The windward coast of East Oahu is a scenic 30 miles, with the beautiful Koolau Mountains as a backdrop! On this side of Oahu you will find beaches popular for windsurfing and kitesurfing, since the trades are almost always blowing here. You will also find beaches with golden sand and panoramic views which are perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and soaking up the sun! The following are a few favorites, listed in order as you will encounter them if traveling south to north, which is our recommended route.
Kaupo Beach Park
Just opposite Sea Life Park, this small beach area is sometimes called Baby Makapu‘u. It has gentle waves and shallow, sand bottomed “pools” on the north end, created by the lava rock. Families like to come here with their children to explore and play in the pools. A historical note of interest is the large rock on the beach, Pohaku Pa‘akiki, said to be a monument to an agreement made centuries ago between the Hawaiian people and their shark amakua (God) that there would be no shark attacks in the waters offshore here. This beach has parking, restrooms, and showers. However, there are no lifeguards at this beach.
The fine, powdery, white sand of Waimanalo stretches more than three miles, from Sea Life Park to Wailea Point. It is a favorite beach area of many who live on Oahu, as well as those visiting, because it is well protected and swimming is safe year round. Snorkeling is good here also. There are three beach parks along this stretch. For fans of the old TV series, Magnum PI, this is the beach where Magnum would be shown “taking a dip” after a long day! There are lifeguards and facilities at these parks, along with parking, but please do not leave valuables in your car as there have been break-ins.
A little farther along, this is one of Hawaii‘s most photographed beaches! Even its name is beautiful since Lanikai means “sea heaven”. With a reef that extends about a half mile out, this beach is a very protected beach. Almost like a crystal clear lagoon, it is great for swimming and kayaking! There are public right of ways to this beach along Mokulua Drive, but there is no parking area set aside. While there are lifeguards here, it also does not have public restrooms or showers.
Kailua Beach Park
Continuing north you come to a two mile crescent of soft powdery sand bordering Kailua Bay. Nestled at the foot of the Koolau Mts, this beach is a favorite with visitor and locals offering safe conditions and panoramic views! The fine coral sand is excellent for building sandcastles and each year they hold a sandcastle building contest here. Another popular windsurfing beach, the windsurfers here must stay beyond marked buoys that designate the swimming area. There is also a bike path, volleyball court, kayak rentals, and even a caf.! It has lifeguards, picnic tables, restrooms, showers, and parking.
Kualoa Regional Park
Fringed by tall coconut palm trees, this glistening strand of white sand offers safe swimming and snorkeling year round plus stunning views! At low tide you can walk (wearing tabis or tennis shoes) to the small island offshore known commonly as Chinaman’s Hat. In addition, at the south end of this park is Moli‘i Fishpond which was built in the very earliest days of Hawaii and still stands today. You will find plenty of parking, picnic tables, restrooms, showers, and lifeguards on duty (daily in summer and weekends during winter months).
Kahana Beach Park
Just past Ka‘a‘awa, heading north, this bay has a beautiful crescent shaped white sand beach with calm waters for swimming. It is also popular with kayakers and is a favorite fishing spot. You will find a couple of fun little hiking trails, as well as public amenities and parking.