Hawaii's Top Beaches
Best Beaches on each Island
Selecting the best beaches of Hawaii can be a difficult task. The best beach in Hawaii must be easily accessible, scenic, have good swimming conditions, and possess a host of other attributes that make it 'the best.' There are over 100 amazing beaches throughout the Hawaiian islands. So we've pored over the beaches throughout the Hawaiian islands and we've selected the Top 10 'Best' Hawaii Beaches on the four major islands of Kauai, Maui, Oahu, and the Big Island. We've ranked them from bottom to top, and each is worth a visit if you're stopping on that island.
The average Hawaiian beach is typically surrounded by lava formations and hosts a semi-coarse golden or russet colored sand. Sand color can change dramatically throughout the islands and can range from colors like red, green, black, white, pepper, and golden brown - the later being the most common. Typically the water is a green-blue color, especially near the shoreline. In many locations you can see right through the water to the ocean floor - the water can be quite transparent in certain areas allowing for great snorkeling conditions. While it's not as crystal clear as the waters of the Caribbean, it's still very tropical in nature and quite pretty. The water turns to a darker blue as you head into deeper waters. Hawaiian beaches are remarkably clean and maintenance keeps them in great conditions. There are no sea or land critters to bother you on the beaches here (like sand flees) - though you may encounter the occasional chicken or two on the beach in Kauai or even a goat or two on the Big Island in select locations. Personally we think chickens on the beach is quite humorous. In the morning the conditions are usually calmer than in the evening, as the tradewinds typically pick up later in the day creating choppier conditions with waves. Many beaches are protected by reefs, though some beaches are not and can have quite dangerous rip tides. All beaches in Hawaii are public, and weekends are always more crowded than weekdays, so we typically advise visitors to hit the beach during week days when possible.
So let's now review the top 10 beaches of Hawaii from bottom to top.
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North Shore - Oahu
Sunset Beach is the ideal North Shore paradise on Oahu with two miles of white sand stretching 200-300 feet wide. Visit Sunset Beach.
Poipu Beach is the star when it comes to the south shore of Kauai. This beautiful curve of white sand is 50ft wide by approximately 1,000 feet in length. The beach is actually split into two small bays; one section is ideal for small children and beginner snorkelers while the other section is better suited for swimming, snorkeling, and even surfing when the surf is up. Visit Poipu Beach.
One of our favorite beaches on Kauai, Ke`e Beach is located at the end of Highway 560 and is one of the islands most popular beaches on the north shore. The water here is very clear and reef fish are abundant in the waters here. Visit Kee Beach.
Big Beach is one of the prettiest beaches on Maui, certainly south Maui. It is nearly 2/3 mile long and over 100 feet wide. The gorgeous sand and pristine waters attract snorkelers, swimmers and sunbathers. Visit Big Beach.
Located on the north shore of Kauai, Tunnels beach offers some of the best snorkeling anywhere in Hawaii during the calm summer months. The backdrop is similar to that of Hanalei Beach, the mountains rising up behind the beach are gorgeous. Visit Tunnels Beach.
Honolulu - Oahu
Located on Oahu, this is one of the most famous beaches in the world. The two mile stretch of white sand coast is fronted by hotels and tourist facilities. The area is excellent for swimming, surfing, boogie boarding, catamaran and outrigger canoe rides.
North Kona - Big Island
Also called Manini'owali Beach, this lovely little pocket of sand on the Big Island of Hawaii used to be very difficult to access, but since a multi-million dollar road has been paved right through the lava- it's a snap to enjoy this Big Island gem. Kua Bay beach has full facilities including restrooms and showers, water, barbecues and picnic tables. Visit Kua Bay Beach.
Hapuna Beach Park
Kohala Coast - Big Island
Located on the Big Island of Hawaii, it's location makes this is an extremely popular beach for both locals and visitors. Conde Nast Traveler magazine has often ranked it as one of the top beaches in the US. It is hard to argue with this half mile stretch of pristine golden sand and crystal blue water. Visit Hapuna Beach.
Lanakai beach is our second best beach, and is the best on Oahu. The two lovely offshore islands make it a picture postcard spot. The wind is also good here for sailing and windsurfing. There is even some good snorkeling to be had. Visit Lanikai Beach.
Our top beach in Hawaii is the beautiful and easily accessible Hamoa Beach on the island of Maui. Located beyond the town of Hana on the Hana Highway, we've rarely found a better beach to be had. Visit Hamoa Beach.