It should be no secret at this point that Hawaii is perhaps one of the prettiest places that you can travel to. Not just in the United States, but in the entire world. And a big part of that is its many beaches.
This island archipelago found in the tropics of the Pacific Ocean hosts some of THE most beautiful and iconic beaches on the planet.
Pretty much any corner you go to on these islands, you’re going to find a beach that would easily rank amongst the best in the country anywhere else. Only here, it’s not even in the top 50!
As we said, there are plenty of beaches to find across the Hawaiian islands for yourself. That’s part of the thrill and adventure of coming here, perhaps. Finding these hidden tropical gems for yourself, and making treasured memories with them.
However, not everyone is necessarily into beach-hunting, at least when they first arrive, or on their first visit here.
Sometimes, you need a guide to point you to the best must-see spots, before you start plucking up the courage to start searching for the little ones on your own.
Well, luckily for you, we have just the list for this exact situation!
We have compiled a list of some of the best beaches that you can visit in Hawaii. From Big Island to Lanai, each one has its incredible shorelines for you to experience, wherever you end off choosing to visit.
And while this list is by no means extensive, this is the perfect guide for those first and even second-time visitors to use!
Can I Visit All Of Hawaii’s Beaches?
One of the things that many people might fear if they’re new to the island is that they may accidentally wander onto a private beach without them knowing.
However, this is fortunately not the case, as all beaches in Hawaii (barring a few restricted government areas) are open to the public, so you can explore to your heart’s content!
Best Beaches On Big Island
Three guesses as to where this island gets its name from.
By far the biggest island in the Hawaiian archipelago, Big Island, unsurprisingly, also has the largest amount of shoreline of pretty much any of these islands.
So, expect to find plenty of beautiful seafronts here!
Starting off this guide with perhaps one of the most popular beaches for families and friend groups to visit, we have the beautiful, protected shores of Hapuna Beach.
This particular beach is quite an interesting choice to start with, as it doesn’t necessarily have all of the hallmarks of some of the more iconic beaches in Hawaii.
For instance, the beachfront isn’t a massive stretch of coastline, being a much more cozy half mile in comparison (the fact that half a mile is considered not even particularly long in this corner of the world should be an indication of just how many beaches there are in Hawaii).
However, this is still a pretty large beach that has plenty going for it.
This is the largest white sand beach, for example, which makes for a gorgeous corner to sit back in your lounge chair and recline in, while viewing the warm, sea-green waters of this beach.
That water itself is pretty shallow too for a good stretch, which is what makes it such a popular place for families with small children.
Plus, the rockier outcrops around the edges of the beach help protect it from larger, more extreme waves, making it a great place to learn how to surf and bodyboard.
Plus, at the northern face of the beach, there are even hiking trails for you to explore along the rockier side of the coastline.
Add to that a large picnicking area, restrooms, and showers, and you have an amazing beach on your hands.
Now, if you’re looking for a more secluded stretch of coastline to check out while on Big Island, then you need to see Kauna’oa beach for yourself.
Also known as Mauna Kea beach, this particular piece of tropical real estate is found on the northern side of Big Island and is probably best known for its small horseshoe-shaped bay, a feature that is common to some of the best shallows shorelines in Hawaii.
This particular horseshoe bay is protected even further by many rocky outcrops, and even a coral reef on both sides, making these waters incredibly calm when compared to some of the bigger beaches.
Consequently, this also makes it a phenomenal beach for families and small children that love to paddle in beautiful shallow waters (see also “Most Beautiful Beaches Near Houston, TX“).
And with pretty much the entire beach being enclosed by an array of stunning palm trees, it is no wonder that so many people love this little slice of shoreline paradise!
Plus, the amenities that this beach has to offer to make it very attractive to visitors, with free parking, showers, and restrooms on offer here.
There’s also the Mauna Kea beach hotel is a great hotel that you’ll find on the north side of the beach, where a floodlight show that shows manta rays feeding on plankton in the waters happens after dark.
How could you not want to visit this beach?
Don’t worry, there hasn’t been an industrial accident here on Punalu’u beach. That’s how the sand is supposed to look!
As the name suggests, Punalu’u beach is probably best known for its distinct black/dark sand, where the typical grains have mixed with ground-up volcanic rock, making for a truly incredible sight.
This beach is also a local wildlife hotspot, where both green turtles and hawksbill turtles will lounge on the warm sands, whilst also foraging for food in the nearby coral reefs.
On that subject, this beach has some excellent snorkeling pots for you to check out, as well as just general swimming and surfing that many beaches across Hawaii are famous for.
And with free restrooms, showers, parking, and even a picnic area, it is a very easy place to sit down and relax at.
Just make sure that you have some appropriate shoe wear handy. The rougher lava rocks and hot sand mean that walking barefoot on this beach for too long can be anywhere from uncomfortable to even a little painful.
Moving from black sands to green sands, Papakōlea is a beach that feels weirdly out of place when compared to the other beaches of Big Island, almost like stepping foot on an alien planet.
From the incredibly rare green sand that you’ll find here (one of only 4 green sand beaches), to the cliffs that loom over the shoreline, itself a 50,000-year-old volcanic crater, this is a beach with plenty of geological features for any science enthusiasts, or even natural sightseers, to appreciate.
This is, however, probably the most inaccessible beach on the island, with the parking area being a 3-mile hike to the shoreline.
Plus, the waters around this shoreline can have some pretty rough waves, so make sure that you’re not venturing out too far for the water’s edge.
Still, for hikers and natural explorers, there might not be a better day-out trip than visiting this beach!
Make sure that you pack all your provisions for a visit here, as there are no facilities around the shoreline.
Best Beaches In O’ahu
Of course, Big Island is not the only place with incredible beaches in Hawaii.
O’ahu (home of the state capital of Honolulu), is also renowned for its beaches, with some of them being the most famous in the entire archipelago, as well as some of the state’s most famous resorts and hotels.
Even folks who have never stopped foot on O’ahu will probably be familiar with one o the most iconic beaches in the world!
Waikiki beach has been a hotspot for tourism in Hawaii since the early 1900s before even commercial aircraft were available. People would come by steamboat on a 2 to 3-week voyage from the Mainland United States just to get here!
Still, the sight that greeted them was certainly worth it, and it continues to be to this day.
Being located in the heart of Honolulu, this beach isn’t just gorgeous by itself but is also access to some of the most luxurious resorts in the world, including the Royal Hawaiian hotel that was first built in 1927, as well as some of the finest diners and eateries in the world.
And, of course, that doesn’t even cover the startling beauty of Waikiki beach itself, with a massive stretch of pristine white sand shoreline that looks out into the tropical waters of the Pacific Ocean, with just the right amount of wave activity for some of the greatest surfing competitions in the sport to take place.
Add to that beautiful palm trees by the shoreline, and the diamond head crater as a beautiful backdrop, ad it’s no wonder that so many people go here first for their authentic Hawaiian experience!
Ko Olina somehow manages to be both the complete opposite of Waikiki beach, and yet its soul sister beach. Because while it might not be the hive of activity that Honolulu and Waikiki beach seems to be at first, it is just as friendly a location to visit for tourists.
For starters, the calm waters of this beach that you’ll find on the western side of O’ahu make it perfect for young children to play in, making it very popular among families that visit O’ahu.
Plus, there are also some incredible resorts for you to book yourself into at this beach, such as the Disney Spa and resort Aulani that you’ll find on the island, as well as the Four Seasons O’ahu and Ko Olina resort.
In short, if you’re looking for both calm waves and a luxurious room for your Hawaii vacation visit, this might be one of the best places to go!
Away from the southern tip of O’ahu, you’ll find plenty of beaches that aren’t quite as packed or developed as Waikiki and Ko Olina.
While this may not be to everyone’s tastes, we feel this makes for a beach experience that feels a little more rustic and more authentic.
And there might not be a better example of this feeling than at Waimea Bay on the Northern side of the island.
With more energetic waves, plenty of rocky outcrops, and a dramatic tropical backdrop that this beach is found at, few spots on the islands can match the vibes of these clean beaches.
Those more extreme waves also make this beach a prime location for some incredible surfing locations, with this being perhaps one of the most popular spots for the sport outside Honolulu.
That also includes some of the biggest surfing competitions, such as the Vans Triple Crown contest.
Plus, with more than a few resorts nearby, including the world-famous Turtle Bay resort, so there’s no shortage of places to book into!
We’ve covered the south, the west, and the north of this island so far. So it’s only right that we finish by completing this tropical compass!
Lanikai beach is, like the rest of the island, a place of incredible natural beauty.
The mountains behind the beach mean that it is almost always somewhat shaded in the afternoon, making for some great relaxation spots in a tropical paradise, without the constant fear of sunburn (though keep a generous helping of sunblock on you for good measure!).
Plus, the white sand beaches, coupled with shallows, and calm waters, make it another spot that is perfect for children and families to visit, as well as canoeing and snorkeling. The abundant turtle and reef fish wildlife also help with that latter option!
Plus, thanks to its eastern-facing shore, this beach might just be the perfect place to see some of the most beautiful sunrises in the world, as the sun peaks out over the two islands on the horizon.
This makes it an absolute must-see in the early hours of the morning, if only just for this view!
Is parking a nightmare for this particular beach? True. And the lack of amenities means that you’ll need to bring your snacks. But if you’re on the island, this is a sight that you must see at least one morning while you’re here!
Best Beaches In Maui
When it comes to natural beauty, Maui is an island that is famous for its incredible sights, in an archipelago that is already famous for its incredible natural beauty!
From tropical jungles to the many national parks, to even the active volcanoes, there is so much activity and life grown into the island itself.
And luckily for travelers, that life extends to its shores too!
Probably the most famous beach on Maui, Ka’anapali beach is arguably THE place to go when it comes to beaches on Maui.
With five incredible hotels to choose from, a plethora of world-class restaurants, and one of the best shopping sites in Hawaii, there’s plenty to do, even if you aren’t touching the beach.
But that would be a disservice, both to yourself, and Ka’anapali beach itself, as this is a gorgeous stretch of coastline that is perfect for a sunny vacation getaway!
Perhaps the thing that this beach is most famous for is the daily cliff diving ceremony, where individuals throw themselves off of the 16-foot high Puu Kekaa (also known as Black Rock) into the ocean, which is a tribute to the last Hawaiian King who retained independence from foreign powers, King Kahekili, who enjoyed the sport.
Outside of cliff jumping, you have an incredibly beautiful beach to enjoy, and plenty of snorkeling opportunities around these waters.
There are even two world-class golf courses on the south side of the island!
Of course, not everyone is into the high-profile, high-density beach life of Ka’anapali beach, and is looking for something a little more private to enjoy.
For those people, Oneloa beach is a phenomenal beach to visit, with it being one of the least crowded beaches on the island, despite it being sandwiched between the ever-popular Riz Carlton and Kapalua resorts,
This beach, where the water is calm at least, is a phenomenal place to get some snorkeling practice in, while the rockier eastern side of the bay near Makaluapuna point s a great place to dive and watch the sea life go about its normal activities.
Try and avoid going out when the tide is high, though, as the waters around this beach can be pretty rough at this time. If you’re waiting for the tide to go back out, why not enjoy the nearby golf course or the Kapalua coastal trail nature hike that you can find here?
There’s something for every kind of visitor to do at this beach!
The south side of Maui has plenty of hidden and secluded spots to visit, and perhaps none are quite as impressive as Makena beach.
With a seemingly endless expanse of tropical rainforest behind it, and a beach that stretches for two-thirds of a mile, this stretch of coastline is well hidden if you don’t know where to look.
But once you find it, it will quickly soar up the ranks as one of your favorite beaches in Maui!
Whether you’re looking for long walks, shallow snorkeling, or bodyboarding, this is a fantastic beach for all of the above!
The winds of many of the north shores of the Hawaiian islands make them a tough, yet incredible place for many water sports.
Ho’okipa beach’s claim to fame is just this, with its northerly location making it the perfect place for not just bodyboarding, but also windsurfing too, especially with the air that you can get from these winds!
Best Beaches In Kauai
Kauai might be best known as ‘the garden isle’ thanks to its lush tropical rainforests that stretch across much of the island, but there are still plenty of beaches to find here, especially in the many national parks dotted across the island.
Or the first port (or park, rather) of call on this island, Polihale state park has a phenomenal beach to visit, provided that you have the hiking boots and energy to reach it!
Either that or a 4-wheel drive vehicle. But the point stands, this is a difficult beach to get to, but one that is definitely worth the view.
The western windswept coast is truly a sight to see, with the Napali cliffs and the forbidden island of Niihau off the coast.
With very little shade, however, you’ll want to pack a lot of sunblock cream!
For a shoreline on Kauai, that’s a little calmer, the southern beach of Poipu will be much more to your liking.
With three crescent bays making u[t the majority of the shoreline, this is one of the best places for young swimmers to earn their water wings, as well as practice a little snorkeling on the side!
Add to that easy access from the Grand Hyatt Kauai resort, and you have a very popular spot on your hands!
Best Beaches In Moloka’i
Known for its many natural beauty spots and state parks, Moloka’i’s beaches are a real treat for the eyes!
Also known as the Three Mile beach, this massive beach extends up almost the entire west coast of Moloka’i, and is one of the biggest white sand beaches in the archipelago.
And yet, with tons of shallow water, it is the perfect location for a relaxing day out, and of course, swimming and snorkeling to boot!
Best Beaches In Lanai
Last, but certainly not least, we have the Island of Lanai!
With an incredible golden crescent, as well as easy access to the Four Seasons Resort on the island, it’s little wonder that this is perhaps THE most visited beach on the island!
And there you have it!
Like we said at the top of the article, there are plenty more beaches that you’ll find across these many islands, perhaps even pretty well-known ones.
However, that just leaves even more for you to explore and discover for yourself!
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