Oahu beach vacation guide

Jul 7, 2022

Oahu is one of the most popular islands in Hawaii with Canadian travellers and for good reason. Known as the “Gathering Place” and home to Honolulu, the state capital and its largest city, Oahu is known for its iconic stretches of beach, the epic surfing competitions and scenic hiking routes through tropical rainforests.

Full of craggy volcano peaks, dense rainforests and amazing vistas that overlook iconic stretches of beach, you’ll be able to find hidden waterfalls where you can cool off and take a breather. 

Whether you are a surfing enthusiast, or enjoy watching others tackle giant waves, Oahu is a must visit destination. Take a photo with the Duke Kahanamoku Statue and visit the Banzai Pipeline in the winter to catch some of the best surfers as they tackle the waves. Beginner surfers need not worry, there are plenty of surfing schools that are located around the coast. Start with the gentler waters of Haleiwa Beach Park or Kawela Bay before tackling the more demanding waves.

Explore the history of Hawaiian royalty with a visit to Iolani Palace, or visit Pearl Harbor, one of the most visited attractions on the island. Or visit Kualoa Ranch, a 400 acre ranch where Jurassic Park, Godzilla, and Lost were filmed. Take a movie tour or book a horse-riding tour and visit some amazing hidden beaches.

Oahu beach vacation guide

North Shore is a beautiful stretch of beach used as the backdrop of many TV shows and films. It is the site of world class surfing competitions, and in the winter, the swells throw up such massive waves that its seven-mile stretch of sands has been coined “The Seven Mile Miracle”. Sunset Beach is home to Oahu’s best surf breaks, but even if you are not an avid surfer, we recommend a visit to enjoy its namesake sunset views.

Travelzoo tip: If you’re not a seasoned surfer, visit in the summer months when the surf subsides. 

Waikiki was once a Hawaiian royal retreat, and is one of the most famous beaches of Hawaii. Backed by Diamond Head, with stunning vistas overlooking turquoise waters, our deal experts are always on the hunt for amazing hotel deals, as the beach has plenty of top level luxury resorts. This gorgeous crescent shape of sand is perfect for swimming and sunbathing, and hosts some of the most beautiful sunsets that you’ll see in Hawaii. Hike along the steep slopes of Diamond Head Crater, to take in some epic views of Waikiki beach.

Visit the town of Kailua, a trendy beach town located just 30 minutes away from downtown Honolulu. Lanikai Beach is a beautiful stretch of beach not too far away, as is Turtle Beach located on the top of North Shore. You might be able to catch green sea turtles sunbathing on the sand. Kailua Beach is an award winning beach with gentle waters and waves, perfect for swimming and stand-up paddle boarding.

Lanikai Beach boasts gentle swimmable waters that is a perfect place to rest and relax and learn how to snorkel. It is one of the few beaches in Oahu without shore-breaking waves, which means even in the winter (peak surfing season) it would be a gentle place to swim.

Some of the best beaches are tucked away in Oahu’s coastline. Visit Halona Beach Cove, a stunning pocket of sand close to the Halona blowhole. Makapuu Beach is backed by rising cliffs of carved lava, with strong riptide currents. For seasoned watersport enthusiasts, Sandy’s Beach is also known as “break-neck beach”, and is a popular spot for bodyboarders.

Waimea Bay is a popular destination for surfers. The moon-shaped beach is located on the north shore of Oahu and in the winter months hosts many surfing competitions. Take a break from your saltwater dips with a visit to Waimea Falls Park, with a 45-foot waterfall considered one of the best waterfalls in Hawaii, and a perfect place to take a quick dip.

Travelzoo tip: Adrenaline junkie locals and travellers have made it a sport to jump off “the rock”, a big black monolith located on the left edge of the bay.

For those looking for more gentle waters, Waimanalo Beach is the longest uninterrupted white-sand beach on Oahu. Located on the eastern coast of Oahu, enjoy long peaceful walks along the gentle shores, with Hawaiian green sea turtles as company. Ala Moana Beach Park is also a favorite with families, or consider visiting Ko Olina Lagoons, the rocks surrounding the lagoons make for gentle waters.

Go swimming in Hanauma Bay, featuring some of the best coral and sea life. Formed within a volcanic cone, it is home to over 300 different Hawaiian fish species. 

Browse our Hawaii deals or visit our Hawaii beach vacation guide for more inspiration.

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