Waimanalo Beach once was one of Hawaii’s best-kept secrets. Just 45 minutes from Waikiki, this sprawling shoreline is quiet, scenic, and great for any kind of beach day.
But then the secret got out! In 2015, Dr. Beach named Waimanalo Beach Hawaii the #1 beach in America – a big achievement for this rural spot. Dr. Beach bases his list on 50 criteria, including water and sand quality, beach safety, environmental management, and smoking policies.
It’s been a decade since Waimanalo earned its title, but it still remains one of the best beaches in Hawaii (and possibly the nation). Today we’re highlighting everything we love about this best Hawaii beach.
Why Waimanalo Beach Hawaii is so Great
It’s clear why Waimanalo Bay Beach Park tops many “best beach” lists. The shoreline along Waimanalo Bay boasts the longest uninterrupted white sand beach on Oahu (about three miles long), and the surf is just right for body surfing or relaxing in the turquoise waters.
Along the backside, families looking to shelter from the sun can relax under the lavish ironwood trees. Plus, Waimanalo Beach isn’t nearly as crowded as Waikiki beaches, and there’s not a hotel in sight.
Cool Winds and Shorebreaks
However, because Waimanalo Beach beach is on the Windward side of Oahu, it faces the prevailing Hawaii trade winds. This can make the beach a bit breezy at times.
During the winter months, it can even get chilly (by Hawaii standards). You may want to bring a light jacket if you’re there for a picnic or other beachside activity.
The shorebreak can be a bit powerful here from time to time too, so take caution when swimming with small children or older adults. It’s best to stick to areas close to a lifeguard station.
Where to Find Waimanalo Beach in Hawaii
Waimanalo Beach is located in Waimanalo, Hawaii, on the eastern coast of Oahu.
The park actually has two main access points, one along the southern end of the park and one along the northern end.
The south entry is called Waimanalo Beach Park. It has showers, restrooms, a pavilion, picnic tables, and a lifeguard tower.
The northern access leads to the Waimanalo Bay State Recreation Area. It has all the same facilities as the Waimanalo Beach Park but also has an area designated for camping, should you get the itch. However, you need a permit to camp there.
Just around the bend from Waimanalo Beach in Hawaii, you’ll find a string of quaint, local restaurants and cafes, many of which are locally owned and operated.
After a long day at the beach, you can cool off with a shave ice at Keneke’s right down the street. Rustic and homegrown, Keneke’s also offers plenty of plate lunches to fill your belly after your Waimanalo workout.
Other local restaurants line the main street through Waimanalo. Most offer local favorites and are open for lunch and dinner (sometimes breakfast too).
In case you need a taste from home, there’s even a McDonald’s at the tail-end of the main street. Other local retailers offer treasures from local artisans and an eclectic array of wares.
As an added bonus, you can even tell your friends you spent time on the beach where Magnum P.I. and Baywatch Hawaii were filmed. Not that you needed any extra incentive to visit!
An Oahu Gathering Place
During the week, Waimanalo Beach Hawaii is more like your own private sanctuary with very few locals and visitors in sight. But the weekends are entirely different. On Saturdays and Sundays, you will find local families relaxing with tents and grills (even bouncy houses) as they gather for celebrations and hangouts.
It’s no surprise Dr. Beach chose Waimanalo Bay Beach Park as his Number 1 pick. One visit here and you’ll be a believer.