Hawaii is famous as the home of over 100 incredible beaches. Whether you’re a resident or a tourist, you probably feel lucky visiting any of them. However, your time is precious, so you should make the most of every opportunity to check out the Hawaiian seaside. The first step is to know the very best beaches in Hawaii!
Best Beaches on the Main Island
1. Hapuna State Beach
Kohala Coast, HI
There’s a reason why Hapuna State Beach is among the most frequently visited on the main island! With shaded picnic areas and calm waters supervised by lifeguards, it’s an ideal place for young families to swim, bodyboard, or snorkel. Due to its popularity, it tends to get crowded, so get there as early as possible.
2. Makalawena Beach
If you’d rather hang out in a quieter and less crowded place, take a 20-minute walk to Makalawena Beach. The reef is easily accessible, so it’s one of the best beaches in Hawaii for snorkeling enthusiasts. Just remember there are no bathrooms, showers, concessions, or lifeguards.
3. Punalu’u Beach
Pahala and Naalehu, HI
Although the currents at Punalu’u Beach are usually strong, you may find it worth visiting for its striking black sands and exciting green turtle sightings. Check with the lifeguard before swimming to see if the currents are safe. If they aren’t, consider a breathtaking hike near Ninole Cove!
4. Manini’owali Beach
Anyone looking for a little thrill will love Manini’owali Beach. In the winter, it’s one of the best beaches in Hawaii for surfing, thanks to its sizeable waves. The snorkeling is excellent year-round, too. Lifeguards, showers, and bathrooms will keep you safe and comfortable.
5. Kahalu’u Beach Park
Kahalu’u Beach Park is another option that snorkelers should prioritize; there are green turtles, tropical fish, sea urchins, and other creatures constantly around the coral reefs. When you need a break, go to the bathrooms, showers, restaurants, or education center situated within walking distance.
6. Spencer Beach
Known for its exceptionally soft sand, soothingly still waters, shady picnic areas, and gorgeous hikes, Spencer Beach is regarded as one of the best beaches in Hawaii for families. It’s also close to the Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site, where you’ll find a temple that Kamehameha I constructed in 1791.
7. Kamakahonu Beach
Maybe you’re interested in snorkeling or scuba diving, but you don’t know where to start. Luckily, Kamakahonu Beach boasts a shop where you can pay for gear and lessons. You can also get a motorboat or kayak. The sugary sand, calm water, and various restaurants make it popular with young families, too.
Best Beaches on Kauai
8. Ke’e Beach
North Shore Kauai County, HI
With its abundance of coconut palm trees and stunning mountains, Ke’e Beach is one of the best beaches in Hawaii if you want beautiful scenery. There’s plenty to see underwater for snorkelers, too, as a wide variety of tropical fish make their homes in the coral reefs.
9. Anahola Beach
Young families need safe places to swim, and Anahola Beach is one of them. The waves are small, some of the water is shallow, lifeguards are on duty, and the shade is perfect for picnicking and relaxing. Plus, there’s a campground so that you can stay in this little slice of paradise for your whole trip!
10. Lydgate Beach
Lydgate Beach may not be the only family-friendly beach in Hawaii, but it stands out for its quiet pools ringed by rocks. You and your small children can enjoy the ocean view and pretty fish without the risk of getting pulled farther into the water by the waves. But a lifeguard is there, just in case!
11. Po’ipu Beach
For travelers who want a balance of activities and opportunities in one place, this is one of the best beaches in Hawaii. Po’ipu Beach is divided into two bays; one provides the shallow, tranquil waters that are perfect for young kids and beginner snorkelers while the other has more exciting waves for surfers and seasoned snorkelers. Plus, monk seals like visiting the sandbar!
Best Beaches on Lanai
12. Hulopo’e Bay Beach
Lanai City, HI
The soft sand, bright blue water, elegant palm trees, and picnic areas alone all make Hulopo’e Bay Beach worth checking out. For animal lovers, however, the main point of attraction might be the chance to see turtles and dolphins! The beach is a prime option for snorkelers and surfers, too.
13. Manele Bay
Lanai City, HI
As a marine preserve, Manele Bay offers shallow water perfect for kids and new snorkelers. However, there are also deeper areas where you can dive or go fishing. There’s plenty of space for picnicking as well. The beach is fully equipped with showers and bathrooms.
Best Beaches on Maui
14. Ka’anapali Beach
Although it’s the most popular beach on Maui, Ka’anapali Beach is so vast that it always feels spacious enough for everyone. It’s one of the best beaches in Hawaii for snorkeling and green turtle sightings, but you may also love the thrill of jumping from the 16-foot-tall cliff called Black Rock.
15. Makena Beach State Park
At the Makena Beach State Park, you get two of the best beaches in Hawaii for the price of one! The park contains Big Beach and Little Beach, both featuring clear horizons, long stretches of sand, black lava cliffs, and serene atmospheres.
16. Napili Beach
You’ll find spectacular sunsets throughout Hawaii, but Napili Beach is especially noted for them. If you want to feel closer to a romantic partner, this is the place for that. Additionally, you might see some green sea turtles while swimming or snorkeling along the reefs!
17. Honokalani Beach
Thanks to a blanket of lava pebbles, the sand on Honokalani Beach looks dramatically black, which is why it’s also called Black Sand Beach. When you’re not swimming or bodyboarding, check out the sea caves on the cliffs lining the shore. The entire beach feels like an adventure!
18. Wailea Beach
You might get the chance to meet a celebrity at Wailea Beach! It’s so well-respected as one of the best beaches in Hawaii that A-list celebrities have long been known to visit the area and stay at the nearby Four Seasons. Even if you don’t spot someone famous, you’ll be in awe at the view.
19. Baldwin Beach
The dazzling Baldwin Beach has everything you need for a fun day out with friends and family–barbecues, pavilions, showers, bathrooms, and shallow water pools for small children. There are also lifeguards on duty to help you feel safe.
Best Beaches on Molokai
20. Kamalo Wharf Beach
Molokai isn’t known for having particularly swimmable waters, but Kamalo Wharf Beach is an exception. You can swim all year round and go scuba diving when the water is tranquil. There’s a fantastic view of the Mt. Kamakou volcano, too.
21. Kapukahehu Beach
Located in a cove cradled by mountains, Kapukahehu Beach is regarded as one of the best beaches in Hawaii because of how safe it is for children and tourists. Not only can you swim freely in the gentle waves, but you can go fishing! It’s also called Dixie Maru Beach because of the nearby Japanese boat wreck of the same name.
22. One Ali’i Beach Park
The water at One Ali’i Beach Park isn’t clear enough to accommodate swimmers and snorkelers, but the locals regard it as a great fishing spot. Plus, if you have a permit, you can camp there and let the kids explore the huge lawn space while you soak up the sun.
Best Beaches on Oahu
23. Waikiki Beach
Maintained with tourism in mind, Waikiki Beach is famous as one of the best beaches in Hawaii. It’s equipped with jetties and roped sections that keep the waters safe and easy for swimming. Numerous hotels, resorts, and stores line the shore for your convenience.
24. Sandy Beach
While not far from Waikiki, Sandy Beach is quieter and slower-paced. The formidable waves are a draw for surfers, but former President Obama is also a fan and often visits when he takes trips to Hawaii, so you might see him there! It’s also a great place to sample the local food truck fare.
25. Waimea Bay
North Shore, HI
You know that Waimea Bay is one of the best beaches in Hawaii because it was brought up specifically in the Beach Boys’ hit song “Surfin’ USA.” It boasts excellent waves for surfing, reaching 20 to 30 feet tall in the winter. Lifeguards are there to ensure safety, and food trucks offer local cuisine.
26. Lanikai Beach
With its gentle waves, there’s no shortage of things to do at Lanikai Beach. You can go kayaking, windsurfing, sailing, and snorkeling, all in a beach tucked away from busy city life. Walk there if you can, as the beach is in a residential area, so parking can get complicated.
27. Turtle Bay
True to its name, Turtle Bay is famous for attracting numerous green sea turtles. You can see them while doing any number of fun water activities from swimming or snorkeling to kayaking or bodyboarding on the moderate waves.
28. Kailua Beach
Frequently touted as one of the best beaches in Hawaii as well as the whole world, you must see Kailua Beach at least once. The beach itself is exquisitely lovely, but it’s also got a variety of shops, restaurants, and other activities worth exploring throughout their 35-acre park.
29. Hanauma Bay
Who would have thought that an extinct volcano could rank among the best beaches in Hawaii? Though you must follow a strict set of rules to protect its environment, Hanauma Bay is worth the effort with its vast biodiversity, providing an ideal experience for snorkelers.
30. Waimanalo Beach
It’s true that Waimanalo Beach promises modest waves for bodyboarders and bodysurfers in addition to splendid scenery. However, the nearby Waikiki Prince Hotel will waive your resort fee, give you a five percent discount, and let you stay a fourth night for free if you participate in the Malama Hawaii sustainability initiative and do something helpful for the local environment.
31. Ko Olina
The alluring Ko Olina Beach is open to anyone, but it was built for the tourists staying at the nearby hotels and resorts, especially the Disney-owned Aulani. With its charm and cleanliness, you’ll feel young and rejuvenated by making this beach part of a Disney-themed vacation.
32. Pokai Bay Beach
Wai’anae and Kane’ilio Point, HI
If you’re bringing a furry friend, then go to the Pokai Bay Beach! It’s one of the best beaches in Hawaii for dogs, thanks to its gentle currents and shaded grass. Just keep your dog on a leash and prevent them from swimming out too far.
What to Bring to the Beach
All the best beaches in Hawaii will amaze and entertain you, but preparation is the key to optimizing your experience. Before heading to your beach of choice, make sure you pack every item on this list!
Planning to spend a nice, long day at one of the best beaches in Hawaii? You’ll need food and drinks to stay energized and hydrated. To keep them from spoiling or tasting bad, store them in a cooler filled with ice.
No trip to the beach is complete without towels. You can stretch out on top of them while basking in the sun and use them to dry off after a swim. They can also serve to mark your spot on the beach or lay out your other belongings.
If you have difficulty getting comfortable on towels, then folding chairs would be worth bringing as well. Not only can you sit easily in them, but if they have pockets and cup holders, you’ll have no trouble keeping your drinks, snacks, and other supplies within reach.
Umbrellas or Canopies
The best beaches in Hawaii have access to direct sunlight. Though it feels warm and wonderful, it may also compromise your vision or burn your skin. Umbrellas and canopies can help with that by offering shade. They’re effective as placemarkers for your things, too.
Even the biggest umbrellas aren’t enough protection on their own. To protect your skin from burns, take as much sunscreen as you can carry with you. Apply it as soon as you get to the beach, then reapply it every two or three hours.
First Aid Kit
Sharp rocks, broken glass, spoiled food–lots of things could hurt you unexpectedly, even at the best beaches in Hawaii. Keep a first aid kit with bandages, ointments, disinfectants, gauze, over-the-counter pain medications, and similar items so that you can quickly treat minor injuries.
Not sure where to get all this equipment? Here are some brands I advise:
Relax at the Best Beaches in Hawaii!
Armed with knowledge about all the best beaches in Hawaii, you’re ready to enjoy the islands the way they should be enjoyed! If you’re wondering what else you should know about the most magnificent places in the United States, we’ve got you covered. Have a look around our website for more inspiration!