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Lanikai Beach Oahu Hawaii

Lanikai Beach Oahu Hawaii

Lanikai Beach is a destination all unto itself.  It is not only described as "most beautiful" of all Oahu beaches, but Lanikai Beach has consistently ranked as one of the best beaches in the world.  You will be mesmerized the moment you walk down one of the beach access ways, giving you a peek of the calm, aqua blue waters awaiting you at the other end. And once your feet touch the powdery white sand, you will swear you've never felt softer, finer sand in your life. It is what you dreamed paradise would look like!

Lanikai Beach

Lanikai Beach - Everything You Need to Know

Lanikai Beach Oahu Drone Photo

The word “Lani Kai” literally translates to “Heavenly Ocean”.  It is most definitely a fitting name for such a beautiful place.  A developer in 1924 renamed it from it's original name, Kaʻohao.  Inspired by this gorgeous beach, we named our daughter Kailani, which is actually the true Hawaiian translation of “Heavenly Ocean”...and quite fitting at that!

Worth a thousand pictures, this Lanikai Beach video captures from above, the beauty of this spectacular Oahu beach!

Lanikai Beach Sign

How To Get to Lanikai Beach

Finding Lanikai Beach can be a bit tricky since there are no posted beach signs.  After you pass  Kailua Beach, you will know you are on the right path when you see the iconic Lanikai Monument in the photo above.  It prominently has "LANIKAI" written on it, and it's very hard to miss.  This large stone pillar marks the entrance to Lanikai's residential neighborhood and beach area.  It will be on your left as the road veers to the right when you enter the neighborhood.

Lanikai Beach Access

Parking has become tough in Lanikai because of its recent popularity amongst tourists.  There are designated parking areas on the surrounding residential streets.  Please park legally or you will surely get towed.  We've seen cars get a ticket for parking facing the wrong way.  

After you park, it is fairly easy to find the 6 public beach access ways to Lanikai Beach along Mokulua Drive.  

The first 4 are the most popular, while the last 2 lead only to water as the sand has eroded away.

Lanikai Beach Path

As beautiful as Lanikai Beach is today, it is unfortunate that the construction of seawalls along some of the homes has eroded much of the sandy beach.  For those of you who are in search of the missing powder sand, look no farther than next door at Kailua Beach Park, where the sand has migrated to.

Is Lanikai Beach Kid and Pet-friendly?

I’ll start off by saying that this is my family’s favorite beach to visit so yes, it is very kid-friendly.  Pets are also allowed (and supposed to be on a leash), so you will see visitors bring there dogs.  The calm waters are perfect for children and adults who want a more relaxing swim. But please make sure you always swim with your children and keep an eye on them even though the waves are almost always calm.  There is no lifeguard on duty.

Lanikai Beach End

The visitors and locals who frequent this beach are friendly too.  I think it’s the peaceful setting that promotes a relaxing setting for everyone to enjoy!

Lanikai Beach Dog

What To Do at Lanikai Beach

While the calm aqua blue waters are ideal for swimming, it is not great for snorkeling.  Your best chance of seeing fish is on the left side of the shore.  Look for the dark areas in the water that represent rocks, and that's where fish will most likely be if there are any at all.

Lanikai-Beach Water Views

There is no reef to attract the fish, and the water can also become a little cloudy from the fine sand if stirred from the bottom, so snorkeling is not the best water activity here.

Laying on the beach with a good book or to work on your golden Hawaiian tan is a perfect way to enjoy yourself at Lanikai Beach. Take a break for a dip in the warm, clear, blue waters or take a stroll along the shore...this beach is perfect for it.  

If you'd like a more active experience, kayaking is a fantastic way to enjoy Lanikai's calm waters. Many kayakers, from beginners to advanced, enjoy paddling to the famous Mokulua islands off-shore.  The islands are approximately .75 miles away and kayaking back and forth is a popular water adventure. 

Lanikai Sunrise

Lanikai Sunrise

Get up extra early and you'll be treated to a gorgeous sunrise!  This picture was taken from the Lanikai Pillbox Hike that serves as a backdrop to beautiful Lanikai Beach.  The hike will take you approx 30-45 minutes to reach the top pillbox, depending on how fast you want to climb and and how many photo stops you want to make.  Since it is a ridge hike, you have a 360 degree view of spectacular ocean and mountain vistas as far as the eye can see!

Kayaking around Lanikai

Lanikai Beach Kayaks

Experience the beauty of the Mokulua Islands, and the Windward Coastline on a fun, guided kayak ride!  It’s amazing enough to just step onto this beach, but paddling out gives you a whole new perspective. Not to mention observing the crystal clear waters below as you journey out.

This is a special 2 hour adventure that you must plan a head and sign up before arriving at the beach.  It includes transportation, lunch, snorkel gear, life jacket, dry bag, and caters to beginners to more advanced kayakers. 

Book a Kayak Ride Now

Lanikai Beach Mokalua Islands

Lanikai Outriggers

You'll see a picturesque lineup of outriggers lining the back of the beach area.  Many of them are pulled into the water by their rowing teams in the afternoons or early mornings, and taken for some practice paddles far out into the ocean.

Lanikai Beach Outrigger

They are fascinating to watch as they race along the shoreline.  There are other types of outriggers that feature sails and only require one or more people to operate.

Lanikai Beach Outrigger

Getting to Lanikai Beach, Oahu Hawaii

I would highly recommend renting a car to travel out to this beach location.  You can access it by taking the bus, but it will take about an hour and a half, and 3 bus transfers from Waikiki, versus 30 to 40 minutes with your own vehicle. Beach time is priority!

Lanikai Beach Access

Holiday Parking just got tougher in Lanikai! Note that vehicles will not be permitted to park or unload on the right side of the Lanikai loop during Statehood Day, Fourth of July, Memorial Day, Presidents’ Day and Labor Day Weekend. Barriers will be placed along the bike lanes during these times and enforced with $200 parking citations.  Consider Kailua Beach or a just a little farther to Waimanalo Bay as an alternative.

Lanikai Beach Oahu - By Car

Lanikai Beach Swimming
  • From Waikiki, you will want to jump onto the H-1 Freeway headed west…
  • Take the Pali Hwy (Hwy 61) over to Kailua
  • Turn right on Kailua St.
  • Stay on Kailua St. when you have to merge left (towards the ocean)
  • Turn right onto Kawailoa St and follow until it turns into Aalapapa.
  • Aalapapa loops around and turns into Mokumanu on the Oceanside.

When arriving in Lanikai Beach Hawaii, you will want to seek out beach access points located off of Mokumanu Drive. 

  • turn left down Kaiolena Dr to access the main beach area or
  • turn left down Kuailima Dr to access a more secluded beach area.

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Need a good rental car option for the day?

Whether you would like to visit a beach, a popular Oahu attraction, or explore the island for just a day, consider these great, discounted rent-a-car rates with Discount Hawaii Car Rental.  They also have great packages for your entire trip...

Lanikai No Parking

Parking Tip:  Be very careful of where you park and be aware of posted “No Parking” signs.  Patrol enforcement is frequent in this area

Don’t ruin a nice day at the beach with a parking ticket waiting for you.  Also please be respectful to surrounding residents who see visitors coming by on a daily basis.

 Lanikai Beach Oahu Map

Lanikai Beach Oahu - By Bus

Take the number 20 Oahu bus from Waikiki to the Ala Moana CenterTransfer onto the 67 to downtown Kailua, and finally transfer to the 671 shuttle bus.  Ask the bus driver to tell you when to get off and transfer.

3 More Beautiful Beaches

Here are 3 additional Oahu Beaches that are beautiful and worth visiting after this one...

Lanikai Beach Facilities and Tips

Lanikai Beach Oahu

No Bathrooms and Showers:  Lanikai Beach Oahu does not have any bathroom facilities or outdoor showers to rinse off.  I would recommend stopping at Kailua Beach Park, which is located less than a mile away, for it’s picnic tables, bathroom and shower facilities.

Food Tips:  I would also recommend bringing along a small cooler with some drinks and comfort snacks.  You might want to give yourself some extra time to stop in the lovely Kailua town that you will have to pass through to get to the beaches.

The town of Kailua has some great places and grocery stores to pick up some food, ice, and drinks.  Consider picking up a Hawaiian plate lunch on your way...

Visiting Tips:  Visit Lanikai Beach Hawaii earlier in the day, as the sun travels over the Koolau Mountains in the afternoon.  This East side of Oahu is also a perfect viewing spot for a Hawaiian sunrise.

Check the weather first before trekking out to Lanikai for an early morning sunrise, just in case heavy clouds are forecasted to linger during the morning.  Also remember to be courteous to the local residents, and clean up after yourselves when leaving the beach.

Around the Lanikai Beach Area

Downtown Kailua

Downtown Kailua

The downtown Kailua area, which is only 5 minutes away from the beach, has its charm with some neat shops and some good Kailua restaurants worth visiting.  Maui Brewing Company recently joined the community.

Lanikai Pillbox Hike

Lanikai Pillbox Hike

If you are looking for a much larger version of Lanikai Beach with facilities, I recommend checking out its next door neighbor Kailua Beach Park.  And as I mentioned before, there is a great 2-mile hike above Lanikai Beach that will lead you to some amazing ridgetop views.

Check out the Lanikai Pillbox hike

Boots & Kimos

Boots & Kimo

I highly recommend traveling over in the morning and stopping at Boots & Kimos for breakfast.  They have some to-die-for macadamia nut pancakes w/ a special macadamia nut syrup, not to be missed!

Lanikai Juice Company

Lanikai Juice

If your looking for something refreshing and on the healthier side, stop in Lanikai Juice Company located in downtown Kailua.  Creative juices, smoothies, and bowls filled with acia, papaya, ginger, turmeric, and other superfoods! They also have salads and a few healthy entrees if you need something more substantial.

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