Crystal clear turquoise waters and soft white sand will greet you at Waimanalo Beach. Located on the southeastern part of Oahu, Hawaii, this is a truly unique spot, which will impress you with its peace and quiet and will make you feel like you have found heaven on Earth. The beautiful beach is lined with tall green vegetation offering shades during the hot summer days, while the crystal clear water guarantees a day filled with fun and laughter! From relaxing on the beach and sunbathing to trying some sport activities, such as bodyboarding, Waimanalo Beach should certainly be part of your travel itinerary when visiting Hawaii. Keep reading as today we have prepared the ultimate guide for visiting Waimanalo Beach – Oahu’s off-the-beaten path beach. Not only have we covered how to get there, but we are also sharing some insights tips on other places to visit in the area.
Location of Waimanalo Beach
Situated on the third largest Hawaiian island, visitors can find Waimanalo Beach on the southeastern tip of Oahu. As this area is not as commercialized like the rest of the island, visitors often neglect it. Do not make the same mistake, though, as you will be able to find secret paradise spots perfect to escape the hustle and bustle of the touristy areas. One of them is Waimanalo Beach – stretching for approximately 3 miles it is one of the longest shoreline ares on the island.
Getting to Waimanalo Beach
A small town named Waimanalo can serve you as a navigation point, when trying to make your way to Waimanalo Beach. Honolulu and the popular Waikiki area are just 20 miles away from this beautiful beach, so you can certainly plan a day trip to Waimanalo. If you will be driving yourself, it is best to follow the Kalanianaole Highway, which is a scenic route along the southern coast of Oahu. For those of you who will not have a car while in Hawaii, you can definitely use the public transport, which is extremely convenient and reliable. Leaving every hour from Waikiki, you can jump on bus number 23 to reach the beach.
Before heading to Waimanalo Beach, you should have in mind that there are two main entrances – one to the South and one to the North side. Also referred to as the Waimanalo Beach Park, the southern point has a small designated parking lot, where you can leave your car free of charge.
The closest airport is also Oahu’s only air hub – Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. The journey from the air hub to Waimanalo Beach is approximately 30 minutes, as you are following Highway 61. Check out the best flight deals here.
History of Waimanalo Beach
An interesting fact, especially for the history buffs is that Waimanalo Beach is considered to be the very first inhabited settlement across the Hawaiian islands. Some unique and interesting artifacts have been found in the area suggesting that this stunningly beautiful beach might have been the natives first choice of an area to settle at. You will need just one glimpse of the serenity and breathtaking beauty of Waimanalo Beach to understand their choice!
When to Visit
Despite being a fantastic destination year-round, the best time to visit Hawaii is spring and autumn. It is quite surprising, as these are also considered the shoulder seasons, when the islands are not as crowded and prices are lower. When it comes to Waimanalo Beach, in particular, we advise going between the middle of May to beginning of June, as you will be able to enjoy delightful temperatures, great swimming conditions and very few rains.
If you would like to experience Waimanalo Beach at its finest, you should visit early in the morning. Not only are the early hours quieter, but this spot is one of the best areas on the island to admire the beautiful colors of the sunrise. In addition to that, the beach is a bit more exposed to wind, which tends to get stronger in the afternoon. Combined with the sun, which has started to hide behind the mountain peaks, the temperatures after 3pm can get a bit chillier than the usual for the Oahu island.
Staying Overnight at Waimanalo Beach
If you would like to spend a bit more time and get to experience Waimanalo Beach fully, instead of planning just a day trip from Honolulu, you can stay overnight in the area. Your first option would be the two campgrounds on the beach – Waimanalo Bay Beach Park and Waimanalo Beach Park. Despite having very similar names, these are two separate camps, each one of them offering 5 campsites. Something that you should keep in mind is that these get booked fairly quick, so if you would like to immerse yourself into the beautiful natural surrounding of Waimanalo Beach you will need to plan well in advance. The booking itself is fairly simple and you can choose between a 3-day and 5-day permit. The former costs $32, while the latter is $52.
Your second choice will be the nearby town of Waimanalo. Keep in mind that in this area there are not as many hotels and the options are fairly limited. The 3-stars Waimanalo Beach Cottages Hotel is the most popular among the tourists staying in the area.
Where to Eat
If you are planning on spending the entire day relaxing by the Waimanalo Beach, you need to consider your lunch options. Keep in mind that as a secluded remote paradise, the shoreline at Waimanalo Beach is not lined with bars and restaurants. The area, however, has a number of picnic tables hidden under the shades, so you can grab some food before heading to the beach and organize a small lunch picnic for your family.
Another option is the nearby cafes and restaurants in the town of Waimanalo. Just next to the North beach entrance, you will find Ono Steaks and Shrimp Shack. Specializing in fish platters and delicious seafood meals, visitors should certainly try the local favorites, such as the barbecue pulled pork or the Teriyaki Chicken.
Facilities at Waimanalo Beach
Despite being Oahu’s fantastic off-the-beaten-path beach, visitors will be happy to know that there are numerous facilities at Waimanalo Beach. Just next to the two main entrances, there are very well-maintained restrooms and showers. You will also find a pavilion under the shades with a few picnic tables, perfect if you would like to bring some food and stop for a quick lunch bite. The lifeguard towers also make Waimanalo a great family-friendly beach!
Things/Activities to Do
Not only is Waimanalo Beach a secluded off-the-beaten path location, which does not receive as much attention from tourists as other spots around Hawaii, but the massive shoreline stretching for over 3 miles, makes the beach the perfect place to escape the crowds and spend a relaxing day enjoying the island’s laid-back atmosphere. Besides, enjoying the pristine white sandy beach and sunbathing all day, though, there are other activities worth trying while at Waimanalo Beach.
The conditions are almost always perfect for swimming, so dipping into the clear refreshing turquoise waters, especially during the hot summer days is a must! Keep in mind that there are days when the waves can be a bit stronger, so be mindful and better stay close to the lifeguards on duty.
As most of the times the waters are relatively calm and peaceful with just some small waves, breaking very close to the shore, Waimanalo is known as a great spot for taking the first steps in bodyboarding. This is a fantastic activity, especially if you are planning a family holiday and you would like to spend a fun and active day with your children.
If you are visiting during the colder months, do not get disappointed, as you will still be able to enjoy the beach. Even if it is windy and a bit chilly, you should still dip your toes into the white soft sand and go for a long walk along the shore. The combination of the crystal clear turquoise waters, the white sandy beach lined with tall green trees and the mountain peaks far in the distance, make Waimanalo a picture-perfect beach. You will quickly realize that this remote and secluded place is a little piece of heaven and it is worth visiting regardless of the season!
If you have more time to spare, we suggest using the opportunity to explore the area even further. As there is more to do than just admiring the stunning Waimanalo Beach. Those who would like to dive in and take a closer look at the underwater world, can head south. Just 7 miles away from Waimanalo, you will find Hanauma Bay. This is certainly a much more popular destination, but it is known as the best place for snorkeling in Hawaii! Something to keep in mind is that the bay is now considered a protected area, after years of over tourism, which have let to erosion and endangering of the marine life. Hence, visitors and expected to pay $7.50 entrance fee and go through a presentation explaining the safety rules. Hanauma Bay is also closed every Tuesday, aiming to allow the fish a day to relax and rest.
All nature lovers would be happy to know that the southeastern side of Oahu also offers some fantastic hiking options. The closest trail to Waimalo Beach is a 2-mile hike, perfect even for beginners and families with kids. The path will take you to the Makapuu Lighthouse, which was built back in 1909. Situated on top of a cliff, visitors will be rewarded with breathtaking scenery both along the way and once they reach the lighthouse.
The extremely popular Diamond Head trail is also located in very close proximity to Waimanalo Beach. Somewhere between Waikiki and Waimanalo, you will find the one-mile path, which it will take you to one of Oahu’s main landmarks. Visitors are willing to climb up the stairs, gaining 560 feet of elevation to reach the summit of the volcanic crater, which was formed 300,000 years ago! From the peak you will certainly be able to admire the jaw-dropping scenery and truly experience the beauty of Oahu island.
Despite not being as close to Waimanalo Beach, Manoa Falls is another secret paradise worth visiting! It is just a 2-mile hike round trip, but there are a few sections that are a bit steep and slippery. Do not get discouraged, as once you manage to go through the rocky parts, you will reach the beautiful 100 feet tall Manoa Falls. As you are listening to the gentle bubbly of the water, you will be able to immerse yourself into the peace and quiet of this off-the-beaten-path heaven on Earth!
Last but not least, approximately 14 miles North of Waimanalo Beach, visitors can find the unique Buddhist The Byodo-In Temple. Built during the 1960s, its aim was to commemorate the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaii. The spectacular temple is a replica of the Uji one in Kyoto, Japan. Visitors will also find a large pond with koi fish, impressive green Japanese gardens and numerous wooden bridges. The temple is nestled beneath the high mountain peaks in the distance, which makes the area even more picturesque and secluded. Do not miss paying a visit to The Byodo-In Temple, as it is a truly spectacular place, which will astonish you with its tranquil vibe.
Admiring the clean turquoise water gently touching the white soft sand, while having a truly relaxing day away from the hectic touristy spots in Hawaii – this is possible at Waimanalo Beach! Are you already dreaming about visiting Waimanalo Beach? Are you ready to pack your bags and head to Oahu’s off-the-beaten-path beach? We bet you are!