Want to make the best of your trip to Oahu’s West side?
Do you have limited time but don’t want to miss the best beaches?
You don’t have to worry. My boyfriend and I spent a week exploring the west side of Oahu (we had so much fun!). So if you’re looking for the finest beaches in one article, this is the place.
Here is a must-see list of beaches I guarantee will knock your socks off. I ranked the top 6 beaches based on swimming conditions, marine and plant life, breathtaking views, and crowding.
So without further ado, here is the list of my favorite 6 beaches!
#1. Lanikuhonua Beach (Secret Beach) – Best Beaches in Oahu for Swimming
Lanikuhonua is the best-hidden beach we have visited and our #1 beach on the West side of Oahu! This is the spot if you are looking for a deserted island feeling, with a beautiful white sand beach and calm crystal blue water. We visited on a weekday morning, and only a few locals were there.
Getting to the beach was difficult since there was no path or entrance. To get to the beach, you have to hike to the beach over rocks in between the neighboring beaches. Still, walk carefully because it is worth it.
It is perfect for snorkeling and finding small sea life in shallow water. There are also a lot of tide pools for exploring (for children and adults alike!). It was easy to snorkel here because the water was clear, and we had great visibility. It’s the perfect place to sunbathe in the soft sand and swim without crowds and too much noise.
Like on a deserted island, don’t expect all the facilities found on big city beaches. We brought everything we needed with us. It made for a delicious brunch before heading back to civilization.
I want to be selfish and keep this secret to myself. However, I am sure you will love this beach.
Here is why you’ll love it too:
- This beach is secluded and hidden from large groups of tourists.
- The beach is covered with white sand, and the water is clear.
- You will enjoy easy snorkeling in this beach’s calm, clear water.
- You can enjoy this beach as a couple or with children because there are a lot of tide pools to play in.
#2. Maili Beach Park – Best Camping Beach
This beach is one of the most scenic and interesting beaches on the west side and my #2 pick. It is a large sandy beach with patches of seaweed-covered rocks and lava formations. Most of the beach is lined with tall palm trees. The beach is clean, and there is almost no debris in the water (which I really appreciate!).
This beach is known for camping, and tents are allowed as there is plenty of flat space for those looking to spend the night. You need a permit to camp, and we didn’t bring our camping gear, but I think it is worth it on a nice summer night. The amenities are close by, so it’s an easy camp.
We watched the sunset from this beach, and the colors were amazing. It gets peaceful in the evening as the campers set up their spots. Watching sailboats on the water as the sun went down was especially fun.
Here’s why you should check out this beach:
- It is the finest camping beach in the area and has all the amenities nearby.
- Walking on the beach and seeing the rocks and lava formations is fun.
- It’s a great place to watch the sunset or have a delicious meal at the beach.
- The beach and water are super clean and free of debris.
#3. Pokai Bay Beach Park – Best Family-Friendly Beach
This charming beach has plenty of wildlife (we saw seals sunbathing on the rocks!) The locals mostly visit it, so it doesn’t have a touristy feel, and it’s a nice change from the large central beaches.
I enjoyed exploring this beach. The lava rock pier made for a great place to take pictures, and you can even chase small crabs scrimmaging around. This beach is suitable for lounging because it has a lot of large trees and shade.
My boyfriend spent some time snorkeling while I was swimming. The water is super calm, and the beach is protected, so it’s an easy swim for beginners and children. We even saw local families with lots of barbecue gear and small children running around.
There is a nice (reasonably priced) restaurant next to the beach, so we enjoyed a great lunch before getting back to exploring and swimming. There are bathrooms and showers available on-site, but don’t expect anything fancy.
This beach made it to the list because:
- There is a local vibe to the beach with very few tourists.
- You can spend a lot of time exploring the beach for wildlife and sea creatures.
- There is enough shade to camp out for longer periods.
- This is a family-friendly beach with calm and safe water for swimming.
#4. Keawaula (Yokohama Beach) – Best White Sand Beach in Oahu
The view from this beach is almost equally scenic in all directions. It is a small but deep white sandy beach with many lush green hills. It is quite isolated and remote, so there were no crowds (exactly how I like my beach!)
The swimming was fun here, with a nice deep drop-off and waves to jump into. Non-experienced swimmers should stay in the shallow end. Even so, I appreciated that there were lifeguards on duty, always ready to give advice and look out for the guests.
We packed a lunch for this trip and filled the car with additional snacks and drinks. We also did the hike along the Ka’ena Point Trail, which is a pleasant, easy hike for all levels but requires proper head protection and lots of water. It would be best if you planned the hike to have all your gear, including comfortable shoes.
The only criticism would be that this beach doesn’t have any shade, so bring your own protection.
Here’s why you will love this beach:
- The beach is off the beaten path, and there are no crowds.
- The view is extraordinary in all directions, with many green mountains in the background.
- There is an easy hike trail for added activities.
- There are lifeguards on duty.
#5. Kahe Beach (Electric Beach) – Best Snorkeling Beach on Oahu
This beach has some of the warmest water (thanks to the nearby power plant), so it is super comfortable for swimming and snorkeling. The warm water attracts lots of tropical marine life, so this is the best place to snorkel or swim with fish.
While we snorkeled, we saw a lot of coral, starfish, shells, and sea anemones. The coolest part, however, was the colorful fish, many of them swarming around us at one point. You need to be careful with the waves. It is not the ideal place for children or inexperienced swimmers.
For those not so comfortable going into the deep end, there are dolphin tour boats available in this area. It is a great way to experience all the animal life while staying dry. On the other hand, scuba diving options for those more adventurous.
There are showers, toilets and some tables available at this beach. Shade is limited near the parking area, but it is still pleasant.
Things to keep in mind about this beach:
- The water is warmer than in other places.
- There is a lot of tropical sea life to see.
- You will love this place if you are an intermediate or advanced snorkeler and swimmer.
- This is the right place to try scuba diving or take a boat tour.
#6. Makaha Beach Park – Best Surfing Waves
Makana Beach Park is my pick for the traditional long sand beach (and all the activities it offers). I like this beach because it has local shops, food vendors, and equipment rentals nearby, but it is also large enough not to feel overcrowded. A nice green area is off the beach with shade and picnic tables.
This is the beach to surf on whether you’re just trying it out or an avid surfer. I spent over an hour sunbathing and watching all the talented surfers ride the waves. We also did some swimming, and the water was warm and clean.
After a couple of hours of swimming and watching the surf, we had a delicious lunch with a view of the beach. I’m sure it would be a great spot in the evening to catch some live music on the beach since the surrounding restaurants were preparing for live music.
Here’s why you should check out this beach:
- This is a large sandy beach with restaurants and equipment rental nearby.
- This beach is not overcrowded.
- You can surf or spend time watching pro surfers.
- There is live music in the nearby restaurants at night.
- The water is clean and calm enough for swimming.
Your visit to Oahu must include some of the beautiful beaches on the west side of the island. Like me, you will enjoy all the hidden gems and secluded sand beaches offering privacy and peaceful shorelines.
You’ll find that most of the beaches on the west side are swimmer friendly, and there are many opportunities to try out watersports. We visited in the summertime, so if you prefer calm waters, this is the time to be here.
I hope you enjoyed this must-see beach list because it is a fun collection of beaches offering all the beauty of this coast.
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Until next time!
Related questions / FAQ:
What beaches are on the West side of Oahu?
Some of the most popular beaches on the West side of Oahu are:
- Makaha Beach Park
- Lanikuhonua Beach
- Maili Beach
- Pokai Bay Beach Park
What is the safest beach in Oahu?
One of the safest and most family-friendly beaches on Oahu is Maili Beach. It is a super clean beach with a large shallow end for non-swimmers. The water is generally clear and calm. The bottom in the shallow end is sandy, making it easy to enter and exit the water.
What beaches do locals go to in Oahu?
Some of the favorite beaches visited by the locals in Oahu are:
- Lanikai Beach
- Lanikuhonua Beach
- Keawaula (Yokohama Beach)
Last Updated on January 10, 2023 by Brigitte