5 Best Places to Paddleboard in Oahu

As the top tourist destination of all the Hawaiian Islands, Oahu offers activities for visitors of all ages and activity levels. There are many great spots to paddleboard in Oahu. From the sparkling calm waters of south shore Waikiki to the famous north shore waves, stand-up paddleboarding in Oahu is on the bucket list of most paddleboarders worldwide. Oahu is Hawaii’s third-largest island also boasts some of the best places for beginners new to stand up paddleboarding. It is an excellent addition to any list of things to do while on Oahu.

Ala Moana Beach Park

Located on Oahu’s south shore, Ala Moana Beach Park is one of the most popular paddleboarding spots. It attracts both new and experienced stand-up boarders alike. As part of Waikiki Bay, Ala Moana Beach houses flat water and smaller waves in the summer months. This is perfect for those looking to learn how to transition from flatwater stand-up paddleboarding to wave riding.

Ala Moana Shopping Center lies across the street, filled with restaurants and shops of all kinds. Parking in this area can be difficult as it is located in the center of downtown Honolulu, the capital of Hawaii and busiest city in all of the Hawaiian Islands. Loading and unloading paddle boards in this area can get tricky. However, plenty of shops within walking distance rent paddleboards by the hour, half-day, or full-day. Ala Moana is an easily accessible area for stand-up paddleboarding. Those looking to get started or only dabble in paddling for a short time can do so simply at Ala Moana Beach Park.

Ala Moana is also home to many surf shops. They offer surf lessons on a paddleboard or regular surfing lessons for those looking to ditch the paddle. Ala Moana and its neighboring beaches are sometimes referred to as the hidden gems of beaches on Oahu. Many unsuspecting visitors do not think of such a large city is the home of outdoor activities in the ocean such as surfing, snorkeling, and paddleboarding. Also just East of Ala Moana lies stunning views of Diamond Head cater, Chinaman’s hat, and Hawaii Kai.

Lanikai Beach Park

Another place to checkout to paddleboard in Oahu is Lanikai Beach. Located on Oahu’s Leeward side, Lanikai Beach offers some of the most consistently calm waters on the island. Lanikai, which in Hawaiian translates to “heavenly sea” lives up to its name. It is one of the world’s most famous beaches. Photos of this beach have become popular in many publications, as the pristine white sand and brightly colored fish draw many who visit Hawaii to the shores of Lanikai.

Lanikai is known for its calm, clear waters and sweeping views of Kaneohe Bay on the East Side Looking for a test of balance? Waters are even calm enough here for local yoga studios to offer paddleboard yoga on a frequent basis.

Just north of Lanikai lies the town of Kailua, the home of many a coffee shop and quick-bite food stops. South of Lanikai, one may travel to Kualoa Ranch for a Jurassic Park tour which is a very popular destination for those visiting Oahu.

Mokulua Islands

Just off the coast of Lanikai lie the Mokulua Islands and are just about a mile paddle out to reach. Be careful on windier days, though, as paddling can get tough once the winds pick up in the afternoon. If a paddleboarding trip out to the Mokulua Islands is in the cards, it is best to try and go first thing in the morning.

Haleiwa Beach Park

Located on Oahu’s north shore, Haliewa Beach Park is a sheltered area with tide pools and coral reefs. It is a very popular destination for those looking to explore Oahu. Paddleboard rentals are aplenty in the town of Haliewa. Many local shops also offer stand-up paddleboarding lessons and guided tours of the area as well.

Anahulu River

A popular paddling attraction of Haliewa is the Anahulu River, which offers beautiful views that can only be accessed from a stand-up paddleboard or kayak. The Anahulu River feeds Waimea Bay and can take about an hour to paddle and is done so very easily due to a gentle current carrying paddlers down to the river mouth easily. While paddling the Anahulu, it is common for visitors to spot the Hawaiian green sea turtles, as they like to swim with the current out to the bay. Many of those on family vacation make it a point to stop at Haliewa Beach Park, especially for those looking to paddleboard in Oahu. Haliewa Beach Park also hosts restrooms and outdoor showers for those in need of facilities.

Puaena Point Beach Park

Also a notable paddle boarding stop close by is Puaena Point Beach Park. This stop houses a small stretch of sandy shore with small waves for those new to stand up paddle surfing. This is a great spot to paddleboard in Oahu.

Kapalua Bay

Home of Disney’s Aulani resort is Kapalua Bay, on the West side of the island. It is one of the best spots to paddleboard in Oahu. Kapalua hosts multiple lagoons protected from large surf. Stand-up paddleboarding is a popular activity for those visiting Kapalua Bay and Aulani resort.

Though the Disney resort is large and widely developed, it is not a private beach. It can be accessed easily with public parking. The facilities at Kapalua Bay are also plentiful, with very nice bathrooms, outdoor showers, and beachfront eateries. Parking is plentiful and the walk from the parking lots to the beaches are not a far trek.

Kapalua Bay is also a very calm place for snorkeling and paddleboarders. Those of all skill levels find it easy to do both in one day when visiting this beautiful location in Hawaii. Spinner dolphins and humpback whales are frequently spotted off the shores of Kapalua. Sunsets over the ocean in Kapalua are also a very popular bucket list item for those visiting the island of Oahu.

Waimea Bay

On the North Shore of Oahu lies Waimea Bay. It is home to some of the largest waves in the world in the winter months. However, in the summer months as well as late spring and early fall, Waimea Bay hosts flat water calm enough for paddleboarders of all levels. The beach at Waimea Bay isn’t very large and parking can be scarce. It is sometimes necessary to unload paddleboards before looking for parking further up the street.

Waimea Bay Beach Park also offers restrooms and outdoor showers. This makes it a great place to post up for a full day of family beach time and paddleboarding. If visiting in the summer, packing snorkel gear is highly recommended. Waimea’s rocks and the outer reef are home to marine life of all shapes and colors.

Hawaiian green sea turtles are plentiful on the north shore of Oahu. This area of Hawaii is a gathering place for the species. Sea turtles are commonly seen along Kamehameha highway leading to Waimea. They can also be found catching some rays with sunbathers on the beach.

If visiting Waimea in the winter months, only more experienced boarders paddle out, if at all. Waimea and its neighboring beaches of Pipeline and Sunset Beach are all known big-wave surfing in the wintertime. Waimea hosts one of the most well-known surfing competitions known as the “Eddie” in memory of famous surfer Eddie Aikau. While paddleboarding may not be in the cards at Waimea Bay in the winter, it is undoubtedly a spot to check out either way when exploring Oahu!

Oahu Paddleboarding Lessons

There are many places to get started on the island for those looking to get into paddleboarding while visiting Oahu. As mentioned, Ala Moana and Haliewa Beach parks are the most easily accessible, with the most rentals and lessons available. Whether learning to stand on a SUP for the first time or taking more advanced surfing lessons, these two places are the safest bet for those looking to paddleboard in Oahu.

If renting a paddleboard for a day or more, it is much easier to explore other areas of the island without the need for lessons or guided tours. Renting an SUV with roof racks or a truck with a bed large enough to house a SUP board makes transporting a stand-up paddleboard a breeze. However, this is only recommended to be done by those who have already taken a couple of lessons and are aware of the safest areas and conditions to paddleboard in.

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