Hawaii, the ultimate vacation destination (at least for those beach bums out there) is home to some breathtakingly beautiful beaches. While most are familiar with the popular Waikiki and Hanauma Bay beaches, the lesser known beaches are certainly worth visiting. Sunset Beach, Waimea Bay, and Electric Beach are just a few of the must see beaches to visit during a stay on the island of Oahu.
Sunset Beach is located on the North Shore, about an hour from Waikiki, and is also a short drive away from the famous Ted's Bakery (If you haven't tried their Chocolate Haupia Pie, you need to! My mouth is watering just thinking about it. Pick one up on your way to the beach, I promise you won't regret it!). Anyhow, the best time to visit the beach (with a bakery pie in tow) is, obviously, close to sunset - hence the name, Sunset Beach. I probably would come to this beach an hour or two before sunset just so you can enjoy the beach before it gets dark. As the sun sets on the ocean, be sure to snap a photo, as this is the perfect photo-worthy sunset. I promise this will be the most amazing ocean sunset that you will ever see, and you will basically never want to leave Hawaii after this.
Waimea Bay is located in Haleiwa on the North Shore and is another must-see beach, but for a different purpose. This beach has the best cliff jumping (for you dare devils out there) as well as great waves to play and surf in (this beach was actually influential during the dawn of big wave surfing in the 50's, so it's a great place to catch a few waves). The beach isn't very well known by tourists, and is mostly frequented by locals, which makes it a great spot to visit especially if you don't care for the other crowd infested beaches.
The popular cliff at the beach juts out of the water at least 20 feet or so, and many daring people can usually be seen jumping from it. It's funny to see people climb up the cliff, only to get to the top and realize it's much too intimidating of a jump (I'll admit, I was a bit too nervous to even make the climb up to try). Overall, this is a great beach to enjoy the sun or catch some waves.
Kahe Point Beach Park AKA Electric Beach
If you are interested in exploring the world below the waves, then Electric Beach, one of Oahu's west coast beaches, is the beach you need to see. The beach is located right next to a power plant, which pushes warm water into the ocean, and attracts all kinds of sealife including a large variety of tropical fish and sea turtles (if you're lucky, you may even see dolphins, who usually hang around in the early morning or at night). You may have snorkeled or even scuba dived at other spots in Hawaii, but I can guarantee Electric Beach will blow any other popular snorkeling destination out of the water, at least it did for me.
Since I never took any photos of Electric Beach, I found this beautiful one on Flickr (photo credit: brightoceanblue) that I figured I would share with you.
In order to find the good snorkeling spots at Electric Beach, you will have to swim out pretty far. The first 15 feet or so away from the shore can be kind of tricky to swim past, as the waves are quite forceful, but once you get past this part the rest is a piece of cake. When I snorkeled at this beach, I swam out until the water was around 20 feet deep (quite a ways from the shore, but near the big pipes that spit out the warm water) as this is where the most sealife is found. I am not a strong swimmer, but was able to snorkel my way out to what felt like the middle of the ocean, so if you are comfortable in water, this swim is definitely doable and so worth it!
So there you have it, some of the best beaches on Oahu to go enjoy a sunset, sunbathe, snorkel and cliff dive! If you are looking to get away from the usual crowded tourist spots while on vacation, then these beaches should be at the top of your list.