Sink your toes into sandy swagger because Kahala Beach Park rubs shoulders with one of the wealthiest neighborhoods you can wear a bikini in. As a less-frequented beach, it is small but lovely. Traverse the sands away from Kahala Resort and Kahala Beach Park to find the fewest fellow beach-goers. The entire family will find Kahala a great area for sunbathing, playing fetch with the dog or enjoying a picnic lunch on one of the concrete tables next to the barbecue grills. Shallow waters have a few rocks, but make it safer for children to play. Park along one of the residential streets and find the beach access pathways, or park in the official Kahala Beach Park parking lot and utilize the barbecues, picnic tables and other facilities.
Address: 4999 Kahala Ave, Honolulu, HI 96816
Whether you bring your own snorkeling gear or rent it there, Hanauma Bay is a clean, safe way for families to view Hawaii's underwater inhabitants up close in this protected nature preserve. Even very young snorkelers can master this shallow snorkeling experience, where you can see brightly-colored fish, sea turtles and live coral. An exciting educational video about the importance of preserving beaches, animals and coral reefs for future generations gives an air-conditioned start to your day at the bay. If you have small children, then the hike up and down the steep paved path to the bay may be challenging — luckily, a jolly trolley travels up and down the hill every half hour. Free entry with local ID.
Address: 7455 Kalaniana'ole, Honolulu, HI 96825
Pack those tents and bust out the hibachi, because the kids go crazy for camping out on the beach. Bellows Field Beach Park is the largest campground on Oahu, with 50 campsites available. All the expected amenities greet campers at Bellows, including flush toilets, outdoor cold showers and a few picnic tables. The scenic drive to Bellows can only be described as majestic — pass by world-famous Sandy Beach, Hanauma Bay Scenic Overlook and The Spouting Horn on the eastern tip of the island. Make sure to get a camping permit and follow all the rules found at https://camping.honolulu.gov.
Address: 41-043 Kalanianaole Highway, Waimanalo
Otherwise known as "Break Neck Beach," water activities at Sandy's are not for the novice nor the faint of heart. Known world-wide for the infamous waves slamming huge, hard and close to shore, everyone enjoys at least watching the body surfers, skim boarders and body boarders. Despite its reputation, Sandy's has appeal for the entire family, whether you like fishing, lava-rock tide pools, flying kites (high winds!), people-watching or basking on the soft golden sand. Whales can be seen breaching on the horizon in winter from this and other points on the east side of Oahu. And the endangered Hawaiian Monk Seal often beaches itself near the tide pools. Just remember to be extremely careful around the water and watch out for vicious riptides! Bathrooms, showers and parking lots are available at this beach park.
Address: 8808 Kalanianaole Hwy, Honolulu HI 96806
Home to many birthday parties with bounce houses, weekending families who set up massive canopies and barbecues, and sweating sunbathers, Ala Moana Beach Park is huge, fun, and ideally situated smack in the middle of Honolulu. Take your stroller for a jog, play beach volleyball or let the kids frolic in the lifeguard — and breakwall — protected waters. There are walking paths, huge green areas, metal exercise bars, bathrooms and a snack hut. Families can participate in the annual Dragon Boat Festival, Lantern Floating Ceremony and many other festivals held at Ala Moana Beach Park. Plenty of parking can nevertheless fill up on busy times and on weekends.
Address: 1201 Ala Moana Boulevard, Honolulu, HI
Open to the public and very safe, the Lagoon behind the Hilton Hawaiian Village has resident fish, lifeguards on duty and plenty of fun beach toys for rent on the premises. The lack of waves makes it a safe swimming space for small children. Parents can sit back and watch from the man-made sand or take the family a few dozen feet to the 'real' beach, which features many more rocks but nicer sand. Dragon boats, stand-up paddle boarders, surfers, outrigger canoes and dinner cruises all leave from this beach. The water stands relatively calm because of the lava rock wall. You'll get great views of Diamond Head and excellent sunsets from this beach, as well as a free fireworks display put on by the Hilton Hawaiian Village on Friday evenings. Free public parking is available.
Address: 2003 Kalia Rd, Honolulu, HI
If your family doesn't mind driving about an hour to the west side of Oahu, the always-sunny Makaha Beach Park awaits. The weather and the landscape here are known for being hotter and drier than the rest of the island, which makes for excellent beach weather when it's raining in the city! Makaha has big waves that break close to shore, so hold onto the little ones and be careful when jumping in the swells. Some kind of portable shade, such as a beach umbrella, is recommended because the palm trees are few and far between at Makaha. There are no public restroom facilities at this particular beach, but you often have the beach to yourself and can drive to the nearest fast food establishment if a potty break is required. Free parking is available and there's a bus stop right on the beach.
Address: 84-450 Farrington Hwy., Waianae, HI, 96792
If your family includes canine members, they'll all feel at home at Kailua Beach. This beach park is well-equipped with restrooms, lifeguards and outdoor showers. Make sure to keep your dog on a leash, as required by law in the state of Hawaii. At Kailua, the water gleams the bluest turquoise and the views are phenomenal. Waves are usually of manageable height and the sugary white sand is soft and delightful for sand castles and digging holes. Kailua is an all-around beautiful beach which frequently makes lists of the top beaches in the world. There is a public parking lot that frequently fills up on afternoons and weekends.
Address: 426 Kawailoa Rd, Kailua, HI 96734
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