The 7 Best Oahu Beaches for Kids
Shark’s Cove at Pupukea Beach Park | © GE Keoni
Though the most populated of the Hawaiian Islands, Oʻahu holds a diverse range of beaches. From calm white sand lagoons to beginner-ready snorkeling spots to tide pools for keiki (children), the beaches of Oʻahu are packed with activities for families. Here are the seven best beaches for kids on the island.
Local families enjoy splashing their way through tide pools at Baby Makapuʻu. Just to the west of the famous body-boarding spot with a similar name, keiki can wade in the shallow water, collect shells, or meet new friends at this popular kids’ beach. Though fewer activities are offered for adults, the area boasts amazing views of the Makapuʻu Lighthouse on the easternmost point of the island to one side, Mānana and Kāohikaipu Islands—both state seabird sanctuaries—directly in front, and views of the coastline on the other end.
Sherwood Beach Park
Located in the quaint town of Waimānalo on the east shore, Sherwood Beach Park is often overlooked by tourists passing through or heading to the more popular Waimānalo Beach Park. Depending on the time, it’s entirely possible that you’ll be one of the few people there. Adults can relax on the glowing white sand and admire offshore islands in the distance, while children can boogie board or body surf through the small rolling waves. The 5.5-mile-long (8.8 kilometers) beach is the longest on the island and makes for a relaxing seaside stroll.
Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve
This large protected bay is always calm and great for children and beginner snorkelers to experience the immense diversity of fish and marine life
in the islands—some of which are found nowhere else in the world. Hanauma Bay
is a nature preserve and a protected marine life conservation area. Because of that, it’s home to tropical reef fish of all sizes and colors, so be ready for up-close encounters.
Pupukea Beach Park Tide Pools
On one end of Pupukea Beach Park is the small beach and snorkeling spot known as Three Tables. And on the other end lies the rocky Shark’s Cove. Adjacent to Shark’s Cove, ahead of the fire station, sits a large area of former lava formations that created pristine turquoise tide pools. Children can spend the day playing in the shallow water and looking for hermit crabs, fish, and other critters stuck in the receding tide. The lava forms a natural barrier in the summer, but beware in the winter as the infamous North Shore waves often crash over during high tide.
Magic Island Lagoon
Just around the corner from Waikīkī at the end of a peninsula known as Magic Island is a lagoon with a crescent-shaped beach. Aside from having a great view of Honolulu, Ala Moana and Diamond Head, the man-made lagoon is sheltered from the elements. Kids can splash around in the water without any danger of waves or undertow and can also choose to play in the large park bordering the beach.
Ko Olina Lagoons
Four white sand lagoons—Kohola, Honu, Naiʻa, and Ulua—comprise the Ko Olina Resort
on the island’s west shore. These man-made lagoons are connected by a paved walking path that fronts some incredible hotels such as Disney’s Aulani Resort
. The lagoons, which are perfect swimming spots for children, feature fine white sand, lifeguards, ocean sport rental facilities, and a rock breakwater to protect the area from the open ocean.
Kuilima Cove, situated next to the Turtle Bay Resort in Kahuku, is a great place for viewing Hawaii’s state fish, Humuhumunukunukuapuaʻa, among other reef fish. Though the North Shore of Oʻahu is known for its world-class surf, the waters in this cove are nearly always calm. Children can enjoy the comfort of the sandy shore and protected bay, while adults will love the beachfront dining and lounge chair rentals.
These recommendations were updated on August 28, 2018 to keep your travel plans fresh.