples like us but even families with children tagging along.

Here are some reasons why I believe Ehukai Beach Park is hands down one of Oahu’s best beaches:

  • The soothing sound of waves crashing onto shore provides unparalleled relaxation.
  • Countless photo opportunities await; from sandy beach shots to dramatic wave backdrops or scenic views from Ehukai Pillbox hike.
  • A super clean environment makes spending time here even more enjoyable.
  • Lucky visitors might get a chance encounter with turtles or seals!
  • Whether you’re looking for family fun or a romantic getaway, there’s something for everyone at this versatile location!

Address:  59-337 Ke Nui Rd, Haleiwa, HI 96712

Waimea Bay- Best Snorkeling Beach in Oahu

I thought nothing else could match the scenic beauty of Ehukai Beach, but when my boyfriend and I stopped over at Waimea Bay, we were left spellbound. The breathtaking views and crystal-clear water made it the perfect spot for a romantic day out.

The highlight of the Bay is the soft sand and incredibly clear water. You can even see fish swimming near the large rocks on the shoreline. This makes it an excellent location for families with young kids or those who don’t want to snorkel. My boyfriend and I decided to give snorkeling a try, and it was nothing short of mesmerizing! We saw parrotfish, Christmas wrasse, and butterflyfish as we explored underwater.

Just a few feet further into deeper waters, my boyfriend managed to snap some stunning pictures of dolphins swimming around with paddleboarders and boats – a sight that truly showcases how interconnected marine life is with humans here in Waimea Bay.

Here’s why I loved spending time at Waimea Bay:

  • Perfect beach for summer: With warm, crystal-clear waters that are calm enough for swimming or snorkeling
  • Adrenaline junkies welcome: A small 30-foot hike takes you to “Jump Rock,” where you can plunge off a cliff into turquoise waters below
  • Try boogie boarding when waves permit: Ideal conditions make this activity fun for all ages
  • Spend an entire day here: Just pitch your umbrella on this spacious beach and watch waves crash along the rocks while relaxing

There were only two minor drawbacks during our visit:

  • Parking was limited in nearby lots (we parked at Shark’s Cove instead)
  • The restroom facilities weren’t very clean

Address: Waimea Bay Beach, North Shore, HI 96712, United States

Keiki Beach – The Best Beach in Oahu With Sapphire Waters

While the 2 public beaches we visited so far were amazing, we couldn’t help but feel like we weren’t able to fully focus on one another amidst the crowds. So, he suggested that we find a more quaint and off-the-beaten-path location.

That’s when we discovered Keiki Beach, often described as an exquisite little nugget. This beach offers plenty of seclusion from the crowds typically found at other beaches. Although it took us a bit of a long drive to get there, which may be part of why it’s not as frequently populated as other beaches, it was entirely worth it.

As soon as we arrived, we spent some time strolling around and met a friendly bunch of locals who greeted us with smiles and treated us like honeymooners. One man even offered us an avocado from his tree! The water here is absolutely mesmerizing; various shades of turquoise transitioned into deeper hues of lapis and sapphire.

However, I did find the water to be rougher than Ehukai and Keiki Beaches – my boyfriend almost got swept away by one wave even though he didn’t venture out too far. Additionally, unlike some North Shore Oahu beaches, this one didn’t boast any palm trees for shade – but thankfully I always pack a beach towel and umbrella!

Here’s why Keiki Beach was our favorite:

  • Secluded setting ideal for couples
  • Gorgeous expansive beach
  • Friendly local atmosphere
  • Great beach for surfing

Address: Keiki Beach, Haleiwa, HI 96712, United States

Sunset Beach – Best North Shore Beach for Swimming

My boyfriend is quite passionate about photography, so I wanted to make sure our trip was full of picturesque moments that would stay with us forever. To this end, I chose Sunset Beach as the perfect location for us.

Sunset Beach offered a plethora of benefits that made it the ideal spot for our romantic escapade:

  • The beach is an excellent spot to swim, surf or simply relax in the summer sun.
  • Lifeguards are present at all times ensuring a safe swimming environment.
  • Convenient bathroom and shower facilities are accessible nearby.
  • If you arrive early in the morning, there’s a good chance you’ll have the beach all to yourself – although be warned it can get crowded on weekends.

Not only did Sunset Beach provide ample opportunities for my boyfriend’s photography passion with its breathtaking sunsets and iconic palm trees (including the Instagram-famous bending palm tree), but it also created an ambiance worthy of any potential marriage proposal – hint hint!

Despite all these amazing qualities, there were some minor drawbacks that we encountered during our visit:

  • Finding parking can be problematic during peak hours.
  • The sand on this particular beach is rougher than most; my boyfriend even ended up cutting himself when he was caught off guard by a wave.

Address: 59-104 Kamehameha Highway in Pupukea

Turtle Bay- Best Beach in Oahu for Spotting Turtles

I remember when my boyfriend and I were trying to find the perfect beach spot for our vacation. After some disastrous experiences at crowded, overly-romantic spots, we stumbled upon Turtle Beach – and let me tell you, it was a game changer!

Turtle Beach is incredibly peaceful and secluded, devoid of the usual crowds that flock to popular beaches. As its name suggests, the main attraction here are the majestic turtles that come ashore, particularly between 11 am – 3 pm. We even got to witness some monk seals swimming in their natural habitat! Be sure to keep your distance from these beautiful creatures though; handling or touching them is illegal.

Fun fact: if you’re a movie buff like us, you might recognize Turtle Beach from hit shows and films like Lost and Pirates of the Caribbean.

Why Turtle Beach has become my all-time favorite:

  • Unparalleled tranquility: Spending a day relaxing and sunbathing surrounded by surf, palm trees, and turtles made for an unforgettable experience.
  • Excellent facilities: The beach offers plenty of showers and restrooms which makes all-day visits much more convenient.
  • Great food: Being able to easily access bar and restaurant services from nearby Turtle Bay resort was such a perk (trust me on this one; their menu options did not disappoint!)
  • Crystal-clear waters: The pristine water only added to the already stunning ambiance of Turtle Beach.
  • Up-close encounters with wildlife: Witnessing real live turtles in their natural habitat has been one of my most treasured memories from our visit.

Haleiwa Beach- Best Beach in Oahu for Surfing & Shopping

I was on the lookout for a low-key destination where we could unwind. That’s when we stumbled upon Haleiwa Beach.

Nestled in a charming little town, Haleiwa Beach is known as the “Seven Mile Miracle” among surfing communities. But it wasn’t just the beach that caught our attention – even the town itself had a lot to offer! As a history buff, I couldn’t help but get excited wandering around streets lined with buildings dating back to the early 1900s. And if you’re into shopping like me, there are plenty of stores filled with local artwork that make perfect souvenirs.

My boyfriend particularly enjoyed checking out all the surfing equipment available at various shops in town. However, what truly made this experience unforgettable were:

  • The picturesque beach: Boasting soft sand, gentle surf, and adorable turtles frolicking in the water, this pristine beach offered us everything we needed for relaxing under palm trees or going snorkeling.
  • Ample parking space: Finding parking can often be a hassle at popular beaches; luckily, there was more than enough room for everyone here – even on weekends!
  • Clean bathrooms: Having access to well-maintained restroom facilities is always appreciated during trips like these.
  • Adventurous activities available: If spending your day lazing around isn’t your cup of tea (or if you need some excitement after all that relaxation), cage diving with sharks may be right up your alley! My boyfriend almost convinced me to give it a try…almost.

Pupukea Beach Park- The Best Family-Friendly Beach in Oahu

Some of my fondest memories with my boyfriend have been exploring beautiful locations together, and our visit to Pupukea Beach Park on the North Shore of Oahu was no exception. As we neared the end of our tour, we were excited to experience the famed natural “pools” at Shark’s Cove and Three Tables.

What made these spots truly fantastic for us was their suitability for diving and snorkeling. Unlike other beaches where waves can be intimidating, the rocky shoreline here served as a buffer that calmed their impact. Visiting in the summer proved perfect because it’s when surfing and snorkeling are recommended due to calm waters. Initially, I was hesitant about potential shark encounters, but rest assured – Shark’s Cove is named after reefs resembling sharks when seen from above!

During our time at Pupukea Beach Park, there were several standout features:

  • The food trucks right outside offered delicious fresh fruit and seafood.
  • We had incredible up-close encounters with abundant sea life while swimming.
  • The shallow tide pools provided safe play areas for kids (not just couples!).
  • Snorkeling rentals were easily accessible along with nearby bathrooms.
  • Even though a parking lot is available, arriving early helped us secure a spot before it got crowded.

A word of warning: don’t forget your water shoes like we did! Walking barefoot on volcanic rocks isn’t ideal. Overall, this beach park surpassed our expectations in terms of beauty and adventure – making it one unforgettable experience!

Velzyland Beach- The Best-Hidden Gem of Oahu

This beach seems to be a hidden gem as not many people know about it or visit it compared to other popular tourist spots in the area. As soon as we arrived, we were amazed by its beauty and serenity.

One of the main attractions for my boyfriend was that Velzyland is known for professional-level surfing during the winter months. Although he’s not an experienced surfer, he loved the idea of watching skilled surfers ride the waves. If you’re not into surfing or are a beginner, planning your trip during the summer months would be ideal since big swells are less common then.

We initially thought that this beach might be private due to having access through the Sunset Club, but we discovered that all beaches in Hawaii are actually public! This made our experience even more enjoyable knowing that anyone could have access to such a beautiful place.

Here is what stood out from our experience:

  • Less crowded: The majority of visitors were surfers looking to teach newbies or catch some waves themselves which meant there was no overwhelming crowd of tourists.
  • Serene atmosphere: The lack of crowds allowed us to fully appreciate the peaceful surrounding nature and stunning views.
  • Unique surfing opportunities: Watching skilled surfers tackling challenging waves offered entertainment and inspiration if you’re interested in improving your own skills.
  • Public access despite exclusivity: Despite feeling like a well-kept secret with limited visibility from parking areas on side roads, everyone can visit this gorgeous location without restrictions.

However, it’s important to mention some potential drawbacks:

  • Parking can be tricky with limited spaces available on side roads; make sure valuables are secure as thefts have been reported occasionally.
  • No lifeguards on duty means extra caution should be taken while enjoying water activities.
  • Sharp reefs and sea urchins pose potential hazards for surfers and swimmers.


If you plan the perfect getaway from your routine and hectic life, the North Shore of Oahu should top your list. This destination fits the bill for everyone, with activities ranging from fine dining, shopping, surfing, snorkeling, and nature excursions. See mother earth in her natural glory.

Planning a family vacation? Waimea and Turtle Bay, and Pupukea Beach Park have got you covered.  

Out for a wild ride? Surf on the Ehukai beach. 

Need a romantic place to take the girlfriend? Go to sunset beach.


Can you swim on the north shore of Oahu? 

That greatly depends on what time of the year you are visiting. Generally, the sea is extremely rough during the winter season, with tides sometimes reaching up to 30 feet in some places. However, if you are a fan of surfing, then you are in luck; winter is the perfect time for this sport.

Is North Shore Oahu worth visiting?

Yes, Oahu’s north shore is a place that I would love to visit again and recommend to everyone. It’s a place that has a little bit of something for everyone. From sandy, picturesque beaches to snorkeling with the marine life, shopping to tasting the local cuisine.

Is North Shore Oahu crowded?

Yes, most but not all beaches at the North Shore of Oahu are crowded, especially on the weekends. However, if you’re looking for a beach far away from the maddening crowd, try going to Velzyland or Keiki Beach.

What is the best beach on North Shore Oahu?

The best beaches that you should add to your itinerary include:

  • Pupukea Beach Park
  • Turtle Bay
  • Banzai Pipeline
  • Haleiwa Beach

Can you swim at Haleiwa Beach Park?

Yes, while some beaches on the North Shore of Oahu can be a challenge for even the experienced surfer, the calmer waters of the Haleiwa Beach Park are perfect for beginner surfers and swimming.

Last Updated on May 10, 2023 by Brigitte