A Complete Guide to Kailua Beach

Kailua Beach
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Kailua Beach is one of my favorite beaches on all of Oahu. There is so much to do on this scenic stretch of shoreline, whether you want to relax in the water or get active with something more adventurous. And its location in a residential area makes it feel off-the-beaten-path while still offering great amenities and accessibility. 

Are you looking for a fun beach day on Oahu? A trip to Kailua Beach is definitely worth the drive, and it’s a great spot to settle in and fully enjoy. 

Let’s head out to the eastern coastline to learn all about this incredible locale. 

Where is Kailua Beach

You’ll find Kailua Beach on Oahu’s eastern coastline, away from the busy hotel areas. However, it is easy to get here from Honolulu, making it a popular day trip destination. It’s approximately a 30-minute drive from Waikiki and downtown Honolulu.

Parking & Access

Kailua Beach is 2.5 miles long, making it one of the most varied and vast beaches on Oahu. And almost all of it is ready to be enjoyed by any kind of visitor! The shoreline has multiple access points, but most people enter through its three main beach areas. 

Kailua Beach Park

Kailua Beach Park is the area’s biggest and most popular beach park. If you’re a first-time visitor looking for an easy access point and lots of terrific amenities, this is where you should go. 

Plus, this southern end of the beach is where swimming conditions are the best. 

Kailua Beach Park has lots of parking, 35 acres of green space, and good swimming conditions. This will also put you within walking distance of a small store and rental shops, so you can pick up almost anything you need for a fun beach day (everything from a few snacks to a kayak!). 

Kailua Beach Park is on the southern end of Kailua Beach. There are several parking lots, along with more parking even farther south by the boat ramp. These spots may get filled up on weekends and holidays, so arrive early for the best chance at good parking.

Families Enjoying Kailua Beach

Kalama Beach Park

A bit north of Kailua Beach Park (around the middle of the beach), you’ll find Kalama Beach Park. This area is quieter, as it’s a residential area. There is a small parking lot, a little greenspace, and a restroom here. 

However, you’ll be farther from any rentals and other amenities. So Kalama Beach Park is a good spot if you’re looking for simple relaxation without much busyness. 

Castles Beach

Castles Beach is the far north end of Kailua Beach. It draws a crowd of relaxed locals and is best known for its small surf break. There isn’t a parking lot or green space here, so it’s less popular for visitors and families. 

To find Castles Beach access, look for the pathway near the intersection of North Kalaheo and Kailuana Place. You’ll need to find street parking here, so be careful to park legally and respectfully.

Unless you want to visit Castles Bech for its surf break or another specific reason, I don’t think it’s worth the hassle of worrying about street parking and finding the beach path. Most visitors and beachgoers are happy visiting Kailua or Kalama Beach Park. 

Mokulua Islands (Nā Mokulua)

The two picturesque islets located off the coast of Kailua Beach are known as the Mokulua Islands, or Nā Mokulua (casually called the Mokes). The larger one is Moku Nui and the smaller one is Moku Ike. These islets are not only scenic but also serve as a protected bird sanctuary, hosting a variety of seabird species.

You’re allowed to kayak to Moku Nui, the larger of the two islands. The smaller one is called Moku Iki and is off-limits. 

If you decide to venture to Moku Nui, bring along your snorkel gear – this is a great place to see some colorful fish. You can also swim and enjoy the view of the Kailua Coast from this unique spot. 

Moku Nui

When engaging in water activities near the Mokulua Islands, it’s important to follow guidelines to protect the wildlife and their habitats. Your kayak rental company may provide a video or resources, and you’ll want to be sure to stay away from all wildlife and follow all the rules.  

What to Do at Kailua Beach

Kailua Beach is famous for its soft, white sand, turquoise waters, and stunning natural beauty. Plus, it’s one of the best places to enjoy a variety of beach activities. This is an excellent crowd-pleaser because the entire family can enjoy their time here, whether you love hitting the water or relaxing on the sand. 


The calm and clear waters of Kailua Beach make it an excellent spot for swimming. The gently sloping shoreline allows for a gradual entry into the water. Plus, the soft sand makes for a comfortable swim.

People swim at Kailua Beach almost all the time, but we think conditions are typically the best in the morning. For the calmest waters, head to the southern end of the beach near Kailua Beach Park and the boat ramp. 


While the underwater visibility may not be as clear as some other Hawaiian beaches, there are still opportunities for snorkeling and observing marine life at Kailua Beach. It just won’t be as good as reef areas where the tropical fish hang out the most. 

The best snorkeling is out toward the Mokulua Islands, but you’ll see some unique sealife near the rocks at the boat ramp. 

Kayaking from Kailua Beach

Kailua Beach is a popular kayaking spot. You can rent a kayak to embark on your own adventure, or join a guided tour. Both options are available at the shops by Kailua Beach Park. 

Moku Nui is the main draw for kayakers, but you may also want to paddle to nearby Lanikai Beach. 

Stand Up Paddleboarding

Stand-up paddleboarding is also a big sport at Kailua Beach. This is thanks to the area’s calm waters, spaciousness, and nearby rental options. Many people take their stand-up paddleboard (SUP) to the Nā Mokulua area, while others stay closer to the main beach. 


With over 2.5 miles of shoreline, Kailua Beach is a great location for a relaxing walk. Come early in the morning or at sunset for the best beauty. 

Relaxing at Kailua Beach

Simply unwind and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere of Kailua Beach. Whether it’s reading a book, taking a nap in the shade, or watching the waves, the beach offers a tranquil environment.


Kailua Beach Park and Kalama Beach Park both have several picnic tables that are great for a picnic. Bring along a cooler or pick up something to eat at a nearby eatery – there are a few options within walking distance and lots of great restaurants in Kailua town. 

Windsurfing & Kiteboarding 

Have you ever wanted to try windsurfing or kiteboarding? Kailua Beach is a popular spot for this thrilling sport. You can rent equipment or book a lesson to enjoy Hawaii’s water in this fun and unique way. 

Windsurfing and Kiteboarding at Kailua Beach


Kailua Beach has two decent surf spots: Popoia Island (Flat Island) and Castles Beach. Flat Island requires a long paddle and has a rocky bottom. Castles is a fun longboarding spot with mostly sand. 

This probably won’t be the beach where you want to try beginner surfing, though. We recommend Waikiki for surf schools, though you may enjoy a windsurfing lesson here at Kailua Beach. 


The nearby Lanikai Pillbox Hike provides a panoramic view of Kailua Beach, Lanikai Beach, and the surrounding landscapes. It’s a moderately challenging hike that rewards visitors with breathtaking vistas.

It’ll take about 10-15 minutes to walk from the Kailua boat ramp to the trailhead for the Lanikai Pillbox hike. There is some street parking closer to the trailhead, but many hikers will park in the beach lot to ensure they have a legal parking spot. 

Want to learn more? Here’s our complete guide to the Lanikai Pillbox hike!

Other Nearby Attractions

While you’re on the windward coast, you may want to see even more of Oahu’s beauty. Here are a few ideas to make your trip out to Kailua an even better experience: 

  • Lanikai Beach: Often considered one of the most beautiful beaches in Hawaii, Lanikai Beach is situated just south of Kailua Beach. It features soft white sand and crystal-clear waters, providing an excellent spot for sunbathing and swimming.
  • Kailua Town: Explore the charming town of Kailua, which offers a range of shops, boutiques, and restaurants. You can stroll along Kailua Road and enjoy the local atmosphere. 
  • Explore Oahu’s East Coast: Kailua is situated on the windward side of Oahu, and the scenic drive along the east coast offers breathtaking views. Visit places like the Byodo-In Temple in the Valley of the Temples or hike the Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail.

Enjoying a Day at Kailua Beach

The area’s great activities provide a mix of relaxation, outdoor adventure, and exploration, making Kailua Beach and its surroundings a versatile destination for a day of leisure or more extended stays.

Want to plan a great Hawaii vacation that includes the best beaches? Let our team of travel experts help create a great itinerary for you!