The Ultimate Guide to the Best Beaches in Hawaii

by | Jul 29, 2023

Discover the Best Beaches in Hawaii

Planning a trip to Hawaii and unsure where to start with picking the perfect beach?

Believe it or not, all of Hawaii’s beaches are public and absolutely beautiful! This comprehensive guide is your passport to finding the very best beaches across Hawaii’s stunning islands, tailored for every taste.

So let’s dive in – I hear the beach calling!

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Information Disclaimer: This website gives general info and isn’t legal or official advice. It helps travelers with tips but can’t replace personal abilities, fitness, experience, or local knowledge, which you are fully liable for. All activities have risks; assess current conditions and follow local laws and signage.

Key Takeaways

  • Hawaii’s beaches are all public and stunning, offering a wide range of activities for every taste.
  • Some top beaches in Oahu include Waikiki Beach for its iconic stretch of golden sand and excellent water activities, Ko Olina Beach Park with its calm lagoons perfect for families, and Waimea Bay known for its thrilling winter waves.
  • Polihale State Park on Kauai offers a remote beach experience with stunning views of the Napali cliffs, lush green mountains surround Hanalei Bay and provides calm waters ideal for swimming, and Po’ipu Beach Park has crystal-clear turquoise waters perfect for snorkeling and wildlife sightings.
  • Lanai features Hulopoe Beach with its crystal clear waters, pristine white sands, and spinner dolphin sightings – it’s a true paradise on earth.

Best Beaches in Oahu

Oahu houses some of the most emblematic beaches in Hawaii. Waikiki Beach, for example, is celebrated for its extensive golden stretches and prime surfing opportunities.

Another notable location is Ko Olina Beach Park, which offers pristine lagoons that are perfect for swimming. Additionally, there’s the famed Waimea Bay Beach Park, widely known for its thrilling winter waves for experdienced surfers.

Waikiki Beach

Waikiki Beach, nestled in Oahu, captivates millions annually with its iconic 2-mile stretch of golden sand and remarkable Pacific and Diamond Head views.

best beaches in hawaii - waikiki beachIts calm waters are a playground for family-friendly water activities, including swimming, surfing, and paddleboarding.

Just steps away from the beach is pulsing with shopping hotspots, eclectic dining spots, and vibrant entertainment options.

This beach offers not just sand and surf but close-to-hand amenities like showers, restrooms, parking, and easy access to numerous hotels such as the famous Royal Hawaiian.

From hosting grand events to being an embodiment of Hawaiian leisure culture, Waikiki stands tall among Hawaii’s numerous picturesque beaches.

Ko Olina Beach Park

Nestled on the island of Oahu, Ko Olina Beach is a haven for families and beach enthusiasts seeking calm and clear blue waters. This is one of our favorite spots as a family on the west side of Oahu.

Its proximity to resorts like Aulani Disney Resort & Spa adds to its appeal, providing visitors with easy access after a fun-filled day at the attractions.

best beaches in hawaii - ko olinaThe shallow water makes it ideal for children to swim, while exciting water activities like snorkeling entice adventure seekers.

Please note, that there are typically no lifeguards on duty.

Ko Olina’s grassy picnic area is an excellent spot for picnics while taking in panoramic ocean views.

Spotting turtles and monk seals are common in this area.

After building up an appetite from all these activities, refuel at one of many nearby food. Our favorite spot is Monkeypod Kitchen! The new Mekiko Cantina is also pretty good.

This peaceful slice of paradise offers stunning scenery and an immersive experience into Hawaii’s abundant marine life and leisure culture.

Waimea Bay Beach Park

Renowned for its big-wave surfing during the winter months, Waimea Bay Beach Park is a gem nestled on Oahu’s North Shore. This popular beach destination draws families with its calm summer waters. It offers adventurous activities like snorkeling, kayaking, bodyboarding, and surfing.

It’s not unusual to spot turtles and monk seals lounging lazily on the shoreline. The park also has some handy amenities such as picnic areas, showers, restrooms and a playground.

Those looking for a bite can head to nearby food joints that cater to all palates.

Waimea Bay encapsulates Hawaii’s serene surf culture with stunning views spanning mountains and ocean vistas brewing around every corner.

Waimanalo Beach

Waimanalo Beach, a hidden gem nestled in Honolulu’s District of Koʻolaupoko, Oʻahu,

Beloved by both locals and tourists for its unspoiled natural beauty, this beach is renowned for its sparkling turquoise waters and tranquil environment, providing an idyllic setting for peaceful retreats.

Situated on Oahu’s windward or eastern side, south of Kailua and Lanikai beaches, it neighbors the stunning Waimanalo Bay Beach Park & Recreation Area, a lesser-known yet breathtakingly beautiful beach spot.

Waimanalo Beach truly offers a serene and naturally beautiful Hawaiian experience.

RELATED PODCAST: Top 5 Beaches in Hawaii

Best Beaches in Kauai

  • Polihale State Park offers a remote and untouched beach experience with its long stretch of pristine golden sand.
  • Hanalei Bay is nestled between lush green mountains and boasts calm waters perfect for swimming and paddleboarding.
  • Po’ipu Beach Park is known for its crystal-clear turquoise waters, white sand, and opportunities to spot Hawaiian monk seals lounging on the shore.

Polihale State Park

Polihale State Park, located on Kauai’s western shore, is a picturesque beach that offers stunning views of the Na Pali cliffs. This secluded destination is perfect for visitors seeking a tranquil and peaceful beach experience.

With its expansive stretch of golden sand and crystal-clear waters, Polihale State Park is truly a hidden gem in Hawaii. The beach’s backdrop of towering cliffs adds to its unique beauty, making it an ideal spot for nature lovers and photographers alike.

Whether you’re looking to relax under the sun or explore the rugged coastline, Polihale State Park should be on your list of must-visit beaches in Hawaii.

Hanalei Bay

Hanalei Bay is one of the top destinations in Kauai for beach enthusiasts.

This stunning bay is known for its tropical forests and reefs, creating ideal beaches for snorkeling. It is often featured alongside other famous beaches in Hawaii, such as Waikiki Beach and Punalu’u Black Sand Beach.

Hanalei Bay offers breathtaking coastal views and is a prime spot for whale watching. With its crystal-clear waters and lush surroundings, it’s no wonder that Hanalei Bay attracts visitors looking to experience the best of Kauai’s natural beauty.

The bay’s calm waters are perfect for swimming, kayaking, and novice bodyboarding during summer.

And when winter arrives, experienced surfers flock to Hanalei Bay to ride its challenging waves.

Po’ipu Beach Park

Po’ipu Beach Park, located on Kauai’s southern shore, is a standout destination among the best beaches in Hawaii.

This popular beach attracts swimmers, surfers, and snorkelers alike with its calm waters and vibrant marine life.

Families can enjoy the designated children’s area and use amenities such as restrooms, showers, picnic areas, and lifeguards for added safety.

Po’ipu Beach also offers stunning natural scenery with cliffs and tropical vegetation.

Visitors can witness wildlife sightings like Hawaiian monk seals and sea turtles while exploring colorful fish and coral reefs during snorkeling adventures.

Plus, with picturesque sunsets adding to its charm, Po’ipu Beach holds a special place for romantic walks or capturing memorable photographs of your Hawaiian vacation.

Best Beaches in Maui

Maui offers stunning beaches for swimming, whale watching, and relaxation. Don’t miss out on the beauty of Makena Beach, Wailea Beach, Hamoa Beach, and Kapalua Bay!

best beaches in hawaii - big beach maui

Makena Beach

Makena Beach, also known as Big Beach, is one of the largest and most stunning beaches in Maui. Its soft golden sand and picturesque tropical forest backdrop offer the perfect setting for long walks and swimming.

This beach is frequently featured in aerial views that showcase its beauty and is often considered a dreamy Maui resort for a Hawaiian vacation.

However, it’s important to note that Makena Beach is known for its rough waters, so swimmers should exercise caution.

Nonetheless, the stunning mountain views add to the romantic atmosphere of this beach, making it an ideal location for a Hawaii honeymoon or simply enjoying a day in paradise.

Makena Beach represents just one of many incredible beaches included in our Ultimate Guide to the Best Beaches in Hawaii, which highlights the diverse landscapes, colors, and activities offered by these unique coastal destinations throughout Oahu, Kauai, Lanai , Maui , Molokai , as well as The Big Island.

Wailea Beach

Wailea Beach stands out among the best beaches in Maui, known for its stunning beauty and pristine waters. It is synonymous with luxury and relaxation, making it an ideal destination for beach lovers looking for a peaceful and enjoyable experience.

Wailea Beach offers clear turquoise waters perfect for swimming and whale watching. With easy public accessibility, visitors can easily access this beautiful beach and indulge in its natural splendor.

Whether you’re planning a romantic getaway or a family vacation, Wailea Beach provides the perfect backdrop for creating lasting memories.

Hamoa Beach

Hamoa Beach is a must-visit destination for beach lovers in Maui. Its stunning beauty and calm waters offer the perfect swimming and whale watching spot along the famous Hana Highway.

What makes this beach truly special is its secluded location, providing a peaceful and private atmosphere for visitors to enjoy.

Surrounded by lush greenery and breathtaking views, Hamoa Beach is easily accessible and attracts many tourists looking to experience the beauty of Maui’s beaches. With its clear blue waters and soft golden sand, it’s no wonder that Hamoa Beach is considered one of the best beaches in Hawaii.

Kapalua Bay Beach

Kapalua Bay Beach, located in Maui, is a stunning beach mentioned as one of the best beaches in Hawaii. With its clear blue waters and pristine sandy shores, Kapalua Bay offers a picturesque setting for beachgoers.

The bay is surrounded by luxury resorts, creating a serene and relaxing atmosphere for visitors.

It’s a beautiful spot to relax on the sand and an excellent location for swimming and enjoying water activities.

As part of the overall experience of exploring the best beaches in Hawaii, Kapalua Bay solidifies its status as one of the most beautiful beaches in Maui.

Best Beaches in Lanai

  • Hulopoʻe Beach Park offers crystal clear waters, pristine white sands, and a chance to spot spinner dolphins – it’s truly paradise on earth. Don’t miss out on exploring this hidden gem in Lanai!

Hulopoe Beach Park

Hulopoe Beach, located on the island of Lanai in Hawaii, is a paradise of pearl-white sand and crystal clear waters.

As part of the Ultimate Guide to the Best Beaches in Hawaii, Hulopoe Beach offers a luxurious experience with its stunning Four Seasons resorts.

But it’s not just about relaxation and luxury here – visitors can also spot spinner dolphins at this beach.

Being part of a marine protected area, Hulopoe Beach boasts rich marine life, making it perfect for snorkeling and swimming.

And if you’re up for some exploring, don’t miss out on the tide pools that dot the beach. With beautiful ocean views and surrounding landscapes, Hulopoe Beach is worth adding to your list when visiting Lanai.

Polihua Beach

Polihua Beach is a hidden gem located on the island of Lanai in Hawaii. This secluded beach offers breathtaking views and a serene atmosphere, making it the perfect spot for relaxation and solitude.

One of the highlights of Polihua Beach is its association with the Ultimate Guide to the Best Beaches in Hawaii, showcasing its natural beauty and allure.

Visitors can expect to see spinner dolphins frolicking in the crystal-clear waters while enjoying stunning vistas of Molokai Island in the distance.

With its remote location, Polihua Beach remains untouched by crowds and commercialization, offering visitors a unique experience away from bustling tourist areas.

Accessible only by 4×4 vehicle or mountain bike, this lunar-like landscape is worth the adventure for those seeking tranquility amidst nature’s wonders.

Beaches in Hawaii Island

Hawaii Island, also known as the Big Island, features volcanic landscapes and white-sand beaches, including the unique Punalu’u Black Sand Beach.

best beaches in hawaii - black sand beach

Hapuna Beach State Park

Hapuna Beach State Park, located on the Big Island of Hawaii’s Kohala Coast, is a popular destination for families and beach lovers alike.

Its soft white sand and calm shallow water offer the perfect conditions for swimming and snorkeling.

The beach also attracts surfers of all levels with its gentle waves. Hapuna Beach is known for its stunning turquoise water and picturesque views, making it a favorite spot for sunbathing and relaxation.

Amenities such as restrooms, showers, picnic areas, and ample parking make it convenient for visitors to enjoy their day at the beach.

And with nearby luxury resorts and a beautiful coastline surrounding the park, Hapuna Beach State Park truly offers an unforgettable experience in paradise.

Kauna’oa (Mauna Kea) Beach

Kauna’oa Beach, also known as Mauna Kea Beach, is one of the stunning beaches on the Big Island of Hawaii. This horseshoe-shaped bay is renowned for its calm waters and vibrant coral reefs, making it a haven for swimming and snorkeling enthusiasts.

Located on the volcanic landscapes of Hawaii Island, Kauna’oa Beach offers visitors a unique experience with its white-sand beach and crystal-clear turquoise waters.

Known for its beauty and accessibility, this beach is not to be missed when exploring the best beaches in Hawaii.

Punalu’u Beach

Punalu’u Beach, located on Hawaii Island, is a must-visit destination for beach lovers. This black sand beach is unique because of its volcanic landscapes and pristine white-sand shores.

It is known for its stunning beauty and frequent visits by green sea turtles, allowing visitors to observe these remarkable creatures up close.

So whether you’re looking to relax on the black sand or catch glimpses of marine life, Punalu’u Beach offers an unforgettable experience in Hawaii.

Wrap Up

In conclusion, Hawaii’s beaches offer something for everyone, from sunbathing and swimming to surfing and snorkeling. With its stunning landscapes, crystal-clear waters, and vibrant marine life, Hawaii is truly a paradise for beach lovers.

Whether you prefer the bustling shores of Waikiki or the secluded tranquility of Molokai, there is no shortage of breathtaking beaches to explore in this tropical paradise. So grab your sunscreen and mai tais and get ready for an unforgettable beach vacation in Hawaii!


Which Hawaii island has best beaches?

Oahu. Renowned as “The Gathering Place,” Oahu is the island haven for some of Hawaii’s most legendary beaches, which features the globally recognized Waikiki Beach, the picturesque Lanikai Beach, and the serene Sunset Beach. Waikiki Beach, noted for its breathtaking views of the Diamond Head volcanic cone, is not just a favorite among Hawaii’s offerings, but also ranks as one of the most frequented beaches on the globe.

Which Hawaii island has the clearest water?

Kauai. Among the Hawaiian Islands, Kauai stands out, presenting some of the most pristine and transparent waters the Aloha State has to offer.

What beach in Hawaii is best for swimming?

Lānaʻi, an island revered for its Hulopoʻe Beach, boasts a stunning landscape of vast golden sands meeting deep azure waters, earning it a spot among the top-rated beaches in the United States. With its crystal-clear waters teeming with a rich variety and plentiful quantity of marine creatures, it presents a perfect location for enthusiasts of swimming and snorkeling.

What are some of the best beaches on the Big Island?

Some of the best beaches on the Big Island include Waikiki Beach, Hapuna Beach, and Punalu’u Beach.

Where is Waikiki Beach located?

Waikiki Beach is located on the south shore of Honolulu, the capital city of Hawaii.

Which beach on the Big Island is known for its white sand?

Hapuna Beach, located on the Big Island, is known for its stunning white sand.

What is the best beach on Oahu?

Lanikai Beach is often considered one of the best beaches on Oahu, known for its crystal-clear turquoise water and picturesque views.

What is the most popular beach in Maui?

Kaanapali Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Maui, known for its golden sand and pristine waters.

Are there any black sand beaches in Hawaii?

Punalu’u Beach on the Big Island and Waianapanapa State Park on Maui are famous for their unique black sand.

Where is Papohaku Beach located?

Papohaku Beach is located on the island of Molokai, known for its long stretch of white sand and beautiful sunsets.

Which beach in Hawaii offers some of the best sunsets?

Sunset Beach on the North Shore of Oahu is renowned for its breathtaking sunsets.

What is the best time of year to visit the beaches in Hawaii?

The best time to visit the beaches in Hawaii is during the summer months, when the weather is warm and the water is calm.

Bryan Murphy

Bryan Murphy

Bryan Murphy, owner of Hawaii’s Best Travel, is a certified Hawaii destination expert from the Hawaii Visitors Bureau. He actively participates in the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau as a member and has a strong educational background focused on local culture and sustainability. As the host of “Hawaii’s Best Travel,” a top-30 US travel podcast, Bryan combines his years of experience with valuable insights. He connects with a broad online community, reaching nearly half a million people, and offers a richer, more responsible way to experience Hawaii.