Lanikai Beach

5 stars from 30 reviews
Address 1061 Mokulua Dr, Kailua, HI 96734
Picture perfect, classic Hawaiian beach in a perfect setting with perfectly clear water on perfect powdery sand.

Features
• Type: Kid Friendly • Sand Type: Powder
• Parking: Street only • Good For: Kayaking
• Good For: Snorkeling • Good For: Sunrises
• Good For: Swimming

Matt Anderson's Take
Lanikai Beach is one of those beaches you've either heard about or seen pictures of. Located on the east side of O'ahu in the town of Kailua, it often calm and ultra clear waters in perfect shades of blue and green, sand that's as fine as baby powder, and beautiful mini islands off in the distance. It's postcard perfect, and why you'll see it on many postcards, but it's real. You could call it perfection, because it is.


As for those two islands you see offshore, they're called the Mokulua Islands and they're actually "islets" which is basically a tiny island. The proper name is Na Mokulua which means "the two islands" in Hawaiian but they're most commonly called The Mokes (rhymes with smokes). Learn more about these fascinating islets by reading Mokulua Islands.


It's great for swimming, snorkeling, kayaking, and just relaxing and is one of our favorite beaches in all of Hawaii. The sand here is really unique and fun to play in so kids will love it as well. Lanikai doesn't have any lifeguards, nor does it have any showers or bathrooms so prepare before going! Also, that fun-to-play-in powder sand will stick to you like nothing else when it's time to leave and with no shower that means a powder filled car. Consider buying a small dusting brush to help with that. Or, do what the locals do and bring a jug of tap water to rinse off with.


Lanikai isn't quite as big as it used to be and the story goes like this: Anywhere you have a great beach, ocean, and view you will attract really pricey land sales which leads to expensive houses being built (there are ten million dollar plus houses here). Those house owners build close to the ocean but then need to protect their house and thus they build seawalls to be safe.


Those same seawalls change the wave action a bit and that leads to changes in the way sand gets deposited and moved around and erodes the beach. In the case of Lanikai, there are parts of the beach on the south end where the sand is completely washed away or under water and the beach is completely gone. Will we ever learn? Probably not.


This is important to know because finding parking here is never easy and only available on the street. Even then, you'll see many of the home owners finding clever ways to reduce the parking (planting trees in the way, strategic placement of large boulders, etc). The streets here are one way so you'll drive down to the south end (via Aalapapa Drive) and it will eventually u-turn into Mokulua Drive which will lead you north as you parallel the ocean.


You'll find parking down at the south end and that's because all of the nearby beach access points will drop you into water (literally) rather than a sandy beach. Instead, go passed four T-intersections (after the u-turn, starting from the south end) and then park at the first sign of an open spot (don't block any driveways and watch the no-parking signs and the bike lane). If you pass another five T-intersections you'll be going around again, enjoy! We also suggest trying the side streets after the fourth T-intersection as they may have something open.


Basically, you are hoping to park along Mokulua Drive between Onekea Drive on the southern end of this neighborhood and Kaelepulu Drive on the northern end because the sand beach area is within that range. If you can't find a spot and end up going around the loop again you may have better luck at the far southern end of the neighborhood but then you'll want to walk up Mokulua Drive passed the first few beach access points to Beach Access #6 or lower. Beach access 7, 8, and 9 will all drop you into water without a sandy beach.


Now head towards the ocean, walking north up the street as needed until you spot a beach access point (they are marked with blue signs). Finally, enjoy this most excellent beach!
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Matt Anderson
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sarah r
Joined: Nov 2018
Reviews: 6
Likes Received: 1
I love this beach! Perfect sand turquoise water! There is plenty of shade, Benches. Lifeguards on duty. I bring my dog here as well for any dog owners.
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Lisa R
Joined: Jan 2017
Reviews: 1
Likes Received: 1
Very picture postcard perfect beach! Gorgeous surroundings. The ocean is calm enough for kids, and a nice long relaxing soak for the big kids! Clean enough bathrooms and shower facilities, and you can usually find parking somewhere. Relaxing on the sand is just as nice as frolicking in the ocean. Clean, not too windy, and a stunning view. Perfect for a picnic or BBQ.
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henry p
Joined: Dec 2016
Reviews: 2
Likes Received: 0
This is a postcard Hawaii beach. An absolute must if you are traveling to Oahu. Parking is on the street, bordering the beach. A short walk brings you to white powdered sand and crystal blue/teal waters. Bring an umbrella as there is no shade, but take a camera to share pictures that will be the envy of all back home.
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Matt A
Joined: Feb 2013
Reviews: 790
Likes Received: 106
One of the best beaches on the planet, easily one of the best in all of Hawaii. The only downsides here are the lack of facilities and parking as well as the fact that it gets very crowded here.
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Larissa C
Joined: Nov 2016
Reviews: 6
Likes Received: 0
It is a beautiful beach but it is crowded. When windy, powder sand gets everywhere. Parking has become increasingly difficult as they've recently restricted a lot of areas. Other than that it is definitely a nice beach to visit but in my opinion there are better options out there.
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Greg K
Joined: Nov 2016
Reviews: 1
Likes Received: 0
This once sleepy beach town has become over-crowded with people moving in from the mainland U.S. The large number of military living in the area doesn't help. Being in Lanikai and Kailua looks and feels more like you're in a California beach town or an East Coast U.S. beach town instead of Hawaii. To make matters worse, the recent in flux of Asian, American, European, and Australian tourists (thanks to social media) have crowded the beaches, streets, and hiking trails. While the natural beauty exists, the charm and Aloha of this quaint Windward town is no more.
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Laura W
Joined: Nov 2016
Reviews: 35
Likes Received: 1
Beautiful beach with calm waters. The local homeowners are very unwelcoming in the area and therefore will call the police for any excuse they can find, so be sure to follow all rules and be careful where you park. However, the calm waters and beautiful views make this a must!
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Larry L
Joined: Apr 2016
Reviews: 1
Likes Received: 0
I've been to some great beaches all over the world. This rates among the best. It was small enough not to be crowded, had great views, and we got to paddle out to the islands you see in the distance and even see a large, pregnant monk seal. It is a nice, quiet place that is not to be missed.
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mike s
Joined: Nov 2015
Reviews: 1
Likes Received: 1
The best beach to visit, crystal clear water and breathtaking view. I had a enjoyable time and love this place.
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deborah c
Joined: Oct 2016
Reviews: 21
Likes Received: 0
Breathtaking! You have got to visit. You will never see anything like it in you life. The breathtaking experience will stay with you for a lifetime.
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