Beautiful Ko Olina Oahu was recently built up within the last decade or so. This Best of Oahu Beach is located in the sunnier and drier part of Oahu on the western leeward side of the island. Ko Olina’s main attraction are the four magical man-made beach coves called the Ko Olina Lagoons. These pristine crescent-shaped swimming holes are tucked away in the Marriott Ko Olina beachfront property. This is a “do not miss” when you visit Oahu.
The four lagoons are but a small stroll between each
other. The soft powder sand that runs between your toes was
imported from Lanai, one of the neighboring Hawaiian islands.
And the rock levies that act as sea walls help encase the lagoons,
allowing ocean water to enter the protected swimming area while keeping
out the turbulent waves.
Also known as the J.W. Marriott Ihilani Resort and Spa, this
Ko Olina Oahu beach resort is one of the newest and best luxury resorts
on the island.
The grounds are beautiful and worth checking out, even if you are not a registered guest. There is a casual outdoor bar up the stairs from the beach area where you can order drinks and listen to live music later in the evenings. Wander higher up the pathway and stairs for more spectacular views. Keep an eye out for a large waterfall feature that empties into an ocean pool with sting rays and hammer head sharks swimming around.
The Marriott is one of the Ko Olina resorts that were built
outside of the bustling hotel strip of Waikiki and it is definitely
worth a vist.
I usually stay away from large resorts, opting for the smaller boutique hotels, but the Marriott Ko Olina’s grounds are so beautiful and the lagoons are so perfect for a relaxing dip in the ocean, that it is now touted as one of the best places for beach time on the island. It has been ranked as one of the top 3 beach areas in Oahu.
Ko Olina Oahu is far and away from the hustle and bustle of Waikiki so that you feel just isolated enough to enjoy a truly relaxing resort-style vacation.
The Disney Aulani Resort, also known as " The Aulani" is finally open, and is the newest addition to the Ko'Olina resort area. The Aulani is a beautiful, spacious resort that resides in front of the first beach lagoon.
The Aulani lagoon area mirrors the other beautiful Ko'Olina Beach Lagoons, but also features a soft water pad 20 yards out into the water that you can swim to, climb onto, and dive off of.
The Aulani also has their own mini catamaran that sails in and out of the lagoon, giving rides to Mickey’s Clubhouse Members - if you are staying there, you are considered a member!
Whether or not you have kids, this Hawaiian Disney resort might be the magical place for you to stay when visiting Oahu. The only problem with booking a reservation here is that you might never make it to the Ko'Olina beach lagoons, with all the surrounding entertainment and many resort features the Aulani has to offer.
Step outside your hotel room and enter the tropical grounds with an impressive endless water park that runs through it...not to mention a few side attractions along the way. The gigantic Wailani Pool takes up most of the resort grounds and has many adventurous twists and curves, including a few impressive waterfalls to swim under, an active volcano, and a lazy river called Waikolohe Stream where you can sit back and float down in a tube into the Waikolohe Pool.
After enjoying a beautiful Hawaiian sunset on Ko'Olina beach, stroll back up to the fire pit area where you can hangout and enjoy a beautiful end to your day as you head into the night!
The Ko Olina lagoons are not the only attraction on this side of Oahu. If you are looking to do something other than beach hopping, the Ko Olina Golf Course is a great alternative. This impeccably maintained par 72 course does not disappoint with its impressive club house, rolling hills, and cascading waterfalls. See below for more details.
As an added treat, the Ko Olina Golf Course boasts one of the
best Oahu restaurants – Roy’s Restaurant, serving Hawaiian fusion
cuisine by famous chef, Roy Yamaguchi. It is kid friendly and
the wait staff was attentive and helpful when we ate there.
The food was tasty as expected and the drinks were great (tried the
pineapple martini and the sparkling sake). The views of the
golf course are beautiful from the restaurant.
The limited parking that is available for each Ko Olina beach, helps keep the beach crowds down, and allows you enjoy the lagoons in peace. There are literally less than 20 parking spots available for each Ko Olina Beach, with no outside parking available for miles. It doesn’t hurt to arrive early to secure a spot, but unless it’s a weekend or holiday, I’ve always found that people are coming and going, so parking spots do free up fairly quickly. Sometimes you will need to be patient and wait in a shady spot for someone to leave.
If you are not planning on staying at the lugubrious Marriott Ko Olina resorts, which would give you prime access to the Ko Olina beach areas without any hardship, then I would highly recommend driving to this series of four beautifully replicated Oahu Beaches with your handy Oahu rent a car. Ko Olina Oahu can be reached by taking the bus from other parts of the island, but not without taking a few bus transfers.
Ko Olina Resorts and beaches are located just beyond the Ewa Beach area on the south western tip of Oahu. It will take you a good 45 to 60 minutes if you drive from Waikiki. Even with the limited available parking, driving your own vehicle will be one of your best options.
From Waikiki, take the H-1 (located above Waikiki towards the
back Mountain ridge)
Stay on the H-1 for about 25 miles
Continue on as the H-1 turns into the Farrington Hwy
Take the Ko Olina Oahu Exit
Drive up to the security gate, where you will need to check in (announce where you are headed on the Ko Olina Marriott grounds) before proceeding down to the beach.
Follow Aliinui Dr to the left, and look for the posted signs for the different Ko Olina Lagoons. They will be numbered 1 thru 4.
It will take a little patience, but you can make the trek out
to the Ko Olina Resorts taking the local Oahu Bus. From
Waikiki, take the #20 bus from Kuhio St, out of Waikiki and past
Downtown Honolulu. You will need to change to bus #40 or #40A
on the lower level of the Nimitz Hwy. The bus drivers can
help direct you where to get off and make the bus transfers.
Finally, make a 3rd bus transfer at the Kapolei Transit Center to a
Special Kapolei bus, which will take you into the Ko Olina Marriott
The Ko Olina Beach areas are nicely equipped with
accommodating facilities for beachgoers.
Bathroom facilities located at each lagoon are clean
Beach rinse off showers
Free Parking lots at each beach spot
Grass sitting areas w/ partial shade
Friendly swimming areas with calm waters
Note: No Lifeguard on duty
Outdoor restaurant and bar area at the Marriott Ko Olina Resorts
While there are no food concession stands on the beaches,
there are a few casual restaurants near by, including a Mexican and Hawaiian BBQ restaurant, and even an ice cream shop. You will discover these and other shops located just beyond the main enterance gate. I
would also recommend packing up some food and drinks to bring along with you
to the beach.
You also have the choice of dining at one of the four restaurants available at the Ko Olina Marriott Hotel, or the many new restaurants and food stands located at the new Disney Aulani Resort.
Catch a sunset:
The sun sets in the west, and really can’t get much more west than on
this western tip. You have a choice of capturing it from the
magical beach lagoons or from the outdoor bar side with live music at
the Marriott Ko Olina Oahu Hotel.
Oahu for Kids:
The Ko Olina beach areas could be viewed as 4 gigantic salt water pools
for beach going kids. They will have a blast playing in the
enclosed lagoons, which provide a shallow calm swimming area.
Adult supervision is still necessary, and unfortunately there is no
lifeguard on duty.
Aloha and Enjoy!!