Episode 89: Exploring the Top 5 Beaches in Hawaii: Uncovering Hidden Gems, Sustainability, and Essential Travel Tips
Ready to uncover the hidden gems of Hawaii’s beaches? Let your wanderlust be fulfilled as we take you on a journey to explore the top five beaches in the Aloha State!
Planning a trip to Hawaii? Have any questions? Join our Hawaii’s Best Travel Facebook group here now! It’s the perfect place to ask any questions and to be inspired!
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This post gives general info and isn’t legal or authoritative advice. It helps travelers with tips but can’t replace personal abilities, fitness, experience, or local knowledge. Marine activities have risks; assess conditions and follow local laws.
1. Ka’anapali Beach
Embraced as Maui’s signature beach, Ka’anapali Beach stands out with its expansive golden sands, clear waters, and fantastic snorkeling conditions. Bryan dives into the history of this beach, once a retreat for Hawaiian royalty, and the resorts that now line its shores.
2. Oahu’s North Shore
For the surf enthusiasts out there, Bryan heads next to Oahu’s North Shore, a world-renowned surfing mecca. He talks about the beach’s vibrant surf culture, monstrous winter waves, and the quintessential laid-back Hawaiian lifestyle it fosters.
3. Lanikai Beach:
Lanikai Beach is a hidden paradise in Oahu, known for its postcard-worthy turquoise waters and powdery white sands. Bryan explores its serenity, the breathtaking views of the Mokulua Islands, and why it’s one of the best spots for sunrise in Hawaii.
4. Punaluu Black Sand Beach
Adding a unique twist to the episode, Bryan moves on to Punaluu, one of Hawaii’s most exotic beaches. Its striking black sand, formed by basalt lava, creates a stark contrast against the azure Pacific waters. He delves into the unique ecosystem here, where you may spot a Hawaiian green sea turtle basking on the beach!
5. Waikiki Beach
Finally, no Hawaiian beach tour would be complete without the iconic Waikiki beach. Bryan takes a look at the bustling energy of this beach nestled amidst the heart of Honolulu. He shares insights into its world-class resorts, vibrant nightlife, and myriad water sports opportunities.
So grab your sunscreen and let us be your guide to Hawaii’s best beach experiences, while also sharing some essential safety tips and eco-friendly practices to ensure your vacation is nothing short of amazing!
- Episode 70 – How to Volunteer in Hawaii
- Episode 55 – How to Travel Responsibly to Hawaii
- Episode 56 – Hawaii Island’s Pono Pledge
- Episode 35 – 5 Things to Not Do in Hawaii
- Episode 34 – A Local’s Guide to Ecotourism
- Episode 18 – 5 Things to Know Before Your Trip to Hawaii
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- Join our Hawaii’s Best Travel Facebook group here now! It’s the perfect place to ask any questions and to be inspired!
Best Beaches in Hawaii
[00:00:00] Bryan Murphy: Hawaii has some of the most incredible beaches in all the world, so it was really hard to narrow down a list. Of just five to give you guys. But today on Hawaii's best, we're gonna give you the top five beaches in Hawaii. Aloha. Welcome to ha Hawaii's best here. You'll learn what to know before traveling as we discover Hawaiian culture, local businesses.
[00:00:24] And the experiences that make hav Hawaii one of the most incredible places in the world. And now your host Brian Murphy. You know here on Hawaii's Best, we explore Hawaii's best experiences businesses, and we get to hear the story from the people behind them to stay up to date on future episodes. I want to encourage you to hit that subscribe button and drop a review and a rating below that helps other people who love Hawaii just like you be able to find this conversation.
[00:00:54] Well, like I mentioned today, we are talking about Hawaii's top five beaches, and this was [00:01:00] super hard to try to narrow down, but I think we did a pretty good job. I wanna share with you just right at the top what those five beaches are. Some of em you've probably heard of, maybe some you haven't, in no particular order.
[00:01:14] We placed him as Kana Poly Beach in Maui, north Shore, Oahu, number two, Atlantic on Oahu number three. Phu beach on the big island as number four, and of course number five, Waikiki Oahu as number five, number one. So number one, Kali Beach, Maui. Basically kind of Nepali Beach has everything. It's kind of like Waikiki.
[00:01:44] So if you've been to Waikiki and you kind of know what it's about, you can learn how to surf, you can sign up for sailing, snorkeling, boat excursions, kayaking, luau, surf lessons, all that stuff, right? What's really cool about Kali is that you [00:02:00] can do all that there, but it doesn't have the huge crowds. As Waikiki does.
[00:02:06] Now, Kana Poly is kind of a stretch where there's a lot of hotels and, and spas, uh, resorts and whatnot, but it's not as crowded as Waikiki. You still have the tourist vibe and all that stuff and those amenities, but you can also do some of those things that, uh, Hawaii is known for, obviously amazing surf water.
[00:02:27] And the amazing beach when we're hanging out the West end. Really cool about Kano Poly is that right across the walkway from the resorts is the beach as compared to like Waikiki. You gotta cross a street in order to get over to the beach. Right on the beach are the resorts. So that's kind of a cool thing.
[00:02:47] So if you're on Maui, you're definitely gonna want to check out Kana Poly Beach. It's on the west side. Tons of places to stay. There. Definitely a tourist kind of resort location. It also gives you great views of Maui. [00:03:00] When you think about Maui, you think about, um, you got Molokai and you have Lehi staring out.
[00:03:07] From Kana Poly Beach, and this is also an epic place to do some whale watching. So if you're on Maui, definitely check out Kana Poly Beach on the west side.
[00:03:20] Number two. Number two, north Shore Oahu. If you're looking for like world class waves, north Shore Oahu is a place to go. So it's a, it's a seven mile beach. That hosts some amazing wave competitions during the wintertime. So to really see the North shore in all his glory, um, huge waves and the surf competitions, really, it's gonna happen between the months of November and February are the best times to catch some of the big wave surfing.
[00:03:47] Now these waves can be massive, like up to 30 feet or more. And it's even dangerous for experienced surfers. So it kind of goes without saying if it looks crazy, if it looks gnarly, don't go out. And just kind of a rule [00:04:00] of thumb, I'll reference this later on in the episode. Um, just kind of some tips when going to the beaches in Hawaii, because they are definitely different than probably some of the beaches that you may be used.
[00:04:10] Used to always go to a beach that has a lifeguard posted. And another tip is, To never turn your back on the ocean. The ocean and the waves in Hawaii are a bit unpredictable and a wave could just, uh, sneak up on you and just kind of face, plant you into the sand. So just be always cautious and have fun, but just be safe as well.
[00:04:32] What's really cool about the North Shore is that from like May to September, the waves have subsided and. What was an incredible, like surf paradise of these huge waves turns into this tranquil atmosphere of, uh, you can still surf, but it's also a bit more safer to go out and and swim. So, no, Oahu, it's about an hour drive from Waikiki.
[00:04:55] It's a beautiful drive. You go up the, uh, the Winward side, the, the east side of the [00:05:00] island, or through the middle of the island, especially if you're going up H three, that drive is incredible. There are a couple ways to get up to the North Shore from Waikiki, and along the way, you're gonna find some really cool spots to, to stop in local spots to, uh, to get a bite.
[00:05:15] What I really love about the vibe of the North Shore on Oahu is the vibe and the pace of it all, especially when you're coming out of Waikiki Honolulu. It feels like LA in Paradise and it's kind of, it is kind of this juxtaposition, which is pretty interesting. But when you get to the North Shore, it feels like, ah, this is Hawaii.
[00:05:35] This is what people talk about. So you gotta experience it, especially if you're staying on Oahu. Make sure you, you check out the North Shore. Forest beaches, but also just for its incredible atmosphere and vibe up there.
[00:05:49] Number three, so maybe if you're going up the east side of Oahu, You're gonna wanna stop at Lanai and Lanai. You've probably [00:06:00] seen. If you follow Hawaii's best on Instagram, hawaii's dot best. You probably see us posting a lot of shots of these two eyelets, these two little islands of this beach. And the beach is lanie.
[00:06:10] It is probably one of the most pristine beaches. Turquoise water, pristine sands, calm waves, you know, tropical plants and coconut trees. The whole thing, like when you think about Hawaii and a beach lanky, is pretty much the poster card version of a Hawaiian beach. It's no coincidence that it's called Lanai because Lanai translates to Heavenly Ocean.
[00:06:36] It's such a fitting name for such a beautiful place. Those islands that are off the shore, those two islands, they're called a Moua Islands, and you can actually go on a kayak tour to those islands, and that's a epic. I haven't done it, but I, I know, uh, my wife has, and it's, it's such a awesome. Journey just to, to get out there and to get back.
[00:06:58] But it's totally doable [00:07:00] and it's, um, it's super fun. Number four. So traveling over to the big island of Hawaii. This is the probably most famous black sand beach. It's called Pol Luu Beach, and it also is home for, um, endangered green sea turtles. This beach is one of the few areas that the turtles choose to lay their eggs.
[00:07:25] So if you happen to come across a turtle, You have to keep your distance and let them be. But to take in the beauty of this nature and this incredible creature, it's something that is pretty rare because sea turtles almost never hang out on the beach and only, there's only several species of green sea turtles that do this, and this happens to be one of the few locations.
[00:07:48] Uh, really on, um, entire globe. And like I mentioned, you come across a sea turtle. Just a few tips. Never touch a turtle. That probably goes without saying, never feed the turtles, but most [00:08:00] importantly, enjoy these beautiful creatures because seeing these incredible sea turtles, Out on the beach is probably like a once in a lifetime opportunity, so enjoy that moment if you happen to come across it.
[00:08:11] So kind of back to the beach, Honolulu is a black sand beach and it's an expansive and easily accessible beach. It's a great place to go for a swim, a snorkel, or a hike, camping. You have to have a permit though if you're gonna camp there, or to stop for a picnic. Now, one thing to keep in mind, if you do go for a swim, You're gonna wanna be careful because there can be strong currents at times.
[00:08:33] So always bring water shoes, especially on a black sand beach because it can get hot pretty quickly. I mean, because it is small fragments of lava so it can get hot. It can also be painful to walk on. Having some water shoes is definitely a good way to still enjoy the beach, but also to not hurt yourself at.
[00:08:53] At the same time. So win-win. And finally, number five. [00:09:00] Now back over to Oahu, number five to wrap up this list. And you can also go to the show notes. And I've also linked my block coast where you can see even more of Hawaii's best beaches because again, there's just so many and it was hard to choose five.
[00:09:13] But number five is gonna be Waikiki Beach, and that's on the island of Oahu. It is Honolulu's most popular beach. You've probably heard of Waikiki. It was once kind of a playground for Hawaiian royalty. And when you step on Waikiki, you can see why. I mean this Hawaii sand beach, you have diamond head crater in the background.
[00:09:32] It's that iconic Hawaii pitcher like you've seen on the postcards. I'm looking at it right now. Uh, I have this Hawaii poster in my office and that's, uh, that happens to be the pitcher. So back, uh, let's see a little history lesson here. Back in the 1880s, a few small hotels opened up there and one of the first beach resorts there was called Sanchi.
[00:09:54] I think I'm pronouncing that correctly. It's, it's French for without worries. [00:10:00] Really since the beginning of hotels and homes coming to Waikiki back in the 18 hundreds, those homes and those hotels, they were built, you know, way too close to the natural shoreline. Since then, if you, if you're on Waikiki, you probably see, you know, there's sea walls, there's um, there's some erosion.
[00:10:17] You know, even some of the sand gets brought in from other islands like Molokai, where some sand actually gets, um, gets shipped over. To fill in some of the sand there on Waikiki, but Waikiki is one of those places you gotta do it. I mean, you have to experience it at least, at least once, right? Just to like, just to say, I went to Waikiki and I got to experience the beach that everybody talks about, but.
[00:10:41] Personally, I can only take Waikiki so much. I mean, it is crowded, lot of tourists there and that's totally fine. Like when I talked to people and they only stayed around Waikiki Honolulu area, their only impression of Hawaii was was that Hawaii is so much more than Waikiki, [00:11:00] Honolulu, diamond Head. I mean, those are all incredible places and you gotta experience it at least once.
[00:11:06] But to really explore the islands, You're gonna need to get out there and you're gonna need to get lost a little bit because Hawaii. Is meant to be discovered. Hawaii is meant to be enjoyed and treasured. There's something special about getting out into nature and there's something special about hiking somewhere and experiencing a view that was earned because of the hike.
[00:11:31] You can't get that in Waikiki, but you gotta experience it at least once, right? So, I hope this list has helped you. I do wanna leave you guys with a few just reminders and tips when it comes to ocean safety, because this stuff is, is super important when it comes to swimming in the beaches of Hawaii.
[00:11:49] Like I mentioned, always go to a beach that is staffed by lifeguards. If you're from Southern California. The waves and the way the water acts is completely different [00:12:00] than in Hawaii. It can get pretty scary pretty quickly. If you're not paying attention, like I mentioned, never turn your back to the ocean and always look for posted beach hazard radi size.
[00:12:13] You know, growing up here in, in Southern California, you go into a beach like Huntington, you see some of the hazard raising rating signs like, you know, um, blackball or whatever. And you kind of roll your eyes a little bit. Like, okay, yeah, yeah, don't go out, whatever. But the surf and the beaches in Hawaii, you have to heed those warnings and those closures like, like for they're there for a reason.
[00:12:36] It's unfortunate hearing some of the stories about how people will get in trouble and get stuck. During the wintertime, there's always lifeguard rescues, especially on the north shore of professional experienced surfers. So that should tell you something to enjoy it, but always cautiously enjoy and be on your toes when you, when you step into the water.
[00:12:54] And also, I gotta say, as a reminder to always pick up your trash. So whatever you bring with [00:13:00] you, I know it sounds pretty elementary, but you'd be surprised at how many beach pickups there are and how much trash there is at some of these beaches. I mean, it takes an effort and it takes organizations to come in and clean up the beaches and to do our part, to do your part.
[00:13:15] Simply just throw your trash away. If you enjoy Hawaii and you enjoy vacationing there and you enjoy your experience there. To do your part and just simply pick up your trash. And on top of that, if you listen to the episode, episode, um, 0 21 with Garrett from Maui Brewing Company, we talked a lot about plastic water bottles, and that's another thing to be mindful of.
[00:13:40] I know it's tempting to as soon as you land to go ahead and, you know, go to a big box store, get a big pallet of water bottles and use that for your vacation. But maybe next time bring a reusable water bottle. Maybe just get a large jug of water. Use that to refill your water bottles instead of just using a [00:14:00] bunch of little plastic water bottles that all needs to go somewhere.
[00:14:03] It is an island. So just to keep that in mind. So I hope that this list of top five beaches really has helped give you an idea of what to expect on your next stay on the island. So if you found any value in this episode, I would just ask you to let us know in the ratings below. Leave a review and go ahead and hit subscribe.
[00:14:23] That helps other people be able to find. This conversation all about Hawaii. And again, thank you so much for joining us today on Hawaii's Best, and until next time, be well. Aloha
[00:14:36] Mahalo for listening to this episode of Hawaii's. Best to stay up to date on future episodes. Please subscribe and visit us at hav Hawaii's. Best travel.com.[00:15:00]
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