The Hawaiian Islands are home to 750 miles of stunning coastline – putting the island state behind Alaska, Florida, and California when it comes to coastline length. And while among that coastline you will find countless rock formations and sea cliffs, the beaches are what truly matters. On Oahu alone, there are more than 125 different beaches! With so many stunning stretches of sand throughout Hawaii, how can you possibly choose the best ones? Luckily, we’ve done the work for you and came up with a list of 27 of the best Hawaii beaches. Found on six of the main Hawaiian Islands, this ultimate beach bucket list is sure to make your summer simply unforgettable.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Lanikai Beach, Oahu
With powder-soft, white sand, magnificent turquoise, clear water, and swaying palm trees, Lanikai Beach is an absolute paradise – if you can catch the beach during a low-traffic period, that is. You should also check out Lanikai's neighbor, Kailua Beach.
2. Ka’anapali Beach, Maui
Once the vacation retreat of choice for Hawaiian royalty, today Kaanapali is one of the island’s most popular expanses of white sands, surrounded by luxury hotels and resorts.
3. Punalu’u Black Sand Beach, Hawaii Island
Thirty miles south of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is the Big Island’s most famous black sand beach. Fringed with coconut palm trees, visitors may fight themselves basking in the sun alongside Hawaiian green sea turtles.
4. Hanalei Bay Beach, Kauai
This near-perfect semi-circle of white sand is located on Kauai’s north shore and is two miles long, 125 feet wide, and surrounded by majestic mountains. The bay is perfect for water sports of all kinds, and the stunning 300-foot long Hanalei Pier is perfect for fishing – or jumping off for a nice swim.
5. Waimea Bay, Oahu
The famous Waimea Bay is a popular spot for boogie boarding and cliff jumping in the summer, as well as a haven for surfers of all skill levels during the winter months. The iconic bay even plays host to the famous Quicksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational, perhaps the most prestigious event in surfing, that is only held when ocean conditions are perfect.
6. Pa’ako Cove, Maui
Also known as Secret Cove, this small – but gorgeous – stretch of sand nestled between two homes in a southern Maui neighborhood. The cove is a popular spot for wedding ceremonies, but if you arrive early enough, you might have the stretch of sand to yourself.
7. Hapuna Beach State Park, Hawaii Island
Located on the Big Island’s Kohala Coast, Hapuna beach is a half-mile crescent of stunning powder-soft sand and crystalline water. The beach is a popular spot for swimming, snorkeling and body surfing.
8. Poipu Beach, Kauai
Approximately 1,000 feet long and 50 feet wide, this popular beach on Kauai’s southern shore is known for the small boulder breakwater that creates a protected pool-like area perfect for small children. Outside this swimming area are ideal wave conditions for surfers and body boarders.
9. Polihua Beach, Lanai
Located on the northwestern coast of Lanai is Polihua, a magnificent stretch of sand only accessible via a four-wheel drive vehicle. This mesmerizing beach is quite expansive, though often overlooked for more popular beaches.
10. Hanauma Bay, Oahu
Located on Oahu’s southeastern shore, this marine life conservation district was formed from a tuff ring, and is perhaps the island’s most popular snorkeling destinations for tourists and locals alike. And according to Dr. Beach, it is the best beach in America.
11. Kapalua Bay, Maui
With swaying palm trees, golden sand and calm waters, Kapalua Bay is what immediately comes to mind when you imagine the quintessential Hawaiian beach. Situated between two lava points, the bay is known for its tranquil surf, perfect for young children and cautious swimmers.
12. Makalawena Beach, Hawaii Island
Situated on the Big Island’s western shore is this stunning white sand beach with crystal waters, sand dunes, freshwater pools, and a series of secluded coves. The beach is definitely worth the fifteen-minute hike on a lava path from neighboring Kekaha Kai Beach.
13. Polihale Beach, Kauai
This remote, wild beach on Kauai’s western coast is located at the end of a long dirt road off Kuamuali’i Highway. The beach is the largest stretch of sand in Hawaii, and is often overlooked for more accessible beaches despite the fact that it is one of the most idyllic camping spots in all of Hawaii.
14. Papohaku Beach, Molokai
This Molokai beach is almost certainly the closest you will ever get to the deserted tropical island you’ve been dreaming of. Whether you want to get away from the world and relax, or catch some world-class waves, Papohaku seems to go on for miles.
15. Waikiki Beach, Oahu
Waikiki is the biggest tourist destination in Hawaii, and when coupled with the brilliant white sand beach and stellar surfing, you’ve got the best beach in America, according to the Huffington Post. While we don’t necessarily agree that Waikiki is the best, we do think you should check it out once in your lifetime.
16. Ho’okipa Beach, Maui
Boasting some of the best windsurfing waves along the Maui Coast, Ho’okipa is a mecca for water sports. Luckily, if you’re not so adventurous, there is plenty of sand to simply lay out and enjoy the views.
17. Kua Bay Beach, Hawaii Island
Manini’owali, or Kua Bay as it is often called by the locals, is a secluded and small white sand beach located near the Kona airport. The beach is a popular spot for body surfing, or just catching a signature Hawaiian sunset.
18. Tunnels Beach, Kauai
With enticing turquoise waters, a plethora a of sea life, and the mountains of the Na Pali coast behind you, there’s no questioning why Tunnel’s is one of the most popular snorkeling destinations on Kauai.
19. Yokohama Bay, Oahu
Keawa'ula Beach - or as it is commonly known - Yokohama Bay, is the northernmost beach on Oahu's western coast, and is home to stellar surfing during the winter months, and was once a popular hangout for squids.
20. Kaihalulu Red Sand Beach, Maui
This stunning red sand beach on Maui’s eastern coast is one of only a few red sand beaches in the world. You’ll have to access the stunning beach via an overgrown cliff-side trail, and the water is rough, but the views are well worth the effort.
21. Waipio Valley Beach, Hawaii Island
While this Big Island beach is often seen from above at the Waipio Valley lookout, you will need to hike 1.5 miles from the parking lot down to the beach, so you can bet that you’ll be mostly alone once you arrive.
22. Halona Cove, Oahu
Situated between Halona Point and the Halona Blowhole, this small rocky cove is perfectly picturesque, and has been featured in films like Pirates of the Caribbean and 50 First Dates. Despite its Hollywood fame, the only way to reach the stunning cove is via a rocky and slightly steep walk.
23. Makena Beach, Maui
Also known as Big Beach, this gem is situated on the southwestern coast of Maui. Measuring in at nearly two-thirds of a mile, Makena Beach is one of the longest beaches on the island, and hardly ever feels crowded because it is so vast.
24. Hulopoe Beach, Lanai
This picturesque beach, located on Lanai’s southern coast, is the most famous stretch of sand on this small island. This protected beach offers ideal swimming and snorkeling conditions, and, during low tide, the eastern side of the bay is home to several large volcanic rock tide pools full of sea life.
25. Papakolea Green Sand Beach, Hawaii Island
This green sand beach is located near Ka Lae, the southernmost point in the United States. While the secluded beach is tough to get to, it is well worth the journey – where else are you going to experience a green sand beach? Absolutely nowhere.
26. Lumahai Beach, Kauai
With crystalline water, Lumahai beach is one of the most beautiful beaches on Kauai, but is also one of the most dangerous. The steep sand slope creates a strong undertow and powerful waves that break on the sand. The conditions at this picturesque beach are best enjoyed during the summer months.
27. Mokuleia Beach, Oahu
Located on the remote northwestern shore of Oahu, just past Haleiwa, is the secluded Mokuleia beach – the nearest store and restrooms are more than ten miles away. The bright blue water is almost always choppy, and green sea turtles tend to hang out on the shore during the summer. In fact, this beach is so secluded that it was used in filming the first season of Lost.
Which of these stunning beaches is your favorite? Did we miss yours? Share your favorite Hawaiian beaches with us on our
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