Parks & beaches
Stretching from Kahanamoku Beach to the west to Sans Souci Beach to the east, Waikiki's beaches form a long string of sandy shoreline that is separated in places by a pier or a low concrete wall. Most beaches offer good swimming conditions. Heading west to east, you'll discover Kahanamoku Beach and Fort de Russy Beach, which share the same boardwalk. Central Waikiki Beach, the widest beach, is shaded by the resort's first large hotels. Farther east, the Kapahulu Groin pier marks the border of Queen's Surf Beach. Just beyond Queen's Surf Beach is one of the loveliest beaches in Waikiki, Sans Souci Beach, which is shaded by a row of palm trees.
Around the Island
As you travel around the island, you'll discover a number of other beaches that are perfect for swimming. Kailua Beach, which is considered O'ahu's best beach for swimming, is also well-suited for windsurfing, kayaking and other water sports. Protected by a coral reef, it has a sandy bottom and is quite peaceful on weekdays. Farther north, the beach at Kualoa Regional Park, although narrow, is suitable for swimming since the water is quite shallow. Although rather busy, Hanauma Bay nonetheless has two advantages: calm waters and a coral reef teeming with thousands of fish.
The north coast is a surfer's paradise: Sunset, Pipeline and Banzai, which have absolutely perfect waves, Waimea Bay, Chun's Reef and Hale'iwa: these are all legendary spots in the surfing world. On the Wai'anae Coast, Makaha Beach Park is one of the most popular gathering spots for longboarding enthusiasts. At the eastern point of the island, Sandy Beach and Makapu'u Beach are also popular favourites. Waimanalo, Bellows and Kailua are calmer beaches that are very safe for both children and beginners.
Although the Hawaiian underwater world may not offer the Pacific's most interesting marine life, scuba diving and snorkelling are nevertheless popular here. Two sites are worth mentioning in Waikiki: Sans Souci Beach and the renowned Rainbow Reef, located opposite Ala Moana Park, where the fish are used to being handfed. However, this is nothing compared to wonderful Hanauma Bay, whose reefs teem with thousands of colourful fish that swim about in its turquoise blue waters. You can rent a mask and flippers on-site.