Lanikai Beach Oahu – the most perfect beach to enjoy in Oahu

Lanikai Beach in Oahu is located on the eastern or windward side of the island. Described by many international magazines and people that visit the beach as one of the most beautiful beaches in the islands, if not the world, this beach is truly special. While walking down this quiet neighborhood, you pass through a quiet alleyway with small peek a boo views to aqua colored water ahead. It dramatically opens up to this stunning beach with powdery soft sand and those aqua blue waters that is crystal clear.

With the two small Mokes islands (short for Mokulua) in the background, you might think this is what paradise would be really like and indeed it is.

Indeed, it really is one of the most special beaches if not the most perfect beach on Oahu to explore.

Lanikai Beach Oahu - the most perfect beach to enjoy in Oahu

Some background on visiting Lanikai Beach

The word “Lani Kai” translates from Hawaiian as “Heavenly Ocean” and it definitely fits with this amazing beach park. Originally the beach area was called Ka’ohao and in 1924, a developer changed the name to Lanikai which was more fitting a name for this beautiful area wouldn’t you agree?

Off the coast are the Mokulua islands in the background and they are fun to explore via kayak, Lanikai views are fantastic up and down the coastline. The Mokes as they are known locally are easy to get to by kayak and even get onshore on one of the islands to relax before your paddle back to Lanikai.

Some background on visiting Lanikai Beach

Lanikai FAQ

Where is Lanikai located?

Lanikai is the neighborhood about a mile south of Kailua

Is the beach public?

All beaches and parks in Hawaii are free and open to the pubic to explore. To get access to the beach areas, there are 6 alleyways that connect from the streets directly to the beach area.

Is there a beach park and amenities at Lanikai?

This beach is basically a neighborhood type beach and there are no amenities in the beach area which makes it feel more like a neighborhood and quiet compared to other beach parks


Is there parking available?

There is only street parking available at Lanikai. This is a neighborhood so be aware of your parking and that you are doing it legally or you will get ticketed. Also, parking in the neighborhood is only allowed on week days, so on weekends you can only take public transport or Uber to get to Lanikai.

What is the best time to visit Lanikai?

The beach gets busy after 9am so plan on coming early and maybe for sunrise to enjoy the morning here. Or, you can opt for later afternoon when most visitors leave and the parking situation eases up. Weekends are busy here with limited parking so come during the week days if you can show up then.

How do you know that you are in the Lanikai area?

After driving approximately, a mile, you’ll enter a neighborhood and there is a loop road that is one way and eventually you’ll see a large stone pillar that has the name Lanikai on it. Some of the access alleys also have signage to the beach area.

How do you know that you are in the Lanikai area?

How to Park at Lanikai?

There is a long Lanikai loop road around the neighborhood that you can drive around to find a parking spot. Make sure not to block any entrances and always take out all your belongings in the seating areas to avoid break ins.

When you find a parking spot, next look for the beach access pathways to get to the beach directly. There are 6 access easements between the homes that lead directly to the beach area.

There are no park areas that front the beach in this neighborhood, so you cannot easily see the beach parts of Lanikai. In between the homes and beach are beach access paths that will allow you to walk to the beach directly. The beach area is exposed so bring all your hats, sunscreen and covers for spending more time at the beach.

Lanikai FAQ

Top things to do at Lanikai and surrounding areas

Top things to do at Lanikai and surrounding areas

Go kayaking to the Mokes

Many do start their kayaking journey from Kailua and stop by Lanikai or you can bring your kayak rentals here and launch directly from the beach area. From Lanikai beach, the Mokes are about .75 miles each direction. You should only kayak to the Mokes on calm days with low winds and you’ll get to the islands in about 45 minutes paddling.

You can rent kayaks from an outfitter right on the beach at Kailua called Kailua Beach Adventures and even sign up for a guided tour with them.

The Mokes are a relatively easy paddle from shore with the waters being calm most times before you arrive the islands. Both islands are protected bird sanctuaries but the Northern Moke has a small beach area and some small trails that you are allowed to walk around but only stay on the trail paths or beach area the entire time. The smaller moke is not accessible for visitors to explore.

Check out this kayaking video highlight to visiting the Mokes

Climb the Lanikai Pillboxes

Climb the Lanikai Pillboxes

One of the most scenic hikes in the area, the Lanikai pillbox hike is spectacular. Not only do you have amazing views of Lanikai, but the rest of the eastern coastlines. Come here in the morning and you will be greeted with an amazing sunrise that is Instagram picture perfect.

Enjoy swimming and snorkeling activities

Enjoy swimming and snorkeling activities

The beach sand is so nice and walking into soft bottomed ocean is unlike any other beach experience. Swimming and snorkeling here easy and fun activities to enjoy at Lanikai.

There are some nice reef patches at Lanikai that is perfect for snorkelers to enjoy and explore.

Stroll Lanikai Beach

Stroll Lanikai Beach

With over a half mile of beach to explore on soft powdery sand, beach strolling is a fun pastime here.

Bring your water toys

With waters this calm at Lanikai, SUP boarding is easy and fun to do here along with other inflatables that you can carry to the beach area.

Come for the sunrise

The beach is quiet, easy parking and a gorgeous sunrise experience will greet you at Lanikai if you are prepared to come early. It’s a fantastic time to be out here and welcome a brand-new day on such a perfect beach.

Come for the sunrise

Directions to Lanikai Beach Oahu

By Car If you are driving by car from Honolulu/Waikiki area, the drive to Lanikai takes about 45 minutes without any traffic. There are various routes to take to reach Lanikai, but the most common way is drive Route 19 or 20 from Waikīkī to downtown Honolulu, then take Route 66 to Kailua town and then take Route 671 to Lanikai.

Please be respectful of local residents and parking which is limited so arrive early or later in the afternoon to find a spot.

By Bus – Take Bus 70 from Kailua which will go around the loop area

Other options include taking an Uber, kayaking to Lanikai or renting a car

Directions to Lanikai Beach Oahu and parking
Directions to Lanikai Beach Oahu and parking

Things to do in the area

Kailua town

Kailua town

A great place to shop, dine, hang out or even hit the local farmer’s market., Kailua is fun, trendy and is a great place to explore. Or you can have more beach time at the fun beach area in Kailua which is also spectacular to experience in the area.

Check out our post to visiting Kailua town here for more inspiration and images

Hike up Koko Head
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Hike up Koko Head

If you are looking for an active challenge with a spectacular view at the end then do the Koko Head trail. It’s a fun but steep uphill climb up railroad ties all the way to the top and from their you’ll enjoy really amazing views of East Hawaii and the gorgeous coastline below.

Check out the Koko Head trail here for more information

Visit Waimanalo

Visit Waimanalo

One of the longest stretch of beach on the east side and with gorgeous water and beach area to stroll and find your perfect spot on the beach. Waimanalo is kid friendly with calm water or easy waves to make it easy to swim, snorkel or play with some water toys. This is a popular local beach but not so busy on the week days so get there and enjoy a perfect time on the beach.

Check out the Koko Head trail here for more information

Additional details to know

Please note, there are no parks, facilities or lifeguards at Lanikai, making this purely a neighborhood type beach and unfortunately the building of sea walls around the beach area has actually helped in eroding a good part of the beach area with the sands shifting out further to Kailua beach area.

There are no shady areas on the beach so you need to bring your own covers for longer stays on the beach.

Best time to get to Lanikai is the morning while parking is relatively good and visiting the beach areas during the week day is a lot better than weekends.

Sunrise is a great time to visit with easy parking and an amazing sunrise to boot

With no food vendors in the area, try to pick up some food to go from Kailua area grocers or take spots to bring to the beach and have a picnic.

Also, please pack what you take in and help to keep the beach area pristine and beautiful.

More to read on Oahu

Things to do in Waikiki at night

Visit to Makapu’u Light house

Enjoy Makapu’u beach park

Conclusion of best things to do around Lanikai Beach Oahu

Conclusion of best things to do around Lanikai Beach Oahu

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16 thoughts on “Lanikai Beach Oahu”

  1. Lanikai beach certainly does look like heaven on earth – so I think the name “Heavenly Ocean” is so fitting! It’s what I’ve always imagined Hawaii would look like, having never been. I would love to catch some sunset photos here, and would probably come back in the afternoon as others might be leaving. That’s a strategy I take at most beaches whenever I go! That way, not only are there fewer people and children who may be ready for a nap, but the sun’s rays are a bit diminished as well. The Koko Head trail looks like a great place to snap photos, but the incline looks a bit ominous. Worth the effort for the views, I bet!

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  2. Lanikai Beach looks indeed like a heavenly place to spend a perfect holiday in pure relaxation with gorgeous views. I like that the place is very rural, without any big rises. I also like that there are plenty of opportunities to hike – I love to do this when I’m on holiday.

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  3. I would definitely want to visit a beach that magazines describe as one of the most beautiful beaches in the islands, if not the world. I wouldn’t mind watching the sunrise.
    Great guide for those who are looking to visit with useful information.

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  4. I wanted to visit Hawaii for a long time. And I have seen so many wonderful pictures of Lanikai beach. However I was not aware that there are possibilities for kayaking and hiking also. As I get bored at the beach easily this is perfect for me. I will make sure to include Lanakai beach into a future Hawaii itinerary.

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  5. I’ve visited Waimanolo Beach but never heard of Lanikai. So impressed with that beautiful water and the mini islands you can kayak to — sounds like a great place to spend a day in the sun!

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  6. I remember this is one of the beaches that my friend liked to visit when she still lived in Hawaii. I was so jealous because there weren’t too many people every time she went there and posted pictures on her FB & IG. It’s beautiful and I like how beaches and parks in Hawaii are free for the public to enjoy. Your blog helps outsiders to know places in Hawaii like Lanikai Beach.

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  7. A beach that was among the cleanest I’ve ever seen. You can’t beat the beauty of white sand, turquoise oceans, and blue skies! Vacationers will undoubtedly like the seaside scene as it appears calm and tranquil. Although it lacks some conveniences, you can still have fun participating in their water activities, going on a trek, and discovering Kailua town.

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  8. Lanikai Beach sounds amazing, and the way you put it makes me want to visit again. I remember the sand and water are very clean. No wonder, it is considered the best beach on the island. I have never been to Kailua town. That is something to consider. The Koko head trail sounded like a hike that I would take.

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