While Waikiki may be the best known, there are other beaches on the south side which are also worth a visit. Some are better known for their surf, while others offer a chance to enjoy the beauty and diversity of the marine life in Hawaiian waters, and some are just excellent beaches for their beauty and their views.
Ala Moana Beach Park
Located between downtown Honolulu and Waikiki, this park is a favorite with tourist and local families. It has large open lawn spaces shaded by Banyan trees and tall palms, with a music pavilion, picnic tables, parking, and restrooms. The beach is man-made, great for swimming, free from rocks, and protected from large waves, which makes it ideal for children! There are lifeguards, plenty of parking, and restrooms and showers are available.
This one and a half mile long crescent beach is one of the most widely known beaches in the world! It is actually a string of beaches. At the far end in front of the Hilton Hawaiian Village is Duke Kahanamoku Beach. This is where legendary Hawaiian Olympic gold medal winner, Duke Kahanamoku, learned to swim and surf as a boy! Offshore from this beach is a popular surf spot called Threes. Next in the line is Royal Moana Beach Park which is situated between two of the oldest, most famous hotels, the Moana Surfrider and the Royal Hawaiian. Just down from there is Kuhio Beach, where Hawaiian Prince Jonah Kuhio had his home. Offshore from here are two popular surfing spots…Queens (after Queen Liliuokalani) and Canoes (named for the famous outrigger canoes that you see so often here).
Lastly, you come to Queen’s Surf, just across from the zoo and just before the aquarium. All of these make up what is popularly known as Waikiki Beach and all are excellent spots to spend the day! Depending where you are staying, you can walk to these beaches or try to find parking at a lot or hotel nearby. Lifeguards are on duty at all the spots mentioned and restrooms and showers are available.
Maunalua Bay Beach Park
Just before you reach Koko Head, as you drive southeast out of Honolulu, you will find this beach park. While the shore is shallow and rocky, not good for swimming, it is a great place to picnic, enjoy the views, and watch the outriggers. It is the practice site of the Hui Nalu Canoe Club which is one of the oldest in Hawaii. Rest rooms, showers, picnic tables and parking are available.
Once a playground for Hawaii’s ruling families because of its beauty, isolation, and great fishing, this is now a protected Nature Preserve and Conservation District. This volcanic crater has a small, golden sand beach and a shallow shoreline which makes it perfect for snorkeling! While it is abundant with sea life, please remember to look and not touch when enjoying all the underwater beauty that you see here! There are lifeguards, restrooms, showers and parking here.
One of the best body surfing beaches, this beach is very popular and always crowded, but it is also one of the most dangerous! There are more lifeguard rescues here than at any other beach on Oahu. The waves, the shorebreak, and the strong currents catch many weak swimmers unaware. That word of caution said, this is also a very beautiful beach and it is a great place to soak up the Hawaiian sun while enjoying the daredevils who are willing to risk a pounding in the surf! There is parking available, as well as restrooms and showers.
Makapu‘u Beach Park
Bordered on one side by the sea cliffs of Makapu‘u Point, this is a classic Hawaiian beach of golden sand. In summer the ocean is gentle and perfect for swimming or diving, but during the winter months high surf can sometimes erode the beach and create dangerous rip currents. This beach has another distinction as one of the most famous bodysurfing beaches and many come just to watch them. Don’t expect to go surfing here though because surfboards are actually banned from this beach, for the protection of the many bodysurfers! Lifeguards are on duty here and there are public amenities here, such as restrooms and showers, and parking.
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