When in Hawaii, exploring the gorgeous waters surrounding the islands is a must do. Oahu is known as the gathering place, because the island was formed by two volcanoes that “gathered” or overlapped. This happy coincidence formed Oahu as it looks today – a tropical paradise!
A mountainous coastline gives way to soft sand and turquoise blue waters, and it is impossible to resist their call. However, it can be difficult to decide where to paddle. The whole island is surrounded by the Pacific Ocean!
Luckily, we can help you spend less time planning and more time doing! We put together a list of the best spots to explore the pristine waters of Oahu. Adventure abounds with so many Oahu activities!
Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP)
Featuring calm water and beautiful, classic Hawaiian scenery, Ala Moana Beach Park is a picture perfect place to paddleboard. It can be more crowded than other parts of Oahu due to its proximity to Honolulu, but for good reason – it’s gorgeous! If you are able to drive up to the North Shore for paddleboarding, we recommend paddling at Sunset Beach. You can even paddle there from Waimea bay if you are up for the 8-mile round trip paddle!
There are dozens of paddleboard rental shops in Waikiki, but we recommend renting online from Faith Surf School at TripOutside.com. This rental shop is family owned, and you can tell right away by their customer service. Rentals start from $25 an hour to $70 for the whole day.
New to stand up paddleboarding? You can also take lessons from the same pros at Faith Surf School! Lessons begin at $65. Want to also try surfing while you are there? Faith Surf School also offers surfing – and lessons begin at $75.
Snorkeling and Stand up Paddleboarding
There is nothing like the view under the ocean in Oahu. Coral reefs, sea turtles, fish, and other fantastic ocean life abound under this sea. This scene is even better in the waters off Hanauma Bay in the South, Sharks Cove in the North, and Kaena in the West.
Did you know you can actually rent snorkeling equipment by the day for only $35? You can at Pure Aloha Adventures! They even offer delivery to area hotels. This female-run business has been serving Waikiki since 2014, and the quality shows. If you would rather view the scene from above the waves, they also offer stand up paddleboarding rentals so you can paddle the calm waters of Waikiki with abundant wildlife like sea turtles and monk seals.
If you are new to stand up paddling, want a guided experience to the local spots, or just want a refresher, you will love their tours! Both snorkeling and stand up paddleboarding tours are offered from the same reputable ladies at Pure Aloha Adventures. All locations are around Waikiki and depend upon the chosen tour.
When you think of Hawaii, surfing is one of the first things that comes to mind. The waves in Hawaii are world renowned for surfing. In fact, Oahu is one of the best places to learn this exhilarating art of riding the waves. You’re in luck! Moniz Family Surf offers lessons beginning at only $85. Already know how to surf? You can also rent a surfboard from this family shop located right within the Billabong Flagship store on Waikiki. Starting at $20 for 1 hour and $50 for the whole day/overnight, there is plenty of time to take your board to where you want to surf.
For surfing, we recommend visiting Sandy Beach in Honolulu (advanced), Yokohama Bay on the West Side (intermediate), and Diamond Head Beach in Honolulu (beginners). Where you go also depends on how long you want to rent your board and whether you have transportation. Waikiki is also a great place to ride the waves.
You can also sign up for a canoe surfing tour in the clear waters of Waikiki! If you’ve never heard of it, it’s an ancient Hawaiian pastime, and a fun way to get your whole group out to enjoy the ocean.
Ocean Kayaking and Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP)
Ocean kayaking is an excellent way to explore the waters of Oahu. But which waters should you visit? One of our favorite places to go ocean kayaking is near Kailua, on the southeast side of Oahu, at the Mokulua Islands. These islands are off the coast of Lanikai Beach and are known for their sea turtles and Hawaiian monk seals. The launch point is Kailua Beach Park, a gorgeous location to watch the sunset.
At Two Good Kayaks, you can rent both single and tandem ocean kayaks as well as SUPs. These kind, caring, devoted ocean-lovers also offer tours of Popoi’a Island, the Mokulua Islands, and a Kailua Beach Turtle Safari! Kayak rentals start at $45 and tours start from just $55!
Kayaking, Surfing, Stand Up Paddleboarding (SUP)
The North Shore of Oahu is famous for their killer beaches, food, and waves. It can be difficult to choose just one location here, and we couldn’t!
If you are looking for a quick paddle, short climb, and gorgeous views, go to the famous Chinaman’s Hat. Named after its shape, this is one of the most recognizable rock formations around the island. With more time, we recommend you paddle on over to the Kaneohe Bay Sand Bar for your own private beach. One of the most pristine, unspoiled places to take your SUP is Pua’ena Point Beach Park on the Northwest side of the island. Finally, for a different experience, explore the Anahulu River. This watercourse begins at the confluences of two streams, and then cascades 7 miles to empty into the ocean at Waialua Bay, Haleiwa.
Haleiwa is the heart of this region and a convenient place to rent gear for your Pacific Ocean adventure! Luckily, Sea & Board Sports Hawaii offers every piece of equipment you need to get to your happy place on the water.