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If you’re lucky enough to be heading to the breathtaking Hawaiian islands with your inflatable SUP in hand, then you should definitely check out Oahu.
Oahu is the third-largest Hawaiian island, and as I'm sure you can imagine, it has pristine turquoise waters, soft sand beaches, and an incredible watersports vibe.
In this article, we’re going to cover where to paddle board in Oahu as well as some well-known board rental companies in the area so you can head out to paradise with all the stand up paddle boarding information that you could possibly need.
Table of Contents
First on our list is the Ala Moana Beach Park on Oahu’s southern coast. The 100-acre park and man-made beach have amazing waterside access along with shaded pavilions, picnic tables, and grass areas. Once your day of paddling is over, you can even head to the Ala Moana Shopping Center for a cool down and a bite to eat.
The park is one of Oahu’s most popular thanks to the variety of activities that locals and tourists can participate in. Stand up paddle boarding is one of the most popular due to the incredible water conditions near the shores.
During the winter months, especially when other beaches at Oahu have bigger surf, many paddlers flock to Ala Moana. As the stretch of beach is protected by an outer reef, the waters are always calm year-round.
Even beginner paddlers and children can practice their paddling skills without having to worry about deep and choppy waters that you’d find elsewhere in Oahu.
Experienced SUPers can also enjoy the waters at Ala Moana. The still waters make the ideal training ground for flatwater paddling, and if you paddle out to the reef itself, you can experience manageable waves and put your SUP surfing skills to the test.
Shortly up the road from Waikiki is the Diamond Head Beach Park. A huge crater formed 300,000 years ago after a single explosive eruption backs the Diamond Head Beach Park and is best seen from the water. You can also take a break from paddling and hike up the iconic crater if you feel like taking on a different form of exercise.
Compared to the well-known Waikiki Beach, Diamond Head Beach offers up uncrowded waters. It’s recommended to pack your snorkel gear as the coral reef not far from the beach is home to numerous different fish species.
The Kewalo Basin is a commercial boat harbor and park next to Ala Moana on Oahu’s southern shore. If crowded beaches aren’t your thing, you can launch your SUP from the rocks of the Kewalo Basin Park and paddle out into the ocean.
There are also steps towards the park's center, which give you even better water access. Waves can get a little bigger in the Kewalo Basin than at Ala Moana, so it’s only recommended to paddle here if you’re experienced and know what you’re doing.
We highly recommend investing in and wearing a decent life jacket whenever you head out on the ocean, or on any water for that matter.
Lanikai Beach is like the stuff you see on postcards. Calm, clear turquoise water, soft white sand, and palm trees lining the shore. Its name Lanikai means “heavenly sea,” and a heavenly sea is exactly what it is.
As there is no public parking close to the half-a-mile strip of beach, it’s best to take an inflatable paddle board, plenty of water, and everything else you’d need for a day out at the beach.
Lanikai Beach consistently ranks as one of the best beaches in the world, and if you’re up for a challenge, you can paddle the one-mile stretch from Lanikai to the Mokulua Islands. It’s important to note that you can land your stand up paddle board on the larger northern island, but the southern island is a bird sanctuary, and landing is prohibited.
The waters between Lanikai and the Mokulua Islands are teeming with marine life, from Hawaiian green sea turtles to unique brightly colored fish species. The best snorkeling areas are at the dense reef between the public access at Mokumanu Drive and Kaiolena Drive.
Mokoli’i Island was once connected to Oahu but was separated from constant marine erosion. You can launch your SUP from the Kualoa Regional Park and paddle over to the island.
The paddle over is relaxing and fairly easy, and once you reach the island, you can hike a short 10-minute hike to the top. If you do choose to hike the island, make sure you pull your paddle board up on the shore to prevent the tide pulling it out to sea.
Located on Oahu’s north shore is the Puaena Point Beach Park that featured on the TV show, Lost.
Puaena is known amongst the Oahu surf crowd as being a fantastic surf or SUP surfing spot. Experienced SUP surfers can tackle the big waves that roll in during large swells, and beginner paddlers can remain near the shoreline and paddle amongst the more controllable waves.
Before heading to Puaena Point, you should check the local surf report to ensure you aren’t paddling in waters out of your comfort zone.
Sunset Beach is another fantastic SUP surf destination on Oahu’s north shore. During winter, big wave surfers head to Sunset Beach to catch some of the biggest waves on Oahu. The summer, however, provides swimmers, paddle boarders, and kayakers with calm waters that are amazing for snorkeling.
The Sunset in its name is also a reason why many people frequent the beach. You can witness some of Hawaii’s best sunsets after parking your car in the free parking lot and heading down with a beach cart full of drinks and snacks.
Similarly to Sunset Beach, Waimea Bay has treacherous surf in the winter and tranquil waters throughout summer. If you head to Oahu in the winter and want to paddle then the Haleiwa Beach Park just around the corner from Waimea has year-round calm waters that are suitable for even the most inexperienced paddlers.
Quite possibly, the most well-known beach on Oahu is Waikiki Bay. Due to its close location to downtown Honolulu, the beach can fill up fast, especially in the summer months.
Waikiki is the gathering place for many of Oahu’s hotels and resorts, making it an excellent destination if you only have a few days to explore Oahu.
Although waves can get big at Waikiki to challenge the more experienced boarders, the waters near the shore make excellent stand up paddle boarding spots for all the newbies in the group.
If you’re heading to any other places in Hawaii, we’ve covered the Best Places to Paddle Board in Hawaii,which includes 6 of the main Hawaiian islands.
If you aren’t traveling with your own paddle board then there are a few stand up paddle board rental shops you can rent a board from in Oahu. Here are some recommendations:
Oahu is a paddle boarders paradise with many ideal locations for launching a SUP. Waves, especially on the north shore of Oahu, can get big, so it’s best to check surf reports and head out when there are smaller waves.
There are numerous paddle board rental companies on the island, or you take your own SUP and launch it from one of these top destinations:
As paddle boards are considered non-motorized vessels, you can pretty much launch them from anywhere in Hawaii. Of course, as with all places, you should do your research before you visit Hawaii to make sure it is safe and legal to launch your SUP in your chosen destinations.
Waikiki Beach is a fantastic place to paddle board as it is close to the shore, the waters are suitable for beginner paddlers, and further out the sea, more experienced paddlers can test their skills on larger waves and tougher water conditions.
Traveling with a paddle board has never been easier since the invention of inflatable paddle boards. You can deflate your board, conveniently place it in its travel bag and transport it all the way to Oahu.
For tips on how to transport your SUP the right way, check out our article, The Ultimate Guide to Traveling with an Inflatable Paddle Board.
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