I love the Kailua Beach. This area of Oahu is definitely not exactly a secret, but it isn’t nearly as well known as I would expect! These gorgeous waters and perfect sands often get overlooked due to it being overshadowed by its more famous neighbor (Lanikai Beach).
Not sure why Lanikai Beach is so famous, read more about Lanikai Beach here.
Kailua Beach Oahu offers the same awesome environment as Lanikai, but includes even more that Lanikai doesn’t. These secret advantages help make Kailua Beach Oahu’s best all around beach.
- Kailua Bay Confusion
- Castles Beach Oahu
- Kalama Beach Park
- Kailua Beach Parking
- Kailua Beach Rentals
- Kailua Beach Snorkeling – Is it any good?
Kailua Beach Location Breakdown
Kailua Beach is on the east side of Oahu. With no traffic it is about 30 minutes from the Honolulu airport or Waikiki.
It is less than 1 mile north of the amazing Lanikai Beach. Both areas feature perfect beaches framed by vibrantly green rugged mountains.
The entire Kailua Bay includes 3 different beaches: Castles Beach, Kalama Beach, and Kailua Beach.
Once here, you will find clear blue water, white sand, and an awesome breeze coming in from the sea! If you are an early riser, its location on the east side of the island makes it an absolutely picturesque location to take in a sunrise.
Kailua Bay Confusion
Kailua Bay (not to be confused with the Kailua Bay on the Big Island of Hawaii) Bay features 2.5 miles of stunning beaches.
There is also an accompanying small town named Kailua that is perfect to explore when you are ready for a break from the sand.
Castles Beach Oahu
Another beach that is part of Kailua Bay is Castles Beach. This beach is often called the best surf spot on the east side of Oahu (especially in spring time).
It doesn’t have its own parking lot (like Lanikai) which makes accessing a little bit more difficult, but if you are willing to battle for a neighborhood spot and hike for a few minutes you will likely have the opportunity to catch some amazing waves, or even just watch the talented surfers.
Surf at your own risk though as there is no lifeguard on duty here.
Kalama Beach Park
If you want to be a little bit more secluded than Kailua, you should try Kalama Beach. It is just north of Kailua Beach. It has its own parking lot as well as restroom facilities.
Once again, don’t expect to have this beach to yourself, but it is definitely less popular than the others in the area.
Kailua Beach Parking
There is actually a parking lot for this beach. You don’t have to compete for neighborhood street parking while trying to avoid the parking ticket police.
Kailua Beach Rentals
This is the perfect location for all your water sports needs. There are tons of different Kailua Beach Rentals available.
Kailua Beach Kayak Rentals – this is one of the few places where you can rent a kayak and explore the world famous “mokes.”
Surfing – whether you bring your own boards, take a lesson, or just watch others it is a great spot for surfing
Kite Surfing – I didn’t even know what kite surfing was previously. I didn’t try while there, but I did enjoy watching the kite surfers. It felt like I was at an X-Games event.
Kailua Beach Snorkeling – Is it any good?
Kailua Beach snorkeling can still be great, but if you can only snorkel at one spot you might not want to risk it. The winds coming in sometimes cause the water to not be as clear as other coves of the island. If you are looking for great snorkeling that is more consistent, I recommend checking out the other top Oahu snorkel spots.
The Secret Advantages of Kailua Oahu
Okay, so why should you consider passing up the world famous Lanikai Beach in favor of Kailua Oahu?
The basic answer is that you can get everything Lanikai offers without way less drawbacks.
Advantages Over Lanikai
- Less crowds – You aren’t going to have this beach to yourself, but you can expect there to be substantially less people lounging on the sand here.
- Kailua Beach Parking – there is actually a parking lot for this beach. You don’t have to compete for neighborhood street parking while trying to avoid the parking ticket police.
- Restrooms, Showers, Lifeguards, and Picnic Pavilions – There are actually facilities at Kailua Beach Park that will let you spend a whole day on the beach.
- Kailua Beach Rentals – This is the perfect location for all your water sports needs. There are tons of different Kailua Beach Rentals available.
- Kailua Beach Kayak Rentals – this is one of the few places where you can rent a kayak and explore the world famous “mokes.”
- Surfing – whether you bring your own boards, take a lesson, or just watch others it is a great spot for surfing
- Kite Surfing – I didn’t even know what kite surfing was previously. I didn’t try while there, but I did enjoy watching the kite surfers. It felt like I was at an X-Games event.
- Kailua Beach Adventures is the name of the biggest company in the area.
- Restaurants and Shops of Kailua – ready for a break from the sand? You can easily wander into the small town to find something to eat or shop. My favorite is that there is even a farmer’s market.
Disadvantages of Kailua Beach Park
Nothing is perfect. The best way to mitigate the less than ideal parts of this beach is to know and plan accordingly.
The things to be aware of are:
- Kailua Beach Snorkeling – The winds coming in sometimes cause the water to not be as clear as other coves of the island. If you are looking for great snorkeling that is more consistent, check out one of the other top Oahu snorkel spots. Kailua Beach snorkeling can still be great, but if you can only snorkel at one spot you might not want to risk it.
- Kailua Beach Parking – Yes, there is a Kailua Beach parking lot, but it still isn’t easy to get a spot there. To make sure you get one I recommend you arrive early in the day, or later in the afternoon.
- Crowds – Kailua Beach Park is less crowded than Lanikai Beach, but it is still popular. While you likely won’t find 4,000 influencers roaming the beach, you aren’t going to have it to yourself.
- Sunsets – if you are looking for a great sunset beach, this isn’t it as the sun will be setting behind you. What you lose in sunsets though you can gain in sunrises.
Conclusion: I Love the Kailua Beach in Oahu
I really think that you can’t find a better combination of white sand, clear blue water, and perfect waves. When you combine those features with the ability to do things like the Kailua Beach kayak rentals and the next door shops and restaurants, it really is the perfect spot to spend an entire day.
Planning a trip to Oahu? Read more of our Oahu blog posts below!
My husband and I have been to Oahu many times and have written up more blog posts to help you plan your trip. These are my most popular blog posts and Hawaii travel guides to help you plan your trip.
Best Things to do in Oahu
- 15 Places You Can’t Miss in Oahu (Hawaii) – our most viewed post ever!
- 11 Best Things to do in Oahu (You Probably Haven’t Heard of) – For those looking for more unique things to do in Oahu
- The Ultimate Hawaii Packing List – What to pack!
- Best Doors off Helicopter Tour on Oahu
- Shark Diving in Oahu – Everything you need to know!
- Visiting the Secret Mermaid Caves Oahu – MUST visit!
- Halona Blowhole – Lookout, Beach & Lava Tube
- Laniakea Beach – The TRUE Turtle Beach in Oahu!
- Kailua Beach Park – Oahu’s Best All Around Beach
- Lanikai Beach – Great, but not my favorite
Best Cliff Jumping in Oahu
- Waimea Bay Cliff Jumping on Oahu – amazing cliff jumping spot
- Laie Point Cliff Jumping Spot on Oahu’s North Shore – more cliff jumping!
- Spitting Caves in Oahu – Underrated!
- China Walls on Oahu – another great cliff jumping spot.
Best Snorkeling in Oahu
- Best Snorkeling in Oahu
- Sharks Cove – Great snorkeling here
- Hanauma Bay
- Electric Beach Snorkeling – (Kahe Point Beach Park)
- Kuilima Cove Snorkeling at Turtle Bay Resort
Best Hikes on Oahu
- Diamond Head Hike– updated for 2023 – you now need reservations.
- Koko Head Hike – The world’s Largest Stairmaster
- Kapena Falls – One of the best easy hikes on Oahu
- Likeke Falls Trail
- Lulumahu Falls Hike – Everything you need to know
More Hawaii Blog posts:
- The best places to see on all the Hawaiian Islands – 27 Incredible Places To Visit In Hawaii
- The Ultimate Guide to Visiting the Hawaiian Islands – and what to expect on each island: What To Expect On Each Of The Hawaiian Islands