Along with Hawaii’s infamous warm weather and laid-back vibe, it’s also home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Explore the best beaches in Hawaii to find turquoise waters and fine white sand. If you’re lucky, you may even spot a pink sand beach, too!
Hawaii beaches are known for incredible opportunities for beginner and skilled scuba divers. You can also swim and surf much of Hawaii’s water. The beautiful ocean scenery also makes these beaches excellent spots for taking beautiful pictures, honeymooning, and family vacations. And, of course, with mostly sunny days and temperatures in the 80s just about all year, Hawaii beaches are the perfect spot for catching some rays!
Whether you’re looking for a family-friendly spot, a peaceful place to relax, or a lively beach, you can certainly find it at the best of Hawaii’s beaches!
1. Lanikai Beach, Kailua
Lanikai Beach is a tiny but lovely half-mile stretch of fine golden sand. It’s located in Kailua, on Oahu’s windward coast just south of the popular Kailua Beach Park. This stunning beach is known for its sand, beautiful palm trees, and calm waters.
To help you find this somewhat hidden spot, look for a tiny walkway between the upper-class residential buildings around the beach. Just offshore of this peaceful beach are two small islands. The view of these two islands is breathtaking and provides excellent picture backdrops– it’s no surprise that many tourists consider it an ideal site for dawn photography.
One of these two islands is a bird refuge which is an ideal site for wildlife enthusiasts. Because of the constant wind, this beach is one of the top beaches for surfing in Hawaii. It’s also among the famous beaches for sailing, snorkeling, and kayaking.
The beach also has ample space to sunbathe, especially if you arrive early. With that said, the Koolau Mountains block the afternoon sun.
Since Lanikai is public property, there aren’t amenities like lifeguards, restrooms, or showers. Despite this, it can get quite busy, particularly on weekends. This can make parking challenging along with its close proximity to residential areas. Be sure to arrive early!
2. Waikiki Beach, Honolulu
Waikiki Beach is one of the most famous beaches in Oahu and the world. It receives over 4 million tourists each year and provides breathtaking views of Diamond Head, the iconic volcanic cone.
The town of Waikiki is a well-known affluent Honolulu suburb on Oahu’s south coast. It used to be a playground for Hawaiian royalty but now hosts Oahu’s major resorts, restaurants, and hotels today.
Waikiki Beach became popular after the building of the Moana Surfrider, the first hotel that opened in the area in 1901. This beach is ideal for snorkeling, swimming, and sun tanning.
The English translation of “Waikiki” is “sprouting waters.” This beach has constant, moderate waves and is loved by experienced surfers from around the world.
If you’re looking for accommodation in the area, there are several 5-star hotels and luxury resorts within walking distance to the beach. There is also a plethora of restaurants serving delectable cuisine.
3. Hapuna Beach State Park, Hawaii County
Hapuna Beach is one of the world’s longest white sand beaches, according to several travel magazines. This is hardly surprising given that Hapuna Beach can be seen on many postcards. The beach is located on the Big Island’s volcanic west coast and is protected by Hapuna Beach State Park.
Families and casual swimmers love this half-mile length of the gentle waves. There are also lifeguards on duty all year long. Visitors and residents of the area can snorkel and bodyboard in the crystal clear water during the summer season. There are hundreds of large trees along the coast to catch some shade from the sun.
The Hapuna Beach is an excellent winter destination for tourists and water sport enthusiasts who enjoy body surfing, kayaking, and boogie boarding. The waves that rise on the beach during winter make it ideal for water activities. Meanwhile, the calmer days are suitable for swimming and enjoying beachside cocktails. Visit during January or February to catch sights of humpback whales.
4. Ala Moana Beach Park, Honolulu
Ala Moana Beach Park is a playground that’s home to a beach that stretches over a half-mile distance. It’s definitely worth a visit, especially if you like a quieter day at the beach. It’s typically less congested than the more well-known Waikiki Beach.
This beach and Wakili Beach were swamplands before the Ala Wai Canal came into existence in the 1920s. The canal diverts runoff water from the mountains into the ocean to prevent it from flooding the area.
The proprietor of the Dillingham Dredging Company created the Ala Moana Beach in the 1950s after he deposited his dredged sand in the park, resulting in the formation of the beach. Today, the Ala Moana park spans about 100 acres.
The park has various amenities that many other surrounding beaches don’t. You can find several acres of shade, picnic tables, and a large stretch of grass for hanging out or running around. The beach has three concession stands, tennis courts, a half-crescent beach, and a yacht club.
Ala Moana Beach is one of the best beaches in Oahu given its pristine appearance. Its convenient location and relaxing atmosphere make it was on of Hawaii’s top beaches for locals and visitors. Just across the stress is the Ala Moana Mall if you’re looking to change things up.
5. Kaanapali Beach, Kaanapali
Kaanapali Beach constantly ranks as one of the best beaches on Maui’s west coast. The beach stretches over three miles with crystal blue waters and white sand. This beach is bordered by the Sheraton Maui on the north and the Hyatt Regency Maui on the South.
This beautiful beach was once a playground for the Maui aristocracy and it is now among the most visited tourist attractions on the Big Island. Kaanapali Beach is among Hawaii’s first intended resort communities.
Kaanapali Beach has two championship golf courses, several restaurants with delicious menus, and a plethora of resorts, spas, and hotels right by the beach. The beach is famous for scenic walks, snorkeling, scuba diving, and cliff jumping. Let’s not forget to mention the awesome sunset whale-watching views.
6. Kaunaoa Beach, Hawaii County
Kaunaoa Beach is a famous white-sand beach near Hapuna Beach on the Kohala Coast. This beach is renowned for snorkeling and swimming, especially during the summer months when the weather is calmer.
It’s among the favorite beaches for families with its smooth white sand gradually descending into the ocean. It also has plenty of trees that offer shade along the fringe.
Along with playing in the water, Kaunaoa Beach is a great place for sunbathing. The beach can quickly get crowded, so you’ll need to arrive early enough to use the parking spaces in front of the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel.
For a bite to eat or a drink, walk over to the hotel restaurant that sits directly on the beach. Find excellent meals and great tropical beverages (such as ice-cold Pina Coladas) that are well worth the cost!
Note that waves at Kaunaoa Beach may become more prominent during the winter months, so entering the water can be dangerous due to powerful rip currents. With that said, the waters are usually calmer during other seasons. Check out summer surf lessons, too!
7. Sandy Beach, Honolulu
Sandy Beach is located in Honolulu and is one of the most beautiful and famous places in Hawaii. It’s located on the southeast coast and has about 1,200ft long golden sand beach that offers an escape from Waikiki for a day of sunbathing.
Since Sandy Beach faces Molokai, currents can be powerful. This invites many people to go boogie boarding and bodysurfing. However, swimming isn’t recommended unless it’s a calmer day with more gentle waves. In fact, lifeguards on duty continually warn visitors that swimming may be hazardous due to the rough waves.
When you’re not playing in the water or sunbathing, there are other activities the vast flat landscape offers. Visitors like to go for peaceful walks, toss frisbees, and fly kites.
8. Wailea Beach, Kihei
This unique beach is among the best beaches in Hawaii and the world with its stunning crescent shape. Wailea Beach spans the 1,500-acre resort town of Wailea, about 35 minutes from Kahului Airport in South Maui.
Wailea Beach constantly ranks among the best beaches in Maui with its fine soft sand that stretches along the water that’s perfect for swimming and snorkeling. The beach has black lava points shielding it on both sides.
The Wailea area hosts several luxurious hotel properties like the Grand Wailea and the Four Seasons Resort Maui, both of which offer views of the beach. The area is also a famous vacation site for several celebrities so don’t be surprised if you see a familiar face on the beach.
Aside from swimming and snorkeling, visitors enjoy scuba diving and whale-watching. You can conveniently rent beach gear and equipment along the beach, too. To change things up, you can also head to one of the other white sand beaches nearby.
The beach offers several amenities including showers and restrooms. However, there aren’t lifeguards on duty so be mindful of children or newbie swimmers.
9. Punalu’u Beach, Hawaii County
Punalu’u Beach, which lies close to the stunning Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, is one of Big Island’s most distinctive black-sand beaches. Because black sand heats up far quicker than white sand, you’ll want to wear your flip-flops on when strolling around this beach.
This Hawaiian beach is accessible through the Mamalahoa Highway. Tourists wishing to swim here should check the conditions of the waters beforehand since there may be strong currents. With that said, there is a lifeguard on duty year-round.
While the black sand is pretty warm, the heat draws green sea turtles (or honu) to the beach. Some tourists and locals have seen a couple of these gorgeous, endangered animals warming themselves up or swimming around the coast.
Punalu’u Beach isn’t the best place for snorkeling or swimming, but it’s only a short walk away from beaches that are. With that said, the views are top-notch. Grab a seat on the sand in the afternoon for a picturesque sunset scenery when the colors bouncing off the sand give a distinct appearance of white-sand beaches. The route leading to the parking lot also leads to a beautiful coastal walk with spectacular views.
10. Hanalei Bay Beach, Kauai County
Hanalei Bay Beach is a gold-sand beach that runs for two miles on the Na Pali Coast. It lies on the North Coast of Kauai Island, which people also call the “Garden Island” because of its landscape – lush valleys, sharp mountains, and rugged cliffs.
This Hawaii beach is the largest and best in Kauai that attracts locals and tourists from all walks of life. It’s best for surfers during the summer because of its strong waves. Beachgoers also enjoy swimming, kayaking, and paddleboarding.
Be sure to bring your camera because Hanalei Bay Beach boasts breathtaking views of Hawaii mountains. In the summer, you may also catch dolphins jumping up from the water, too.
If you plan to vacation in Hanalei, expect a small beach town with a laid-back vibe. Get ready to find many great restaurants and food trucks, too!
11. Kahalu’u Beach Park, Kahaluu-Keauhou
Kahalu’u Beach is a quaint beach and reef with calm waters. It’s a great family-friendly and water adventurer spot. The beach is mostly coral reef and lava rock, so we do suggest wearing water shoes.
The shallow cove is filled with sea turtles and fish ideal for snorkeling, even for newbies. If you have children learning to swim, Kahalu’u’s shallow coral reefs make it the best beach for it! There are also watersport lessons available around the area.
Many tourists enjoy spending the night in the Kona Coast Resort. The hotel has fully-equipped villas, dining areas, a kitchen, living rooms, pools, tennis courts, and a playground for kids. It also has beach restrooms and showers. There’s also a lifeguard on duty at all times.
Enjoy an educational experience at Kahalu’u Bay Education Center and the proceeds go toward education and conservation of the beach’s ecosystem. You can also rent snorkel gear and other beach items at the center.
12. Makapuu Beach Park, Waimanalo Beach
Located at the Eastern end of the O’ahu Hawaiian island, many tourists visit Makapuu to see the scenic Makapuu Lighthouse that stands like a guard at the mountain top. The beach is below Makapuu Point inside a cove of soft sand with several dark lava rocks surrounding it.
With ample marine life, Makapuu Beach has been rated as the best beach for snorkeling. Beachgoers also appreciate the bodyboarding and bodysurfing opportunities on the right side of the beach. Lifeguards are always on duty at Makapuu. When you’re out of the water, you can find showers and restrooms.
Don’t forget to check out the incredible views from the lighthouse of the beach, coastline, and Hawaiian mountains!
13. Diamond Head Beach Park, Honolulu
The gorgeous Diamond Head Beach Park spans about 2 acres towards the east of Waikiki and below the ancient extinct volcano crater, the Diamond Head. The beach has steep, rugged cliffs and reefs that make it unsuitable for swimming but great for surfing.
Since swimming is advised against, there are fewer crowds than at the nearby Waikiki Beach. Surfers love this! Snorkelers also enjoy doing their thing when the waves are moderate. When the tide is low, Waikiki Beach is also a good spot for strolling on the sand. Pets are welcome, too!
At the park, you can find even more experiences to enjoy. Wander around and catch breathtaking views and snap a picture at the tree swing. You can also visit the Diamond Head Lighthouse and enjoy lunch at one of the picnic tables.
14. Spencer Beach, Hawaii County
Spencer Beach is a great vacation destination for people who prefer more of a secret beach vibe surrounded by nature. This beach sits north of Kailua-Kona and Waikoloa, close to the Big Island and Waimea turnoff.
The beach is usually less crowded and more peaceful than most beaches on the west side because it’s far from other popular tourist destinations. It’s also one of the few white sand beaches in the area where you don’t have to worry about rocks.
The trees along the beach provide shades for picnic tables while enjoying the beautiful view. The beach has reefs that protect it from strong currents and harsh waves, making it an excellent spot for scuba diving and snorkeling.
A popular attraction close to this Big Island beach is the Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Temple. You can also hike on the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail to view the beautiful landscape around the coast.
15. Makaha Beach Park, Makaha
Makaha Beach lies on Oahu’s west coast in a 21-acre park. The beach is among the best surfing beaches in Oahu. It’s also great for bodyboarding, boogie boarding, and swimming.
Like other Hawaiian beaches, the waters are usually calmer during the summer and swimmers can enjoy playing in the ocean. The winter season brings dangerous rip currents but a strong surf for skilled surfers. Only surfers have access to the northern end of Makaha Beach.
You’ll always find signs and directions around the beach showing the sea condition. If you’re unsure what the symbols mean, you can always ask the lifeguards on duty.
The beach does not have many shady trees, so be sure to bring an umbrella if you want some shade. Otherwise, enjoy sunbathing on the gorgeous sand.
While Makaha Beach is fairly empty during the week, many locals flock to the area on the weekends.
With warm, blue waters and pristine soft sands, these incredible beaches in Hawaii have so much to offer. You can enjoy stunning views, boogie boarding, surfing, swimming, and sunbathing. Best of all, the weather and water temperatures are warm all year long. We hope you have an unforgettable Hawaii beach experience!