This post started out as a warning. while in Hawaii and Waikiki we found that some of the beaches were terrible for kids and others were really good.
There can be a lot of time wasted looking for beaches that are great for kids when in reality probably the best beach on the island is within walking distance from your hotel.
Best Oahu beaches for kids
The beach that I find the best first of all is the stretch of beach in front of the big pink hotel. The hotel is the Royal Hawaiian and in front of the hotel is a busy but pretty stretch of beach that is perfect for kids.
The reason that the beach here is perfect is that the waves are smaller but are still exciting for the little ones and in walking out the water gets about five feet deep and then gets shallow again around 200 feet from the beach.
I would walk with my four year old son out to the slightly deep water and then carry him for a bit and then I could put him back down to run around in water that was only a foot or two deep.
Going further down to the east on Waikiki beach will take you to the wading area of Waikiki beach. This area is great as there is a big cement wall that works as a wave break, the water is a little cloudy but it is a great place to watch the kids as there are no waves and it is contained so you do not lose the kids too easily.
Another great beach is at Hanauma Bay.
This beach gets no surf and the water is shallow. There is some coral around so it is best to reign in the little ones and the oder kids can just swim around for hours (remember to cover everyones backs with lots of suntan lotion..even when they fight it) and the only real drawback is that there is an entrance fee to get in.
On the other hand there are some other beaches that you may want to stay away from.
North of Hanauma Bay is a beach called Sandy Beach, nice name but huge waves.
When we were at Sandy Beach the waves were enough to drown me and the kids were not able to go swimming at all as the waves broke right at shore. The kids both liked watching the waves crashing but after an hour of not being able to go into the water the became bored and we had to move on.
The North Shore is famous for waves and is mostly not at all good for kids because of this excerpt for one tucked in spot Waimea Bay.
Waimea Bay is great as the cove keeps the biggest of the waves at bay.
You need to get to Waimea bay early though as the parking lot is a bit small and there is not a lot of other parking areas available.
Kailua is another spot on the north east of Oahu that has great beaches and seems to be good. Because of the spot on the island it can be a little windy and as a really long beach in spots it can be steep to the water.
The waves can be bigger which is fun and most older kids would have a great time in the water.
So my best advice to anyone is to start at the pink hotel and the beach in front of it. As you are going down the alleyway between hotels to get to the beach it is really hard to turn down the shaved ice vendor sitting there, I know my daughter never let us get by there without us buying her and her brother a shaved ice.