Enter your phone number below to receive personal assistance or a direct quote.

Call Me

Please enter a valid 10 digit phone number.

Thank you! You're in Queue.


Or Call 866-574-1909


    Why Talk to Us?
  • 25+ Years in Love with Hawaii
  • Close with Locals and Resort Managers
  • Best Deals on Condos and Hotels
  • Dedicated Consultant for Your Trip
  • We are Travelers First. Ask us Anything!
Click here to Call Now


The Definitive Guide To Oahu Vacations in 2020

information iconAbout This Guide

This is the ultimate guide to Oahu, Hawaii in 2020. And let's do this the right way:
This is NOT your average “Top 10 things..." list.
Yes, we’ll cover the most-visited favorites. But you’re also going to find hidden experiences that our clients remember for decades. So if you’re looking to explore Oahu, you’ll love this new guide.

About Oahu iconGet Your Bearings on Oahu

Overview of Oahu

Oahu, known as The Gathering Place is the home of world-famous Waikiki Beach. Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona and the Polynesian Cultural Center are must-see historical highlights. A drive around the island reveals a surprising variety of sights and experiences. You can marvel at the prowess of surfers riding 30-foot waves at renowned Sunset Beach. The view from Makapuu Lighthouse regularly includes whales frolicking in the ocean below. The days you spend on Waikiki's beautiful beach are unforgettable. The incredible color and soothing temperature of the ocean promise many joys for those who want to get wet. Be sure to make time to enjoy Waikiki's many shopping and dining opportunities. For those of you looking for more serene Oahu vacations, the Kahala or Ko Olina areas offer unparalleled tranquility with deluxe accommodations.

Oahu Facts

  • Size: 597 Square Miles
  • Length: 44 Miles
  • Width: 30 Miles
  • Coastline: 112 Miles
  • Population: 899,593

Oahu Airports

  • Main Oahu Airport: Honolulu International Airport (HNL)
  • Driving from the airport:
  • Waikiki: 9 miles (16 min)
  • Hanauma Bay: 18 miles (28 min)
  • Downtown Honolulu: 6 miles (12 min)
  • Sea Life Park: 9 miles (17 min)
  • Pali Lookout: 10 miles (18 min)
  • Polynesian Cultural Center: 35 miles (55 min)
  • Pearl Harbor: 2 miles (7 min)
  • Makaha (Surfing): 29 miles (44 min)
  • Diamond Head: 12 miles (21 min)

Oahu Weather

The weather on Oahu is similar to that of the other Hawaiian Islands, with a minimal temperature variance between seasons and coastal temperatures ranging from 60 to 80 degrees year round. As with the other islands, the farther you rise in elevation, the colder it will get, with the temperatures at the highest elevations (around 4000 iE dipping into the forties in the winter months.

A Brief History of Oahu

Oahu is supposedly the first Hawaiian Island to be seen by a westerner, in January of 1778 when Capt. James Cookis HMS Resolution passed close by. The ship did not actually land on the island, and instead visited Kauai. Oahu was visited the next year by Capt. Clerke on the same ship after Capt. Cook was killed on the Big Island. Honolulu, Oahu became the capital of the Hawaiian Island Chain in 1845 under King Kamehameha III, and on the island today stands the U.S. is only Royal Palace, in the Capitol District of Honolulu. Oahu is also the location of the Imperial Japanese Navy attack on Pearl Harbor, which marked the United States Entry into World War II. During the attack on December 7, 1941, 2,403 American servicemen and 68 civilians lost their lives. 12 American warships and 188 aircraft were also lost. Today, Oahu is home to some of the world's best surfing, and is also the travel hub to the rest of the world, with Hawaii's main international airport being found in Honolulu. 5 million outside visitors pass through Oahu every year.

Things to do in Oahu iconThings To Do in Oahu

Land Experiences3

Pearl Harbor - Battleship Missouri

This tour gives guests a behind-the-scenes look into the ship's machinery and working areas. Guests visit the ship Post Office, machine shop, crews berthing area and other areas not open to the public.

The new Explorer Tour gives you an exclusive behind-the-scenes look into the ship's impressive fire rooms, machinery, and working areas. After donning special equipment and using flashlights to assist in penetrating the depths of the Might Mo, you will visit areas of the ship restricted for all other visitors.

During your 90-minute tour, you will view Missouri's post office and walk through a crew's berthing area as it was left in 1992 at the ship's decommissioning. The guided portion of the tour ends on Missouri's Surrender.

MUST BE PHYSICALLY FIT. Tour times 10:05am, 11:05am, 12:05pm, 1:05pm, 2:05pm (may vary).

Luaus on Oahu

Oahu is the home of three of the most famous Hawaiian luaus; the Polynesian Cultural Center luau, Germaine's Luau and Paradise Cove Luau. The Hawaiian luaus and feasts on Oahu are heavily steeped in Hawaiian history, Polynesian history, hula dancing and all facets of Hawaiian culture.

Luaus on Oahu are all similar to the extent that they all include a full complement of Hawaiian foods such as lomi lomi salmon, chicken long rice, kalua pork (prepared underground in a pit or "imu") haupia and of course poi. Some of Oahu's Hawaiian luaus include various options that allow for special seating and upgraded food choices.

One unusual aspect of the luaus on Oahu is that they are all located some distance from the tourist centers of Waikiki. As a result these luaus will provide transportation to and from or, if you have your own vehicle, you can drive on your own.

Please keep in mind that the Polynesian Cultural Center is famous for more than simply their luau and hula show. The Polynesian Cultural Center is generally considered to be one of the biggest attractions in Hawaii. The various island cultures of polynesia are displayed in a series of villages throughout the property. The luau is a big event in the evening but you are free to wander the villages (complete with guides if you'd like) throughout the afternoon.

Shows and Entertainment in Waikiki

For those of you with a bent toward magic you most certainly would enjoy the Magic of Polynesia Show. The ultimate stage spectacular, MAGIC OF POLYNESIA, is a series of spellbinding illusions performed by Hawaii's internationally acclaimed illusionist, JOHN HIROKAWA. This one-hour performance will combine the music and dance of Hawaii with the panache of a Las Vegas production.

There are a number of show and dinner packages available.

Water Experiences5

Oahu Dinner and Sunset Cruises

Perhaps the most romantic activities offered off Honolulu and Waikiki on the island of Oahu are the sunset dinner cruises or sunset sails. Most Oahu dinner cruises will include an open bar with your dinner as well as pick-up from your Honolulu or Waikiki hotel. All dinner cruises will include entertainment and dancing, and the dinners will vary from basic to seven-course "French Style" dinners with premium bar and limousine pick-up and after-cruise entertainment at a Honolulu nightclub.

A variation of the dinner cruise is what is fondly referred to in Hawaii as the "booze cruise". This usually includes just "pupus" (appetizers) and an open bar plus entertainment. These "booze cruises" are very popular and are a fun way to begin an evening in Honolulu. Regardless of whether you choose to go on a dinner cruise, a sunset sail or a booze cruise you will be glad you arranged your evening entertainment off the coast of Waikiki and Diamond Head with its colorful sunsets and beautiful views of the Honolulu shoreline.

A more romantic evening activity will be hard to find.

Dolphin Excursions on Oahu

Oahu is the place for your dolphin eco-adventures and eco tours. Oahu activities are known throughout the islands, but a very little known fact is that Oahu is the best and most consistant place to view the dolphins. The Wai'anae coast off leeward Oahu is arguably the very best spot to view dolphins in Hawaii.

Hundreds of spinner dolphins are located just moments from the harbor and trained professionals are there to introduce you to the dolphin environment. A remarkable 95% of the time these "dolphin watches" depart they are successful in finding the dolphins, but what is even more remarkable is that 80% of those times you are able to experience swimming and snorkeling with the dolphins.

These dolphin eco adventures are the best kept secret on Oahu. Many companies also provide hydrophones so you can listen in on the dolphins communicating with each other. Pick-up for these dolphin adventures are offered from Oahu's Waikiki hotels on some of the dolphin watches.

Swimming with the dolphins is an event that is certain to make your day if not your entire vacation. Of all the Oahu activities, these dolphin watch, eco adventures are the ones you should book first.

Northshore Shark Adventures

Tours leave out of the Haleiwa Small Boat Harbor in historic Haleiwa Town, about an hour's drive from Waikiki. A safety briefing is given at the start of the tour. Shark Adventures uses "Kailolo" (water crazy) a 26-foot Anderson boat with a swim step on the transom of the boat. Two-hour tours starting in the early morning hours are available throughout the day.

There are two types of tours: SHARK CAGE TOUR - Travel offshore 3 to 4 miles. Once you get to the area, the shark cage is placed in the water. The cage floats on the surface. It measures 7x5x9' high and is made of plexi glass. It can hold 2 people very comfortably, however up to 4 people have been in it at a time, depending on the weather and ocean conditions. Bring an underwater camera to get some of the best photographs of Hawaiian sharks possible anywhere.

The size of the sharks range from 5 to 15 feet. These sharks will be only inches away from the cage. You may bring your own mask and snorkel, however, fins are not necessary. Masks and snorkels are also provided on the vessel. 2 hour tour. You may stay as long as you want in the cage to enjoy the spectacular view.

SHARK TOUR BOAT RIDE - While on this tour you will also have the opportunity to see Hawaiian green sea turtles, dolphins and humpback whales, depending on the season. Bring a camera to get some of the best photographs of Hawaiian sharks possible anywhere. The water is cobalt blue and visibility can be up to 200 feet. You can actually see the sharks come up from the deep. 2 hour tour.

Oahu Kayaking Trips

Kayak trips on Oahu are among the most beautiful activities and adventures that the island has to offer. Although the beaches off Waikiki and Honolulu are the most frequented by visitors, some of the most exotic water scapes can be found on Oahu's eastern and northern windward coasts.

Kayaking off the coast of Kailua which is about a half an hour drive through the "Pali" tunnel from Waikiki is particularly beautiful, especially for eco tour enthusiasts. The Mokulua Islands just lie about a mile or so off the coast of windward Oahu, and the shallow water in between provides excellent coral formations and plenty of sea life within a few minute's kayak paddle.

Kayaks are generally offered as a single or double, depending upon your preference, and some of the kayaking companies also have special "see through" kayaks made of transparent material which essentially makes the inside of your kayak a giant face mask. Snorkeling is always a part of the equation, and oftentimes visiting with turtles, dolphins and whales in season.

Hawaiian Waters Adventure Park

Hawaii's #1 family attraction. HAWAIIAN WATERS ADVENTURE PARK - Hawaii's newest attraction, this 25-acre water adventure park is unique to Hawaii. Enjoy exciting rides such as Kapolei Kooler (a tube cruise down an 800 - foot long continuous river), Cliffhanger (free-fall 6 stories down 2 speed slides), Keiki Cove (an interactive children's playground), and Hurricane Bay (Hawaii's only megawave pool).

Free inner tubes and lifejackets. There are food court restaurants and a souvenir shop. Restrooms, showers, an arcade & ATM'S are available. - A must do on Oahu.

Groups hosted from 50 to 6,000 people Located at 400 Farrington Hwy. Kapolei, HI Half an hour from Waikiki DAILY: 10:30 AM to 5:00 PM (Subject to change).

Air Experiences1

Oahu Helicopters and Air Tours

Helicopter and air tours are undoubtedly the most spectacular way to see the island of Oahu. Most people tend to think about Oahu as simply Honolulu and Waikiki but it is much more. Like the other Hawaiian islands, much of Oahu can only be seen from the vantage point of the air above. Other than helicopters, seaplanes and glider rides are also great ways of viewing the island.

Resort Areas in Oahu iconExplore all the Resort Areas in Oahu

Waikiki

Oahu, known as The Gathering Place is the home of world famous Waikiki Beach. Pearl Harbor and the USS Arizona and the Polynesian Cultural Center are must-see historical highlights. A drive around the island reveals a surprising variety of sights and experiences. You can marvel at the prowess of surfers riding 30 foot waves at renowned Sunset Beach. The view from Makapuu Lighthouse regularly includes whales frolicking in the ocean below. The days you spend on Waikikis beautiful beach are unforgettable. The incredible color and soothing temperature of the ocean promise many joys for those who want to get wet. Be sure to make time to enjoy Waikikis many shopping and dining opportunities. For those of you looking for more serene Oahu vacations, the Kahala or Ko Olina areas offer unparalleled tranquility with deluxe accommodations.

Ko Olina

Located approximately 45 minutes from Waikiki, Ko Olina is home to the luxurious JW Marriott Ihilani Resort & Spa. Ko Olina is a beautiful area that has some wonderful beaches and terrific golf courses. The area has become more popular in recent years.

Turtle Bay

If you are looking for a quiet and serene environment, Oahu's North Shore is a wonderful place to relax and refresh. There are no busy cities here; there are only small, quaint towns. Within these small towns, however, you'll be able to find a variety of things to do. The area is primarily known for its surfing and beautiful beaches. Sunset Beach is world famous for its high surf during winter months. The world's top surfers gather yearly to compete in some of the top surfing competitions held around the world. It's an amazing site to witness these surfers ride the famous "Banzai Pipeline". If you're an avid golfer, there are some top courses in the area as well.

Kahala

Home of the world famous Kahala Resort and Hotel, this serene environment is located approximately 15-20 minutes from Waikiki. There are many beautiful homes and estates in the area coupled with some beautiful beaches. The area is simply an upscale residential area. Great place to stay if you're looking to be close to Waikiki, but not actually there.

Hanauma

Hauula

Kaawa

Kailua

Kaneohe

Lanikai

West Shore

East Shore

North Shore

Waianae Valley

Waianae

Ewa Beach

Wahiawa

Honolulu

Wai'anae

Waimanalo

Pearl City

Waipahu

Mililani

Best Beaches in Oahu iconFind the Best Beaches in Oahu

Waikiki

Ala Moana Beach Park

Ala Moana (or "The Path to the Sea") Beach Park includes the almost mile long Mamala Bay along the Waikiki Coast on the south shore. The park is 76 acres of large grassy lawns, playgrounds, picnic areas, and swaying palm trees plus tennis courts, a music pavilion, lagoon, and yacht harbor.

Although swimming in the calm clear water is great, stay away from the boat channels on either side of the beach and look out for some sharp coral and rocks underfoot.

The beach was actually created in the 1930's by filling in a coral reef with sand, and there are black lava rocks offshore to somewhat protect the bay from extremely rough surf, but still allow large enough waves to ride. Surfing and bodyboarding are both very popular in this area, just west of the famous Waikiki beach.

The park gets very crowded, especially on the weekends, and there are lifeguards on duty as well as a large free parking lot plus metered street parking if the lot's full.

The beach is located at 1201 Ala Moana Blvd.

Waikiki Beach

Legendary Waikiki Beach is actually a series of smaller beaches that stretch across a mile and a half of coast, each small area with its own character - from Kuhio Beach outside the Sheraton Moana Surfrider which attracts sea turtles, to Grey's Beach in front of the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, to Sans Souci or "dig me" beach in front of the New Otani Kaimana Beach Hotel.

Waikiki is Hawaiian for "Sprouting water" and the beach, which was actually created with imported sand from Molokai, fronts landmark hotels, open-air restaurants, and boutique shops. Millions of people visit this strip each year and the trendy area is always busy. It's an especially famous place to watch experienced surfers ride the waves.

The water is wonderful for swimming, surfing, boogie and bodysurfing, outrigger canoeing, and a variety of other water sports - diving, sailing, snorkeling, and fishing. You can rent equipment for almost any beach activity here, and there are bathrooms, showers, lifeguards, picnic facilities, and parking.

You can reach the beach from various spots along the strip (it runs from 2909 Kalakaua Ave. to 2005 Kalia Rd.), but the best place to park is at Kapiolani Park.

Ko Olina

Ko Olina

The 640-acre Ko Olina Resort includes four lagoons along the rocky Waianae shoreline that were built to beautify the coast and make the waters more accessible. Soft white sand beaches border each of these lagoons (called Kolola, Hanu, Nai'a, and Ulua) and the area is surrounded by grassy lawns and shady picnic areas.

Rock barriers provide direct protection from the ocean and high surf and make the lagoons perfect tranquil swimming holes anytime of the year. Those rocks themselves can be slippery and dangerous, though, and there are strong currents in the channels that connect the lagoons to the ocean, but snorkeling can be fun around the boulders and lagoon entryways.

Lifeguards are present, two of the lagoons have restrooms, and there is plenty of parking. They are located off Farrington Hwy. (Hwy. 93) in Kapolei in Southwest Oahu.

Turtle Bay

Ehukai Beach Park

Ehukai Beach Park includes an acre of grass as well as Ehukai Beach and it also borders Banzai and Pipeline Beaches as part of one continual shoreline - the entire area oftentimes referred to as Ehukai Beach. The word stands for "Reddish Tinged Water," although the waters are actually a sparkling blue and wash up on the long, broad stretch of white sand.

The famous Banzai Pipeline here provides world-class surf conditions, with waves that can reach up to 25 feet or more, especially in winter.

"Banzai!" is a Japanese battle cry and was once yelled at a bodysurfer successfully riding the huge wave - the nickname then stuck as the beach's name.

An offshore shallow coral shelf converts rolling surf from the open ocean into steep crests that hit the reef and form perfect hollow waves. This famous pipeline has attracted wave riders for years and it still challenges even the most expert ones.

In calmer summer months, swimming across the sandbar can be fun (but watch out for stinging limu seaweed along the coastline). Lifeguards are on duty there and there are parking, picnic, restroom, and shower facilities available.

The beach park is located at 59-337 Ke-Nui Rd. near Pupukea, just off Kamehameha Hwy.

Kahala

Hanauma

Hanauma Bay

Hanauma Bay is a small pocket of golden sand, a broken sea wall within a volcanic crater that makes it Oahu's most popular snorkeling location.

It was declared a protected marine life conservation area and underwater park in 1967 and, as such, its sealife cannot be touched or fed. Snorkelers and scuba divers relish this protected cove where there are tons of tropical colorful fish and a vivid coral reef.

There is a passage ("the slot") through the reef into deeper and more turbulent waters of the interior cove, and experienced divers can go out to the 70-foot depths at the mouth of the bay to see more coral, turtles and even sharks. Divers and snorkelers need to watch out for strong currents throughout the area, though.

The bay floor itself is actually the ancient volcano's crater, flooded when a wall collapsed and the ocean rushed in.

Other highlights of the beach are its shallow shoreline, large strip of sand for sunbathing, and beautiful views. Hiking trails follow the coastline along a ridge overlooking the bay and there are comfortable shady and picnic areas to eat. Swimming is generally calm within the curved bay protected by the reef, and there are restrooms, picnic tables, food available, and lifeguards on duty.

A new multi-million dollar Marine Education Center was also opened there a few years ago.

Follow Kalanianaole Hwy. east, approximately 10 miles from Waikiki, and the entrance to the preserve is on the right (at number 7455).

Sandy Beach

Sandy (sometimes called Sandy's) Beach has the best waves on Oahu for experienced bodysurfers, who make the rides look easy. This beach can be treacherous, with extremely high surf, strong shorebreaks, and intense rip tide currents.

It can be a superb beach for swimming if the water is calm, but currents in front of Keawaakio Cove are always strong and waves can pound swimmers into the rocks where lava juts out around the point. Lifeguards work hard here, where swimmers are rescued more often than at any other beach on the island. Tourists who watch the surfers at their best can sometimes mistake this as a smoother spot than it really is. Pay attention to the lifeguard flag postings around the beach that mark the surf's levels each day (green is safe, yellow is caution, and red is very dangerous).

Restrooms and parking are available at Sandy's, located at 8808 Kalanianaole Hwy. - drive east past Hawaii Kai, Hanauma Bay, and along the coast.

Hauula

Hauula Beach Park

Hauula Beach Park is located along the coastal highway just north of the town of Hauula. As with most Oahu beaches, it is more crowded on weekends, but is great for snorkeling and surfing and the park is large.

There is an offshore coral reef to protect this strip of coast from the open ocean, but the waves are still large enough to ride and it's also a fun place to swim. The floor of the shallow blue waters is particularly rocky, though, so it's not ideal for wading if you need to put your feet down too often.

The Maakua stream enters the sea along this coast and there can be deep holes in the sea floor where the stream waters push in. The narrow belt of sand curves just slightly and is backed by grass lawns and trees, with some trees scattered right along the water.

Colorful fish are plentiful along the reef, but rip currents are also present in the reef breaks at both ends of the beach.

The beach's namesake, the hau tree, was once ubiquitous in this area and although it's scarce now, there are still some around. They have a unique blossom cycle in summer when flowers will bloom, change colors dramatically (from bright yellow to dark red), and fall off the tree all in one day, over and over again for months.

The park has restrooms, picnic and camping facilities, a pavilion and a volleyball court.

It's located along Kamehameha Hwy., across the road from the ruins of the historic Lanakila Church.

Kaawa

Kahana Bay Beach Park

This serene bay's curve of white sand gently slopes into the ocean as the lush Kualau Mountains rise in the background. An edge of pine, ironwood, and kamani trees surround the beach, offering shade between the aqua waters and jagged cliffs behind.

The soft beach cove has calm and shallow waters with a sandy bottom and gentle waves - ideal for swimming, bodyboarding, and snorkeling. (Watch out for stinging seaweed along the coast in the summer months.)

Kayakers love the wide channel that runs through the picturesque park and out to the bay.

There is no lifeguard on duty or restrooms, but the park offers picnic and camping facilities and scenic hiking trails through the thick jungle-like hills and green valleys.

Located at 52-222 Kamehameha Hwy. in Kahana.

Kailua

Kailua Beach

Kailua Beach is part of a 35-acre park that has a freshwater stream running through it, offering safe swimming in shallow pools along the way. The 2-mile beach sits at the foot of the steep, lush Koolaus mountain range, and several small offshore islands create a beautiful backdrop and idyllic tropical setting.

There are sandy dunes, palm trees, and tropical seabirds throughout the area, and the swimming, bodysurfing, and kayaking are excellent. It is also a world-class windsurfing destination, with lifeguards watching the waves.

There can be Portuguese Men-of-War and stinging limu (seaweed) in the water, but the panoramic views from the beach are incredible.

Water sports equipment is available to rent nearby, and there are picnic tables, barbecues, restrooms, a boat ramp, volleyball court, café, and free parking.

To get here, take Pali Hwy. (Hwy. 61) to Kailua, turn right on Kalaheo Ave. and the beach will be on your left after about a mile.

Pounders Beach

Pounders Beach was once called Pahumoa Beach for a local fisherman who made sure to spread the bounty of daily catches among the elderly, but students at a nearby College renamed it in the 50's for its thunderous waves and the name has stuck ever since.

It's a popular weekend white sand beach on the shore of Laie Maloo Bay, almost 2,000 feet long and 100 feet wide.

The waves are great for bodysurfing and provide fabulous breaks. The shore is fronted by a shallow sandbar with an abrupt drop to deeper waters and strong currents near the surf line.

The break near the limestone cliffs is ideal for expert surfers (but not for swimming), and there is an old landing on the west side of the sand where swimming is usually safer - wide fringing reefs border the sides of the bay without blocking high surf.

Low sandy dunes, large ironwood trees, and the general park foliage line the outer edge of the beach, and private homes sit along the northern side.

There is a parking lot near where the Koloa Stream ends, and portable toilets available, but no lifeguards on duty. Park on Kamehameha Hwy. in Kailua.

Kaneohe

Kualoa Regional Park

Kualoa Regional Park takes its name from the Hawaiian word for "long ancestral background" and this beautiful area of Oahu's Windward Coast does have a rich ancient history.

The park is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was originally a sacred spot where royal families trained their children to be chiefs. The small offshore islet of Mokolii (popularly referred to as Chinaman's Hat) is a seabird preserve with a small sandy beach of its own, and is close enough to swim to at low tide. Legend has it that it's actually the tip of the great dragon Mololii's tail, cut off by the goddess Hiiaka using spears of lightning, and that she used the rest of the large lizard's body to form Hakipuu road.

The 150-acre park itself has been refurbished in recent years and has broad green lawns and facilities for picnics and camping as well as lifeguards watching over the long, soft white sand beach.

It sits at the foot of the steep Koolau Ridge on Kaneohe Bay's north shore and its shallow clear blue waters are generally safe for swimming and snorkeling. There can be strong currents at times and stinging blue jellyfish or "Bluebottles". Lifeguards will usually post signs if they are swarming in the surrounding ocean. Their stings can be very painful and dangerous, so pay close attention to these warnings.

Most of the time, you can swim at this beach with peace of mind, surrounded by coconut trees in this classic tropical setting.

The park is located at 49-479 Kamehameha Hwy. (Hwy. 83) in Kualoa.

Lanikai

Lanikai Beach

Lanikai Beach offers the best swimming water in Hawaii - clean and clear, beside a mile of powder soft sand, with coconut palms above offering shade. A sparkling blue lagoon formed by the wide offshore reef provides a huge calm pool for the sea turtles, tropical fish, and any human swimmers who want to join in.

Onshore winds make it great for water sports and it's a popular location to sail, windsurf, kayak, or go outrigger canoeing. The tropical ambiance is highlighted by two tiny offshore islands known as the Mokuluas which are also seabird sanctuaries.

The beach is part of a residential neighborhood and access is available only by public walkways, so it's a bit more secluded than some Oahu shores.

The Koolau mountain range blocks some of the sun later in the afternoon, and you need to watch out for jellyfish and stinging seaweed in the water during summer months, but overall, this beach will make you appreciate the name Lanikai, meaning "heavenly sea."

There are no facilities available nearby. Take the Pali Hwy. (Hwy. 61) through the Nuuanu Pali Tunnel to Kailua, where it turns into Kailua Rd. For parking, turn right on Kalaheo Ave. and drive along the coast for a couple miles. Turn left at the end of that street and follow Aalapapa Dr. around a loop. Park when it becomes Mokulua Dr. and walk down one of the public access walkways to the beach.

West Shore

Makaha Beach Park

Makaha is a Hawaiian word for "fierce" or "savage" and if you visit Oahu's west shore Makaha Beach during the winter, the name would seem appropriate as huge surf pounds the coastline.

In reality, though, the beach was named for the valley surrounding it, where long ago an infamous group of fierce bandits lived there and terrorized the village.

This beach has hosted many surfing championships over the years and is now the location of the Buffalo's Big Board Surf Classic where they use traditional old style Hawaiian wooden boards. Wave heights can reach as high as 30 feet at this superb surfing spot but in the summer, the small waves, powdery sand, and calm waters make it a safe and fun swimming, snorkeling, and diving location.

There are plenty of colorful tropical fish in the offshore channel and reef and a lifeguard is on duty on the northern end of the mile-long crescent shore.

There are restrooms and parking facilities at Makaha, located at 84-369 Farrington Hwy. (Hwy. 93).

East Shore

Makapuu Beach Park

Makapuu Point (Hawaiian for "Bulging Eyes") is a projection of land marking Hawaii's easternmost tip, and Makapuu Beach Park lies along the shore just below. This 1,000-foot belt of golden sand is one of the most famous bodysurfing spots on the islands, and with stark black cliffs behind the sand and the Rabbit Island offshore, it's the classic tropical paradise location.

In winter months, strong currents and thunderous waves are dangerous for swimmers but ideal for experienced surfers.

Summer waters are much more calm, wonderful for diving, snorkeling, and swimming.

Restrooms, barbecues, and picnic tables are available, and lifeguards are on duty.

The beach is located at 41-095 Kalanianaole Hwy.

North Shore

Malaekahana Bay State Recreation Area

Malaekahana is the idyllic Hawaiian beach, with scenery that channels the tropical beauty and secluded sacred atmosphere of ancient times. Calm green waters gently roll up to the large half-moon of white sand that curves for almost a mile along the coast, and tall trees sway with the ocean breeze above and provide shade.

Goat Island, just offshore and within wading distance, serves as a protected seabird sanctuary and a beautiful part of the ocean view from the coast. You can swim there, but do not disturb any of the wildlife, flora, or fauna.

Endangered green sea turtles also frequent the Malaekahana coastline and are protected by state and federal law. Enjoy watching the rare creatures, but don't approach them or interfere with their activity.

This north shore haven is popular for swimming, bodyboarding, and snorkeling, and is very quiet and private on weekdays.

The beach is part of a 37-acre park that includes restrooms, showers, barbecue grills, picnic tables, and parking. There are also tent camping sites, cabins, and a large pavilion for rent that can be reserved in advance. There are no lifeguards on duty and the park's facilities are not very close to the beach itself, though.

The park is along Kamehameha Hwy. (Hwy. 83) in Laie, about 2 miles north of the Polynesian Cultural Center.

Pupukea Beach Park

Pupukea Beach Park encompasses 80 acres of a Marine Life Conservation District, with Shark's Cove near the northern side and Three Tables beach at the other end. The name "Three Tables" refers to the three flat reef sections that can be seen offshore at low tide.

The shallow water around them is great for snorkeling, while the drop right outside of the reef offers excellent diving opportunities, including views of lava tubes, arches, tropical sealife, and the ledges themselves.

Summer is the best time to snorkel, dive, or swim here, although there can still be sudden surges of swell, and it becomes very dangerous in winter (pounding waves up to 50 feet high!).

There are tidepools in and around the cove (but incidentally, no sharks), and even that protected area is unsafe when the surf is large. There is no lifeguard on duty around this bay and no facilities nearby. You are not allowed to take anything out of this protected marine sanctuary - even small shells or grains of sand - but enjoy the beauty and natural atmosphere while you're there.

The park's small parking lot is right on Kamehameha Hwy. in Pupukea on Oahu's north shore.

Sunset Beach Park

Oahu's Sunset Beach is one of the most popular and longest sand beaches on the island, running two miles long and 300 feet wide. It's a famous winter surfing location where international competitions are hosted each year and the incredible peaks can reach as high as 20 feet. With the pounding waves, surf season is a dangerous time to swim along this coast and the notorious "Sunset rip" offshore current has kept the lifeguards very busy over the years.

The ocean's waters are calm, clear, and beautiful during the summer months when swimming and snorkeling are safe next to the soft white sand and around the natural tidepools and reef. Lifeguards are on duty and will post flags to warn you about ocean conditions, and there is also a picnic area nearby.

Sunset Beach is located at 59-104 Kamehameha Hwy. in Paumalu.

Waimea Beach Park

Waimea Beach Park in North Oahu undergoes a drastic change of character with the seasons - placid, gentle waves in the summer roll up along the narrow sandy bay and thunderous, spectacular waves that reach up to 50 feet high pound the shore in the winter.

There is a huge rock on one side of the soft sandy bay that some people like to climb and dive off from, and the swimming, snorkeling, and bodysurfing in the summer are wonderful.

The beach's monster winter waves attract expert surfers and spectators and the large swells make swimming dangerous. There is also a strong riptide running out at the center of the bay and powerful shore breaks during high surf.

Lifeguards are on duty and there are bathroom, shower, and parking facilities in the park, located at 61-031 Kamehameha Hwy. (Hwy. 83).

Waianae Valley

Pokai Bay Beach Park

Pokai is Hawaiiain for "Night of the Supreme One," and this beach is named after the legendary Hawaiian chief who reportedly brought the first coconut palm tree to Hawaii.

Unlike other Oahu west coast beaches that experience high surf in winter, this one is a calm bay that is well protected all year long. A gently sloping coral reef helps to guard the sandy beach and quiet waters and makes snorkeling very popular.

Swimming areas are marked by buoys and you need to watch out for boat and canoe traffic in the immediate vicinity. There are lifeguards on duty, picnic areas, barbecue grills, and restroom and shower facilities.

Waianae locals hold this area in high regard so enjoy the natural beauty, but also be respectful of the neighborhood and make sure to clean up after your day at the beach.

Located at 85-037 Waianae Valley Rd. off Farrington Hwy.

Waianae

Yokohama Bay

Oahu's Yokohama Bay is part of the secluded 853-acre Ka'ena Point State Park that wraps around the island's western point. The beach is sometimes also called Keawalua or Puau, but is best known locally as Yokohama for the Japanese immigrants from that city who came to fish along this shore and work in Hawaii's cane fields.

Watch surfers and dolphins in the turquoise waters from the curving sand coast backed by dunes and cliffs. With the calm surf, summer is the best time to swim, snorkel, and dive. With winter's high surf, this beach becomes a place for experienced surfers and bodyboarders only - swimming is unsafe over the rocky sea bottom when the waves are powerful and rip currents strong.

There are restrooms and one lifeguard station at the park entrance (but it does not have a view of the entire beach).

Various rare native plants and seabirds live in the rugged nature preserve and hiking trails lead to the western point overlooking the island's stunning north and south coastlines.

Located where Farrington Hwy. (Hwy. 93) ends in northwest Oahu.

Ewa Beach

Wahiawa

Honolulu

Wai'anae

Waimanalo

Pearl City

Waipahu

Mililani

Golf in Oahu iconWhere to Golf in Oahu

Waikiki

Ala Wai Golf Course

  • Address: 404 Kapahulu Ave. Honolulu
  • Fees*: $40
  • Par: 70
  • Yards: 5,861
  • Slope: 115

Description: Ala Wai, 18 hole par 70 course is a fast playing golf course situated just outside of Waikiki. It might also hold the title of the most popular course in the world because of its lower than normal green fees, and its excellent view of Diamond Head and the Koolau Mountain Range.

Tens of thousands of tourists in Waikiki are just a few minutes away and many of them want to take advantage of this beautiful course. Get a tee-time as far in advance as possible. The course allows walk-ons using a waiting list but it can be long.

The Ala Wai Golf Course opened in 1931, as the first municipal course on Oahu and the first in the Islands. The original Ala Wai course got its most recent reworking in 1989, when seven holes of the front nine were redesigned and realigned by Nelson & Wright. Do not be deceived by the flat layout, with its ponds and daily wind it can be challenging - particularly for the average amateur golfer.

The course has a 24,000-square-foot clubhouse that includes offices, a restaurant, pro shop, lockers, storage, and a second-floor community recreation room.

Ko Olina

Turtle Bay

Turtle Bay Resort Fazio Course

  • Address: 57-091 Kamehameha Hwy. Kahuku
  • Fees*: $155
  • Par: 72
  • Yards: 6,535
  • Slope: 130

Description: The 18-hole "George Fazio Course" at the The Turtle Bay Resort & Golf Club facility in Kahuku, Hawaii features 6,535 yards of golf from the longest tees for a par of 72. The course rating is 71.2 and it has a slope rating of 130 on Bahia grass.

Designed by George Fazio, ASGCA, the George Fazio Course opened in 1971 The natural topography of the resort's 880 acres creates a breathtaking variety of vistas for each course.

From fairways in dense ironwood forests to greens on the edge of the ocean, golf achieves its purest expression at Turtle Bay Resort.

Turtle Bay Resort Palmer Course

  • Address: 57-091 Kamehameha Hwy. Kahuku
  • Fees*: $175
  • Par: 72
  • Yards: 7,199
  • Slope: 141

Description: The Arnold Palmer Course is an 18-hole championship course designed by Palmer and Ed Seay. This unique course was created for golfers of any caliber to enjoy. When played from the Palmer (black) tees, the course offers a stern challenge to the best players in the world; however, there are five sets of tees on each hole, and in some cases, six.

The course features varying scenery. The front nine reflects true Scottish links with sand, water, wind and rolling terrain, while the back nine meanders through a jungle forest of ironwood pine and a wetlands bird sanctuary.

The Palmer course is surrounded by a beautiful wetland preserve known as the Punaho'olapa Marsh. This 100-acre preserve is home to many endangered species of Hawaiian birds. A man-made moat separates the wetlands from the golf course.

Kahala

Hanauma

Hauula

Kaawa

Kailua

Kaneohe

Pali Golf Course

  • Address: 45-050 Kamehameha Hwy. Kaneohe
  • Fees*: $40
  • Par: 72
  • Yards: 6,494
  • Slope: 126

Description: This beautiful municipal course sits near Kaneohe, just below the historic spot where King Kamehameha the Great won the battle that united the islands of Hawaii. The par-72, 6,494-yard course, designed by Willard G. Wilkinson and built in 1953, makes use of the natural terrain (hills and valleys make up the majority of the 250 acres).

The course does not have man-made traps, but a small stream meanders through it. If you're off line on the 9th, you'll get to know the stream quite well. The challenge here is the weather -- whipping winds and frequent rainsqualls. Because of the potential for rain, you might want to pay for 9 holes, and then assess the weather before signing up for the back 9.

The views include Kaneohe Bay, the towns of Kailua and Kaneohe, and the verdant cliffs of the Koolau Mountains. Facilities include practice greens, club rental, locker rooms, and a restaurant.

Bayview Golf Park

  • Address: 45-285 Kaneohe Bay Dr. Kaneohe
  • Fees*: $72
  • Par: 59
  • Yards: 3,269
  • Slope: 0

Description: This executive course reopened in early 1997 after being extended to a par 59 course with the help of architect Robin Nelson. The course was built on predominantly flat terrain, but there are some mounds that will cause uneven lies.

There are two ponds and a stream that come into play on three holes. Both the course and driving range are lit for night play. The driving range is covered and also multi-level.

The 3,004-yard men's tee also has a ladies' course rating of 28.3 and slope of 92.

Lanikai

West Shore

East Shore

North Shore

Waianae Valley

Waianae

Ewa Beach

Ewa Villages Golf Course

  • Address: 1760 Park Row St. Ewa Beach
  • Fees*: $40
  • Par: 73
  • Yards: 6,455
  • Slope: 122

Description: Ewa Villages Golf Course is considered to be the most heavily played public course on the island of Oahu. Beautiful scenery disguises many hazards including a challenging layout and strong winds.

Water hazards come into play on almost every hole. Bunkers are spread throughout the course and also prove to be a consistent obstacle.

Some fairways have dogleg configurations, but most of them play straight and are lined with mature trees in between which your ball may be lost forever. Several greens are undulating and fast. Carts are mandatory.

West Loch Golf Course

  • Address: 91-1126 Okupe St. Ewa Beach
  • Fees*: $40
  • Par: 72
  • Yards: 6,615
  • Slope: 119

Description: This par-72, 6,615-yard course, just 30 minutes from Waikiki in Ewa Beach, offers golfers a challenge at bargain rates.

The difficulties on this municipal course are water (lots of hazards), wind (constant trade winds), and narrow fairways. To help you out, the course features a "water" driving range (with a lake) to practice your drives.

After a few practice swings on the driving range, you'll be ready to take on this unusual course, designed by Robin Nelson and Rodney Wright.

In addition to the driving range, West Loch has practice greens, a pro shop, and a restaurant.

Coral Creek Golf Course

  • Address: 91-1111 Geiger Rd. Ewa Beach
  • Fees*: $130
  • Par: 72
  • Yards: 6,025
  • Slope: 135

Description: Buoyed by its superbly maintained turf conditions, with lush greens, cascading waters and whispering winds -- boasts many strong and unique features typically reserved for high-end country clubs and hosts of PGA Tour events.

This gives Coral Creek an advantage in its effort to be ranked among the "Top 100 New Golf Courses in the U.S.A." by Golf Digest. Golf course industry executives and professional golfers who have reviewed the land and the 18-hole, 6,808-yard, Par 72 layout -- designed by renowned, Honolulu-based golf course architect Robin Nelson of Nelson and Haworth, architect of Mauna Lani, ranked #75 in Golf Magazine's Top 100 -- are saying Coral Creek should receive high consideration to host a professional golf tournament.

The course, designed to expose coral rock formations in cliff-like structures, will provide a spectacular test of golf that draws golfers from all parts of the world. Water comes into play on 13 holes, with six of the lakes fully lined with coral reefs, and interconnected by a coral creek.

One of Coral Creek's 18 signature holes is #18, a short, 380-yard, Par 4, which uncommon for a finishing hole, features a challenging island green lying 30 feet below the natural ground surface and execute a precise downhill approach shot.

New Ewa Beach Golf Club

  • Address: 91-050 Fort Weaver Rd. Ewa Beach
  • Fees*: $135
  • Par: 72
  • Yards: 6,541
  • Slope: 125

Description: The Ewa Beach Golf Club is an alluring semi-private golf course, tucked away in a forest of kiawe (Key-ah-vae) trees.

The signature hole on this course is #13, a 187-yard, par 3, requiring a tee shot into the wind and over water. The greens are medium-sized and the course is not too difficult for the average golfer.

As you play your way across the environmentally friendly turf, you are certain to see Hawaiian stilts (the Ae'o), an endangered species indigenous the area, also enjoying the beautiful course.

Wahiawa

Hawaii Country Club

  • Address: P.O Box 966. Wahiawa
  • Fees*: $65
  • Par: 72
  • Yards: 3,038
  • Slope: 0

Description: Hawaii Country Club was opened in 1958. As the name "Hawaii Country Club" suggests, it is the oldest public course on the island of Oahu. Despite the formal sound of its name, Hawaii Country Club is not a members only private club. This 18-hole par-72 course in Kunia is open to the public every day. Hawaii Country Club is a short, par-72 layout of only 5,664 yards from the regular or men's tees. But the design is hilly and quite tricky, with ravines (where Army troops trained during World War I) and tight fairways adding to the challenge.

The golfer also is confronted with more than 200 mature monkeypod trees, as well as coconut palms and other varieties, onjust about every fairway.

The Hawaii Country Club features a clubhouse with a restaurant and cocktail lounge, a pro shop and lockers. There is a practice putting green and a driving range. The moderate green fees (less expensive for Hawaii residents, especially on weekdays) include powered golf carts. Tee times are required, but golf shoes are not.

This is a unique course that is fun to play, yet offers a challenge to any golfer. About a 30-minute drive from Honolulu, a relaxing round of golf here certainly is a change of pace from fast play on the busy municipal courses. Located in central Oahu, this course offers panoramic views of Pearl Harbor, the Honolulu skyline, Diamond Head, and both the Koolau and Waianae mountain ranges. Today, tee times on the municipals are at a premium, and golf-hungry tourists are more than willing to drive a few miles in order to play.

Honolulu

Moanalua Golf Club

  • Address: 1250 Ala Aolani St. Honolulu
  • Fees*: $25
  • Par: 72
  • Yards: 5,944
  • Slope: 117

Description: This course was built in 1898 by a missionary family and is the oldest course in the state. There is a creek that comes into play on two holes. The fairways play mostly straightaway, but there are two with dogleg configurations. This hilly course also features elevated greens and tees. There are additional ladies' tees that can be used when playing an eighteen hole round.

Hawaii Kai Executive Golf Course

  • Address: 8902 Kalanianaole Hwy. Honolulu
  • Fees*: $42
  • Par: 55
  • Yards: 2,433
  • Slope: 0

Description: The Hawaii Kai Executive Course is 2323 yards , 55 par 3 layout that is characterized by small, undulating and sloping greens. The design requires emphasis on the golfer's putting and chipping skills, providing a challenge for even the most advanced player.

This course snakes up the base of the Makapuu Cliffs, offering views from every hole of the extinct Koko Head Volcano and one the most picturesque coastlines on Oahu. The greens are always in excellent condition at Hawaii Kai and tend to be fast especially in the summer months.

Of course , tradewinds are always a factor. During the winter season whales can often be seen in the water around Makapuu Cliff.

Hawaii Kai Championship Golf Course

  • Address: 8902 Kalanianaole Hwy. Honolulu
  • Fees*: $100
  • Par: 72
  • Yards: 6,350
  • Slope: 123

Description: The Championship Course measures 6614 yards with wide fariways and large greens well protected by prominent bunkers. This particular part of the coast line in Oahu is beautiful, but the winds can make every shot difficult.

You will be challenged with each club selection and each shot will be a stretch when playing into the strong headwinds. The course is well kept and the views of the Makupuu Cliffs, the ocean and coastline are memorable.

Wai'anae

Makaha Resort Golf Club

  • Address: 84-626 Makaha Valley Rd. Wai'anae
  • Fees*: $125
  • Par: 72
  • Yards: 7,077
  • Slope: 137

Description: Spanning the rugged cliffs of the Wai'anae Range and O'ahu's pristine western shore, the Makaha Resort Golf Club commands a landscape of quiet splendor. The 7077 yard, par 72 Makaha course challenges pro and amateur alike.

Acclaimed for its beauty as much as its rigor, Makaha has been named O'ahu's number one golf course by Honolulu magazine. Every aspect of the club reflects our dedication to customer needs, from the full-service pro shop to the relaxed ambiance of our restaurant, The 19th Hole.

Unlike any other O'ahu course, cart access is allowed to all fairways - which means less time walking and more time golfing. For refinement of technique, Makaha offers a driving range as well as private lessons from our P.G.A. professional staff. Four plexi-paved tennis courts afford additional recreation.

Waimanalo

Olomana Golf Links

  • Address: 41-1801 Kalanianaole Hwy. Waimanalo
  • Fees*: $80
  • Par: 72
  • Yards: 6,326
  • Slope: 129

Description: Olomana Golf Links features an 18 hole, par 72 golf course that provides unparalleled vistas of the Ko'olau Mountain Range, challenging holes accented by inviting water hazards, cavernous sand traps, undulating topographical conditions and several signature holes.

The name "Olomana" can be translated in many ways. Some have translated the word as a "camel" (olo) with "staying power" (mana). The twin peaked land formation of the neighboring Mount Olomana has been described as the "powerful shoulders" of a giant who possessed supernatural powers that enabled him to perform great deeds.

Mere mortals who play at Olomana today have been inspired to perform "great deeds" of their own with the great scores they shoot. Above all, the golf course offers a challenge of skills and yet a fun experience for all levels of players.

Pearl City

Pearl Country Club

  • Address: 98-535 Kaonohi Street Aeia Pearl City
  • Fees*: $110
  • Par: 72
  • Yards: 6,787
  • Slope: 135

Description: One of the finest Golf Courses on Oahu, Pearl Country Club has been in operation since 1967. Graced with stately trees of many varieties this course challenges all golfers with its varied terrain.

Located on the gentle slopes of the Koolau mountain range, Pearl Country Club overlooks Pearl Harbor, the Arizona Memorial, the USS Missouri, and the Waianae Mountain Range to the west. Open year round to the public, Pearl Country Club is a short 20 minute drive from Waikiki.

Our rates are comparable to other public golf courses on the island but our superior course conditions are equivalent to any private course. Golf carts are required and rental fees are included in your green fees.

Waipahu

Ted Makalena Golf Course

  • Address: 93-059 Waipio Point Access Rd. Waipahu
  • Fees*: $40
  • Par: 71
  • Yards: 5,976
  • Slope: 110

Description: This flat course features water hazards coming into play on six holes, and panoramic views of the ships in Pearl Harbor. The signature holes are #17, a par 3, and #18, a par 5, each providing particularly breathtaking views of the harbor.

Waikele Golf Club

  • Address: 94-200 Paida Place. Waipahu
  • Fees*: $108
  • Par: 72
  • Yards: 6,663
  • Slope: 126

Description: Designed by internationally renowned golf course architect Ted Robinson, Waikele is just 30 minutes west of Waikiki in a region of exceptional beauty. The course overlooks Pearl Harbor and the blue Pacific.

Turn, and your gaze sweeps from Diamond Head to the sculpted slopes of the Ko'olau and Waianae mountains. A truly comprehensive golf club, Waikele features a golf shop with the finest names in equipment and apparel, locker rooms, a restaurant, and a full-service driving range and putting greens.

Club and shoe rentals and lessons are available, and Waikele's PGA golf professionals are happy to share pointers on course strategy. Waikele Golf Club provides challenges and enjoyment to players of all skill levels from beginner to pro through the use of water features and special topography.

These beautiful water features, rolling fairways, undulating Bermuda greens and strategically placed bunkers round out Waikele's unique design features.

Mililani

Mililani Golf Club

  • Address: 95-176 Kuahelani Ave. Mililani
  • Fees*: $85
  • Par: 72
  • Yards: 6,455
  • Slope: 121

Description: Since opening in 1966, the par 72, 6,455-yard Mililani Golf Club (Kobayashi Group) has established itself as one of Hawaii's finest golf experiences. Nestled on a plateau, with the Waianae Mountains and the Ko'olaus stretching away in the distance, Mililani Golf Club provides a "get away from it all" feeling of remoteness.

The course beautifully carves its way through Norfolk Pines, Eucalyptus Trees, African Tulip Trees and lush tropical Hawaiian foliage, in bloom all year round. This championship course is flat with ponds and ditches. Many golfers claim that Mililani Golf Club has the quality of the mainland golf course often considered as Hawaii's Augusta National, site of the Master's Golf Tournament.

Mililani Golf Club has hosted one of the most prestigious Open tournaments of Hawaii, the Mililani Rainbow Open Golf Tournament, since 1973.

Oahu Hotels and Condos iconLargest Selection of Oahu Hotels & Condos