From the black sand beaches on the Big Island and Maui’s magnificent red sand beaches to pristine white sand beaches and turquoise waters on Oahu and Kauai, Hawaii is home to some of the most breathtaking beaches in the country – and perhaps even the world. With approximately 750 miles of coastline, the Hawaiian Islands are home to countless incredible beaches, and these are some of the best.
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) Waimanalo Beach, Oahu
Located on Oahu’s windward coast is this phenomenal beach with three miles of sloping white sand, and the seemingly endless azure sea. Hundreds of ironwood trees provide much-needed relief from the sun, and the beach’s picnic tables and grilles make Waimanalo a destination for weekend barbecues.
2) Hanalei Bay, 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.
3) 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.
4) Punalu’u Beach, Big 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.
5) Hulopoe Beach Park, 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.
6) Sunset Beach, Oahu
With gnarly waves in the winter months and calmer surf in the summer, Sunset Beach is located on Oahu’s north shore, and is aptly named – the sunsets from this popular beach are second to none.
7) Lumahai Beach, Kauai
While Lumahai beach is one of the most beautiful beaches on Kauai, it 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.
8) Kaanapali 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.
9) Kua Bay, Big 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 bodysurfing, or just catching a signature Hawaiian sunset.
10) 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.
11) 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.
12) 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.
13) Makena Beach State Park, 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.
14) Papakolea Beach, Big 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.
15) Kailua Beach, Oahu
With powder-soft, white sand, magnificent turquoise, clear water, and swaying palm trees, Kailua Beach is a photographer’s paradise – if you can catch the beach during a low-traffic period, that is. You should also check out Kailua's neighbor, Lanikai Beach.
16) Polihale State Park, 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.
17) 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.
18) Hapuna Beach, Big 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 bodysurfing.
19) 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.
20) Makaha Beach, Oahu
Located just south of Kaena Point on Oahu’s leeward coast is this beautiful stretch of white sand with excellent swimming, bodyboarding and surfing conditions. The west side of the island is often overlooked by tourists, but the hot, dry climate makes it the perfect beach to visit when it’s overcast on the Windward coast.
21) Ke’e Beach, Kauai
Located on Kauai’s Na Pali Coast, Ke’e Beach is perhaps one of the most picturesque beaches on this list. It was also ranked as the sixth best beach in America by the Huffington Post.
22) 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.
Now, obviously, this isn’t a comprehensive list, but I think we’re off to a pretty great start. Which Hawaiian beaches would you add to this list?