You’re headed to the Hawaiian Islands, but you’re not too sure which beaches would be the right fit for you and your family. When it comes to the best beaches of the islands, many factors come into play. There are less-crowded beaches, bustling beaches, some with watersport activities, some by many restaurants — it all goes into what makes a beach the best.
Luckily, Hawaii is full of an array of different types of beaches. If you’re having a hard time trying to find out which ones are the best of the best among all of the islands, don’t worry. We have curated a list of the 15 top beaches on the islands!
On the east side of Kauai lays a secluded beach ideal for sunbathing and relaxation. Ninini Beach is the perfect beach, not always for swimming, but for lounging around while you look at the beautiful views that are Kauai. When the tides aren’t too bad, this beach is great for swimming, snorkeling, and bodysurfing. So, grab your boards and hop in! Note that there aren’t any lifeguards at this pristine watering area, however.
On Kauai’s north shore, you’ll find your own private oasis they call Kepuhi Beach. You’ll rarely find crowds hanging around at this beach, but that’s part of its draw. This beach is a fun snorkeling adventure when the waters are calm, but it’s more so known for its seclusion. Take a stroll, read a book, or have a picnic!
See the surfers and bodyboarders along the waves at Wailua Beach. Another one ideal for its peace away from the crowds, this beach is miles of sand with the wind often brushing against your hair. If you want a better-lifeguarded beach, you can head over to Lydgate Beach Park (safer swimming conditions,) however, this beach sure is worth the trip and has stunning views in each direction.
The second most popular beach in all of the Hawaiian Islands (right behind Waikiki in Oahu), you’ll find this crescent-shaped beach hard to not love. Dock your ship or boat to the Hanalei pier, grab some shade underneath the pine trees, and get your surf on at Hanalei Beach. There is plenty to do at this hot Kauai spot, and you’ll definitely feel why this one has made it on the list.
Makena Beach State Park
Makena Beach is also known as Big Beach and is known to be one of the more popular along the Hawaiian Islands. This beach is also known to be one of the longest beaches of Maui, hence the nickname. Multiple lifeguards are scattered along this beach as well, so feel free to swim safely and ride along the waves. Interested in snorkeling? Great! Makena Beach is also wonderful for snorkel activities – just always use caution as sometimes the water conditions can be dangerous. Fun fact, Little Beach is close by and people often use it as a nude beach (even though regulations are against it.)
Baldwin Beach Park
Get your boogie boarding on at Baldwin Beach Park. You’ll find yourself strolling along the shoreline of this north shore beach park and looking out into the beauty of Maui. Lifeguards are present here, so feel free to hop into the water and go swimming or kite surfing. This beach is a dream for all watersports activities. If you aren’t interested in splashing along the water, enjoy the pavilion and gather with some friends.
Snorkeling like you wouldn’t believe, Honolua Bay is full of tropical fish and color! Swim out some ways from the rocky coastline and murky waters — because that’s where all of the best fish-viewing spots are. In the winter, this beach is a surfer’s paradise. Catch a wave or watch the professionals do their thing. This spot is also great if you get a little hungry on your beach vacation — keep an eye out for food trucks and eats!
The south shore of Oahu has the most popular beach among all of the Hawaiian Islands. Waikiki Beach truly has a mix of everything that you need. It’s ideal for swimming and even surfing! Sunbathe and get everything you need along this hot beach. What’s great about this beach as well is that it’s close to everything. If you’re wanting to head to the zoo or the aquarium after, it is a short distance to those attractions. Waikiki Beach is also full of nightlife. Go shopping, see live music, and take in the essence of Oahu.
The must-go-to beach for surfers in Oahu, Waimea Bay is located on Oahu’s north shore and brings waves of fun. This beach is stunning, but it’s more than just the views that will keep you coming back. You can swim, surf, snorkel, swim, and fish at Waimea Bay. The waves can get pretty intense sometimes, though, so exercise caution and keep a look out for the lifeguards on duty.
Big Island of Hawaii
Hapuna Beach State Park is one of the most spectacular beaches on the Big Island of Hawaii. This beach is located along the Kohala Coast and offers opportunities to swim, snorkel, and bodyboard. This beach is spacious and perfect for families who want to enjoy all that Hawaii has to offer. There are also hiking opportunities by this beach, truly letting you see the different sides of Hawaii’s nature.
Manini’owali Beach (Kua Bay)
Head to Manini’owali Beach and admire the lava rocks against the ocean water. This beach offers the beautiful contrast of the pristine waters and sand without the heavy crowds of other beaches. Although it is known to be a little tricky to get to this beach, and there is almost no shade – it is still in competition for one of the best white sand beaches on the island. Swimming here can be quite a delight, but watch out when the waves are a little more aggressive than usual.
Punaluu Beach/Black Sand Beach
One of the best black sand beaches of Hawaii, look out for Punalu’u Black Sand Beach. Truly unforgettable, you’ll love strolling along this beach and taking in the unique beauty of the black sand meeting the ocean waters. You will not want to swim here, though, for it isn’t the best swimming conditions on the island. Instead, try grabbing a bite to eat or simply read a book while you’re enjoying the sights.
Over 1.5 miles long, meet the long white sand of Polihua Beach on Lanai. This beach is wonderful for some sunbathing or a stroll, but swimming and water play are not highly recommended due to unpredictable waves and weather. Find plenty of shade at Polihua Beach and have a picnic — this is one of the most beautiful beaches on the islands.
The largest beach of Molokai, Papohaku Beach is three miles of pristine and clean sand and ocean water. This perfectly serene beach is never too crowded and has plenty of space to view the miles of ocean in front of you and the nature of Molokai. Some would even consider this the most well-kept beach out of all of the islands. It has been said that the wintertime isn’t the best place to swim in this spot, however, due to the waves and currents becoming quite rough.
Fantastic views await along the curves of this island. Where you can embrace lush green vegetation, blue ocean waters, and sand between your toes. Don’t forget the waterfalls you can see in view of Halawa Valley. If you’re into surfing, this beach is definitely a popular surf spot amongst the locals and tourists alike. Be aware, there are no concession areas to grab a drink or food, but there are some changing facilities.
The Hawaiian Islands have an array of different beaches. While some are perfect for water sports, others are perfect for lounging. All in all, any beach that you go to in Hawaii will make your experience a special one. So, it’s time to pack up your bags and buy that ticket. Make your vacation one to remember by heading to one of these top beaches on the islands.