Lanikai Beach is consistently named on the best beaches in the world for its soft, white sand, bright blue waters and the view of the of shore Mokulau Islands. It was voted 2nd Best Beach in the Hawaii Magazine Reader’s Choice Awards in 2021. And it sits just around the corner from Kailua Beach Park which was named Best Beach in the US in 2019 by Dr. Beach.
Its a calm, safe beach year round as far as water and current is concerned. Stinging animals can always exist. But getting to Lanikai isn’t the easiest.
Here’s the low down how to get there and what to expect.
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Quick tips on Lanikai Beach:
Public Access: Getting to the beach is only through narrow walkways between homes about every block. There are 11 accesses.
Amenities: None. No bathrooms, no showers, no parking, no rentals.
Lanikai Beach Parking: Parking is near impossible on weekends or during vacation season but avoid parking illegally as fines are excessive. There are no lots, street parking only. Follow all the signage.
Best days to visit: The best time to visit Lanikai Beach on Oahu is during the week when it tends to be quieter and less crowded. But be early because its still popular!
Stinging creatures: Watch out for the Portuguese Man-of-War (jellyfish) and stinging limu (seaweed), especially from June through September.
No lifeguards: Keep an eye on your kids and yourself at Lanikai Beach – there’s no lifeguard on duty any time during the year.
Lanikai Beach Hotels: Lanikai is a residential neighborhood. There are zero hotels in on Lanikai Beach and only a few bed & breakfasts in Kailua.
Lanikai Beach Snorkeling: There is not much to see under the water at Lanikai. The water is beatiful and the sand is soft and plentiful. There are very few rocks to create shelter for marine life and as such… its not worth toting out the mask and snorkel.
Hi! I’m Alison, your chaos coordinator, toddler briber, and parent commiserator. Oh! And Oahu family photographer!
As the ringleader of my own 4-boy circus, I know how hard getting family photos can be.
I run my photo session like a party. I give you something TO DO so you don’t feel awkward wondering, “Where do I put my HANDS?!”
Dad is playing with the kids, everyone forgets what’s ACTUALLY happening, and you look amazing bc you’re actually enjoying yourself. #whoknewphotoscouldbefun
Fast. Fun. Done.
Where is Lanikai Beach?
Lanikai Beach, Oahu is located in a neighborhood of a dead end loop. Its quiet, quaint and very little parking.
Why is Lanikai Beach so popular?
Lanikai Beach is popular because of its soft, white sand, bright blue waters and the view of the of shore Mokulau Islands. Its a calm, safe beach year round as far as water and current is concerned. Of course, stinging animals can always exist.
How to get to Lanikai Beach, Oahu?
There is one road into the neighborhood and one way out. It is a one way loop. There are no parking lots.
- From Waikiki, head west on the H1.
- Take the Pali Highway (61) until you reach Kailua.
- Continue on Kailua Blvd., merge left onto Kuhio Ave.
- Turn right onto Lihiwai Rd. and follow it until it turns into Kawaiola Rd.
- Turn right into Alala Rd., which will turn into Mokulua Drive.
- Follow Mokumanu Drive as it loops around to the ocean side of Aalapapa Dr. That’s where you’ll find all the beach access points, plus parking.
- Start to look for parking once you locate Kawailoa Rd. You can find a more secluded beach at the Kuailima Dr. access point (farther down Aalapapa Dr.)
Is Lanikai Beach safe?
Yes! Even in winter when the North Shore is raging with strong currents, Lanikai Beach on the windward side of Oahu is safe and calm – albeit more choppy than summer months.
Lanikai Beach Pillboxes
Up the hill from the beach sit WWII pillboxes (cement bunkers that housed a machine guns). It is a .9 of a mile round trip with no shade, gravel path and steep. The panoramic views are stunning! Park at Kailua Beach Park. There’s no shade so be prepared!
Family Photo Sessions at Lanikai Beach:
Lanikai beach sits on the Windward (east) side of the island. It makes for amazing views of the sunrise. But photos can be done at several points throughout the day – right after sun rise, mid afternoon (if the crowds aren’t terrible), and early evening before sunset.
There’s always going to be people at the beach. Weekdays will always be thinner than weekends, so keep that in mind when planning your photo session.
Another consideration are the canoe clubs! Kailua & Lanikai beaches are popular spots for teams to practice. Don’t be surprised if you have to take a pause for them to pass through the background!
Have you thought about family photos while you’re in Hawai’i?
Its photo season year-round here in Hawaii and I want you to take advantage of it!
Take home the bright skies, warm air and blue water to relive it over and over because you’ll never experience this place with the kids these ages ever again.
This is your one shot. Take it!
As the ringleader of my own 4 boy circus, I know how hard getting family photos can be. I’m here to change that.
If I could dress your kids and literally hang your family photos on your walls, I would …but I can’t, so I do just about everything else in between. That’s why I take the time to hold your hand from start to finish.
Because what good are family photos if your kids never see them?
I only accept two families a week, so if you have dates, reach out to Alison Bell, Photographer now.
If parking at Lanikai fails…
Go to Kailua Beach Park
If all else fails, you’ll pass Kailua Beach Park on your way to Lanikai Beach. Kailua Beach park was named best beach in the US by Dr. Beach in 2019. You can park in there and walk a 15 minute, easy walk on a paved path to Lanikai. Or you can rent a kayak from Kailua and paddle over!
Kailua Beach Park has all the amenities:
- Parking lot
- Grass fields
Photos of Lanikai Beach, Oahu
More resources for Lanikai Beach and others on Oahu
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!