I love exploring Hawaii because it has so much diversity. That’s why I chose Haleiwa when I had the chance to surprise my boyfriend with a summer trip. I had done a lot of research and found out that it wasn’t just a surfers paradise. Haleiwa has wonderful summer beaches, which are just right for a relaxing vacation.
I have found the 5 best beaches in Haleiwa (along the North Shore of Oahu). I looked at all the beaches and chose the best ones based on activities and sports, swimming conditions, marine life activity, and overall look and feel.
Let’s get to it!
#1. Papa’iloa Beach or Police Beach – The Best Surfing Beach in Haleiwa
This beach was our favorite, and we enjoyed it very much. It is an amazing beach hidden from the beaten path, so much so that you can easily miss it. It is long and spacious, so you have the opportunity to stretch out and have some privacy from the swimmers. The quietest beach on the list!
Though it is known for surfing competitions in the winter, when we were there the water was calm and clear for swimming and exploring. There was a tide pool area with crabs and small fish to enjoy. We even saw some large turtles in the distance.
You can find all the sporting equipment you might need near the beach, along with surfing, paddle boarding, canoes, and kayaking lessons. We did some paddle boarding after our swim, then enjoyed takeout and the beer we had brought along.
The only negative is the limited parking, given that the beach is tucked away. However, I did not mind because we chose to take a pleasant walk there instead. In any case, it is better to visit on weekdays for more parking and quiet.
Here is why this is my #1 pick:
- The beach is spacious and quiet, perfect for couples.
- The water is calm and clear for swimming.
- You can easily rent sporting equipment and get lessons.
- You can enjoy watching surfing competitions in the winter.
- It’s a known turtle-watching place and a tide pool area.
#2. Sunset Beach Park – Best North Shore Beach for Sunset
Sunset Beach Park is great for surfing and evening fun at the beach. Sunset beach is also one of the best beaches for swimming and snorkeling on the entire island. The beach is covered with soft white sand and is complimented by the clear blue water. I particularly enjoyed the texture of the sand and made sure to bury my feet often.
When deciding to visit this beach I had read that this is a world-famous spot for surfing during the winter and that many international competitions are held here. However, we visited in the summer, so swimming was not a problem. I enjoyed the pleasant drop-off into the deeper water for better swimmers and snorkelers.
The highlight of this beach is the sunset view. The colors are amazing, and a calm and peaceful time at the beach. The beach was not overcrowded when we visited, so we had a lot of space to stretch out. It was the most romantic spot for me on our trip.
Across the street from the beach, there are bathrooms and showers. There is a lifeguard at the beach as well.
This beach is my #2 pick because:
- You can enjoy all the watersports or relax, swim and sunbathe all day.
- The sand is the softest in the area.
- You can enjoy the most breathtaking sunset spots on the island.
- The beach is not overcrowded, and there is parking.
- The beach has a lifeguard.
#3. Haleʻiwa Beach Park – Best Swim and Surf Spot
This beach was one of my picks because it had everything a beach should have for an easy and comfortable time. It’s no wonder it is the main city beach. I particularly appreciated all the amenities, including showers, picnic tables, restrooms, and parking. There is also a lifeguard during all working hours on the beach.
Overall it is a narrow sandy beach with a rocky ocean bottom, but still swimmable. All water sports are available, including scuba diving, fishing, kayaking, canoes, and surfing. The beach has nice calm waves, suitable for those learning to surf or paddle. There is also lots of shade!
This was one of the beaches where we chose to watch the sunset. Besides the beautiful ocean view, it was made better by sailboats and kayakers out on the water. It was a tranquil experience where locals gathered without too many tourists.
It is a pet-friendly beach, which means lots of dogs running around. I enjoyed watching the dogs, but it might be off-putting to some parents. Next to the beach, there are also basketball and volleyball courts with a kid’s playground.
Here is why you should visit this beach:
- The waves are calm enough for beginners to try water sports.
- There are basketball and volleyball courts at the beach.
- There is a lot of shade available.
- There is a lifeguard.
- It’s a beach where the locals hang out, without too many tourists.
#4. Pupukea Beach Park (Shark’s Cove and Three Tables) – Best Tide Pool and Snorkeling Spot
This beach was fun. Even as an adult, I greatly enjoyed playing in the shallow areas and exploring the tide pools. It is also a pleasant place to swim, as my boyfriend disappeared into the water even before we got our stuff settled (I thought it was cute because we both started playing like kids.)
Everything at this beach is hands-on and interactive. The huge tide pools were particularly fun because of all the marine life (and there is a lot to see, including coral, small fish, stars fish, anemones, and sea cucumbers). The shallow end was ideal for floating or even snorkeling. My favorite discovery, however, was the blowholes near the lava formations.
Deep water snorkeling is available to the right of the main beach for stronger swimmers. But in contrast to the other beaches, this is an ideal beach for non-swimmers and children. This also makes it the safest beach on the list. The locals call it Sharks Cove, but there are no sharks here.
I also appreciated the grocery store and food vendors right by the beach. All equipment rental is also available, along with free parking, bathrooms, and showers.
Here is why you should check out this beach:
- Family-friendly beach for non-swimmers and advanced swimmers.
- You can enjoy endless marine life in the shallow end by walking or snorkeling.
- Nearby food vendors, grocery stores, and equipment rental.
- You can take walks on the beach observing all the interesting lava formations.
#5. Laniakea Beach – The Best Beach to See Turtles
If you have missed seeing turtles on any other beaches in Haleiwa, this beach is a guarantee. This is a place for surfing, fishing, and snorkeling, but mostly for observing the turtles. If you don’t see any turtles while walking the beach, look for the red rope and volunteers that take care of the turtles. It’s also great to talk to the volunteers because they take the time to provide information and answer questions about the turtles.
When we visited, several large turtles were sunbathing on the beach. The turtles love to snack on the seaweed, so a lot of them are snacking, and it is really cute to watch.
We got pretty close to them while cooling off in the shallow end of the water. The beach is small and sandy. Once you enter the water, the sand turns into smooth rocks, so take care of your feet.
This beach also had a lot of shade provided by large trees, which made it ideal for a picnic (and a small nap).
You should visit this beach because:
- You can see sea turtles close up and get interesting information about them from the volunteers.
- The beach has enough shade to make a comfortable picnic.
- You can swim, sunbathe, or snorkel on this beach.
Conclusion on the best beaches in Haleiwa Hawaii
This trip was fun for us! Knowing the surfing history of this area, I was a bit intimidated, but the beaches were really safe, and the people were incredibly friendly. Overall, there was a wonderful surfer spirit and a wonderful time at the beach.
I hope you enjoyed the article because I tried to find something for everyone. Haleiwa has beaches made for pro surfers and beaches made for non-swimmers. I hope you have the opportunity to visit them all.
If you liked my article, please help me out and share.
Until next time! Surfs up, friends!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):
Is Haleiwa worth visiting?
Yes. Haleiwa is worth visiting. Asides from being a surfing capital in the world, it has some of the nicest family-friendly beaches stretching on its famous north shore. The city is small and friendly but has all the content needed for a good time, including tasty food, awesome gear, and gorgeous sunsets.
Which beach in Oahu has the clearest water?
Waikiki Beach is generally thought of as having the clearest water on Oahu. However, Sunset Beach Park in Haleiwa is a hidden gem if you are looking for a less crowded, less commercial beach where the locals swim. Sunset Beach is covered with soft white sand making the water turquoise blue, calm, and clear.
Is Haleiwa Beach good for snorkeling?
Haleiwa Beach has a smooth rocky ocean bottom, making it an ideal place for small fish and other marine life. It is a great place for snorkeling for all levels. The shallow end attracts sea stars, sea cucumbers, crabs and small fish, while deep diving snorkeling attracts tropical fish and even a few predators.
Is Haleiwa considered North Shore?
Yes, Haleiwa is part of Oahu’s North Shore line. It is known for its surfing beaches and waves. Many international surfing competitions are held here.
Last Updated on January 10, 2023 by Brigitte