Oahu is perhaps the only Hawaiian island that offers such a diversity of beaches – swimming, snorkeling, surfing, boadybodring, diving, etc. So if you are visiting with your children you will also find some excellent family-friendly beaches here.
Ala Moana Beach
This half-mile long beach is located between Waikiki and downtown Honolulu and is the perfect place to spend a day with your family. The nearshore water here is calm because the beach is protected by a reef. The best area for swimming is the eastern part of the beach, where the ocean bottom is sandy. This area is also a popular gathering spot and you will see many local families barbecuing and playing games in the weekend. There are a few shady spots under the trees along the beach and many more on the nearby Magic Island peninsula. Because of its central location Ala Moana Beach is very close to stores and restaurants. If you get hungry you can hop over to Ala Moana Center’s food court, located across the beach.
Hanauma Bay is one of the most popular snorkeling destinations in Hawaii where the water is very clear and protected by a large reef, which makes it an ideal family beach. This is actually not a beach park, but a nature preserve. All visitors have to pay an admission fee and then watch a short educational video about the bay’s geology and diverse marine life. At the beach you can rent snorkeling equipment in case you didn’t bring your own. It is a good idea to bring an underwater camera because the fish are not shy and are easy to photograph. Even though there isn’t much shade on the beach, there is a large park with trees and picnic tables at the entrance where you can have a picnic before or after spending time on the beach. At the entrance you’ll also find a take-out restaurant. Behind it a paved trail leads to a nice lookout point from where you can enjoy nice views of the bay and the sparkling blue ocean. It’s the perfect backdrop for a memorable family photo. On a very clear day you can even see the neighbor islands of Molokai and Lanai from here.
Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon
The Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon was named the No. 2 best beach in America in 2012 by Dr. Beach. This picturesque man-made lagoon located on Waikiki Beach near the Hilton Hawaiian Village is a popular gathering spot. You will see many families with children playing or paddling in the water. The lagoon is surrounded by fine white sand and palm trees providing a few shady spots. You can also rent beach chairs and umbrellas from the Waikiki Beach Activities stand located near the lagoon. If your children want some ice cream or pizza you won’t have to go far to get it. There are a few eateries right behind the lagoon and several bars and restaurants are at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.
Ko Olina Lagoons
The Ko Olina Lagoons consist of four man-made sandy coves backed by beautifully landscaped grounds and a few world-class luxury vacation resorts. The lagoons are protected and are ideal for small children or novice simmers and snorkelers. One thing you should keep in mind though is that there is a limited public parking here. If you don’t stay at one of these fancy hotels, it is best is to come early in the morning or on a weekday when there is a better chance of finding a parking spot.