The Aloha State is filled with glorious beaches beckoning Mainlanders to frolick on their shores. And while picking one single favorite would be almost impossible (and require extensive in-person research), we were able to put together a list of the best Hawaii beaches. Enjoy!
Lanikai Beach, Oahu
Its name translates roughly to “heavenly sea.” And with its turquoise waters and fine white sand, it certainly lives up to the name. Offshore reefs keep the waters relatively calm, making it ideal for a leisurely dip.
Love sunsets? If you happen to be there as evening falls, you’re in luck, as it’s known to offer one of the best sunsets on the island. It’s also the ideal place to watch the moonrise, since its located on the eastern side of the island.
Poipu Beach was once named America’s best beach by the Travel Channel. Peaceful tradewinds that blow offshore keep the waters calm, making it an ideal destination for both families with small children and beach goers who prefer to lounge.
In addition to the long stretch of golden sand and calm waters, beach goers soaking in the scenery might be treated to a view of endangered monk seals sunbathing on shore. And as Poipu is split into two bays, those who are looking to snorkel, body board or even surf can leave the calmer waters behind and enjoy the waves.
Maniniowali Beach, the Big Island
Its fine white sand and clear water give it a distinct resemblance to a typical Caribbean beach. It’s a popular beach for bodyboarding and provides snorkelers with an underwater coral-filled world to explore. It’s best to visit the beach in the morning, as in the afternoons the winds typically pick up. And remember – you might want to pack a beach umbrella, as shade is not abundant on this beach.
Hanalei Bay, Kauai
The largest bay on the island of Kauai, the crescent-shaped Hanalei Bay has white sand beaches and azure blue waters. Vivid green mountains frequently wrapped in mist and large waterfalls form the picture perfect backdrop for the beautiful beach. During the summer months, the bay becomes as calm as a lake – perfect for swimmers and popular with stand up paddle boarders. In winter, the large waves make it an ideal destination for surfers. Movie buffs might recognize the beach as the setting for the classic film, South Pacific.
Papohaku Beach, Molokai
With three miles of sandy shoreline, Papohaku Beach is one of Hawaii’s longest beaches. About one hundred miles wide, it’s the perfect place to get away from the crowds. Take a long stroll along the beach or enjoy water activities such as bodysurfing, snorkeling, body boarding, swimming or even surfing.
Kaanapali Beach, Maui
One of Maui’s most-visited beaches, Kaanapali Beach was once a retreat for the royalty of Maui. Today visitors can enjoy an array of beach activities, including volleyball, surf lessons, parasailing and sailing. In addition, fans of snorkeling can enjoy the excellent snorkeling conditions near Black Rock, a large volcanic rock which divides the beach.
Hapuna Beach, the Big Island
Consistently named in top travel publications as the most beautiful beach, Hapuna Beach is extremely popular with both travelers and locals. Its cream-colored sands slope down to meet the crystalline waters. Grassy areas provide the perfect place for a midday picnic. In late spring and in summer, the conditions are ideal for swimming, as well as snorkeling and bodysurfing. In the fall and particularly in the winter, the surf becomes more rough.
Waikiki Beach, Oahu
Waikiki Beach is one of the most famous beaches in the world. It provides a range of activities including crowd watching, surfing, boogie boarding, swimming, outrigger canoe and catamaran rides. If you want to step away from the bustle of it all, head over to the other end of Waikiki, where you’ll find 200 acres of parkland at the base of Diamond Head. Join the locals for a swim at Sans Souci Beach or a jog in the park. [see Waikiki vacation rentals from $49/night]
Hulopoe Beach Park, Lanai
Hulopoe Beach Park offers a pristine white sand beach and clear, inviting waters. With stunningly colorful fish and crystalline and aqua waters, you’ll find some of the best snorkeling in Hawaii. The small beach is at the head of Hulopoe Bay, which is part of a marine life conservation district.
Punaluu Beach, the Big Island
Panaluu Black Sand Beach is one of Hawaii’s most famous black sand beaches. One of the rare wonders of nature, the black sand beach formed when lava from Mauna Loa and Kilaue, two of the planet’s most active volcanoes, flowed into the ocean, quickly cooled and broke into a beach full of tiny pieces. Depending on when you visit this beach, you just might be able to spot a Hawaiian Green Sea Turtle basking on the sand. Or you could encounter the endangered turtles while snorkeling. At the far end of the beach, you’ll find a natural freshwater wading pool, where you can rinse off the sea water.
Did your favorite Hawaiian beach not make the list? Leave a comment and let us know!
And if you’re headed to Hawaii, find the perfect Hawaii vacation rental on Tripping. We’ve got a huge selection of vacation rentals, but here are a few.
This beautifully remodeled studio is in the town of Princeville, “which features an unparalleled string of gorgeous white sandy beaches and lush green mountains plunging down to the Ocean. Hanalei Bay, Annini, and Kalihiwai beaches are 7 minutes away, and beyond them a dozen more world class beaches line this incredible coastline.” $40/night
Check out Villa D’Este — Lanikai, Hawaii Beachfront Tropical Paradise ($65/night). With a description like the one below, who wouldn’t want to stay there?
Imagine waking in a tropical paradise with swaying palm trees and white sand beaches, where the ocean miraculously changes hues from soft teal to bright turquoise and shades of emerald. Watch the sun dance on the sea like millions of sparkling diamonds and feel the warm sand under your feet as you bathe in the beauty of all that surrounds you.
Enjoy all the comforts of home in this beautiful Waikiki apartment, just a 3-minute walk to Waikiki Beach and close to the nightlife of downtown Waikiki. Wake up to a view of the mountains, the Ala Wei Canal and the picturesque valleys. If you’re renting a car to explore the island, this place is perfect as it offers free parking. $65/night
Sleep 4 guests in this spectacular oceanfront home in Maui. It’s less than a half hour drive from Kaanapali Beach and Lahaina. This unit is “literally right at the ocean, the view is spectacular” and you can “enjoy watching whales, dolphins and turtles from your private lanai 50 ft from the Pacific Ocean.” $135/night
This lush garden view condo is just steps from Kaanapali Beach. Relax on the grassy lawn that fronts the beach, while you sit comfortably under the palm trees and gaze out at the islands of Lanai and Molokai. Step out onto the sand beach and double-reef which offers excellent snorkeling. You’ll be steps away from the cabana area where you’ll find picnic tables, grills surrounded by granite countertops, a swimming pool and spa. $70/night
The Oneloa Beach Villa is one of the finest Maui villas, with a private white sand beach and a 60 foot long oceanfront infinity-edge pool. Guests who stay here will be near tennis courts, golf courses and fine dining and shopping opportunities. Relax in the oceanview jacuzzi or lounge at the poolside bar and grill. The waterfalls and lush landscaping make it a haven of tranquility. $6,500/night
This two bedroom home sleeps six. It’s just 2 blocks from city restaurants, Dole Park, a world class golf course and more. “Though remodeled the home has maintained its original charm and Hawaiian style.” $175/night
This charming, beautifully remodeled historic Lanai home is a “renovated ‘Hale Ohana,’ Hawaiian for ‘Family Home.’ Relax on the front deck while you enjoy an island sunset, or have a BBQ in the large back yard tropical retreat with fruit trees and a view of the lush mountains.” $193/night
This oceanfront Molokai condo has incredible views of the tropical grounds and the ocean – all the way across to Maui. Recently remodeled, it offers resort amenities including a recently refurbished swimming pool and resurfaced tennis courts. “You will have all the comforts of home but with paradise just outside your door.” $89/night
Search Tripping to see all our Hawaii vacation rentals, with reviews and ratings on listings from top vacation rental sites in one place.
Photo credits: Photo 1; Photo 2; Photo 3; Photo 4; Photo 5; Photo 6; Photo 7; Photo 8; Photo 9; Photo 10