June 15, 2023

Top Beaches in Waikiki for Water Sports

Hanauma Bay Snorkeling on Oahu

When you think of a tropical paradise, chances are you’re imagining Waikiki. Known for its dazzling turquoise waters and golden sandy shores, this Honolulu neighborhood is a haven for beachgoers and water sports enthusiasts alike. And, with an abundance of activities to choose from, it’s easy to see why Waikiki is a world-renowned destination. To help you navigate the area, we’ve curated a list of the top seven beaches in Waikiki, each offering a unique water sports experience. So, whether you’re a seasoned pro or just a curious beginner, there’s something here for everyone. From surfing to kayaking, and even the novel underwater scooter, this is your guide to adventure in Waikiki.

1) Waikiki Beach – Surfing

aerial view of surfers in the water at Waikiki Beach

Starting off with the namesake itself, Waikiki Beach is a postcard-perfect stretch of white sand that has long been synonymous with surfing. As the sport’s birthplace, Waikiki offers gentle, rolling waves that are perfect for beginners, and with multiple surfing schools lining the shore, you’ll go from catching a foam wave to riding a long barrel in no time! For seasoned surfers, there’s always the thrill of bigger swells toward the reef. It’s important to remember, surfing is more than just a sport in Hawaii; it’s a connection to the culture and is rooted in royalty. Known as the Sport of Kings, when you venture out onto the waves, you’re partaking in a practice of connecting with nature that’s been revered for generations, so take the time to appreciate the stunning strength of the ocean and the exquisite views of the island that birthed this incredible water sport.

2) Ala Moana Beach Park – Stand-up Paddleboarding

silhouetted man on a paddle board with a yellow orange sunset

Just west of Waikiki lies Ala Moana Beach Park, a tranquil oasis away from the bustling Waikiki crowds. This stunning half-mile beach is a paradise for stand-up paddleboarding. Its calm, reef-protected waters provide the perfect conditions for this increasingly popular sport. Though it’s less action-packed than surfing, stand-up paddleboarding will still give you a full-body workout, and at Ala Moana Beach, you’ll also get breathtaking views of the Honolulu skyline. Paddleboarding is fun for the whole family and allows you to soak in the beauty of your surroundings at your own pace. For a unique experience, consider renting a board and heading out for a sunset float that will provide picture-perfect Hawaiian views.

3) Hanauma Bay – Scuba Diving

Scuba diver with school of bright orange fish

Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, is a scuba diver’s dream. Located about 10 miles east of Waikiki, this site has been called “The Best Beach in the U.S.” for decades. The half-mile stretch offers divers clear, warm waters boast a vibrant marine ecosystem, including colorful coral reefs, playful dolphins, and even sea turtles! Several local dive shops provide equipment rentals and guided tours, ensuring a safe and exciting experience for everyone, regardless of diving skills. The shallow waters once received up to 3,000 swimmers, divers, and snorkelers a day, but in an effort to preserve the marine sanctuary, there is now a cap of 720. There’s a $12 entry fee as well as a $3 parking fee, but the brilliant sites are well worth the cost.

4) Maunalua Bay – Snorkeling and Underwater Scooters


For a truly unique experience, head southeast of Honolulu to Maunalua Bay, a premier destination for snorkeling. This bay’s vibrant marine life includes tropical fish, exotic coral formations, Hawaiian green sea turtles, octopuses, and more! For an underwater adventure unlike any other, be sure to visit Island Water Sports Hawaii and take one of their snorkeling and underwater scooter tours. The self-propelled, eco-friendly scooters let you explore at your own pace, while getting you up-close and personal with the stunning native marine life. Tours include snacks and refreshments, making this an excellent family excursion that will create lasting memories for all.

5) Kaimana Beach – Kayaking

2 people kayaking in Hawaii with mountain in the distance

At the quieter end of Waikiki, Kaimana Beach offers a serene kayaking experience. With its clear, calm waters and the Waikiki skyline on one side and Diamond Head on the other, this beach is perfect for a peaceful paddle. As you venture out, you may encounter Hawaiian spinner dolphins or even a basking green sea turtle. Pack a picnic and refreshments so that after your kayak trip you can unwind on the soft sand and watch the sunset light up the sky.

6) Queens Beach – Bodyboarding

Bodyboarder rides blue barrel wave

Situated between the bustling Waikiki Beach and tranquil Kapiolani Park, Queens Beach is a bodyboarding hotspot. The beach’s sandy bottom and regular, small waves offer ideal conditions for beginners and families. If you didn’t travel with your own board, don’t worry! Bodyboards are available to rent so everyone can enjoy the thrill of coasting the waves. For an excellent day-long excursion, pack a cooler and take advantage of the surrounding park. The picnic tables and tennis courts make Queens Beach the perfect family adventure destination.

7) Diamond Head Beach – Windsurfing

wind surfers in open water

Located under the iconic Diamond Head crater, Diamond Head Beach is a windsurfer’s haven. Consistent winds and expansive ocean views make this beach a preferred spot for this exhilarating water sport. Local outfitters provide equipment rentals and lessons, catering to all skill levels, so everyone can participate. The beach is also renowned for its fantastic snorkeling opportunities and hiking trails up to the Diamond Head summit, so whether you want to ride the windy waves or explore on land, there’s something for everyone at this beautiful Waikiki beach.

Discover More with Island Water Sports Hawaii

Waikiki drone photograph

With its stunning landscapes and diverse water sports options, Waikiki truly offers a slice of paradise for every adventurer. But the fun doesn’t stop here. Visit Island Water Sports Hawaii, a one-stop destination for various tours and excursions that will take your Hawaiian experience to the next level. From exploring the ocean depths with underwater scooters to jumping waves like a “super-dolphin” on a SeaBob, Island Water Sports Hawaii is committed to making your Hawaiian vacation truly unforgettable. So, gear up, dive in, and let the Aloha spirit guide your Waikiki water sport adventure!

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