Formed as a result of the merging of two submarine volcanoes—the Waiʻanae Range and the Koolau volcano—Oahu is one of eight islands that make up the state of Hawaii. Living up to its Hawaiian moniker, which translates to the "Gathering Place," the island of Oahu is known for its historic memorials, chill surf towns and being the home of the state capital.
With the island's hundred miles of immaculate coastline, visitors get to pick from a diverse range of choices that include a lot of great options for families . From the far-flung white sands of Yokohama Beach to the freshwater pond at Chun's Reef—one of best beaches in Oahu for snorkeling—the island's beaches have something to offer, especially for those with little ones (and if you want to go island-hopping, The Big Island is perfect for families, too).
One of Hawaii's most iconic beaches, Waikiki, is known for its scenic views of Diamond Head crater. This bustling sandy stretch of beach has something to offer visitors, no matter the time of year. The spring and summer months bring plenty of warmth and calm to the turquoise blue waters of Waikiki Bay, ideal for learning how to standup paddleboard and canoe. The small swells and rolling waves at this beach also perfect for learning to surf to try your hand at one of Hawaii's most popular water sports (with beachfront resorts nearby as the perfect family-fun place to stay!).
Located in the middle of the renowned North shore surf breaks, Chun's Reef is one of the best beaches in Oahu for snorkeling. Offering views of the rugged Waiʻanae mountain range to the west, this scenic stretch of fine white sand beach includes a freshwater pond filled with diverse Hawaiian aquatic life like hermit crabs and starfish, perfect for the kids to go snorkeling in. This family-friendly location, complete with picnic areas and a lifeguard on duty, is also an excellent spot for learning the art of surfing thanks to its soft ocean floor and deep reef.
Waimanalo Bay Beach Park
This stretch of idyllic coastline on Oahu's windward side is unfortunately sometimes overlooked for its northern counterpart, Kailua Beach, which is a mistake. Stop by the neighboring, sleepy town of Waimanalo to stock up on Hawaiian fare from the local favorite hole-in-the-wall, Ono Steaks and Shrimp Shack, before heading to one of the island's most uncrowded coastal stretches. This beach is perfect for families who want to spend the day relaxing on its uncrowded sands or snorkeling in its glassy green waters—and if you're wondering where is the clearest water in Oahu, Waimanalo Beach is it.
Ala Moana Beach Park
Ala Moana Beach Park is the place to go for those looking to escape the crowds of Waikiki but still stay with the confines of downtown Honolulu. Located just two miles away from Waikiki Bay, this half-mile stretch of beach is one of several kid-friendly beaches on Oahu that's protected by a reef, resulting in calm, shallow waters for the kids to comfortably snorkel in. A man-made peninsula with a large seawall extends out of the park, forming the Magic Island Lagoon, a favorite amongst locals for swimming and standup paddleboarding.
Also known as Keawaula Beach by the locals, this sandy stretch of Oahu coast is a real hidden gem for several reasons. Apart from the occasional bodysurfer attempting to surf the waves in the winter, you'll usually have this leeward coast beach all to yourselves. While the turquoise waters can sometimes be too rough to swim in—check in with the lifeguard before entering—dolphin sightings are a common occurrence, as are the picturesque evening sunsets.
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