There are few places on the planet with consistent gentle rolling surf ideal for beginners and waves big enough to satisfy the pros. The ease-right-in temperature of the ocean makes it hard to resist spending time floating Dead-Sea-style. For a quick and cheap flotation device, head to an ABC store and spend the $5 on a raft or tube. We have been using the same pink and green rings for a few years, we deflate them at the end of the trip and spend $2 to have them blow them back up next time we visit. From the Hilton Hawaiian Village at the north end to the New Otani Kaimana Hotel at the south, the entire stretch of white sand is two miles long and with four distinct areas. Starting on the south end of Waikiki, Kaimana Beach, also called Sans Souci (named for the first hotel in Waikiki), is located between the War Memorial Natatorium and the New Otani Kaimana Resort. With plenty of room on the sand, and showers on the grass, this protected beach is a great spot for families.
Queens’s Surf Beach located in Kuhio Beach Park and near Honolulu Zoo and the Waikiki Aquarium, is known for bodysurfing, swimming, snorkeling and surfing. It gets its name from Queen Liliuokalani's beach home, which was located here.
Next is Kuhio Beach, known for the jetties that create shallow calm waters ideal for kids. My teenage girls still love to come here to catch the tiny fish on the shoreline or let them nibble their toes. This stretch is ideal for swimmers who aren’t as comfortable with waves and deep water.
The only two private spaces on Waikiki are in front of the Moana Surfrider and Royal Hawaiian Hotel, called Kahaloa and Ulokou. By private, this means there are sectioned off areas up from the water for lounge chairs and umbrellas otherwise the beach is open to everyone. Here you'll find catamaran charters and plenty of people.
Fort DeRussy Beach Park is the widest swath of white sand fronting Fort DeRussy Park, near the military Hale Koa Hotel. There are plenty of shady spots on the grass, volleyball courts, beach rentals, showers and public bathrooms.
Kahanamoku Beach, named for Duke Kahanamoku, who many consider the father of surfing is a manmade section of beach and lagoon fronting Hilton Hawaiian Village. Atalantis Submarines launch from here.
Hans Hedemman Surf School offers lessons and rentals. If you are staying for a week opt for the package here.
Waikiki Surfboard Rentals offers SUPs and surfboards for all levels at great prices.