If there is a single thing that Hawaii is best-known for, it is most definitely beaches. Hawaii is home to some of the best beaches worldwide, including family-friendly swimming and surfing spots. Sure, everyone knows the beaches in Hawaii are the best getaway locations, but which one should you try out first? Making a decision on which Hawaiian island has the best beaches is a difficult task. From swimming paradises to golden sand shorelines, here is our list of the top 20 Hawaiian beaches you should try out:
20. Kumimi Beach (Molokai)
Popularly known as the 20 Mile Marker Beach or Murphy’s Beach, Kumimi Beach features some of the greatest snorkeling spots on the island of Molokai. The beach has calm and crystal clear waters to offer you a refreshing dip. You can also opt to swim at high tides to view the spectacular scenery of the diverse Hawaiian sea life. However, it is advisable to swim close to the shore, especially when the water starts becoming rough. According to Travelandleisure, two miles beyond the beach, you will find a small ample parking area with a perfect lookout point. Are you a fishing enthusiast? Then you should make your way to Kumimi Beach.
19. Kaanapali Beach (Maui)
Kaanapali Beach is a five-star resort destination situated on the stunning Maui Island. This beach is best known for its daily cliff diving ceremony, where thrill junkies jump off a 16-foot Black Rock (Puu Kekaa). This ceremony honors Maui’s last independent king, King Kahekili. Here, you also enjoy world-class restaurants and plenty of high-end shopping joints such as the Whalers Village Mall. After a day of thrilling activities in the water, you can enjoy Maui’s breathtaking scenery offered by the beach guides.
18. Waimea Bay (Oahu)
Located on Oahu’s famous North Shore, Waimea Bay is a historical global surf destination. According to Travelchannel, the Waimea Bay is well-known for the thrilling experience of surfing 30-foot waves that emerge from the bay. The surf is calm during summer, providing the best conditions to enjoy diving, cliff jumping, and snorkeling. You will also enjoy a 1.5-mile round trip hike in Waimea Falls Park, which will lead you to one of the best waterfalls in the state – the 45-foot Oahu waterfall.
17. Oneloa Beach (Maui)
If you are looking for a private retreat, you should visit Oneloa Beach, which is known as Ironwood Beach. It is one of the least crowded beaches situated next to the Kapalua and RiCarlton Resort. When the water is calm, you can go swimming or diving. At the north end of the beach, there is a golf course where you can enjoy your favorite golf sport. You can also make your way to the Kapalua Coastal Trail to get a better ocean view.
16. Mauna Kea Beach (Big Island)
Also known as Kauna’oa Beach, Mauna Kea Beach is one of the picture-perfect beaches in the state. During summer, the water is usually calm, providing ideal conditions for snorkeling or exploring the coral reefs along the beach’s southern end. Your stay at the Mauna Kea Beach is not complete without checking out the evening manta ray show, where you will get to view the mysterious sea creature from the “Manta Ray Point” lookout.
15. Hookipa Beach (Maui)
Hookipa Beach is the ideal location for picnicking, beach walking, sunbathing, and kite surfing. In the evenings, you will view the spectacular scenery of the Hawaiian green sea turtles swimming up to the shore. According to Nextishawaii, the Hookipa Lookout provides a perfect spot to view the island’s breathtaking beauty and has portable bathrooms. Nearby, you enjoy your favorite meals at the Mama’s Fish House. Hookipa Beach is known for hosting various world-class competitions such as the Aloha Classic and the Red Bull King of the Air.
14. Lanikai Beach (Oahu)
Lanikai Beach, also known as Heavenly Ocean, is considered one of the most beautiful beaches on the island. In addition to its miles of calm water and fine white sand, it provides the perfect spot for kayaking, paddle boarding, and swimming. The beach features a wide array of tropical coral and fish for you to explore. Kick start your morning by trying the one-mile hike that will provide you with gorgeous views of the Koolau coast, Kailua town, and Lanikai Beach.
13. Hulopoe Bay (Lanai)
Listed as one of America’s best beaches, Hulopoe Bay is the ideal destination for snorkeling, surfing, swimming, and diving. According to Lonelyplanet, the bay features crystal clear waters, pearl-white sand, and the Four Seasons Resort Lanai that offers picnic tables, showers, restrooms, and barbecue grills. Just 15-20 minutes southeast of the tide pools, you get to view the legendary 80-foot Puu Pehe, one of the island’s landmarks.
12. Poipu Beach
The Crescent-shaped Poipu Beach is best known for its crystal clear waters and silky golden sand on Kauai Island. It features two distinctive crescents separated by a tombola (Nukumoi Point), providing ideal conditions for swimming and snorkeling. Poipu Beach is the perfect getaway location for a family fun beach day as it offers picnic facilities, showers, and lifeguards. This beach is popular for its Hawaiian monk seals, often found on the beach.
11. Hanauma Bay (Oahu)
Hanauma Bay is a natural preserve home to some of the island’s best sea and coral life. About a thousand years ago, a volcano erupted and led to the formation of this perfect crescent-shaped bay enclosed by large ocean walls. The bay features about 300 different Hawaiian fish species. A Hanauma Bay Snorkeling Half-Day tour offers you top-quality snorkeling activities for half a day. You can also try out the scenic hiking tour along the Koko Head Crater trail that will lead you to a viewing platform to get a clear view of the Makapu’u Lighthouse trail, Diamond Head crater, and other amazing sceneries on the island.
10. Waikiki Beach (Oahu)
Waikiki is among the most famous beaches in Hawaii and around the globe. The beach is best-known for its two-mile stretch of golden sand partitioned into eight sections, with each section offering exciting activities and vibes. The beach is the perfect location for surfing, snorkeling, sand combing, swimming, boogie boarding, and viewing the gorgeous Waikiki sunsets. You can also book snorkeling and sailing tours offered at the beach to explore the amazing views of the Waikiki skyline. Waikiki Beach also features the best world-class oceanfront restaurants, where you can enjoy your favorite meals and even try out various new dishes offered on their diverse menus. Waikiki Beach is popularly known for the submarine ride to explore the island’s sea life.
9. Punaluu Beach (Big Island)
Located between the towns of Naalehu and Pahala in Kau town, Punaluu Beach is one of the state’s most well-known black sand beaches. This beach is one of the few destinations around the globe where you can view the large green sea turtles and the endangered Hawksbill turtles. During summer, the beach provides ideal conditions for snorkeling and swimming when the water is calm. In addition to the crystal blue water, tall coconut palms, and jet black sand from an old lava flow, the beach is located near the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.
8. Napili Bay (Maui)
Napili Bay is popularly known for its crystal-clear waters, abundant coral reefs, miles of golden sand, gorgeous sunsets, and gorgeous sunsets, and endangered green sea turtles. Located on the southwestern edge of Maui Island, Napili Bay is the perfect family getaway location due to its ideal conditions for snorkeling, paddle boarding, and swimming. Nearby is the Seahouse Restaurant, which provides beachfront dining and delicious cuisines. For a more luxurious experience, you can book a room at Napili Kai Beach Resort, Outrigger Napili Shores Resort, or Napili Sunset Beachfront Resort.
7. Kalaupapa Beach (Molokai)
On the isolated Kalaupapa Peninsula, you will find Kalaupapa Beach and Kalaupapa National Historical Park. This destination is preserved by some of the world’s highest sea cliffs, which are only seen when on an airplane from Kalaupapa Airport, hiking tour, or mule ride. The beach is home to humpback whales, green sea turtles, monk seals, and a large variety of fish. You can also visit the nearby Kalaupapa National Historical Park to learn more about the island’s historical significance.
6. Manini’owali Beach (Big Island)
Manini’owali Beach, also known as Kua Bay, is popularly known for its white sand beach. During summer, you enjoy fun water activities such as snorkeling, diving, and swimming. During winter, the beach provides ideal conditions for surfing and bodyboarding. There is also a world-class restaurant nearby that offers showers, picnic tables, a parking lot, restrooms, and barbecues. If you love watching wildlife, you will get to watch the spectacular view of the turtles and dolphins.
5. Lydgate Beach (Kauai)
According to Go Hawaii, Lydgate Beach is one of the most family-friendly beaches in the state. The beach is popularly known for its double-sectioned pool, enclosed from both sides. The inner part of the pool provides ideal conditions for children wading, while the outer part is for snorkeling and swimming. Nearby, you will see the remains of the legendary Hauola sanctuary for Hawaiians who broke taboos. The beach is also home to a wide variety of tropical fish.
4. Polihua Beach (Lanai)
Are you looking for a more secluded getaway location? Then you should visit Polihua Beach. To get there, you will drive through four miles of rough and unpaved road, approximately a half an hour drive away from the legendary Garden of the gods. The beach is popularly known for its 1.5-mile pristine golden sand extending to the northwest coastline, allowing you to stroll, sunbathe, enjoy a picnic, and beach comb. During summer, when the water is calm, you can enjoy snorkeling, surfing, or swimming at the beach. There is also a designated lookout to view the Diamond Head crater.
3. Wailea Beach (Maui)
Wailea Beach is best-known for its stunning ocean views and extensive white sandy beaches. For a more luxurious experience, you can book a room at the Four Seasons Resort and the Grand Wailea Resort Hotel & Spa. If you are lucky, you will see the spectacular view of the humpback whales. The beach also offers ample parking spots, showers, and restrooms.
2. Hanalei Bay (Kauai)
Located between the Wai’oli River to the west and the Hanalei River to the east, Hanalei By is the largest bay on Kauai Island. This two-mile perfectly crescent-shaped bay has also been a favorite Hollywood movie destination that was featured in the South Pacific and Descendants. The Hanalei Bay also features the prestigious Black Pot Beach Park, a famous joint for local camping home to the legendary Hanalei Pier, whose origin dates back to 1892. You can walk on this historic pier, getting a better view of the island’s magnificent tropical mountains and other breathtaking views. During summer, the bay has ideal conditions for sailing, paddling, and swimming in the calmest waters. During winter, Hanalei Bay becomes the perfect location for thrill junkies who love riding on the huge rough waves of the Kauai beach.
1. Waimanalo Bay (Oahu)
Located in the southeastern corner of Oahu Island, Waimanalo Bay is one of the state’s best tourist locations mainly due to its powdery soft white sand, turquoise waters, and towering ironwood trees. Nearby, you will get to view the majestic Koolau Mountains. The bay is also home to the small blue jellyfish (Portuguese man o’ war), but be cautious as it can cause an extremely painful sting.
Written by Liz Flynn
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