20 Hawaii Beaches

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Hawaii is a dream destination for obvious reasons. Picturing these islands just off mainland USA brings incredible Jurassic Park style landscapes, hula dancing, fresh seafood and big waves. Hawaii has eight recognised islands and is home to almost 150 tiny islands and atolls. As you can imagine, there is an endless array of stunning Hawaii beaches.

Reminiscent of other Pacific Island nations like Tahiti and French Polynesia, the water is beautifully clear, the sand incredibly soft (even the black volcanic sand), and the landscape is home to lush jungles and mountains. So whether you explore independently or stay in one of Hawaii’s beautiful resorts, make time to venture out and discover some of the most remote, unique and breathtaking beaches in Hawaii.

Hawaii Beaches

20 Best Beaches In Hawaii

1- Kaanapali Beach

hawaii nude beaches
Kaanapali Beach in Maui is one of the best beaches in Hawaii for surfers.

On the island of Maui, Kaanapali Beach is famous for its daily cliff jumping for those daring enough to leap off a 16 ft (4.9 m) cliff called Black Rock.

Popular with visitors and locals, the beach has other activities for those who don’t want to increase their heart rate.

Five hotels line the beach along with a variety of excellent restaurants and shopping outlets, so you can stay here and have paradise on your doorstep, or if not, you won’t be short of options.

Along the three miles of beach, you can go snorkelling to see tropical fish, and you might also spot whales.

There are also two renowned golf courses with views over the ocean.

2- Waimea Bay

hawaii beaches pictures
Surfers at Waimea Bay, North Shore, Oahu, Hawaii

Waimea Bay is one of Hawaii’s most well-known beaches, located on the famous North Shore, a world-renowned surf destination.

Enjoy swimming, diving, snorkelling and again, cliff-jumping here, although surfing is the main draw, with waves reaching up to 30ft (9 m) high.

Besides feeling the sand between your toes, there are many nearby activities to experience Hawaii’s beauty, including the Waimea Valley botanical garden and a short hiking trail to Oahu Falls, where you can swim in the freshwater pool.

You can quickly settle in for the day here with vendors providing tours and gear for water sports,

There are picnic tables to eat fresh seafood that you’ve picked up at local food stands or just sit and watch the daring surfers in the sunshine all day long.

3- Kumimi Beach

best hawaii beaches feet walking on beach
Leave your footprints in the sand at some of the most beautiful beaches in Hawaii.

Kumimi Beach is also known as Murphy’s or 20 Mile Marker Beach and is on the island of Molokai.

This island is a lesser-known excellent snorkelling destination, and this long stretch of coastline is the perfect place to grab your gear and go swimming.

There is a large reef just offshore to explore but the water can get rough if you stray too far out.

You are likely to see a vast range of tropical marine life unique to the Hawaiian islands, making it very popular for fishing also.

Just past the beach, there’s a parking area with an excellent viewpoint for photos, and you may want to drive as there are no toilets on this beach.

4- Oneloa Beach

maui hawaii beaches walkway along the beach flanked by greenary and ocean
Oneloa Beach is a lovely walkway where you can enjoy the view of the ocean while taking a walk along the path. It’s one of the best beaches in Hawaii on the island of Maui.

Another beautiful Maui beach, Oneloa is a quarter-mile (.4 km) of untouched golden sand and white-capped waves.

Although it’s next to the Ritz Carlton Resort, the beach remains relatively quiet and secluded, and the water is calm enough for snorkelling and diving.

Surfing is popular, as it is on many Hawaiian beaches, although it can get rough in the wintertime.

Another unexpected thing to watch is golf balls, as the nearby course often sees golfers hit balls into the ocean.

The Kapalua Coastal Trail provides a lovely break from sunbathing if you’re looking for more breathtaking views over the ocean.

5- Mauna Kea Beach

hawaii beaches Beautiful multiethnic woman surfing on stand up paddleboard on Big Island
Many beaches near Hilo offer paddleboarding as an activity.

Mauna Kea Beach is what you probably imagine paradise to be.

On Hawaii’s well known Big Island, the beach is in front of the Mauna Kea Hotel, which means you’ll always have somewhere to grab a bite to eat, such as in their restaurant or at the beach bar, or rent equipment.

There are stands on the beach where you can rent boards or snorkelling gear as well.

Summer is a busy time when the water is clear and calm, with ideal conditions for snorkelling on the south end of the beach.

The beach is famous for its local inhabitants, the manta rays that flock to the water here.

In the evening, the hotel turns on floodlights to attract the rays and you can head up to Manta Ray point to get the best views of these amazing creatures.

6- Ho’okipa Beach

hawaii beaches open large waves breaking ashore
For a Maui beach in Hawaii, Hookipa has large waves.

If you’re looking for adrenaline sports, whether to take part in or watch, Ho’okipa beach on Maui is the place.

With super-high waves, it’s a mecca for windsurfers and anyone who likes to ride the waves.

This beach hosts some of the state’s most famous competitions, including the Aloha Classic and the Red Bull King of the Air.

While you watch, you can sunbathe, stroll along the beach and try out some kitesurfing or other water sports before enjoying a spectacular sunset.

To spot some local wildlife, stay until the evening when green sea turtles often frequent the beach.

7- Lanikai Beach

hawaii best beaches Hawaii vacation couple relaxing tanning on beach
Hit the white sand of Lanikai Beach for a Hawaii vacation for couples.

Lanikai translates as Heavenly Ocean and is one of the beaches in Hawaii with fantastic views.

On this Oahu beach, you can enjoy swimming, kayaking or SUP in the sparkling blue waters.

The snorkelling off this beach is not as good as other beaches, but the water is calm and an excellent place to get in some practice.

It can be tricky to find, with the beach path located between residential houses, but this just means you’re more likely to have it all to yourself.

8- Hulopoe Bay

best swimming beaches in hawaii surfer girl looking at ocean holding a surfboard at sunset
Many Hawaii beaches offer excellent surfing conditions.

Hulopoe Bay is often cited as one of America’s best beaches, so it’s one beach in Hawaii not to be missed.

Swimming, diving, snorkelling and surfing are all on offer to keep you entertained.

Its tidal pools are home to crabs, starfish and tropical fish, which are a fun attraction for kids.

In the winter, humpback whales can often be spotted breaching offshore which is a spectacular sight, and occasionally acrobatic spinner dolphins swim into the bay.

There are a few amenities dotted around, however the beach fronts the Four Seasons Resort Lanai, where you’ll be able to find most luxuries you need.

9- Poipu Beach

hawaii's best beaches monk seal resting on the beach
One of the best pictures of beaches in Hawaii is one with a monk seal frolicking on the sand.

One of the most popular beaches on the south shore of Kauai, Poipu Beach consists of two crescents of soft sand, separated by a long sandspit.

Another famous surfing beach in Hawaii, the area gets high waves, particularly in winter, while you can also rent bodyboards and go snorkelling.

The water is protected by the cove, making it a good spot for families looking for a calm area to swim.

The beach is mainly famous for its large population of endangered Hawaiian monk seals that you’ll spot napping on the beach, although keeping your distance is recommended.

10- Hanauma Bay

Aerial view of Hanauma Bay nature preserve
The clear water of Hanauma Bay makes it one of the best Hawaii beaches on Oahu.

Oahu’s Hanauma Bay is a protected nature reserve with flora, wildlife and marine life to explore.

There are over 300 species of native fish in the waters here, so snorkelling takes centre stage when it comes to activities.

Many tour options in the area offer half or full-day trips with gear provided, which can be fun to spend a few hours.

As the bay is a protected area, it costs $25 a person to enter. So bring your towel, sunscreen and snacks and enjoy your day in paradise.

11- Waikiki Beach

best beaches in hawaii aerial view of Waikiki looking towards Honolulu on Oahu
The tall buildings that line Waikiki Beach make it an instantly recognisable beach in Hawaii.

Waikiki Beach is one of Hawaii’s most famous beaches for a good reason.

Lined partially with resorts and partially with huge palm trees, it is a two-mile (3.2 km) stretch of stereotypical Hawaiian paradise.

The classic repertoire of activities is available, such as swimming, surfing, boogie boarding and snorkelling.

You can also book a sailing or snorkelling boat trip in the evening, which is the perfect way to take in the famous Waikiki sunset.

An underwater submarine tour will get you up close and personal with the island’s incredible marine life if you’re looking for more adventure.

12- Punaluu Beach

black sand beaches hawaii From the Cliffs Above on Big Island of Hawaii Taken from the Waipi'o valley access road.
One of the best black sand beaches in Hawaii is Punaluu Black Sand Beach.

If you’re a bit tired of the constant soft white sand beaches in Hawaii and want something more unusual, Punaluu Beach stands out from other Hawaii beaches with its famous and unique volcanic black sand.

Combine this with the sight of hundreds of green turtles native to Hawaii, and you have a unique tropical paradise.

You can also go swimming and snorkelling, head out for a coastal walk, or even camp here.

The sand is made from lava and can get hot under the sun, so it’s worth bringing beach or water shoes.

This beach is also an ideal stopping point if you plan on visiting the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and will provide a taste of what to expect.

13- Napili Bay

hawaii beaches sand, waves and resort in the distance
A cloudy summer day at Napili Bay on the beach in Maui, Hawaii.

Another favourite with the local turtles, Napili Bay on Maui’s southwestern edge, is a more remote and rugged but no less stunning Hawaiian beach.

The beach is shaped like a large crescent, meaning it is protected from large waves and swells.

Its layout makes it a perfect spot for snorkelling, swimming, stand up paddleboarding and occasionally boogie boarding.

The area has three lovely beachfront resorts to stay in so that you can wake up to ocean views.

For fresh, delicious seafood, head to Seahouse Restaurant right on the beach.

14- Kalaupapa Beach

In Kalaupapa National Historical Park on the north shore of Molokai, Kalaupapa Beach is part of the famous coastline you’ll see in movies like Jurassic Park.

With towering cliffs that are some of the tallest in the world, covered in lush jungle, the backdrop is spectacular.

The region is home to one of Hawaii’s most remote settlements and the only way to reach the beach is by riding a mule for around three miles (4.8 km), although you can sometimes hike or take a small aeroplane.

Aside from exploring this diverse and mystical landscape, the ocean is brimming with marine life like green turtles, humpback whales, monk seals, beautiful coral reefs and hundreds of colourful fish.

It’s worth taking time out of your itinerary to explore this largely undiscovered beach in Hawaii.

15- Polihua Beach

are hawaii beaches open woman in pink pareo meditating on a Hawaii beach
Hawaii beaches offer something for everyone, from relaxation to adventure.

Another remote but worthwhile destination, Polihua Beach at the northwest of the island of Lanai, is only accessible with a 4WD due to rough, potholed roads.

However, if you soldier through, you’ll reach Lanai’s longest beach, which is 1.5 miles (2.4 km) of pristine golden sand that you are likely to have to yourself.

Although swimming, snorkelling and the usual water sports aren’t recommended here due to the high waves and rough currents.

The beach is beautiful enough to pick a stretch of sand to relax on for a few hours to top up your tan.

There are no restroom facilities, so don’t bring too many drinks.

16- Wailea Beach

hawaii beaches Komohana Volcano viewed from Wailea Makena Hawaii
The Komohana volcano rises mysteriously in the horizon when viewed from Wailea Beach in Hawaii.

One of Maui’s most popular beaches is in the Wailea resort area, so this beach can get crowded but remains clean and beautiful.

It has jaw-dropping views over the other Hawaiian Islands, volcanoes and sometimes humpback whales in the water.

The water here is mostly calm, so it’s easy to go snorkelling or body surfing, and a large number of nearby resorts means you’ll find plenty of accommodation options, food, drinks and amenities.

There are 1500 acres (607 ha) of beach stretched across five beaches in the Wailea area, so if you can’t find a spot on the first one, there’ll be an empty spot not far away.

17- Hanalei Bay

hawaii big island beaches Hanalei Bay
One of the beaches in Hawaii where you’ll enjoy watching the sunrise is Hanalei Bay above Hanalei Pier with the Na Pali coast in the background.

The largest bay on Kauai, also known as the Garden Isle, Hanalei Bay is a two-mile (3.2 km) stretch of beach famous for featuring in movies such as South Pacific.

Hanalei Pier is a famous historical landmark that you can walk across to view the ocean and towering mountains in the distance.

You can swim, sail or paddle in the waters here, and if you want to experience nature at its best, go camping in the Black Pot Beach Park.

The beach also sits next to the Hanalei River, and a pleasant excursion, if you’re up for some sporting activity, is to rent kayaks to paddle down the river.

18- Waimanalo Bay

best beaches hawaii woman at makapuu lookout view of Waimanalo beach
If you don’t want to get your hair wet then enjoying the view at some of the best beaches in Hawaii is a lovely way to spend some time. Pictured here is Waimanalo Bay.

Oahu has many famous beaches visited by crowds of tourists, but if you want more of a hidden gem, Waimanalo Bay is the answer.

On the southeast of Oahu, reachable in around 45 minutes from Waikiki, the beach features striking ironwood trees.

The beach is three miles (4.8 km) long and is rarely visited by tourists due to its out of the way location.

You can sunbathe, swim, bodysurf and take photos to your heart’s content without worrying about anyone getting in the way.

If you do venture into the ocean, keep your eyes peeled for the Portuguese Man’o’War jellyfish, which can give an excruciating sting.

19- Manini’owali Beach

Manini’owali Beach is one of the best beaches on Hawaii’s Big Island and is extremely popular on weekends, so head there on weekdays for a quieter time.

Snorkelling is a popular activity here, as is wildlife spotting in general. If you’re lucky, you’ll spot turtles and dolphins swimming nearby.

Unlike many of the other more golden beaches in Hawaii, the sand is perfectly white, but it can be a struggle to get there clambering down 10ft (3 m) of lava rocks.

So not many people manage to make the trip. On top of this, although there are showers, toilets and not much shade.

20- Lydgate Beach

are beaches open in hawaii Aloha couple on Hawaiian beach
Pull on flower lei garlands and enjoy a relaxing vacation in the sun on one of these amazing Hawaii beaches.

Lydgate Beach is one of the best beaches in Hawaii for families and a double pool protected from the big waves, making it a perfect spot for swimming safely.

Slightly further out, you can see tropical fish.

The area is popular with locals who have picnics, play sports on the beach and camp nearby.

If you’re keen to venture into the ocean, you can go snorkelling, windsurfing and bodyboarding, and further out, conditions are usually perfect for sailing.

For more beaches around the world read:

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India-Jayne Trainor is a British/Australian freelance writer, photographer and contributor to various online blogs and travel websites. She has travelled to almost 30 countries, most recently Cuba and Sri Lanka. Her work focuses on solo female travel, having spent two months backpacking alone through South East Asia as well as living in Germany for a year. Her favourite country to date has been Hong Kong, but she is happy in any country by the ocean. Her next destinations are Uzbekistan and a road trip through the American Mid-West. India is currently based in London, UK.