With endless beaches, Hawaii has some of the best beaches in the world, some accessible only by helicopter or landing watercraft, some built around the high drama of intense waves crashing against razor-sharp lava rocks, and some that literally disappear under the high winter surf on the north shores of the islands. But which Hawaii beaches are best for a day at the beach?
Below are our Top 7 Hawaii Beaches. If you have already been there, done this, of course we are not the experts -- you are. Let us know what is your favorite Hawaiian Beaches. We'll trust your judgment for our future Top 7 Hawaii Beaches. Mahalo!
Lanikai Beach, Oahu
Considered by many locals to be the best swimming beach in Hawaii, Lanikai’s clear waters, clean, wide beach, and swaying coconut palms also make it a photographer’s dream. A mile-long stretch of powdered-sugar sand is perfect for sunbathing. Sparkling turquoise waters sheltered by a wide, protective offshore reef provide ideal swimming conditions. Other popular activities on Lanikai Beach include kayaking, outrigger canoeing, sailing, surfing, and windsurfing. With the twin Mokulua Islands in the distance, Lanikai Beach truly lives up to its translated name of "heavenly sea."
Hanalei Bay Beach, Kauai
Lovely Hanalei Bay on Kauai’s North Shore may be the most beautiful beach setting in all of Hawaii. Hanalei is the largest bay on the island of Kauai and nearly a perfect semi-circle of white sand. Behind the beach is an utterly breathtaking backdrop of waterfalls and emerald mountain peaks wrapped in mist, soaring thousands of feet towards the heavens. The beach is two miles long, 125 feet wide, and bordered by the Hanalei River to the east and the Waipa River to the west. The ocean bottom slopes gently to overhead depths, and there are large coral reefs at both ends of the bay. Every ocean recreation activity you can imagine is available, from boating and windsurfing to kayaking up the placid Hanalei River. The bay is very popular with serious surfers. There is a public boat ramp and a 300-foot long pier used for fishing and swimming. The many “no dogs” and “no jumping off the pier” signs are blissfully ignored.
Kapalua Bay Beach, Maui
Golden sand, swaying palms, calm waters. What more can you ask for? It’s just another day in paradise on this West Maui pocket beach. Situated between two lava points and bordered by a coconut tree grove, Kapalua Beach is known for its tranquil surf, ideal for the less-than-adventurous swimmer and families with small children.
Poipu Beach, Kauai
The most popular beach on Kauai’s south shore, Poipu Beach is ideal for families. A small boulder Top 7 Hawaii Beaches - Poipu Beach, Kauaibreakwater creates a protected pool-like area where children and parents can play and snorkel. Outside the swimming area, the ocean bottom slopes gently to overhead depths. The south shore’s bays create ear-round ideal wave conditions for body boarders and surfers. Poipu Beach is a pretty curve of white sand about 1,000 feet long and 50 feet wide, with plenty of room for sandcastle building or strolling. Sunbathers are occasionally joined by endangered monk seals that come up for a snooze on the shore.
Papohaku Beach, Molokai
How about miles of long, straight white sand beach, hundreds of feet wide, completely empty except for skittering crabs and soaring sea birds? Papohaku Beach is as close as you can get to the deserted tropical island of your dreams. Located on the west end of Molokai, which itself is between Oahu and Maui, Papohaku Beach also offers swimming, snorkeling, bodysurfing, body boarding, and surfing. This is the beach where you leave your troubles behind and get away from the world. On this remote beach on this remote island, the only footprints in the sand may be your own.
Hanauma Bay, Oahu
Pretty and popular, Hanauma Bay is a victim of its own success. Formed thousands of years ago by the flooding of a volcanic crater, this nearly circular bay is home to an amazingly diverse and abundant population of fish life. Hanauma Bay is one of the best and most popular snorkeling and swimming areas in the world. However, excessive swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving have threatened the bay’s marine residents. The area’s designation as a marine life conservation district in 1967 wasn’t enough protection, so in 1990 strict visitor limits were initiated. Hanauma Bay is another of Hawaii’s most beautiful bays, but to enjoy its treasures you’ll have to plan ahead and arrive early for a visit.
Kaanapali - Black Rock Beach, Maui
For some reason, this beach has many different names (among them Keka‘a Beach, Canoe Beach, Dig Me Beach). Whatever you call it, Kaanapali Beach in West Maui is a watersport lover’s paradise. Virtually every type of ocean recreation is available. Snorkeling and scuba diving are outstanding. The Black Rock is a large lava rock that divides the beach. This is a busy, popular beach that fronts two resorts. What you give up in solitude you gain in big time fun—shopping, restaurants, boat tours, fishing, kayaking, sailing, sunbathing, people-watching, and more.