7 beaches near Honolulu: Where to go for sun, sand, and surf

Published by: BouncePosted Updated
Beaches near Honolulu

The Hawaiian Archipelago is undoubtedly one of the world's great beach destinations. This tropical paradise really only has one season, and it's summer. The average temperature in Hawaii is around 29°, so it's beach weather at any time of year.

Honolulu may be the capital and biggest city of this island chain, but even here in Hawaii's densest urban area, you'll find no shortage of incredible beaches to explore. From the moment you arrive at Oahu Cruise Ship Terminal or step out of Honolulu Airport, you'll be able to enjoy endless sun, surf, sand - and sea turtles. Even from downtown Honolulu, it's only a short walk to the nearest beautiful white sand beach, where the swaying palm trees and cooling ocean breezes will leave you in no doubt about where in the world you are. Because in Hawaii, beach life is an indelible part of the culture, and so enjoying some time on the beach means you'll be experiencing the city like the locals do, as well as having a great time playing in the water and relaxing on the soft sand.

In many ways, the hardest thing about planning a trip to the beach from Honolulu is deciding which beach to visit. The island of Oahu offers an incredible variety of beaches, from tranquil coves where you can relax to thrilling surf breaks rolling in from the open ocean.

But whatever kind of beach you like best, you'll be able to find it here. You'll find it much easier to enjoy your time on the beach if you drop off your bags at a Bounce luggage storage before you go. Traveling light makes your trip to the beach a breeze, and Bounce offers locations in downtown Honolulu and around Oahu, so you never have to look far to find a place to leave your things.

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Waikiki Beach in Honolulu

Waikiki Beach

We may as well start with the obvious. One of the most famous beaches in Hawaii and, for that matter, in the whole world, Waikiki Beach is about the furthest thing from a hidden gem you could possibly find. Still, this beautiful sandy beach is an icon for a reason. Located just outside downtown Honolulu, this legendary Oahu beach is an incredible place to spend some time and enjoy the beautiful scenery of the island without straying far from the city.

Travel distance from Honolulu

Virtually none. Waikiki Beach lies just a couple of miles south of downtown Honolulu, but this built-up area is, in many ways, the heart of the city itself. Easily reached by public transit from anywhere in the city, Waikiki Beach is simple to get to and easy to love.

Activity recommendations

Water sports: Hawaii is the spiritual home of surfing, and there are few better places to try the sport for yourself than here. Waikiki Beach is actually made up of several small beaches, many of which offer great surf breaks, and you won't have to look far to find a surfing school or place to rent equipment here. However, surfing isn't the only thing on the menu at this famous beach. You can also go kayaking or canoeing or try parasailing and jet skiing on this legendary Oahu beach. One of the best beaches in Hawaii for exciting activities, Waikiki Beach has so many things to do that you could spend a week here without running out.

Food: In this built-up area, you never have to look far to find a restaurant. Waikiki Beach is surrounded by some of the best restaurants in Honolulu, if not all of Hawaii. Feast on fresh seafood and classic Hawaiian cuisine, or sample fusion food from around the world in this multicultural city. After a day spent stretched out on the soft sand enjoying the ample sunshine, there are few things better than a delicious meal with a view of the ocean.

Like just about all the beaches in Hawaii, Waikiki Beach is a year-round destination. It's almost always warm and sunny here, so don't worry too much about what the weather will be doing when you visit. Christmas tends to be a very busy time in Honolulu, so if you want to avoid the crowds, the shoulder seasons of spring and fall can be better options. But no matter when you visit this Oahu beach, you're guaranteed to have a great time.

Sunset Beach in Honolulu

Sunset Beach

Located on Oahu's historic North Shore, this beautiful beach is justifiably famous for its scenic splendor. When you consider all the incredible beaches Hawaii has to offer, you'll understand that it takes something really special to stand out here, but Sunset Beach manages that with the incredible natural environment it provides.

Travel distance from Honolulu

Sunset Beach lies all the way on the other end of Oahu from Honolulu, but the truth is, this gorgeous island just isn't that big. You can reach Sunset Beach from Honolulu with a drive of just 50 minutes to Oahu's North Shore. Public transportation does serve this beach, but it can be unreliable at times. You may also be able to take a shuttle bus from your Honolulu hotel to reach this exceptional beach.

Activity recommendations

Surfing: Surfers have their pick of great beaches in Hawaii, but Sunset Beach still manages to stand out thanks to the fact that it has one of the world's longest stretches of rideable surf. The big waves of winter mean this is not a place for novice surfers, but pros come from around the world to surf these epic waves, and even if you're not surfing yourself, it makes a great spectacle to watch from the safety of land.

Wildlife watching: If you don't visit this beach during the winter, you can avoid the big waves and instead head out on a snorkeling trip or scuba diving excursion to enjoy the calmer waters of spring and summer. If you do, you have a great chance of spotting some of Hawaii's most iconic marine wildlife, including the famous sea turtles. The turtle population here has rebounded thanks to conservation efforts, and as you swim in the blindingly blue ocean waters of one of the most beautiful of all Honolulu beaches, you have a great chance of encountering these placid animals.

Ala Moana Beach Park

Ala Moana Beach Park

With all the naturally gorgeous beaches in Honolulu you could choose from, it might seem a little strange to visit an artificial beach. But Ala Moana Beach Park is exactly that, and this family-friendly location with its calm waters and marine life is justifiably one of the most popular beaches in Honolulu.

Travel distance from Honolulu

Ala Moana Beach Park is even closer to downtown Honolulu than the many Waikiki beaches. This sandy beach can be reached from the city with a drive of only five minutes or a short bus ride to the Hawaii Convention Center and a brief walk from there to the water's edge.

Activity recommendations

Swimming: There are really no bad beaches for swimming on Oahu. Still, this city beach park stands out as one of the best beaches in the area for swimming, thanks in part to the presence of a shallow reef just offshore that gives Ala Moana Beach Park its famously calm waters. The offshore reef and calmer swimming conditions here make it one of the most popular swimming spots in all of Hawaii, which is saying a lot.

Biking: Ala Moana Beach Park is part of a network of bike trails called the Lei of the Parks. This long trail runs along this popular beach and several other beautiful waterfront parks, making it a great trip for beach lovers who also want to get some exercise on two wheels while they explore.

Diamond Head lighthouse

Kailua Beach Park

Another great location for swimming, Kailua Beach Park was once named America's Best Beach, which is high praise indeed. With lots to do here, you can easily spend a whole day enjoying the magnificent coastal setting and fun activities both in and out of the water.

Travel distance from Honolulu

Located on the eastern side of the island, Kailua Beach can be reached with a drive of 20 minutes or so from Honolulu. You can also take public transportation here, which will take around 45 minutes.

Activity recommendations

Sports: Located on what's known as the Windward Coast of Oahu, this beach is an excellent place for surfing. Plus, with some of the clearest waters anywhere on the island, it's also a fabulous destination for snorkeling and scuba diving. But the 35-acre park behind the beach also offers hiking, basketball, volleyball, and other activities. There are also toilets and outdoor showers so you can freshen up after working out.

Kawainui Marsh Wildlife Sanctuary: Just a short walk away from the beach itself, this wildlife sanctuary provides a very different kind of natural environment. A flat trail leads through the marshland, where you can encounter native birds and other wildlife in their natural habitat.

Diamond Head Beach Park

Not far from the city itself, Diamond Head Beach Park provides not only some of the best beaches in the area but also incredible views of the rocky shoreline of South Oahu.

Travel distance from Honolulu

Around six miles from central Honolulu, this beach Park can be reached with a drive of around 20 minutes.

Activity recommendations

Hiking: The area around Diamond Head offers some of the best hiking anywhere on Oahu. Forest trails provide incredible views of the coast, and the volcanic scenery is something you have to see for yourself.

Scenic views: Just about everywhere in Hawaii has great views, but Diamond Head is one of the best places to find secluded beaches where you can just relax and enjoy. You may also find picnic tables where you can take a break or just take a seat on the soft sands of a secluded beach near Diamond Head Beach Park and enjoy the tranquility.

Lanikai Beach near Honolulu

Lanikai Beach

With turquoise water, golden sand, and tall palm trees, visiting Lanikai Beach can make you feel like you've stepped into a postcard.

Travel distance from Honolulu

Thirteen miles from Honolulu, Lanikai Beach can be reached in about half an hour by car.

Activity recommendations

Sunrise: This east-facing beach is one of the best places to watch the sunrise in all of Hawaii. If you're an early riser, head to Lanikai Beach to watch the sun rise above the islands off the coast of Lanikai Beach for a mystical experience you won't forget.

Hiking: Just behind Lanikai Beach, the Lanikai Pillbox Hike provides a walking trail with both scenic grandeur and historic interest.

Pu'uloa Beach Park

With one of the largest stretches of white sand on the island, Pu'uloa Beach Park is a great place to get some exercise while surrounded by nature.

Travel distance from Honolulu

Just the other side of Honolulu Airport, it nevertheless takes a drive of about 30 minutes around the bay to reach this sandy beach.

Activity recommendations

Jogging and bike riding: The huge expanse of sandy beach here makes it one of the best places on the island to go for a run or bike ride. Enjoy incredible views while you exercise here.

Fishing: The beach has a stone jetty that makes a perfect base for fishing. Buy bait and tackle from a local shop and get some guidance on the best spots while you're there before seeing if you can hook something fresh for dinner.

Best beaches near Honolulu


Honolulu is blessed, like few other cities on earth, with incredible beaches washed by gentle waves. With family-friendly beaches of fine white sand offering views of offshore islands or fun-packed beaches with large waves where you can try your hand at surfing, there are almost too many choices on this island. Along with the beaches on this list, you can also explore incredible locations like Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, Sandy Beach Park, Waimanalo Beach, and Magic Island Beach, to name just a few. And on an island that can often be expensive to visit, local parks like Kuhio Beach Park and Ehukai Beach Park provide some of the best things to do when you visit Honolulu on a budget.

You can visit incredible beaches right from Honolulu itself or take a weekend trip from the city to visit the North Shore. But wherever you go, you'll find an endless white sand coast in the Hawaiian Islands. Leave your bags behind and bring only the beach necessities to enjoy the best coastal locations near Honolulu.

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