You can’t go wrong with any of the fantastic beaches here in Hawaii. With so much sun, sandy beaches in different colors and variations makes Hawaii a popular beach destination. With too many choices beaches to choose from, I asked other writers and travel bloggers to share their favorites of the best beaches in Hawaii. See if your favorite beach is listed below or share it with us below.
The most popular beaches in Hawaii
Top beaches to visit in Oahu
Hanauma Bay in Oahu
Hanauma Bay is one of Hawaii’s most beautiful beaches with stunning turquoise water. It is located on the south east coast of the island of Oahu. It is a fantastic spot to visit when you are travelling with a baby and toddler, with older children, as a couple, or on your own. Hanauma Bay was created from two sunken volcanic craters, and is protected from currents. It is home to a wide range of sea creatures and coral, including Hawaii’s national fish, the Humuhumunukunukuapuaa, and green sea turtles. Hanauma Bay is fantastic for snorkelling off the beach. If you are driving, best to arrive early as the car park fills up quickly. For others, it’s best to either arrive as early as you can or wait until the crowd starts thinning in the mid-afternoon. Hanauma Bay opens at 6am and closes are 7pm during the summer session, and 6pm during the winter session. It is closed on Tuesdays, Christmas Day and New Years Day.
By Clara with Petite Capsule
Turtle Bay Resort
Located on Oahu’s interesting and colorful North Shore is Turtle Bay Resort. Why is it listed as our favourite beach to enjoy in Hawaii? Because it has miles and miles of shoreline with seven different beaches that will cater for almost everyone’s needs.
Keiki is a protected little cove with shallow and calm water and is ideal for the “littlies” in your group. The Tide Pools is also great for the youngsters to splash around in and they can explore the rocks for crabs and seasnails. Stables Beach is another sheltered little cove that is great as a family swimming spot.
If you keep walking you’ll come to Hidden Beach with its sandy shore and a little island just off the coast. Keep an eye out for the Hawaiin Monk Seals that loiter around here.
Kuilima Cove is next to the hotel and is a popular snorkeling spot. Keep an eye out for sea turtles. From Kuilima Cove you can walk the Kings’ Walk which goes the full distance of the shoreline and maybe find a spot where you can settle in for the day. It’s a great sunrise walk also.
Kawela Bay is one of the most secluded beaches in Oahu and located just behind the bay is a beautiful large banyan tree that features in many films. And if it’s a great sunset you’re after head to the Point where you can sit back, enjoy a Mai Tai cocktail or two and watch the sun go down!
Maureen Spencer from So Many Places! So Little Time
If action, atmosphere and ease are essential ingredients in your favorite beach destination, as well as a world class reputation, then you can’t beat Waikiki for the best beach to enjoy in Hawaii.
Waikiki is located in a very central spot close to Honolulu, the capital, on the island of Oahu. It’s easy to visit here from anywhere on the island with great public transport available.
The beach itself is known for its surfing but it’s great for anyone who likes to enjoy nice sand and water and isn’t all big waves. There are many restaurants, shops, water sports and activities on offer right by the beach. There is atmosphere at any time of day and it’s a fun place to be. Of course, the downside of this is this beach is very popular and usually crowded. It’s also very narrow and disappearing in parts thanks to erosion.
My favorite time to visit is in the early morning before it is busy when it has a beautiful stillness about it. I recommend visiting at the Eastern end near Sans Souci Beach Park. Friday nights, you can watch a fireworks show. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday nights, you can watch torch lighting and dancing by Kuhio Beach.
Suzie with Survey Suzie
Waimea Bay on the North Shore
North Shore is one of the best areas on Oahu, one reason in part being Waimea Bay. Golden sand beach, crystal clear waters, and the perfect setting for a number of water and adrenaline filled activities. While many beaches in Hawaii have surfable waves, and waters with great visibility for snorkeling, Waimea Bay has a little bonus for the adrenaline junky— it’s called “The Rock”. Standing around 30 feet above the water, you can easily climb up the backside of The Rock and either do some sunbathing, take in the beautiful views, get a super Insta worthy shot, or take the jump! Surf season is November-February, with waves swelling pretty high. Therefore I wouldn’t recommend attempting jumping during those months. However, during times where waves are moderately small, it can give you quite the rush doing a little bit of cliff jumping! Adrenaline junky or not, Waimea Bay is an extremely beautiful, must-see beach.
Destiny with Appetite for Adventure
Sunset beach on the North Shore
Sunset beach located on the North Shore of Oahu is one of the most popular beaches known with big wave surfing in the winter time. But in the summer, waves are more tame and lifeguards watch and protect the beach area. This mostly beige beach is around two miles long and expansive. The beach scene and water is more flat during the summer season making it feasible for swimming, but it is definitely not swimmable in the winter months when the waves kick up and hosts a variety of surfing competitions like the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing and the Pipe Masters.
Tip – there is not much parking in the area so do go there early or again late in the afternoon to find easier parking in the area.
Check out Noel’s post on visiting the North Shore of Oahu
Lanikai Beach in East Oahu
Probably one of the most popular beaches and family friendly on the eastern side of the island is Lanikai meaning “Heavenly Ocean”. You’ll see a lot of adventure oriented activities including sailing, kayaking, kite surfing, sup boarding and even boogey boards on the beach which is an adventure lovers area. Or you can easily find a nice shady or sunny spot on the narrow but long beach with gorgeous views of the coastline. This is a very family friendly beach with calm waters and shallow in different spots around the beach. Parking is very limited at this popular beach so arrive early or late in the afternoon to snag a perfect park spot and enjoy the day on the beach.
Tip – there are rental companies offering surf boards, kayaks and other water oriented equipment for rent on an hourly up to full day for those that want to have some more fun on the beach.
Noel With Travel Photo Discovery
Waimanalo Beach, Oahu
With everything from snorkelling, scuba diving, sailing, helicopter and hot air balloon experiences, as well as hiking in the hills behind the beach, it’s a place where you’ll never run out of things to do. You’ll find people most days having picnics, fishing, body surfing and stand up paddle boarding.
Photo opportunities are endless, whether it’s of the turquoise water, the vast horizon or the coastline in either direction or the mountains behind the beach, anywhere you turn your camera is a Kodak moment.
What makes it unique is that it’s the longest stretch of sandy beach on Oʻahu (5.5 mi (8.9 km)), and it’s a stone’s throw from the popular Sea Life Park – a marine mammal park, bird sanctuary and aquarium.
Whether you’re enjoying the beach as a couple, with young kids or as seniors, remember to bring a Frisbee with you for fun in the sun.
Perhaps the best part about Waimanalo Beach is that it’s known more as a local’s beach, so you won’t find it overrun with tourists. And the beach comes alive on the weekend with people barbequing and playing beach volleyball, beach games and setting up party tents.
I’d also recommend starting your day with an early morning swim or end it with a late afternoon walk along the beach to cap off your stay.
Matt with Fittness.com.au
Top beaches to visit in Maui
Ka’anapali beach in Maui
With some of the softest white sand you’ll find in Maui, Kaanapali beach is one of the best beaches in Hawaii.
There’s many fun things to do, but here are my favorites:
1. Eat a big bowl of shave ice from Ululani’s at the Hyatt Regency. This is the perfect way to cool yourself down while spending the day at the beach.
2. Rent a cabana at the Hyatt and enjoy a lazy day at the beach. Choose your cabana wisely, the best ones will give you direct beach access!
3. Bring a snorkeling set and go snorkeling at Black Rock Beach. A snorkel set is high on my (free!) printable Hawaii packing list.
Free parking at Kaanapali is limited, but you can park at one of the resorts. To make the best of your day, get there really early in the day or later in the afternoon (like 4pm). Stick around for the torch lighting and diving ceremony off Black Rock when the sun goes down for a cool photo op.
Ale Leon with Sea Salt & Fog
Waianapanapa State Park in Maui
The Black Sand Beach in Waianapanapa State Park is a must see spot on Maui’s Road to Hana. Situated in a little cove enveloped by lush green jungle and flanked by black lava cliffs, Black Sand Beach brings the drama. It contradicts what you’ve come to expect from a tropical beach. Instead of white or yellow, the sand is stark black, made up of ground lava.
This little jewel on Maui is a great spot for exploring. There’s a small lava tube to the right of the beach that opens up into the ocean. To the left, there’s a hiking trail snaking the coast. We spent some time just hanging out on the beach and playing with the unusual sand.
The Black Sand Beach is incredibly popular, so I recommend getting there early. It will be much less crowded, the photos will look better, and the temperature will be much more comfortable.
Masha from Fingertip Travels
Wailea beach in Southwestern Maui
Wailea beach is one of the most popular beaches in Maui. The beautiful beach is three times the length of Waikiki and is the home of 5 luxury resorts including the Four Seasons Maui and the Grand Wailea Resort Hotel. On each end of the beach, there are rocks that make for excellent snorkeling areas where you can easily find large green turtles and many other types of fish and eels.
If you are not staying at one of the luxury resorts on the beach, you can find parking at the south end of the beach south of the Waldorf Astoria Resort. From the beach, you can even see whales during the winter months. The water is relatively calm and at a gentle slope, making it perfect for swimming or relaxing in the water. You can find kayaks rentals, SUP boards, or companies to organize a scuba dive at the beach. In the afternoon the waves pick up slightly making for a fun time to boogie board.
Dan Bagby – HoneymoonAlways.com
Makena or Big Beach
As a complete sun worshipper, who has travelled extensively, I know good beaches. Topping the list for me is Makena Beach on the island of Maui, or as the locals call it… Big Beach.
Maui, in general, is known for its incredible beaches and abundance of watersports, but what sets Big Beach apart from the rest is its distance from the resort areas. It remains protected by the state as Makena Beach State Park.
The park itself includes both Big Beach and Little Beach, the latter I feel compelled to tell you is a nude beach. If you are into that, check it out! Big Beach, however, is 100% family friendly and is, as the name suggests, quite big… 2/3 of a mile of powdery sand to be exact.
If peaceful relaxation is what you seek, visit in the morning, as I find Big Beach begins to get more crowded by the afternoon. That said, it’s rarely too crowded to find a spot.
Once the afternoon rolls around you’ll be happy to know that food trucks line up in the parking lot, ready to serve hungry beachgoers. If you are interested in learning more about my experiences in Maui, check out my 7 Days in Maui itinerary.
Check out Hillary’s post on 7 days in Maui
Top beaches to visit in the Big Island
Hapuna Beach on the Kohala coastline
Always rated as a top beach to experience from many international publications, Hapuna beach on the west side of the island is spectacular and one of the best beaches in Hawaii to visit. With full bathroom services, lifeguard stations, ample parking spots and even a cafeteria, this beach is a local favorite and also very popular with guest from the neighboring hotel on the property beach side. Great for snorkeling, boogey boarding and even surfing, the beach is fantastic for all types of water sports or just walking on the beach.
Tip – popular all day, arrive early morning for easy parking or later in the day when most visitors leave after three. Although the wind does kick up briskly in the afternoon timeframe.
Noel with This Hawaii Life
Punalu’u Beach on the Big Island
Intriguing Punaluʻu beach on the Big Island’s south coast is guaranteed to leave you speechless. The black sand contrasts beautifully with the white sea foam, the deep-blue ocean and the green coconut palms. This inviting postcard setting is the perfect place to spend a few hours absorbing the intense warmth of the black sand. A quick dip is all you need to cool off. However, since the currents can get quite strong – especially near the small boat ramp – this is not the best place to go for a swim. The waterline is dotted with tide pools and you’ll often find Hawaiian green sea turtles (honu) basking in the sun. Remember that these are a protected species so keep your distance and don’t touch these precious animals. Hidden behind the coconut palms of this Hawaiian black sand beach there’s a fresh water pond with a picturesque bridge. Picnic tables and restroom facilities are available at Punalu’u beach for your convenience.
Sarah with CosmopoliClan
The Green Sand Beach or Papakolea
The Green Sand Beach is a beautiful beach on the Big Island where the sand shimmers and looks green in the light. This is due to the green olivine crystals that have washed out of a cinder cone from the Mauna Loa volcano next to the beach. Parts of the beach look greener than others, so take your time walking around and picking up the sand to see how it looks.
You’ll get exercise going here, as it’s a three-mile hike from the parking lot along the coastline to the beach. I recommend coming early in the morning before it gets too crowded to have more of the beach to yourself.
The beach itself is in a small cove, so many people love going swimming here. It’s also a great place to have a picnic, so make sure to pack some snacks and sandwiches in your backpack to eat when you get here.
Check out Marissa’s on a drive around the Big Island
Kua Bay or Manini’owali Beach
Located on the northern end of Kekaha Kai State Park, Kua Bay is a gem of a beach with powdery soft white sand and plenty of look out points to the beach and coastline. This mostly white & salt and pepper colored beach is a local favorite with stunning aqua to blue colored water in striking contrast to the white sand and dark black lava rock coastline. A popular spot for body surfers and regular surfers, the snorkeling is also nice around the rocky areas on the ends and is relatively calm in the early morning timeframe.
Tip – come early morning to get the better parking spots or come later in the afternoon when most visitors start to leave after 3pm.
Check out Noel’s post on things to do on the Big Island with kids
Top beaches to visit in Kauai
Lydgate Beach State Park
Lydgate Beach State Park on Kauai is one of the best beaches in Hawaii, especially if you are visiting with kids! That’s because the beach has two swimming lagoons, each protected from the ocean currents. The larger of the two areas gets gentle, lapping waves and is perfect for splashing and swimming worry-free.
The smaller lagoon is even more protected, getting only the gentlest of waves. It doesn’t get deeper than about 3 feet in this area, making it the perfect place to play if you’re visiting Kauai with a toddler or young child.
This beach has everything you’ll need for a fun day at the beach: BBQs, bathrooms, and plenty of shady palm trees. And in case your children aren’t completely worn out by the end of the day, there is an amazing, enormous playground just across the parking lot, called Kamalani Playground.
Without a doubt, Lydgate Beach is one of the most family-friendly beaches in all of Hawaii!
Dani Ward with Diapers in Paradise
Poipu Beach Park in Kauai
One of my favorite beaches on Kauai is Poipu Beach Park located on the South shore of the island. There are so many fun things to do in Poipu like snorkeling and body surfing. And if you love sea life, Poipu is a great spot to see Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles and Hawaiian Monk Seals! We like to stop by The Shops at Kukui’ula to pick up lunch and then eat it at the beach. Because the beach is on a bay, there are plenty of cute photo spots to get both ocean and beach. It tends to get crowded later in the day, so we always aim to get there after breakfast so we have time to play in the water and relax on the beach before eating our lunch and heading back to our hotel.
Marcie Cheung with Marcie in Mommyland
Tunnels Beach in Kauai
Tunnels Beach is by far my favorite sunset spot in Kauai, and undoubtedly one of the most gorgeous sunset spots in Hawaii. This crescent shaped beach has a dramatic backdrop of mountains and lush jungle, fringed by palm trees. It is the most picture perfect spot to watch a Kauai sunset on the North of the island.
What makes this spot so special is that there is virtually no parking available for non locals. To access the beach, you need to park your car on a side street about a mile away and walk a path to Tunnels Beach. We were virtually alone on this gorgeous beach at sunset time, making for an incredible experience.
Tunnels Beach is a great spot to spot turtles and if you’re lucky Hawaiian monk seals. It is a wild beach so don’t expect any shops around. Bring a towel and a picnic and soak in the most gorgeous Hawaiian sunset over the Na Pali Coast.
Julie with Wandering Sunsets
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