No. 2 Best Beaches in the US 2023

Best beaches in us

Oahu’s Duke Kahanamoku Beach in Honolulu was named the second best beach in the United States by Dr. Beach.

Every year Dr. Beach ranks the best beaches in the US according to his 50 point criteria.

For 2023, Duke Kahanamoku Beach made the list at number 2! Its located on the south shore of Oahu in Waikiki. Dr. Beach is a professor at Florida International University and coastal expert.

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The Best Beaches In the US on Oahu

Hundreds of people walk through this beach every day and have no idea what its name is or that its even a public beach park. You can’t even see it from the street.

But this is a public beach (as all are all Hawaii beaches) with standard facilities maintained by the City & County of Honolulu. There are bathrooms and fresh water showers – a huge win in my book!

As a mom the best beaches include:

  • Showers
  • Bathrooms
  • Options for eating

Other nice to haves really depend heavily on the ages and number of your kids – strength of the waves, crowd sizes, and accessibility or parking. No one wants a long hot walk with tiny kids carrying all their gear. No thank you.

Best beaches in the us

Where is Duke Kahanamoku Beach?

Duke Kahanamoku Beach nestled between the Hale Koa Hotel and Hilton Hawaiian Village. It is not visible from the street. Duke Kahanamoku Beach is often mistaken for the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon at the Hilton Hawaiian Village just next door – but they are not the same.

Duke Kahanomoku Beach was named the Number 2 best beaches in the US by Dr. Beach – a coastal expert and professor at Florida International University.

duke kahanamoku beach.- best beaches in the US
This sign is hidden way back at the end of what looks like a service road between Hale Koa and Hilton Hawaiian Village.

Who is Duke Kahanamoku?

Duke Kahanamoku was a native Hawaiian born in and raised in Waikiki. He was a three-time Olympic swimmer winning five medals in 1912, 1920, and 1924 representing the United States. He is most known for popularizing the sport of surfing and is considered the father of modern-day surfing.

Duke was born just a few years before the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom and lived to see statehood and became a US citizen. He lived from 1890-1968.

What island is Duke Kahanamoku from?

Duku Kahahnamoku, the father of modern day surfing and Olympic swimmer was born and raised in Waikiki on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. He’s from Oahu.

food in waikiki
food in waikiki

Where to eat near Duke Kahanamoku Beach

My favorite place to eat near Duke Kahanomoku Beach is Happy Feet snack bar at the Hale Koa. Its reasonable prices, probably the cheapest prices in Waikiki! If you’re military, bring your ID – even if you’re not staying at the hotel. You’ll receive a discounted rate from the public.

My boys got the combos (listed in the photos) for around $9 each.

To get there, walk toward the Pool Bar on the right, the Barefoot Bar on the left and you’ll see the blue awning on the left. There’s foot rinse right across the walkway.

duke kahanamoku beach

Facilities at Duke Kahanamoku Beach

My favorite part of this beach, and all public beach parks in Hawaii, are the showers and bathrooms. I hate the feeling of salt water on my skin for very long!

And having four boys, a real toilet for them keeps us from packing up prematurely.

Where is the Duke Kahanamoku Statue?

The statue of Duke Kahanamoku is in the center of Waikiki at Kalākaua Ave, Honolulu, HI 96815. It is not the same as the highly rate Duke Kahanamoku Statue.!1m18!1m12!1m3!1d4017.9949398886897!2d-157.82990032274498!3d21.277184384261712!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!3m3!1m2!1s0x7c007276ebe11ae1%3A0x8c1b0bb567c94087!2sDuke%20Paoa%20Kahanamoku%20Statue!5e1!3m2!1sen!2sus!4v1690516539206!5m2!1sen!2sus

Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon

Just next door, but not be confused with Duke Kanahamoku Beach.

best beaches in oahu hawaii
The view from the east side of the Hilton Hawaiian Village Lagoon also known as the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon.

Is Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon open to the public?

Yes! This is a public beach park run by the city & county of Honolulu. Its deceiving though because its tucked between two large hotels and not visible from the street. Its also law that every beach is public access between the line water line and the property line, usually posted with signs. Legally, anyone is welcome to enjoy any accessible shoreline in Hawaii.

Where is the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon?

The Dukue Kahanamoku Lagoon is also known as the Hilton Hawaiian Village Lagoon. It is a man-made lagoon directly behind Hilton Hawaiian Village. It is open to the public.

The lagoon is different from the Duke Kahanamoku Beach and Beach Park which is maintained by the City & County of Honolulu.

How deep is the Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon?

The area directly in front of the island gets to just over 6 feet by way of my 13 year old. He’s 5’9″ and was under water just a few inches. Not terribly official but good to know for littles!

Things to do at Duke Kahanamoku Lagoon

There is SO much to do! The lagoon is surrounded by rentals from the Hilton hotel – water bikes, SUP boards, kayaks, and snorkels. There’s no current in the lagoon and the only waves are ones created by people in the water. Floats are common so bring your own or pick one up at the ABC Store around the corner.

Best Beaches in US for Families

Dr. Beach’s list of the best beaches in the US is a great place to start. His 50 point criteria list assess a lot of features that parents find useful like crowds, facilities and accessibility.

Oahu has some of the best beaches in the US for families that aren’t even ranked on his list some years!

Here are my favorite beaches for families in Oahu. Click on them to read more about what makes them great!

More Resources for the Best Beaches in the US

I'm a USMC spouse, South Carolina native, recovering homeschool mama of a 4 boy circus. They've taught me the most important facet of family photography: KEEP IT FUN!

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I find joy in chaos. The louder, the better!

I'm a USMC spouse, South Carolina native, recovering homeschool mama of a 4 boy circus.

They've taught me the most important facet of family photography: KEEP IT FUN!

hey, I'm Alison!


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