Guide to Visiting Waimanalo Beach on Oahu

Waimanalo Beach on Oahu Hawaii
Waimanalo Beach on Oahu Hawaii

Waimanalo Beach in Oahu is one of my all-time favorite spots whenever I visit Hawaii. It’s a bit of a hidden gem compared to the more famous Waikiki Beach, and I think that’s exactly what makes it special. 

Here’s my personal guide to making the most of your visit to this beautiful slice of paradise.

Read also: 15 Places You Can’t Miss on Oahu

How to get there

Waimanalo Beach is located on the Windward Coast of Oahu, not far from Honolulu, but it feels worlds away from the city’s hustle and bustle. The drive itself is pretty scenic, with lush greenery and mountain views. I always rent a car when I’m in Oahu, which makes getting to Waimanalo super easy. There’s a free parking lot right next to the beach park, which is usually not too crowded except on weekends.

Tip: When in Hawaii I highly recommend renting a car to get the most out of your experience. It would be difficult to see all the beautiful places in Hawaii without a car. Reserve a car here.

What to Expect at the Actual Beach

The first thing you’ll notice as you step onto Waimanalo Beach is its incredible expanse of soft, white sand stretching for about three miles. The turquoise waters are amazing on a sunny day. Unlike some of the other beaches in Oahu, Waimanalo offers a lot of space, so you never feel crowded. This is the perfect spot for a long beach day or a picnic with family or friends.

Swimming and Safety

The water here is generally calm with small waves, making it ideal for swimming.

Recently I was swimming at Sunset beach, a body boarding beach about 10 minutes from Waimanalo and the life guards were shouting at everyone who wanted to swim to go to Waimānalo Beach if they want to swim, saying Sunset beach was too dangerous for swimming.

Waimanalo Beach is a fantastic spot for swimmers, offering some of the best swimming conditions on Oahu, especially well-suited for families and casual beachgoers.

However, always check the current conditions; occasionally, the undertows can be strong. I’ve found that mornings are usually the best time for a dip, as the wind can pick up in the afternoon.


Waimanalo Beach is very child-friendly, thanks to its wide beach area, shallow entry into the water, and usually gentle waves. The expansive sandy beach provides plenty of space for kids to play, build sandcastles, and run around safely under parental supervision. The calm waters allow children to splash and swim with ease, making it a preferred choice for families with young children.

What to Bring

Since Waimanalo is more low-key and less commercial than other beaches, you won’t find many shops or restaurants nearby. I always pack my essentials: sunscreen, a beach umbrella, plenty of water, snacks, and maybe a good book or a frisbee. If you’re planning to stay into the evening, bring a light jacket as it can get breezy.

Nearby Attractions

If you’re up for a little adventure, take a short drive to the Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail, which offers stunning views of the coastline and, during the right season, a chance to spot migrating humpback whales. Another nearby spot I love is the Sea Life Park, where you can learn about marine life and even swim with dolphins.

Local Eats

For food, drive a few minutes to find some local grub. Onegaishimasu is a cozy spot for some casual Japanese dishes, or check out ’Ai Love Nalo, a vegetarian cafe with delicious, healthy options. I usually grab something on my way to the beach so I can maximize my time on the sand.

Other beaches in the area 

When visiting Waimanalo Beach on Oahu, you’re perfectly positioned to explore some of the island’s most stunning and diverse beaches. Each one offers a unique vibe and set of activities, making your beach day adventures exciting and varied. Here are some of the top beaches near Waimanalo Beach, including their distances and approximate travel times by car:

1. Lanikai Beach

  • Distance from Waimanalo Beach: Approximately 9 miles
  • Travel Time: About 20-25 minutes

Lanikai Beach is a picturesque slice of paradise, famous for its soft white sand and clear turquoise water. The view of the twin Mokulua Islands in the distance makes it an idyllic spot for photography, kayaking, or simply relaxing on the beach. The calm waters here are excellent for snorkeling, especially early in the morning when the water is most tranquil.

2. Kailua Beach

  • Distance from Waimanalo Beach: Roughly 7 miles
  • Travel Time: Around 15-20 minutes

Kailua Beach is known for its wide, sandy shores and gentle surf, making it ideal for swimming, windsurfing, and kiteboarding. The beach park is well-equipped with amenities including picnic areas, restrooms, and showers, making it a great family-friendly destination for a full day of sun and sea.

3. Makapu’u Beach

  • Distance from Waimanalo Beach: About 5 miles
  • Travel Time: Approximately 10-15 minutes

For those who love a more rugged natural setting, Makapu’u Beach offers stunning scenic views with its dramatic cliffs and deep blue waters. It’s popular for bodyboarding and surfing, thanks to its powerful waves. Nearby, the Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail​.

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Hey there! I'm Claire, the founder of & While spending 4 years completely bedridden and miserable from an unexpected illness I decided to begin writing about my past travel adventures and now the rest is history. Thank you so much for visiting the website. I hope you enjoy it!


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