Lanikai Beach is the beach you are envisioning when you think tropical paradise. Lanikai literally means "heaven ocean" in the Hawaiian language, and though it is not the longest beach on the island, it is amongst the most beautiful. The sand is soft, brilliant white like powdered confectioners' sugar and clings on your skin after a refreshing swim in the warm aquamarine blue ocean. Nestled between two bays on the east side of Oahu, it is only accessible through a small neighborhood in Kailua, with limited street parking.
AT A GLANCE:
HIGHLIGHTS: A small but heavenly beach worth the effort to find it. Off-shore reefs buffer this beach from waves, and the softest white sand makes the ocean bright aqua blue. Stunning scenery!
ACTIVITIES: Swimming, beach walking, Hawaiian outrigger canoeing, and kayaking.
WARNINGS!: Near shore waters are very safe, however reefs, current, and boat traffic 50 yards off-shore can be hazardous.
AMENITIES: None, but Kailua Beach Park is nearby.
The combination of elements here is perfect. The brightest ocean water, shallow, warm and gentle, due to the off-shore reef buffering the surf. Trade winds cool the air and the sand is white and as soft as can be. The flat ocean often sparkles in the sunlight, highlighting the Mokulua islands bird sanctuary. Rows of beached canoes, and sailing catamarans create a colorful buffer between beach and the houses that line the shore. A day spent enjoying this beach is a magnificent experience, even if shared with many other sun worshippers. There is no such thing as a "bad day" on Lanikai Beach.
There is no designated parking here, but streets throughout the neighborhood offer a good amount of parking. Please drive slowly up and down the streets as this area is pedestrian-rich (for details see directions below). Lanikai Beach is close to several other beaches in Kailua, so you might check out a few in one day while in the area. Planning ahead is a good idea as there are no official parking spots or restrooms here, but stop at Kailua Beach Park which is on the way,
A 5-mile long bike path winds through oceanfront Kailua all the way to Lanikai, so renting bikes in Kailua or even taking a Segway tour can get you to this beach in style without parking hassles.
This beach has become popular, and parking can be tricky because you will be looking for street side space in a small neighborhood. Coming early makes for the best experience: the crowds are less, and the parking options are more abundant. A sunrise on this beach is gorgeous, with sun rising out of the ocean. It is well worth the effort and gives you a truly unique sense of open space rarely seen at any other time of day here.
Closest town: Kailua
Take Highway 61 North/ Pali Highway to Kailua. Continue on Kailua Road into town following the road as it bends into a shopping district followed by a park on the left. The road narrows and comes to a traffic light. Make a left onto Kailua Road. Take this extension of Kailua Road for half a mile until you can bear right onto Kalaheo Road. Cross the bridge over the canal and follow Kalaheo Road as it bends to become Kawailoa Road. Kailua Beach Park is on your left. Passing the park, take a left at the 4-way stop onto Mokulua Road. This road bends into the Lanikai neighborhood as it splits into a one way road called Aalapapa Drive. There are 7 streets on your left, best parking is from the 2nd left (Mokumanu Drive) all the way to (Onekaa Drive). Do not block driveways, resident parking spaces, bus stops, or bike lanes. The residents of this small neighborhood will appreciate it. Walk toward the ocean and look for the beach access pathways that cross streets end in.