You will find there are quite a selection of beaches on the North Shore of Oahu and all are beautiful in their own way! The following are just a few we feel worthy of special attention and consideration. Since you will likely be coming from Honolulu and approaching from the H2 Hwy to Wahiawa and then on to Kamehameha Hwy (99), we listed the beaches in order as you travel around the North Shore heading towards Windward (East) Oahu.
Mokule`ia Beach Park
You will have to take a slight deviation to find this beach. It is somewhat off the beaten path, but that alone makes it more appealing to some. Take a left off Kamehameha Hwy (99) to Farrington Hwy (930) and travel towards Waialua/Mokule`ia. You will feel as if you are truly “out in the country” and you are, so enjoy the natural beauty of this area as you drive. When you pass the polo field (that sits right on the beach!) you will know you are close. Mokule`ia Beach is right across from a small airfield, which is a fun extra since you will get to see skydivers and quiet glider planes above you. The beach itself is a marvelous stretch of sand where a gorgeous expanse of blue water meets blue sky! Winter swells are excellent for surfing, windsurfing, and beachcombing, while the calm summer months are good for snorkeling and swimming. There is parking available, as well as restrooms and showers.
Hale`iwa Ali`i Beach Park
Back on Kamehameha Hwy and heading through the charming and historic little town of Hale`iwa, take a left just before the iconic Hale`iwa Bridge and drive down past the harbor to this popular surf spot. The beach fronting the park is a great place to swim in the summer when waters are calm and a good place for catching waves in winter months (as is the case with most beaches on the North Shore). Divers also like this beach because of several good offshore dive sites such as the Hale`iwa Trench. There are lifeguards, restrooms, showers, parking, and, just a short walk down the road, some good places nearby to get a bite to eat or a nice cool shave ice!
This unmarked beach is a very popular surf site. It has a wide sand area and a shallow reef which also makes it a great spot for swimming and snorkeling during the summer months. When the winter waves roll in, it is another super North Shore spot for surfers. Easily accessible, with roadside parking, there are no public amenities but there are lifeguards here.
Waimea Bay Beach Park
As you drive you will see many beautiful beach spots and you should stop along the way and explore when it is safe to pull over and park, but do be careful since this is a busy highway! Once you reach Waimea Bay, you will most definitely want to pull in, park (parking is on your left just before you cross the bridge so slow down and be prepared), and take some time to enjoy this spectacular beach! This beach is home to the prestigious big-wave surf event known as The Eddie, a surf contest held in memory of legendary Hawaiian surfer and lifeguard, Eddie Aikau. In the winter months the waves here are awesome to behold and you should only attempt to surf them if you are an expert!! In summer months this wide sand beach is a popular swimming and snorkeling site. There are restrooms, lifeguards, showers, picnic tables….and picture postcard worthy views!
Sharks Cove Beach Park
Continuing past Waimea, you will come to a long narrow expanse of shoreline which is rocky with sandy “pockets” among the rocks and beach areas at either end. While known as Shark’s Cove, it is not because of an abundance of sharks. This is a popular dive site and an excellent spot for exploring tide pools. As part of a Marine Life Conservation District, the waters and wildlife are protected so please be respectful when exploring. Tread carefully and wear footgear because the rocks can be sharp and there are sea urchins with pokey spines among the rocks too! There are showers and restrooms here, parking, and across from this park there are places to rent gear, shop, and get a bite to eat!
Ehukai Beach Park
Across from Sunset Beach Elementary School you will find public access and parking for Ehukai Beach, famous for it’s surf spot known as “Pipeline!” Another site of the big-wave surf events during the winter months, we must again warn that these waves are for expert surfers only, but they are incredible to watch! Pipeline gets its name from the near-perfect tubes formed by these waves. While winter’s waves are hazardous, summer conditions are mellow and anytime of year this beach is a popular spot for locals and visitors. There are lifeguards, restrooms, and showers here.
Sunset Beach Park
Here you will find one of the most famous surfing spots in the world! This beach is home to the Triple Crown of Surfing and the waves here can reach heights of 20 ft or more in the winter. Sunset Beach also has a strong current called the Sunset Rip, so be aware and use caution in winter months. The surf calms down in summer though, as on all North Shore beaches, and this renowned beach is a “must stop” for many because it is a great place to catch the gorgeous, you guessed it, sunset! There are lifeguards at this beach, and restrooms and parking are available across the street
As you head up the highway you will come to Turle Bay Resort, the only hotel on the North Shore, and here you will find a long, crescent shaped beach where the Honu, or green sea turtle, can be seen as it comes in to feed on the seaweed growing on the reef. These turtles are protected and should not be fed or touched, but they are a beautiful, gentle creature that is so impressive to see up close! You can enjoy a walk on the beach, a swim with the turtles, and a nice lunch or dinner at the hotel!
Malaekahana State Recreation Area
Continue driving along Kamehameha Hwy, past Kahuku, and you will see a large bay with a long curving beach. There are actually two sections to this state park. The end farthest from Kahuku, the Kalani section, has an island just offshore. Commonly called Goat Island, because residents used to graze goats there, this island is a seabird sanctuary with a beautiful little sand beach on one side. When tides are low, you can wade over to the island and enjoy swimming at the picturesque beach. You will need reef walkers to protect your feet from sharp rocks, and this trek is not advisable for children or non-swimmers since there is a strong current which can be difficult to cross at times. Even if you do not cross to the island, this beach is a relaxing beach with great views! There are lifeguards here, along with restrooms, showers, picnic tables, and parking.