If your idea of heaven is feeling sand between your toes and the sun on your face, prepare to find your bliss on the best beaches in Hawaii. The island chain’s beautiful coastlines offer endless variety, from expansive stretches of dazzling white sand to tiny, secluded coves off the beaten path. Whether you prefer gently lapping water, surfer-worthy foam, snorkeling, or just soaking up the sun, grab your Ray-Bans and plan your Hawaiian beach vacation with this complete guide!
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If you’re talking about must-see Hawaiian hotspots, you’ve likely dreamed of Waikiki Beach. This golden stretch of sand on Oahu’s south shore—just minutes away from downtown Honolulu—has been a magnet for visitors since the early 1900s, when sun-seekers arrived by steamship.
Whether it’s swimming, paddleboarding, or snorkeling, you’ll find it at Waikiki Beach. And did someone say “surfing”? Waikiki is legendary as the world’s hang-ten birthplace. Never surfed? Sign up for a lesson, and you’ll be riding the waves in no time.
Back on dry land, head across the beach to Kalakaua Avenue, one of the coolest places to see in Waikiki. Browse its shops, offering everything from handmade shell jewelry to designer handbags.
Feeling hungry? Check out one of the area’s food trucks to sample some delicious Island fare while you enjoy the music of street performers. For an upscale dining experience, book a table at one of the neighborhood’s four-star restaurants.
Want a beach with plenty of room to play? Head to Hanalei Bay, where several beautiful beach parks are rolled into one. The result: a stunning two-mile-plus crescent of sand stretching along the north shore of Kauai—all set against a breathtaking backdrop of 4,000-foot high mountains.
Winter is big-wave season at Hanalei Beach. Visit to check out the impressive moves of the pro surfing crowd. Drop by during the summer months, and you’ll be welcomed by tranquil waters, perfect for swimmers, surfers, and kayakers of all skill levels.
Worked up an appetite? Zip back to town for some tasty island fare at one of the local restaurants. Burn off your meal with a walk along the popular Hanalei Pier. Stroll to the end of this iconic structure to take in panoramic sunset views of the beautiful bay.
Looking for a high-energy beach with a bevy of options? Head to Kaanapali Beach on the west shore of Maui. Nestled between the Pacific Ocean and the West Maui Mountains, this three-mile stretch of golden sand is legendary as the former playground for Hawaiian royalty.
This spot is ideal for strolling and taking in fantastic views of Lanai and Molokai. Keep your eyes peeled for sightings of the iconic Hawaiian sea turtles and humpback whales.
Ready for some underwater exploration? Head for the north end of Kaanapali Beach near Black Rock. Strap on some snorkeling gear to get amazing views of local marine life.
One of the best areas to stay on Maui, Kaanapali features several high-end resorts and condos. The beach is also dotted with plenty of welcoming bars and restaurants. Take your pick and enjoy!
Punalu’u Black Sand Beach
Want something truly unique? Make time for Punalu’u Black Sand Beach on the southeastern coast of Big Island. Yes, the sand really is black, thanks to the area’s volcanic history. The sandy shores reflect light in remarkable ways that you won’t see at your standard white sand beach.
Pull on your flip-flops or runners to take a stroll: black sand gets hot! Cool off in the shade of the coconut palms fringing the shore, and watch the mesmerizing blue waves roll onto shore. Keep your eyes peeled for a true island treasure: the endangered green sea turtles that make their home here.
Want to linger? Stake out a spot at the Punalu’u Beach Park campground, one of the most interesting places to stay on the Big Island. Can’t beat a night under the stars at a black sand beach!
Poipu Beach Park
If you really want to follow the sun, take a trip to Poipu Beach Park. Set on the lush south coast of Kauai, the sun always seems to shine at this popular seaside destination.
Poipu Beach Park is a combination of three beautiful gold-sand crescents, all bordered by graceful coconut palms. Protected by a reef, the waters here are gentle. It’s perfect for families and beginner swimmers. (Lifeguards are on duty seven days a week.)
At Poipu, you’ve got your pick of aquatic activities. Take a plunge, go snorkeling to view the reef and its colorful inhabitants. Or, if you’re feeling more adventurous, rent a board and ride the surf.
At the end of the day, linger to catch a spectacular sunset, a Poipu Beach specialty.
Got an appetite for sugar-white beaches? The Big Island has plenty—and Hapuna Beach is the biggest of them all. This half-mile beauty stretches along the Kona-Kohala Coast. It’s so popular that even the locals head there when they want to picnic or just chill out.
And Hapuna has a lot going for it beyond its good looks. It’s lively but not too crowded, shaded by trees, offers shallow waters to play in. A lifeguard is always on duty, making Hapuna great for families. Plan your trip for the summer months, when the water is calm.
Splash around, or grab some snorkeling gear and plunge in. Up for a challenge? Test your wave-riding skills on a surf or boogie board.
When you’re ready for a break, grab a snack at a concession stand or grab a picnic table, fire up a grill, and refuel.
Kauna’oa Beach (Mauna Kea Beach)
Looking for a picture-perfect spot that checks all the boxes? Head for Kauna’oa Beach, one of the most popular beaches on the Big Island. Also known as Mauna Kea Beach, this family-friendly spot features beautiful white sand and shallow turquoise waters.
Soak up the sun or savor some shade under a coconut palm tree. During the calm summer months, strap on some snorkeling gear to view the vibrant aquatic life around the offshore reef. Hop on a boogie board for some fun on the waves.
Worked up an appetite? Hit the concession stand for a quick snack. If you’re up for something more, head for the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel for a tasty lunch or frosty tropical cocktail. Raise a glass to a great day!
Looking for a low-key vibe away from the crowds? Set your compass for Lanikai Beach, one of Oahu’s most beautiful white-sand beaches. Fringed by leafy palms, this half-mile-long beach offers soft, warm sand and welcoming turquoise waters.
Set in the quiet neighborhood of Kailua, Lanikai is one of just a few Oahu beaches without shore-breaking waves. That makes it family-friendly and great for swimming, kayaking, and paddleboarding.
Grab some snorkel gear: You’ll want to get close-up views of the local coral reef and underwater life. When the wind picks up, be ready for some exhilarating windsurfing and sailing along the bay.
Want a dry land workout? Hike the beautiful Lanikai Pillbox Trail, one of the best hikes on Oahu, for breathtaking views (and pics) of the beach and ocean.
Want a breather from the bustle of busier beaches? Experience the remote splendor of Polihua Beach. Set on the northern coast of Lanai, this two-mile stretch of beach remains untouched by Jet Skis or resort hotels.
Getting there is an adventure in itself. Polihua Beach is only about 12 miles from Lanai City, but the trek takes several hours in a 4-wheel-drive over very rugged terrain. Be prepared!
What you’ll get on arrival: solitude, wide-open spaces, and some great glimpses of the local wildlife. Stroll the sand dunes and watch the rolling surf crash into the shore. Bring your binoculars for sightings of the iconic honu (green sea turtles), and majestic humpback whales.
Ready for a breather? Stretch out on the white sand, unpack a picnic lunch, and savor the untamed beauty around you.
Want to check out a beach that’s a favorite of locals and visitors alike? Head to Makena Beach in South Maui’s Makena State Park to see what the buzz is about. Makena Beach, also known as Big Beach, is a big deal.
Stroll a nearly mile-long stretch of golden sand. Roll out your towel and soak up some sun, then head into the surf for a cooling dip. If you’re up for more action, snorkel, bodyboard, or cast a fishing line.
Worked up an appetite? Head to one of the concession stands or food trucks like Jawz Fish Tacos. Fuel up on tasty fresh mahi-mahi or shrimp, stake out a picnic table, and enjoy an oceanside view of the beautiful Kahoolawe and Molokini islands.
Dreaming of whiling away some time on a castaway island? Then, you’ll want to wash ashore on Papohaku Beach. Set on the western shore of the tranquil island of Molokai—the least developed of the major Hawaiian islands—this idyllic destination is almost other-worldly.
White sands sprawl over 10 acres and stretch over three miles wide. With dense forest on one side and turquoise water on the other, this secluded beach feels like your private paradise. The waters are calm during the summer months, so you’ll want to dive in for a swim or have a snorkeling adventure.
When you’re craving a break, grill up a snack, and relax at a picnic table. On a clear day, take in spectacular views across the channel to Oahu and Lanai. Enjoy a brilliant sunset, and watch the white sand turn to gold.
If your taste runs to the upscale, head for the silvery sands of Wailea Beach. Set on Maui’s southwestern coast, Wailea stretches for a quarter of a mile along the shorefront. Savor the immaculate sand, emerald water, and upbeat vibe.
This beach has it all. Swim or snorkel in the gentle waves. Stretch out on the glittering sand and take in spectacular views of the islands of Lanai and Kahoolawe. Want to check out the Molokini Crater? Book a spot on a tour boat for a fascinating close-up-and-personal experience.
Wailea features a wide selection of resorts, high-end shopping, and trendy restaurants. After your seaside sojourn, check out one of the waterside lounges to savor a sundowner.
Feel like puttin’ on the ritz? Slip into the Four Seasons’ Lobby Lounge to take in their nightly hula shows, as well as live piano and guitar performances. That’s entertainment!
Want to experience a postcard-worthy destination that’s a hit with beach lovers? Plan a trip to Hamoa Beach, one of the most popular beaches on Maui. Set on the iconic Road to Hana, Hamoa is a pristine crescent surrounded by trees and cliffs.
Forget about parking headaches. Just hop on the Hotel Hana’s shuttle, and you’ll be surfside in no time. Dig your toes into the silky white sand. Soak up the sun, or enjoy a stroll as you take in the beauty of the turquoise horizon.
Ready to hit the water? Test your boarding skills on one of Maui’s most popular surf breaks. Or grab your snorkeling gear for vivid views of the bay’s underwater life. Hit the handy snack shack when hunger strikes.
If you’re looking for that classic mix of turquoise water, white sand, and plenty of activity options, put a pin in Hulopoe Beach on your map. Set on Lanai’s south coast, this pristine beach has it all.
A favorite of locals and visitors, this is the best spot on Lanai for aquatic action during the summer months. Hulopoe Bay is a protected site rich in colorful fish and marine life. Pack your snorkeling gear!
Beachside, keep your eyes peeled for the local spinner dolphins. And check out one of the beach’s unique highlights: large tide pools carved out of volcanic rock. Safe to explore, they offer tantalizing glimpses of hermit crabs, sea stars, and other marine creatures.
Ready for a change of pace? Drop into Hulopoe Beach Park. Pick out a picnic table, grill up a snack, and enjoy!
Are long walks on the beach high on your list of “favorite things to do”? Pack your footwear of choice and saunter over to Waimanalo Beach. Set on Oahu’s eastern coast, this pristine white-sugar beach is shaded by ironwood trees and offers spectacular views of the majestic Ko’olau Mountains.
Relax on the beach, or chill out in the turquoise waters. Waimanalo is a magnet for surfers—so grab a board and hit the surf.
Indulge your inner beachcomber as you explore the shore for shells, driftwood, and aquatic life. This spot is a haven for the iconic Hawaiian green sea turtle, so keep your eyes peeled.
No need to leave this paradise. Set up camp in the neighboring Sherwood Forest and spend the night under the stars.
Polihale State Park
If you prefer the road less traveled, Polihale State Park is right up your alley. To get there, you’ll need a four-wheel-drive vehicle to navigate the rugged route—but the destination is worth it!
Set on Kauai’s western shore, this remote park is a dream for travelers who want to get away from it all. The star attraction: Polihale Beach, a 17-mile stretch of pristine golden sand and one of the most beautiful beaches on Kauai.
Take a stroll, and you’ll be awed by views of 100-foot-high sand dunes and the iconic cliffs of the Na Pali Coast. Then, treat yourself to a leisurely chill-out session in the brilliant turquoise water.
Are you hooked? Book yourself a camping spot, spread out a blanket, and enjoy a spectacular sunset at one of the best areas to stay in Kauai.
Kailua Beach Park
Looking for a beautiful natural setting with lots of breathing room? Look no further than Kailua Beach Park. Set on Oahu’s eastern coast, its 2.5 miles of white sand is 30 minutes and a world away from the buzz of Waikiki.
Slip into a kayak to explore the beautiful Mokulua Islands, sanctuaries for many seabird species. Is that turquoise water calling out to you? Dive in! Ride the gentle waves on a boogie board, or experience the exhilaration of kite surfing when the wind kicks up.
Time to refuel? Pop into downtown Kailua (five minutes away) to pick up tasty Hawaiian plate lunches. Then, swing back to the beach, head for the picnic area, and chow down as you feast on the spectacular view.
Do massive waves and thundering surf get your motor running? Then you have to experience the heart-pounding thrill of Ehukai Beach. Set on Oahu’s northern shore, this roiling seascape is a paradise for surfing daredevils—and those who like to watch them.
Visit during the winter months to take in the spectacular scene as powerful waves reach heights of over 30 feet. Home to the legendary “Banzai Pipeline,” Ehukai is one of the most famous—and dangerous—surfing sites in the world.
Every winter, Ehukai hosts mega international surfing competitions; it’s no surprise that it’s a magnet for pro surfers and hardcore fans of the sport. As it’s one of the most popular places to stay in Oahu at this time of year, book ahead if you want to stay anywhere close to the big events. And don’t forget the binoculars!
Ever dreamed of visiting Bali Hai? Take a magic carpet ride to Makua Beach. One of the most secluded and undeveloped beaches on Oahu’s west coast, its mountainous green backdrop was featured in the 1958 movie classic South Pacific.
Discover Makua’s crescent beach, with its turquoise water rolling onto the soft white sand. Also known as “Tunnels Beach,” named for its perfect tunnel-shaped waves, Makua is a surfer’s dream.
Grab some gear and slip into the crystal clear water for a shot of Hawaii’s best snorkeling. The shallow depths over the offshore reef provide great views of the teeming underwater life.
Back on dry land, explore the beach’s intriguing tide pools. Stretch out on the golden sand under the shade of the ironwood trees. Keep your binoculars handy for sightings of the local wildlife favorites: the dolphins that swim a few hundred yards offshore.
Kapalua Bay Beach
Looking for a lively beach destination that you can immerse yourself in? Carve out some time for Kapalua Beach, on Maui’s northwest coast. This “Best Beach” award winner draws beach lovers from around the world.
Bordered by coconut palms, Kapalua Beach offers clear, calm water and exquisite white-sugar sand. The bay’s shallow water and protective reefs make it family-friendly and an ideal scuba and snorkeling site. The sheltered cove teems with colorful sea life. Grab your gear and head out to explore.
Waimea Bay Beach Park
Ready to take in some high-roller action? Cruise down to Waimea Bay Beach Park. Set on Oahu’s North Shore, this spot became the birthplace of Big Wave surfing back in the ’ ’50s—and the sport caught fire with board fans around the world.
During the summer months, stretch out on Waimea’s white sand and paddle in its turquoise waters. This protected conservation site makes for a thriving wildlife habitat. Put on some snorkeling gear and get acquainted with the diverse aquatic species that make their home here.
Come winter, Waimea Bay shows a different face. Between November and February, the waves are monsters, reaching heights of 30 feet. Whether you’re a surfer or a spectator, this is the place to enjoy the thrill of the Big Wave.