Sandy Beach Park

Thrill-seeking and Sunbathing at Oahu's Famed Sandy Beach
Local Expert's Rating:
4 / 5
The Bottom Line:

Beautiful, yet treacherous, Oahu's Sandy Beach is a top spot among daring bodysurfers, who appreciate this location's unique thrills but also place themselves at great risk. That being said, you can have a wonderful time at this beach without ever hitting the water. Stop by for a leisurely day of sunbathing or to enjoy a picnic with a view.

- The Local Expert Team

Few Oahu destinations are quite like Sandy Beach Park, which is extremely popular among adventure seekers. Situated along the South Shore of Oahu, it’s a beautiful expanse of sand that appeals mostly to locals due to its somewhat remote nature. Mention this beach to residents and experienced vacationers, however, and you might get a mixed reaction. The very waves that make this location appealing to some will keep others firmly on the sand — or prevent them from visiting in the first place. 

Sandy Beach Park creates a remarkable shore break and produces impressive bodyboarding conditions. To the point that many iconic visitors go out of their way to hit up this beach. Barack Obama, for example, has referred to this as his favorite beach; his love of this spot is so strong, the Honolulu City Council once considered naming it after the former president.

Often referred to as Break Neck Beach, this location certainly isn’t for the faint of heart. Other than its celebrity appeal, it’s best known as the source of numerous injuries. Novices should steer clear of these treacherous waters, but even experienced visitors have been known to run into trouble.

Seemingly small errors that wouldn’t be a big deal at other beaches can be deadly here. The waves themselves aren’t always the prime source of this danger. Rather, the beach is simply deceptive. There’s a sudden stop, so the water can be extraordinarily shallow as the waves break.

Don’t let this warning stop you from visiting Sandy Beach Park. While bodysurfing is best avoided for all but the most talented surfers — and swimming is an absolute no-no — simply soaking in the sun can be enjoyable. The people-watching is also excellent, particularly when daring surfers hit the waves. If you’re feeling antsy, go for a stroll and take in the lovely views, which are even better at sunrise. 

Locals tend to dominate the beach, making the sandy portion a peaceful escape when you need a break from Oahu’s more touristy areas. The amenities are decent, with public restrooms and showers provided. There are plenty of picnic tables, so you can always enjoy a leisurely lunch. At times, food trucks have been known to stop by. 

If you mainly plan to sunbathe, you’re in luck. Sandy Beach Park is wide open and the sand is very fine. Shade is minimal, however, so you’ll want to arrive prepared with your own umbrella. There is a small grass area where you can hang out if you ever want a break from the vast expanses of sand. 

Sandy Beach Park waters won’t (and shouldn’t) appeal to most. However, this famed destination may be worth a visit if you’re willing to avoid the treacherous waves and focus on the sun and the sand. Take a break from Oahu’s busier beaches and experience a taste of the local thrill-seeker’s life at this South Shore gem. 

Insider Tips:
-Because Sandy Beach Park waters are so dangerous, it’s generally best to avoid visiting this beach at all with young children. While you could technically keep them safe simply by staying on the sand, this can be a big ask. 
-When in doubt, stay out of the water — even if you think of yourself as an excellent bodysurfer or swimmer. If you absolutely feel the need to enter the water, make the most of swim fins and chat with the lifeguards before you start swimming.
-Parking is relatively easy here, especially as compared to other major beaches on the island of Oahu. Visit early and you’ll almost certainly find a place in the lot. Otherwise, there is typically designated street parking available.