While Waikiki is arguably the most famous beach in Hawaii, there are numerous other terrific beaches just slightly off the beaten tourist path. We’ll list a few of the closest ones in this post and follow up in subsequent posts, so stay tuned. (These are all within a 15 minute drive of Waikiki)
- Sans Souci Beach (Kaimana): Located at the eastern end of Waikiki in the shadow of Diamond Head, this is my personal favorite beach. It’s small with a mostly local crowd, but the beach is perfect for sunbathing and the outer reef keeps the water calm, making it a perfect swimming spot. You’ll see swimmers doing laps from the beach to the windsock out on the reef. On weekends, families visit the beach and nearby Kapiolani Park for barbecues, birthday parties, and bounce houses, and its a great sunset spot. A 15 to 20 minute walk along the ocean from central Waikiki. Lifeguard staff. Restroom facilities next door at the Natatorium (which we really need to blog about!)
- Diamond Head Beach Park:
Many visitors focus on hiking to the top of Diamond Head and forgo visiting the beach below. Driving past Kapiolani Park east of Waikiki, you’ll ascend the slopes that form the bottom of Diamond Head Crater and you’ll reach the lookout point. This is a great vantage point from which to check out the surfers, but take the minute walk to the beach, and you might be pleasantly surprised to find a long stretch of uncrowded beach. The bottom tends to be rocky and there’s live coral, so use caution if you decide to go for a swim (watch where the locals are entering and exiting). Parking is available along the road and at a few small turnouts. Take the path down the hill; a shower is available at the bottom. *I’ve gotten splinters walking barefoot, so keep your flip flops on until you hit the sand*
- Kahala Beach:
Kahala is known as some of the priciest real estate in Oahu, and tucked within the neighborhoods are some great beaches to explore. Just a few minutes’ drive from Waikiki, park along Kahala Avenue near any of the beach access paths (there are small signs, but keep your eyes peeled). It’s a narrow beach but great for strolling, and the reef opens in a few spots for great swimming. Many residents bring their dogs to play on this dog friendly stretch of beach. No facilities unless you go to the beach park at the far end.
- Magic Island/ Ala Moana Beach Park:
West of Waikiki and across the street from Ala Moana Shopping Center, the island extends out in a peninsula. Not only is this the home of some terrific South Shore surf spots, but it’s also a great park for running, picnicking, and getting together with friends. Along the western end, you’ll find a protected lagoon and long stretch of sand. Swimming here feels very safe, though it almost feels too closed off at times. And who can resist a place called “Magic Island”?
That’s a short list of nearby beaches. There are many other great spots on the island, which we’ll cover shortly!