Searching for the Best Baby Friendly Beaches on Oahu
As you follow the coastline around Oahu, you will discover that not all beaches are created equal. From rocky shores pounded by surf to placid lagoons that feel like a bathtub, you are spoiled for choice. But not all beaches are safe for babies. If you have a baby, toddler or even a young child hesitant about the ocean, you want to seek out a spot that’s gentle and calm. I’ve pulled together some of what I think are the best baby friendly beaches on Oahu.
Time of Year Matters
Hawaii has a distinct winter and summer season. The summer season stretches from May to October and winter, the cooler, wetter season, lasts from November to April. With an average temperature difference of about 10 degrees, it may not feel like a dramatic shift, but it makes a big difference in terms of the ocean conditions.
Winter brings big swells to Oahu’s North and West shores and with it, the best surfers in the world. These same wild beaches become tame over the summer months and make for great snorkeling and paddle boarding. Eastern (Windward) and southern beaches tend to remain calm year-round.
South Shore Beaches for Babies
South shore beaches tend to be calm and sunny year-round making them an ideal spot for families. The tradeoffs are bigger crowds and little available shade.
Ala Moana Beach Park and Magic Island
- Highlights. A la Moana Beach Park likes just around the corner from Waikiki. You can escape the hustle of the city, but still enjoy stunning sunsets and views of Diamond Head and the Waianae mountains beyond. The best spot for families is the sheltered, crescent-shaped beach at the end of the peninsula called Magic Island. This man-made lagoon has a shallow entry and is sheltered from big surf making it ideal for babies and toddlers.
- When to Go. The beach is calm year-round. If you visit on a Friday evening, you can watch the fireworks display from the Hilton Hawaiian Village.
- Find More information on Magic Island and the Fireworks Here
- Highlights. Many adventurous travelers scoff at a visit to Waikiki, but the mix of urban life, beach life, and a mesh of cultures make it surprisingly delightful. Music and bright colors make the stroll along Kalakaua Ave an activity in itself. You may find street performers, tasty treats, or an impromptu hula show on your way to the beach. The beaches all have a shallow entry calm water making them ideal for families. My favorite spots are on either end of Waikiki at the Hawaiian Hilton Lagoon and Queens Beach near the Zoo and Aquarium.
- When to Go. These beaches are typically calm and sunny year-round. Box jellies which give a painful sting can be found along Waikiki Beaches after a full moon. Watch for posted signs or check the calendar here.
- Find More information on Waikiki Beaches Here.
Best East Side Beaches for Babies
The winding path up the windward coast starts with
Lanikai and Kailua Beaches
- Highlights. Lanikai beach is consistently rated as one of the best beaches in the world characterized by its stunning shoreline and views of Mokulua Islands. The waves are generally calm and the sand is powder fine. Adjacent Kailua Beach shares the beauty of its famous neighbor but with the added benefits of bathrooms, showers, shade, lifeguards, and parking.
- When to Go. Both beaches are usually calm year-round, but high winds can bring stinging Portuguese Man-o-War inshore. Look for the bluish-purple blobs with long tentacles along the beach. Avoid on holiday weekends when there is no public parking in Lanikai.
- Find more information on Kailua Beach and Lanikai Beach here.
- Highlights. Stunning mountain views, shade trees, and a shallow entry make Bellows Beach perfect for babies. This hidden gem is an active military training area, but on the weekends, the Air Force opens it up to the public. If you are an active or retired military (or DOD) family, there are additional amenities and over 100 beachfront cabins for rent on Bellows AFB itself. The calmest part of the beach is just before the second guard gate.
- When to Go. If you have a military ID, you can access the beach at any time. For everyone else, you can visit over the weekend.
- Find More information on Bellows Beach Here.
- If you have military base access, the Hickam dog beach is a fan favorite.
Baby Beaches on the North Shore
- Highlights. This beach is perfect for a decadent, relaxing afternoon or a bit of adventure. If you want to keep life easy, you can lounge close to the Turtle Bay Resort which has easy access, bathrooms, and delicious food. If you want to get away from crowds and explore a bit, park at the hotel and walk east along the beach. At low tide, you can find little protected pools to splash in.
- When to Go. When the surf is up, you can find calm pools at low tide. If you want to swim, the bay adjacent to the hotel is your best option.
- Find More information on Turtle Bay Here.
- Alternatives. A former favorite was Bathtub Beach on the Northeast corner of the island. It has been disappearing over the years but if you’re in the area, you may want to try your luck. Next door is this cute little beach and a 15 minute drive away you’ll find this unassuming little north shore beach is also fun at low tide. And if you’re near that beach, you might as well visit this gem by the fruit stand.
Shark’s Cove (Pupukea)
- Highlights. This protected cove is an explorer’s delight. Bring a dip net and reef shoes (the rocks are sharp) and plan to spend many happy hours exploring the shallows.
- When to Go. In summer months or when the surf is down.
- Find more information on Shark’s Cove Here.
Best West Side Beaches for Babies
- Highlights. The protected lagoons making beach-going easy and safe for families. The larger lagoons have amenities include bathrooms with showers, grassy areas, and rental opportunities. My personal favorite is the much smaller lagoon – Paradise Cove.
- When to Go. The lagoons are typically calm and sunny year-round, but parking is limited. Go early or pay to park at one of the hotels.
- Find more information on Koolina Lagoons here.
Yokohama Bay (Keawaula Beach)
- Highlights. Yokohama Bay marks the end of the road. It’s a pristine, stunning beach framed by the Waianae Mountain Range. Most tourists never see this side of Oahu so you can often find this grand beach empty. The ocean drops off steeply here and there can be a strong surge, but at low tide, there is a small protected intertidal area that’s fun to explore.
- When to Go. In summer months when there is low surf. Ideally at low tide.
- Find more information on Yokohama Bay here.
Need More Ideas for Oahu Family Fun?
You can find a bonus baby-friendly beach on the windward side here. Sign up for the Little Bird Post Below for a monthly dose of tropical, off-the-beaten-path fun.