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The Hawaiian Islands are known for their incredible beaches, but have you stopped and asked yourself which beach has the clearest water in Hawaii?
Whether you are searching for a popular snorkeling destination or planning your first family beach vacation, we’ve compiled a list of 12 of the best Hawaii clear water beaches that are sure to take your breath away.
Which Hawaiian Island has the Clearest Water
Kauai’s beaches have some of the clearest water in Hawaii. So on your next trip to the Garden Isle make sure to add these beaches to your must-visit list!
Ke’e Beach is located on Kauai’s Northern shore in Haena State Park at the very end of Kuhio Highway. Not only can you expect to see beautiful clear water, but Ke’e Beach is also where the breathtaking Napali Coast begins and the scenic Kalalau hiking trail starts.
A large reef helps protect Ke’e, which is why this calm water Hawaii beach is a popular snorkeling destination.
Winter months on the north shore make the water conditions much more dangerous and unpredictable, so always obey all warnings from the lifeguards.
When visiting the Kee Beach Park be prepared for stunning views, incredible sunsets, and sparkling clear water.
Haena State Park now requires both an entrance and parking reservation. These tickets must be purchased ahead of time and can not be done on the day you plan on visiting the park.
Anini Beach is a tucked-away Hawaii Island beach near the town of Princeville.
The waters are shallow, clear and calm since a narrow reef protects them, but don’t let this fool you. Strong currents can be present further out from the coast even during the calmest ocean conditions.
It is best to enjoy the clear waters close to shore (and the inside sections of the reef).
Named America’s Best Beach by The Travel Channel, Poipu Beach Park is on the South Shore of Kauai. A tombola, a narrow sand split connecting the mainland to an island, separates this Hawaiian beach into two.
Poipu is crescent-shaped beach with crystal-clear waters and occasional endangered Hawaiian monk seal appearances – you can sometimes find the seals napping on the tombola.
The gentle waves that break on the shoreline are great for bodyboarding and there is a reef for snorkeling. Lifeguards are on duty at Poipu and during the winter months, you just may spot a humpback whale playing in the ocean off in the distance.
What Beach has the Clearest Water in Oahu
Lanikai Beach is known to many as the most beautiful beach on Oahu with its clear, blue water – Kailua Beach is a close second.
What more could you want on a Hawaii Island beach trip with two offshore islands and pristine, aqua waters?
Although some may say Lanikai Beach is not ideal for snorkeling, it is still a great place to become comfortable with the ocean, especially if you are learning to snorkel.
The tranquil waters are perfect conditions for swimming, but keep in mind there are no lifeguards on duty. Lanikai is slowly eroding and has only about a half mile of sand left, so it can fill up fast with visitors on the weekend.
Kailua Beach is the neighboring beach of Lanikai, located on the eastern coast of Oahu. The soft, white sand stretches 2.5 miles down the shoreline with a fantastic turquoise ocean backdrop.
A protective reef helps keep the waters calm, making it suitable for swimming, stand-up paddleboarding, windsurfing and even snorkeling.
There might not always be the clearest waters for snorkeling, but you’ll enjoy yourself no matter what activity you decide (even if that is sunbathing). Kailua Beach has facilities like restrooms, a picnic area, attentive lifeguards, and three parking lots.
Waikiki Beach is a popular spot on the bustling island of Oahu and attracts tourists from all over the world, but for a good reason.
The area is technically sectioned into seven beaches, offering different water activities and conditions for all visitors who choose Waikiki as their hangout spot. Some beaches are family-friendly, whereas others are ‘happening’ and busy.
One thing is for sure, though, you have stunning views of Diamond Head and picturesque turquoise, clear waters perfect for swimming and snorkeling. Be on the lookout for colorful fish and turtles. You never know what you’ll see on Hawaii beaches!
The Waikiki beaches have lifeguards on duty but ensure you heed all warnings for high surf or unsafe water conditions.
The Clearest Water in Maui is…
During the summer months, Honolua Bay offers the clearest water in Maui. If you are looking for the best swimming and snorkeling water on the Northwest coast of Maui then head to Honolua Bay.
To see the array of marine life, it requires swimming at least 600 to 700 feet from the shore. If this doesn’t sound like something you can do, consider taking a snorkeling tour.
You can expect to see butterfly fish, surgeonfish, eels, turtles, and various coral reefs. Keep in mind that no lifeguards are on-duty and no restrooms are available.
Considered one of Maui’s most famous beaches, Kaanapali Beach provides a little something for everyone. At the north end beside Black Rock, the crystal clear waters allow you to snorkel until your heart’s content.
During high surf season, you can watch the many surfers flock to the ocean for the 8 feet waves. Oh, and did we mention you can watch Humpback Whales during the winter?
If none of these popular activities sound appealing to you, there is also kayaking, sailing and you can even take surf lessons. The best thing is that there are rental booths for gear nearby, so you have options to keep you entertained all day long.
Makena State Park houses one of the largest beaches on Maui, with over 3,000 feet of soft golden sand. The size might explain how Makena Beach got its name Big Beach.
A dormant volcanic cinder cone separates Big Beach from Little Beach (they got real original with their names). Although the ocean looks enticing with magical clear waters, the waves break right on the shore and can be dangerous for swimming.
Of course, there are days when the water is calmer, but it is always a good idea to check the current conditions online.
You can also check with a stationed lifeguard at Makena Beach. Whether you are able to get in the water or not, you can count on being surrounded by natural beauty!
What are the best clear water beaches in Hawaii (Big Island)?
Sometimes the most rewarding experiences are those you have to work a little harder for, like hiking to the Makalawena Beach.
This Kona hike is by no means strenuous, but it is about a 20-minute walk across a lava field – so the key is to pack light. Makalawena’s secluded clear water beach offers excellent snorkeling when the ocean is calm, as well as a great spot for body surfing and swimming.
But, Hawaiian water conditions can change fast, so always be aware of your surroundings and remember no lifeguards are at this location.
Richardson Ocean Park
If you are looking for an exciting beach with a black sand beach – and green speckles, check out Richardson Ocean Park! The only beach in the Hilo area with black sand, to be exact.
If the colorful sand doesn’t excite you, maybe the clear, calm waters will.
The ocean is relatively calm since the beach is protected by a natural lava rock seawall, perfect conditions for snorkeling. Marine life is also abundant here, whether it’s a Hawaiian Island green sea turtle, a monk seal, tropical fish, or even migrating humpback whales (off in the distance, of course).
Related: Which Beaches in Hawaii have Black Sand?
Hapuna Beach is located on the Northwest shore of the Big Island. The white sand beach is perfect for sunbathing, made possible by the sunny Hawaiian days. Snorkeling is good, too, at Hapuna when the waters are calm.
If the seas aren’t clear enough for you or are too rough, consider exploring the Ala Kahakai National Historic Trail. If you are not a Hawaii resident, you must pay an entrance fee and pay to park your vehicle to enjoy the Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area.
Wrapping It Up…
We have no doubt that you’ll find a Hawaii clear water beach that will leave you speechless!
Just be sure to follow any warning signs when entering Hawaiian waters and you’ll be guaranteed to have an amazing tropical island experience.