Now that Kentucky is finally warming up, I am longing for beach days. After spending three and a half years living in Hawaii, I’m fairly certain nothing will ever compare. Over the weekend we found a cute little spring area where the kids can play in water, but let’s be honest, it’s not Hawaii.
Before we left Hawaii, we made sure to make the most of our beach days. We visited a handful of favorites and beaches that we knew would be safe for the kids to swim in.
When we first arrived on Oahu, we had NO idea that the waves had season, and that the North Shore was definitely NOT where you wanted to take littles who were just learning to swim. Even when the waves aren’t sky high, some beaches are just preferable when taking children.
After years of wrangling munchkins from the age of 0 to 6, here is my list of favorite beaches for kids on Oahu!
My Favorite Kid-Friendly Beaches on Oahu
Hilton Hawaiian Village Lagoon
Tucked behind the Hilton resort, the water in this lagoon doesn’t go very deep at all. Regardless of what the surf looks like in Waikiki, you won’t find a single wave in this giant closed lagoon. The actual ocean is just steps away, but this is a safe alternative for younger kids.
There are paddle boats available for rental, as well as food and bathrooms close by.
Kailua Beach Park
This beach was a bit of a drive for us, from the other side of the island, but always SO worth it. The water in Kailua is typically pretty mild. The sand is SOO powdery soft, and the view is to die for! This is where you’ll find the most gorgeous turquoise water on the island. Kayak rentals are available in the area. I’ve even seen itty bitty toddlers lounging on the front of standup paddle boards.
Parking can sometimes be tricky on a busy weekend, but it’s usually manageable. Lanikai is an alternative close by, although parking in the residential area is even harder to come by!
Pupukea Beach Park
Also known as Shark’s Cove, Pupukea is a popular snorkeling destination. At low tide, you’ll find dozens of tide pools, perfect for the little ones. The reef usually provides protection from the waves, however I have seen this park closed off during winter months.
Some sort of water shoe or foot protection is advised due to the sharp rocks.
Across the street from the beach you’ll find a variety of food trucks. Hale’iwa is my favorite beach town ever, and located a short distance away with more dining options and plenty of little shops!
The lagoons in Ko’Olina might just be the very best spot for family beaching on Oahu. Man-made rock walls prevent the high surf from making things too rough at the shoreline. The water is super calm and the depth gradually increases.
The downside however, is that tents and umbrellas aren’t really allowed, and shade can be limited.We visited the lagoons a limited amount of times while Juli was less than 6 months old and unable to wear sunscreen.
The last lagoon is known as the public lagoon, since the other lagoons are behind resorts. All of the lagoons are open to everyone regardless of whether you’re staying at a resort or not.
There are plenty of restaurants in the area, including the character breakfast at Disney’s Aulani, and my favorite spot, Monkey Pod.
Hanauma Bay boasts brightly colored fish and fantastic snorkeling earns an honorable mention on this list. Although not my personal favorite (maybe I was just pregnant and cranky) it seems to be popular with tourists. At the beach, you’ll find calm and shallow waters.
Parking fills up quickly here, so it’s best to show up early. There is a mandatory information brief (is that an just an Army phrase?) that everyone must watch prior to heading down to the water. The walk can be steep, but there is a trolley that you can catch a ride on for a few bucks.