15 Best Beaches in Hawaii

Written by Jan Meeuwesen
Updated on
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Besides its laid-back vibe and warm weather, Hawaii is home to some of the most amazing beaches in the world. The good news is that this island state features a variety of beaches, including secluded beaches for honeymooning couples, big touristy beaches, picturesque coves, beaches with big waves, and even beaches with green sand.

If you are looking for a place where you can spend every day on a different beach, Hawaii is definitely the right place to go. Hop right in and check out our list of the 15 best beaches in Hawaii.

1 Lanikai Beach, Oahu

Lanikai Beach, OahuSource: Ppictures / shutterstock
Lanikai Beach, Oahu

Located on the lovely island of Oahu, Lanikai Beach is famous for its golden sands, calm waters, and palm trees. It’s really no wonder why it translates to “Heavenly Sea” and attracts a high number of both tourists and locals.  If you are into kayaking, the calm lagoon that fronts the beach attracts kayakers of all ages.

Although Lanikai Beach is surrounded by luxurious villas, it is easily accessible to visitors thanks to the state law that requires direct beach access every 350 meters. Unwind with a drink from a nearby beach bar and spend a day chilling in the sun on lovely Lanikai Beach.

2 Polihua Beach, Lanai

Polihua Beach, LanaiSource: Joe West / shutterstock
Polihua Beach, Lanai

The longest beach on Lanai, Polihua Beach is accessible by a four-wheel drive vehicle from Lanai City and stretches two miles along Lanai’s northeastern shore. If you are looking for that perfect secluded spot on the tiny island of Lanai, Polihua Beach just might be what you’re looking for.

You won’t find beach bars with lounge chairs here, as this amazing beach is all about privacy and relaxation. Keep in mind that swimming is not allowed at Polihua Beach because of the strong currents and lack of protective offshore reefs.

However, on a clear day, you can enjoy spectacular views of Molokai and go for long walks. Travelers who are planning to visit Polihua Beach in winter may even spot a couple of whales here.

3 Kaanapali Beach, Maui

Kaanapali Beach, MauiSource: Eddy Galeotti / shutterstock
Kaanapali Beach, Maui

Kaanapali Beach in Maui stretches for 3 miles between the Hyatt Regency Maui to the south and Sheraton Maui to the north. Long ago, it used to be a playground for members of the Maui royalty and today this amazing beach is one of the most visited spots on the island.

Catch the annual canoe races in June or try a zipline tour by Kaanapali Skyline Eco Adventure! There are many high-end resorts and luxurious condos in the area, so it’s no wonder that people-watching is one of the most popular activities here at Kaanapali Beach.

4 Makena Beach, Maui

Makena Beach, MauiSource: tropicdreams / shutterstock
Makena Beach, Maui

One of the largest beaches in Maui, Makena Beach is a perfect place to go for everyone who wants to avoid all the hustle and bustle of Kaanapali and Lahaina beaches. This golden sand beach is flanked with lava rocks and many people say that the sunset views here are simply amazing.

Makena Beach or Big Beach as the locals like to call it, is more than 100 feet wide and 1.5 miles long.  Its expansive shore allows for everyone to find a bit of privacy and peace. Unfortunately,  Makena Beach is not suitable for inexperienced swimmers due to its dangerous shore break, but activities like skim-boarding and body surfing are extremely popular.

5 Hapuna Beach, Big Island

Hapuna Beach, Big IslandSource: kohide / shutterstock
Hapuna Beach, Big Island

The longest beach in Hawaii, Hapuna Beach is included in many travel magazines as one of the world’s best beaches. This comes as no surprise since Hapuna Beach really looks like something you only get to see on postcards.  Swim in the crystal clear waters, snorkel during the summer season and chill in the sun under dozens of palm trees.

Hapuna Beach attracts mostly tourists and is ideal for watersports including body surfing and kayaking. The winter season brings powerful waves which are perfect for surfing, while the calmer days are perfect for swimming and drinking refreshing cocktails.

6 Hanalei Bay,  Kauai

Hanalei Bay – KauaiSource: Jo Ann Snover / shutterstock
Hanalei Bay – Kauai

Hanalei Bay is the largest bay in Kauai that attracts all kinds of groups. Shaped like a heart, this bay stretches for nearly 2 miles and is one of the most picturesque spots on the island. Did you know that Hanalei Bay was the place where George Clooney went running in that Descendants movie?

Surrounded by majestic mountains, Hanalei Bay offers a number of water activities such as paddle boarding, swimming, and kayaking. In winter, the waves attract large crowds of surfers. There is also a small pier from which many travelers like to jump into the ocean.

7 Poipu Beach, Kauai

Poipu Beach, KauaiSource: julianufer / shutterstock
Poipu Beach, Kauai

Perfectly safe for snorkeling and swimming, Poipu Beach is home to many green sea turtles and plenty of palm trees.  The great thing about this beach is that the shoreline has a natural swimming pool which was formed by lava rocks. The pool is shallow enough for visitors to take a dip.

There are lifeguards on duty seven days a week, so feel free to swim in the crystal clear waters of Poipu Beach.  If you are lucky enough, you may even spot an endangered Hawaiian monk seal here.

8 Halona Beach Cove, Oahu

Halona Beach Cove, OahuSource: Maricay / shutterstock
Halona Beach Cove, Oahu

Located on the west side of the Halona Blowhole overlook, Halona Beach Cove is a pocket-sized sandy beach that is accessible by climbing down some super-steep rocks. Of course, the experience is definitely worth the trip, since Halona Beach Cove is one of the most beautiful spots in all of Hawaii. The beach was made popular in the movie with Burt Lancaster and Deborah Kerr called the Eternity Beach.

The best time to go swimming is when the waters are calm, but it is recommended not to swim too far out because of the dangerous currents which make the water turbulent. Keep in mind that there are no lifeguards here and make sure to stay away from all the rocky areas.

9 Kauapea Beach, Kauai

Kauapea Beach, KauaiSource: Jennifer Wan / shutterstock
Kauapea Beach, Kauai

Known as the Secret Beach, Kauapea Beach is located on the north shore of Kauai and there is no public road leading to this area. It takes a bit of effort to find it and a 15-minute hike from one of the main roads is needed. The trail to the beach is quite steep and can get slippery after rainfall.

Kauapea Beach features both black lava rock and white sand, making it a one of a kind beach in Kauai. The cliffs which are located on both ends of the beach are covered in tropical plants, while one of the highlights is the famous Kilauea lighthouse.

In case you are thinking about going for a dip, make sure to visit this beach during the summer season when the waters are calm. Strong currents and the lack of lifeguards make Kauapea Beach a dangerous place for swimming in winter.

10 Wailea Beach, Maui

Wailea Beach, MauiSource: TomKli / shutterstock
Wailea Beach, Maui

Protected by black lava points on both sides, Wailea Beach is located right between dozens of luxurious resorts and mansions. This amazing beach is lined with tall palm trees and offers views of the neighboring islands of Kahoolawe and Lanai.

Some of the most popular summer activities at Wailea Beach include snorkeling and swimming, while whale watching is possible during the summer season. You will find many shops in the area, as well as places where you can rent equipment for snorkeling.

11 Punaluu Black Sand Beach, Hawaii Island

Punaluu Black Sand Beach, Hawaii IslandSource: Pavel Tvrdy / shutterstock
Punaluu Black Sand Beach, Hawaii Island

Located on the southwestern side of the island, Punaluu Black Sand Beach is one of the most unusual beaches in the area thanks to the volcanic activity that produced a jet-black coastline. Because of the black sand, this lovely beach is home to many turtles that come here to rest in the sun.

Keep in mind that the Black Sand Beach is not ideal for swimmers, but surfers love it. If you are looking for a beach where white sand meets black sand and where green sea turtles are running around freely, Punaluu Black Sand Beach should be included on your bucket list of beaches to visit in Hawaii.

12 Ho’okipa Beach, Maui

Ho’okipa Beach, MauiSource: K.L. Kohn / shutterstock
Ho’okipa Beach, Maui

A world-renowned surfing spot, Ho’okipa Beach on the island of Maui is a long and narrow beach that attracts mostly kite surfers and surfers. There is a coral offshore reef from where you can watch surfers ride those giant waves.

In case you are not into surfing but still want to get wet at Ho’okipa Beach, head out to the shallow tide pools. The best thing about this beach is that it is usually not crowded, probably because swimming is not recommended. However, if you are lucky, maybe you’ll spot a sea turtle or two at Ho’okipa Beach.

13 Ke‘e Beach, Kauai

Ke‘e Beach, KauaiSource: Jennifer Wan / shutterstock
Ke‘e Beach, Kauai

The last beach on the island’s north shore that is accessible by car, Ke‘e Beach is a golden sand beach packed with palm trees, native plants, and an 11-mile hiking trail. If you prefer to chill on the beach rather than going on the famous Na Pali coast hike, sit back and watch the surfers in winter or go snorkeling during the summer season.

Cell reception here is inconsistent, but the sunset views are amazing. You will find some basic facilities such as restrooms and showers, and although limited, a nearby car park.

14 Hamoa Beach, Maui

Hamoa Beach, MauiSource: dejetley / shutterstock
Hamoa Beach, Maui

Exposed to the open ocean, Hamoa Beach is a perfect pit-stop destination if you are driving on the Hana Highway. Expect to find a 1,000ft-long grey sand beach surrounded by sea cliffs with plenty of vegetation.

There are two ways to access Hamoa Beach. You can either take the stairs that lead down from the hotel shuttle drop-off or take a service road at the other end.

Swimming at Hamoa Beach is not recommended even during the summer season because of the powerful currents, but snorkeling is possible on the left of the cove. In winter, come and watch surfers in action.

15 Kauna’oa Beach, Kohala Coast

Kauna'oa Beach, Kohala CoastSource: S Carpenter / Flickr
Kauna’oa Beach, Kohala Coast

Also known as the Mauna Kea Beach, Kauna’oa Beach is one of the most beautiful white-sand beaches in Hawaii. Thanks to its calm waters, this beach is perfect for swimming throughout the year. Rent snorkeling equipment and admire the marine life including tropical fish and sea turtles.

Kauna’oa Beach is a favorite destination for families with children, simply because there are many facilities available and sunbathing is one of the main activities. You will also see two small coral reefs on each side of the beach which are ideal for exploring.

15 Best Beaches in Hawaii:

  • 1 Lanikai Beach, Oahu
  • 2 Polihua Beach, Lanai
  • 3 Kaanapali Beach, Maui
  • 4 Makena Beach, Maui
  • 5 Hapuna Beach, Big Island
  • 6 Hanalei Bay,  Kauai
  • 7 Poipu Beach, Kauai
  • 8 Halona Beach Cove, Oahu
  • 9 Kauapea Beach, Kauai
  • 10 Wailea Beach, Maui
  • 11 Punaluu Black Sand Beach, Hawaii Island
  • 12 Ho’okipa Beach, Maui
  • 13 Ke‘e Beach, Kauai
  • 14 Hamoa Beach, Maui
  • 15 Kauna’oa Beach, Kohala Coast