The Best 5 Beaches in Waianae 2023 [My first-hand experience]

When my boyfriend and I planned our trip to Hawaii, we were on the hunt for a hidden gem – somewhere less crowded than bustling Honolulu. Time was short since we only had four days, so our mission was to find that perfect slice of paradise without any delays.

Eureka! Our search led us to Waianae, a quaint city nestled on the other side of Oahu island. Boasting exquisite beaches with significantly fewer tourists, this spot allowed us to swim and snorkel at leisure, while also offering idyllic trails for those scenic hikes together.

Ah yes, romance flourished in Waianae!

But you’re in luck because I’ve done all the legwork for you! After extensively researching and experiencing these beautiful shores firsthand, I’ve compiled a list of the top 5 beaches in Waianae. My selections are based on factors such as swimming quality, safety measures, crowd size (or lack thereof), marine life encounters and more.

Warning: With beach recommendations as tempting as these, your flip-flops might never want to leave your feet!

Now grab your sunscreen and let’s dive into discovering Waianae’s best sandy getaways!

#1. Maili Beach Park – The Most Beautiful Beach on the West Side

Maili Beach Park – Most Beautiful Beach on the West Side

We visited this beach in the early morning, and it quickly became my favorite spot on our trip! This long spacious white sand beach stretches in all directions (oh yeah! It’s also lined with palm trees)!

I enjoyed taking a long morning walk on this beach. There are nice trails by the beach’s edge for those looking for a more challenging workout. We had breakfast while dipping our feet in the shallow sandy end of the water. I even chased some crabs on the rocky lava formations.

Even in the early morning, a couple of people were windsurfing. And my boyfriend took me snorkeling in the morning. Looking out onto the water, I imagine the sunset here is magical.

Maili Beach park has a nice campground area, and many people take advantage of spending the night here (need to get a quick permit).

There is plenty of parking here, with several entrances into each lot. The restroom facilities are super clean, and there is even outdoor exercise equipment for those looking for a workout.

Here’s why it is my #1 pick:

  • The views from this beach are amazing in every direction.
  • This is a great beach for swimming and snorkeling in the shallow ends.
  • An excellent camping park for those who get a permit.
  • The beach is long and spacious, perfect for a morning walk.
  • One of the most spectacular views on this side of the island. 

 #2. Pokai Bay Beach Park – Best Family-Friendly Beach

Pokai Bay Beach Park – Best Family-Friendly Beach

If you want to see some wildlife, this is a suitable beach. Green turtles and even seals visit this beach regularly. It is stress-free to enter the water. It is a great swimming area for beginners and children.

We spent most of the afternoon on this beach. I did a lot of swimming and jumping from the rocks. My boyfriend snorkeled (we saw two large turtles!). He said he saw several large groups of fish and some coral by the rocky cove area. We appreciated the lifeguard on duty.

The locals mostly use the beach (we were the only tourists), so there was plenty of space on the sand and in the water. This beach is small and trendy perfect for a relaxing day. Some of the locals were kayaking and fishing.

We grabbed lunch and a drink at a nearby local restaurant across the street. They make their ice cream. There is also barbeque available nearby. It’s a very convenient place to use the bathroom if you are picky about the one provided by the park.

Fun fact: Pokai Bay was originally named Malaea, which means “calm” or “serene.”

Pokai Bay Beach is among my favorite beaches for the following reasons:

  • This is a great place to swim and jump into the water because there are not a lot of waves, and the water is super calm.
  • One of the best places to see turtles, seals, and other sea life gathering around the rocky edges of the beach.
  • A virtually tourist-free beach!
  • Several great spots for food and drinks adjacent.

#3. Zablan Beach (Forac Beach Park) – The Most Under-Rated Beach

Zablan Beach (Forac Beach Park) – The Most Under-Rated Beach

This beach is less frequented and mostly used by the locals. It’s an unassuming large beach covered in rocks and white sand. The sandy part of the beach is uniquely beautiful and perfect for swimming. When we visited, the water was calm and super safe for swimming (suitable for beginners and kids!)

Everything is easy on this beach. There was a lot of parking available. We found a lot of space just for ourselves. Bathrooms are right next to the parking, and there is a green picnic area with large trees for shade.

Visiting this beach, we couldn’t help but visit the nearby Mermaid Caves. We were lucky to arrive when the tide was low, so it was relatively easy getting in and out of the caves (swim shoes please!). It was the perfect place for unique pictures and fun in the water. The cave is about 12 feet below the entrance, but the feeling is more like the middle of the earth. All in all so much fun!

You must visit this beach because:

  • This is a clean, low-crowd, sandy beach for swimmers!
  • It’s a family beach with adventurous elements for those looking to explore (caves!)
  • The Mermaid Caves are unique and perfect for one-of-a-kind photos.
  • There is a lot of parking available.

Note: If you want to explore the Mermaid caves, ensure you come when the tide is low. Bring protection for your feet. It is not recommended for small children.

#4. Nene’u Beach – Best Beach to Spend the Afternoon

Nene'u Beach – Best Beach to Spend the Afternoon

This funky white sand beach is perfect for spending an afternoon. It was close to our hotel, so we just walked. Mostly visited by locals, it is a great place to lay in the sand and soak up the Hawaiian spirit. There are several small shops close by for surfing lessons and equipment rentals.

It’s a small, protected beach without a lot of tourists. I enjoyed the long lava rock pier, which made for perfect pictures and chased small crabs across the rocks. For better swimmers, this is a great jumping spot (some local kids couldn’t get enough of it). It’s clean without a lot of debris from the water.

We took a wonderful short walk to the Pililaau Army Recreation Center, which was also fun to visit. Then we had lunch and drinks in a beautiful hut-like restaurant on the way (fantastic view). The whole walk didn’t take more than a few minutes. We left most of our stuff at our beach spot because it felt super safe.

This beach is not popular with tourists, which was a pleasant change from the more popular beaches in the area.

The key features of this small pretty beach are:

  • This is a virtually tourist-free beach for those looking to escape the crowds.
  • It is a great place to take pictures on the pier.
  • It’s a short walk to restaurants and food vendors.
  • There are equipment rentals and surfing lessons available at this beach.

#5. Lualualei Beach Park – Best Campground

Lualualei Beach Park – Best Campground

I loved this secluded location. Upon arrival, you will see a nice-sized park with lots of flat well-kept grass and a long narrow sandy beach. The ocean, the surrounding mountains, and the palm-filled park are amazing looking in all directions.

When we arrived in the late afternoon, only two or three families were at the beach. Unlike the rest of the sandy beaches, this sandy beach has a rock crust between the sand and the water. It is not suitable for swimming but perfect for a picnic or camping.

Several tents were set up for overnight chilling by the beach (you need a permit ahead of time). We decided to have dinner here and watch the sunset. Listening to the waves crash into the rocks and digging my toes into the sand made me feel like we were on a deserted island. The sunset was just as amazing!

Even though we brought our food and drinks, there were food vendors nearby and a grocery store (perfect for the campers). The beach has decent-sized parking, bathrooms, and showers available. I imagine this is a great fishing spot for those looking to spend some time alone.

This beach is on my list because:

  • It’s one of the most secluded places to watch a sunset (romantic and quiet)!
  • You can camp here and there is a nearby grocery store.
  • The grassy area is perfect for the kids to play on in the evenings.
  • Great place to take a walk or try fishing.

 Note: If you want to camp here, you must get a permit. Stay safe because there is no lifeguard on duty, and this is not a swim-friendly beach. 


Each beach in Waianae, located on the beautiful island of Oahu, Hawaii, offers a fantastic view with an authentic local feeling. The Waianae Hawaii beaches are renowned for their clear waters and virtually tourist-free environment. You’ll find that the beaches in Waianae are great for swimming (beginner to advanced) and perfect for both the summer months and winter months.

Waianae is the place to head to if you want to avoid the crowds and traffic of Honolulu. And if you’re looking for some of the best beaches in Hawaii, you can’t go wrong with Waianae.

Want to visit the best beaches of Waianae? Take a swim in Maili Beach Park or family-friendly Pokai Bay Beach. The Mākaha Beach Park and Makua Beach are other notable highlights. Want a secluded picnic or sunset? Don’t miss – Lualualei Beach!

For beachgoers in need of amenities, many of these locations offer beach cabanas. And if you’re looking to venture towards the farthest point, the Yokohama beach should be on your itinerary. Here you’ll discover Aki’s Beach, considered one of the last untouched gems along Oahu’s coastline, perfect for experiencing serenity away from the crowds at popular destinations like Honolulu.

This small city has it all. Let us know your experience, and please share!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):

Is Waianae a good area?

Yes. Waianae is a good and safe area to visit in the United States. It offers many wonderful eating-out opportunities and is just a short drive from some of the most scenic beaches on the island. The locals are super friendly and helpful.

What is Waianae known for?

Waianae is known for its wildlife. This area is full of coral reefs and tropical fish. Also, green sea turtles are often seen on nearby beaches. This makes Waianae beaches some of the top places to visit in Hawaii.

Which beach in Oahu has the clearest water?

The west side of Oahu is famous for its crystal clear waters. This includes the wonderful beaches of Waianae. Maili Beach Park is one of the prettiest beaches on the island. A close second is Pokai Bay Beach Park and my favorite (the hidden gem) Zablan Beach. 

What makes Nanakuli Beach Park a popular beach destination in Waianae?

Nanakuli Beach Park is popular because it offers beautiful scenery, picnic tables for families to enjoy outdoor meals, and a lovely stretch of sand perfect for kids to play and swim during their visit.

Is Ulehawa an ideal spot for beach picnics with family?

Indeed, Ulehawa beach offers a perfect setting for family picnics with its picturesque views, soft sands ideal for kids to play in, and available picnic tables that make your outdoor dining experience enjoyable.

Why is Aki’s beach considered one of the last beaches worth visiting on Oahu’s coast?

Aki’s Beach is known as one of the last untouched gems along Oahu’s coastline where visitors can experience serenity away from larger crowds at more popular destinations like Honolulu.

Which west coast beaches are particularly suitable for kids in Hawaii?

Waianae’s west coast beaches, such as Pokai Bay Beach Park and Zablan Beach (Forac Beach Park), are suitable for kids in Hawaii. These beaches offer calm waters, gentle waves, and family-friendly facilities that make them ideal spots for children to enjoy during their visit.

What are the main attractions of Makua Beach on Oahu’s coastline?

Makua Beach is known for its stunning natural beauty and lesser-known location, which attracts visitors seeking a peaceful escape away from crowds. It provides opportunities for sunbathing, swimming in crystal-clear water, and enjoying impressive sunsets along the coast of Oahu.

Do picnic tables often feature at popular beach locations in Waianae?

Yes, picnic tables can typically be found at popular beach locations like Nanakuli Beach Park or Ulehawa. Providing convenient outdoor seating areas for families to share meals while enjoying the beautiful surroundings contributes to their popularity among locals and tourists alike.

Is Waianae a good place to live?

Yes, Waianae can be a good place to live for those who appreciate a more laid-back lifestyle and proximity to natural beauty such as beaches and mountains. The community is friendly, and the overall living experience offers an escape from city hustle while still having access to essential amenities.

What is Waianae known for?

Waianae is known for its stunning west coast beaches, rich marine life like green sea turtles and coral reefs, as well as its authentic local atmosphere. Its beautiful sandy shores offer great swimming spots that cater to various skill levels – all within an environment less crowded than popular tourist destinations in Hawaii.

Last Updated on May 28, 2023 by Brigitte