10 Best Beaches in Hawaii

For a group of small, closely spaced islands, Hawaii’s beaches come in a great range of possibilities. Hawaii has more than just beaches of every type of sand imaginable, waters of every shade and waves as gentle or as powerful as you would want them. Large areas of Hawaii’s beaches are untouched by development, too. If you’re looking for the most special of Hawaii’s beaches, this list has the most important ones.

1. Hanauma Bay

Hanauma Bay

Hanauma is a pretty, nearly enclosed bay that is home to a great diversity of marine life. Its beauty is so well-known that it has attracted thousands of visitors each year for decades, an onrush that has placed its marine life at risk. Strict visitor limits have been put in place since 1990 to protect the beach. If you’re interested in exploring the sea life Hanauma, you need to arrive early.

2. Lanikai Beach

LanikaiWith its sheltered waters, the waves at Lanikai are far quieter than elsewhere in Hawaii. Clear waters, dense foliage and wide, powdered sugar sands make Lanikai one of the top spots in all of Hawaii for swimming. The beach has been often ranked among the world’s best beaches to visit. Lanikai is overcrowded on weekends, especially during the winter and summer seasons, so if you are planning to visit the beach, do it during the weekdays. Since Lanikai Beach has the two islands in the background – the Na Mokulua – it’s a perfect place for photographers.

3. Hamoa Beach

The Hamoa beachThe Hamoa beach is right behind the Travaasa Hana hotel, and is maintained by it. The beach is frequented by body boarders and body surfers in winter. In summer, swimmers come in for its unique salt-and-pepper sands. The waters of this beach have strong undertow, though. The Hamoa beach is a family-friendly beach too, but make sure you check ocean conditions before visiting it.

4. North Shore

North ShoreFor those who like challenging wave actions, the beaches of North Shore offer muscular action. The 7-mile beach with its 30-foot waves is home to the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing, beginning November each year. Between May and September, though, the waves quiet down, making North Shore a swimmer’s paradise. If surfing isn’t your cup of tea, keep reading, there are many fantastic Hawaii’s beaches to consider…

5. Kailua Beach Park

Kailua Beach ParkFor kite-surfers, wind-surfers, kayakers and swimmers, the windy stretch of Kailua Beach Park is the perfect spot to hit. With ocean sporting equipment rentals conveniently close by, the beach attracts vast throngs of visitors over the weekends. Kailua is also popular among romantic couples looking for perfect little beach weddings.

6. Poipu Beach

 Poipu BeachPoipu has a quality that isn’t often seen in beaches on Hawaii – its shallow waters are quiet enough for even children and learner swimmers. Poipu is incredibly popular among tourists. It was once ranked by Travel Channel the best beach in all of America.

7. Hanalei Bay

The island of Kauai Hanalei BayFor stunning visual beauty, the beaches of Hanalei Bay feature at the top of any list of beaches in Hawaii. The beautiful semi-circle of Hanalei Bay on the North Shore of Kauai would be perfect even if its pure, white sand beaches were all it had. Its stunning backdrop of emerald mountains and crystal waterfalls, though, make the beach ethereal in its beauty. Hanalei Bay has every kind of water sport imaginable, too.

8. Punalu’u Beach

The Big Island Punalu'u BeachBordered by lush green forests, Punalu’u, on the Big Island, is most famous for its black sand beaches. For nature lovers, it’s an excellent place to spot turtles as they come in to nest. Punalu’u is excellent for experienced swimming and snorkeling, too. Since the swimming area is rocky, this beach isn’t recommended for new swimmers.

9. Kauna’oa Beach

Kauna 'oa BeachKauna’oa is a sheltered crescent that offers perfect crystal waters. It boasts rich history and friendly people. This beach is extremely popular for its lack of crowds. This isn’t a contradiction – unlike other beaches, Kauna’oa has a crowd control policy. No more than 25 people are allowed on the beach at any given time. To get in, it’s best to arrive early. The Mauna Kea Beach Hotel is a great, historic hotel to stay at.

10. Honaunau Beach

Honaunau Beach

Some of the most breathtaking beauty in Hawaii is found underwater, right off its beaches. With hundreds of colorful, native species of sea life, snorkeling, scuba diving and reef diving are popular activities. The Honaunau beach was once named the best beach in America and it’s no wonder why.