Being an island nation, it’s not at all surprising that Hawaii is known for its amazing beaches and one of the main reasons to go to Hawaii in the first place. And if you’ve ever looked at pictures of this gorgeous state, you’ve probably dreamed several times of stretching out on one of those beaches.
However, if you’re beginning to plan your vacation to Hawaii, the question quickly becomes: Which beach?
There are hundreds! And while you can rarely go wrong when it comes to beaches in Hawaii, here are the top five!
Kailua Beach Park, Oahu
A local favorite beach spot, Kailua Beach Park has all the makings of a perfect Hawaiian beach.
Pristine, white sand. Clear, blue water.
Plenty of water activities and places to explore along its two mile shoreline. Unlike several of the other beaches closer to tourist hot spots, Kailua is much less crowded and has a more laid back feel to it.
There are several locally owned shop along the shore that offer gear rental, so you can snorkel, visit some amazing Oahu dive sites, parasail, kayak, or wind surf, even if you’ve forgotten your gear.
Kailua is preferred by locals and families because it has convenient parking and facilities, which is not always the case.
If you’re feeling extra adventurous, you can kayak from Kailua Beach to Flat Island, a four acre island that’s only 1/4th of a mile off shore from Kailua. It’s a favorite spot to rest after kayaking or surfing and its perfectly flat surface make it easy to walk over and explore.
Kailua Beach Park is the perfect place for a day trip. It has restrooms, picnic tables, rentals, and is close enough to restaurants that you won’t have to wander far for any of your needs.
Most importantly, the beach is gorgeous and the water is clear, with calm waves that make it perfect for young swimmers. But, it also offers challenges for the more adventurous beach goers.
Hamoa Beach, Maui
I'm often asked - Which Hawaiian Island has the best beaches? - and it's hard to bet against Maui.
A public beach located near Hana, Hamoa is a smaller beach that is very much worth the visit. Its mixed sand flows into clear water that is a favorite for local surfers.
Sandwiched between cliffs, Hamoa is a thousand foot long beach that is maintained by Hotel Hana Maui, so it always looks pristine. With trees and brush lining the edge of the beach, it offers a perfect amount of shade if you need a break during your visit.
Hamoa is considered family friendly and has restrooms and showers onsite. If you’re staying at Hotel Hana Maui, there’s a shuttle that will drop you off at a staircase that leads down to the beach.
However, you don’t have to be a hotel guest to enjoy this strip of beach. There’s public parking, too.
Hamoa Beach is great for wading, snorkeling, and surfing. In fact, this beach has been used for hundreds of years by locals as a place for surfing. You can still see locals there surfing and it’s worth it to stop and ask them any questions you might have.
One of the best secrets about Hamoa Beach is that it shares an edge with Mokae Cove, another little beach.
While it isn’t suggested for weak swimmers, if you’re up for an adventure, you can swim over to Mokae, which is often deserted. You can enjoy some alone time before heading back to the more maintained Hamoa Beach.
Hanalei Bay Beach, Kauai
The largest bay in Kauai, Hanalei Bay Beach can only be described as breathtaking.
There are very few places in Hawaii that aren’t beautiful, but framed by mountains and turquoise waters, there’s something special about Hanalei Bay.
The sand here is a perfect white and there isn’t a day that goes by that this beach isn’t visited by snorkeling and surfing lovers.
Because the bay spreads out over a large space, it offers different water landscapes, making it perfect for those who want to try several activities in one day. There are several coral reefs off the bay that can entertain snorkelers for hours.
And, near the center of the bay, there are sandbars that swimmers can take breaks on if they get tired of swimming. On one side of the bay there’s a perfect section of calmer water for families with young children or for those who come for the view.
Of course, there’s plenty of surfing opportunities throughout the bay as well.
Hanalei has great public parking and is extremely easy to get to. If you’re interested in spending extended amounts of time there, you’ll be glad to know they have restrooms and showers.
Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area, Hawaii (Big Island)
For those who just can’t get enough of visiting the beaches of Hawaii, Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area offers cabins for campers. And, considering how beautiful Hapuna is, one day might not be enough.
Hapuna is a huge beach, covered with soft sand, giving plenty of space for beachgoers to spread out.
Hapuna has decent waves and they aren’t very rough. This makes it perfect if you want to spend some time snorkeling or for doing more casual swims. It’s also a great opportunity for those who want to practice their surfing or to bodysurf.
Because it also provides facilities for campers, Hapuna Beach has all the facilities you could ever need for a day trip.
There’s plenty of parking and access to the beach is easy going. There are toilets and showers, plus several picnic areas if you’ve brought your own lunch.
Waikiki Beach, Oahu
A little different than the other beaches on this list, Waikiki is one of the most famous beaches in all of Hawaii. It’s definitely a tourist location, so there are always plenty of people to share with, but it’s definitely worth sharing.
While Waikiki is a beautiful beach, with Hawaii’s renowned clear water and white sand, visiting it will give you the opportunity to see dozens of different Oahu attractions, all with the beach in the background.
Waikiki has a ‘strip’ full of stores and restaurants, so you don’t have to wander far from your chair to take a break from the sun and sand.
There is always lots going on, with singers, comedians, and other forms of entertainment taking place all within walking distance of the beach.
However, Waikiki is still a Hawaiian beach and it still offers some of the best surfing and canoeing on the island. There are plenty of places to take lessons and you can even rent gear if you’re interested in trying other water activities.
At Waikiki Beach, you definitely will never get bored but make sure to be Hawaiianly and use your eco friendly reef safe sunscreen while you're there!