71 F
Honolulu

Hawaii Travel & Things To Do In Hawaii

Amy Fujimotohttps://alohawithlove.com
I grew up in Hawaii and love trying out new things to do in Hawaii. When I'm not writing about Hawaii travel, I document my Mom's recipes, hike with Daisy the waddling rescue, work on my 200-gallon aquaponics system, and dream about my future van conversion so I can do some more traveling.

Comment below so we can discuss!

This post may contain affiliate links. If you click these links to buy something I may earn a commission with no additional cost to you. This helps keep Aloha With Love running, thank you! Learn More.

As a frequent traveler myself, I wanted to create a list of the best beaches in Hawaii to help you figure out which beaches you should be visiting during your trip to the islands. This list is of course my opinion, but I hope it helps you to at least narrow down your choices based on what kind of beach you’re looking for.

Aloha with love,
Amy

About the best beaches in Hawaii

Creating a list of the best beaches in Hawaii is realistically too difficult because everyone is looking for the best Hawaii beach for them. You might be a family with kids, a couple who likes to snorkel, or a solo traveler looking for a secluded Hawaiian Beach for your next Instagram post. So instead, I’ve separated my favorite Hawaii beaches into helpful categories. Hopefully this helps you choose the best beach in Hawaii for your trip to the islands!

Best beaches in Hawaii: Tunnels Beach. Hawaii travel. Things to do in Kauai. Things to do in Hawaii.
Tunnels Beach in Kauai, Hawaii is one of the best beaches in Hawaii for snorkeling and diving.

Best beaches in Hawaii: Hawaiian Islands

If you love going to the beach in Hawaii and are determined to visit the very best, this list of the best beaches in Hawaii is for you. This list is especially useful if you’ll be island hopping or only have a couple days to explore.

Snorkeling: One of the best beaches in Hawaii for snorkeling in my opinion has got to be Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Reserve in Maui. There’s plenty of fish, turtles, and coral to keep you busy as you explore this protected area.

Toddlers: Sometimes you need a safe place for your toddler to splash in the water. I personally really like Baby Makapuu Beach in Oahu. There are a few tide pools for your little one to sit and splash in and the waters in that area are flat and shallow. Usually you’ll see a few moms here sitting with their toddlers talking story.

Family-friendly: I really like Kaanapali Beach as an all-around family-friendly beach in Hawaii. Located in Maui, this is one of the best beaches in Hawaii because it’s got a little bit of everything: a gorgeous view, nice sand, some snorkeling, parking, and restroom and shower facilities.

Surfing lessons: Waikiki is the best beach in Hawaii to learn how to surf because the environment is ideal for beginners. Local residents who are surfing are a little more careful around new surfers and are more forgiving in regards to the unwritten rules of surfing. Plus, there are so many surfing lessons available on this long stretch of beach that you’ll get your pick on what type of lesson you’d like to have.

Kayaking and SUP (stand up paddleboard): Keauhou Bay on the Big Island is a lovely place to kayak and one of the best beaches in Hawaii for stand up paddleboarding. Many Big Island tours begin at Keauhou Bay so check this beach out especially if you want to do some water activities.

Sandy: Haena Beach in Kauai is pretty spectacular if you’re looking for a sandy beach in Hawaii. The view is gorgeous and the natural curve of the shore makes this one of the best beaches in Hawaii.

Secluded: Papohaku Beach on Molokai is one of the best beaches in Hawaii for those Instagram-worthy secluded beach shots. You won’t find any facilities here, but the 3-mile long beach is gorgeous.

Swimming: It may surprise you to know that Ala Moana Beach (next to Waikiki) is one of the best beaches in Hawaii to swim. Many swimmers enjoy an early morning swim, and Ala Moana Beach has flat waters, parking, lifeguards, and shower and restroom facilities where you can change clothes and get ready for the rest of your day.

Turtles: Kiholo Bay is a local gem on the Big Island that’s one of the best beaches in Hawaii for swimming with turtles. It requires a short coastal hike, but the trip is worth it.

Best beaches in Hawaii: Haena Beach. Hawaii travel. Things to do in Kauai. Things to do in Hawaii.
Haena Beach in Kauai is both sandy and secluded.

Oahu

Oahu’s beaches can be separated into four areas: north, south, east, and west, although we call these areas North Shore, South Shore, Windward Oahu, and West Oahu (or Leeward Oahu) respectively. The main differences are:

  • North Shore: Oahu’s North Shore has some of the best beaches in Hawaii for surfing. In fact, it’s a huge attraction in Oahu and almost everybody visiting here will visit the North Shore at least once during their vacation.
  • South Shore: Oahu’s South Shore is relatively calm all year round so it has some of the best beaches in Hawaii for kids and surfing lessons. The most famous beach in Oahu’s South Shore are the Waikiki beaches: 9 beaches that run along the Waikiki strip.
  • Windward Oahu (East Oahu): Local residents will call the east side of Oahu “the Windward side”, where its beaches are known for that powdery white sand. In my opinion, you’ll find some of the best beaches in Hawaii for families here. The waves are gentle, there are few corals and rocks to stub your toes on, and you can do a bunch of water activities here.
  • West Oahu (Leeward Oahu): On occasion we’ll call the east side of Oahu “Leeward Oahu”, but most people here will refer to the entire west side as West Oahu. Ko Olina is the only resort you’ll find on West Oahu. After Ko Olina there are only local residents, grocery shops, small restaurants, and a community that live off of and rely on the ocean on a daily basis. West Oahu has some of the best secluded beaches in Hawaii that offer some pretty spectacular views.
Best beaches in Hawaii: Kailua Beach. Hawaii travel. Things to do in Oahu. Things to do in Hawaii.
Kailua Beach on the windward side of Oahu is famous for it’s soft, powdery white sand.

Snorkeling: Shark’s Cove is probably my favorite snorkeling beach in Hawaii that I go to several times a year. Located in Oahu, it’s one of the best beaches in Hawaii for snorkeling, diving, and exploring interesting rock formations.

Toddlers: Sometimes you need a safe place for your toddler to splash in the water. I personally really like Baby Makapuu Beach in Oahu. There are a few tide pools for your little one to sit and splash in and the waters in that area are flat and shallow. Usually you’ll see a few moms here sitting with their toddlers talking story.

Family-friendly: I really like Waimea Bay for a family beach day here in Oahu. It’s one of the best beaches in Hawaii for a gorgeous view, lovely sand, a huge jumping rock and lifeguards on duty.

Surfing lessons: Waikiki is the best beach in Hawaii to learn how to surf because the environment is ideal for beginners. Local residents who are surfing are a little more careful around new surfers and are more forgiving in regards to the unwritten rules of surfing. Plus, there are so many surfing lessons available on this long stretch of beach that you’ll get your pick on what type of lesson you’d like to have.

Kayaking and SUP (stand up paddleboarding): A popular beach for kayaking and SUP are Lanikai Beach and Kailua Beach (both are right next to each other). The waters here are flat almost all year round and you can even paddle your way to Mokulua Islands.

Sandy: One of my favorite beaches in Oahu is Waimanalo Beach. It’s more popular with local residents, but the sand is similar to the sands of famous Lanikai Beach and you can walk along the gorgeous coastline in either direction. I may be biased, but in my opinion it’s one of the best beaches in Hawaii if you want to walk along a beautiful sandy beach.

Secluded: You would think that finding a secluded (and beautiful) beach in Oahu is impossible, but Mokuleia Army Beach will change your mind. It’s a bit of a drive to reach this best beach in Hawaii for seclusion, but it’s perfect if you want a beach all to yourself.

Swimming: It may surprise you to know that Ala Moana Beach (next to Waikiki) is one of the best beaches in Hawaii to swim. Many swimmers enjoy an early morning swim, and Ala Moana Beach has flat waters, parking, lifeguards, and shower and restroom facilities where you can change clothes and get ready for the rest of your day.

Turtles: Laniakea Beach in Oahu’s North Shore is nicknamed “Turtle Beach” because of the Hawaiian green sea turtles that like to pull themselves up the shore on a daily basis to work on their daily tan. Much of the North Shore traffic is due to Laniakea Beach’s popularity so take that into consideration as you explore Oahu’s North Shore.

Best beaches in Hawaii: Ala Moana Beach. Hawaii travel. Things to do in Oahu. Things to do in Hawaii.
Ala Moana Beach Park is one of the best beaches in Hawaii for swimming. There are plenty of facilities and the waters are flat all year round. Editorial credit: Phillip B. Espinasse / Shutterstock.com

Maui

Maui has some of the best beaches in Hawaii. There are plenty of family-friendly beaches, snorkeling spots, and shorelines that turtles love to frequent. Maui also has some of the best views in Hawaii from its beaches. With Molokai, Lanai, Kahoolawe, and Molokini within viewing distance, you’ll be able to enjoy some of Maui’s most iconic views right from the shore.

Best beaches in Hawaii: Olowalu Beach. Hawaii travel. Things to do in Maui. Things to do in Hawaii.
Olowalu Beach in Maui is one of the best beaches in Hawaii for kayaking, SUP, and snorkeling.

Snorkeling: One of the best beaches in Hawaii for snorkeling in my opinion has got to be Ahihi-Kinau Natural Area Reserve in Maui. There’s plenty of fish, turtles, and coral to keep you busy as you explore this protected area.

Toddlers: Kamaole Beach I, II, III (aka Kam I, II, III) are all kid-friendly, but Kamaole Beach III is a popular favorite among locals.

Family-friendly: I really like Kaanapali Beach as an all-around family-friendly beach in Hawaii. Located in Maui, this is one of the best beaches in Hawaii because it’s got a little bit of everything: a gorgeous view, nice sand, some snorkeling, parking, and restroom and shower facilities.

Surfing lessons: Maui has some of the best beaches in Hawaii for learning how to surf. But if you’re looking for the best, head to “The Cove” (Cove Beach Park). Keep in mind that most of the surfing instructors and schools will take their students to where the waves are, so you may not necessarily end up at this popular surf spot for beginners.

Kayaking and SUP (stand up paddleboarding): With some coral formations over 500 years old, Olowalu Beach is a thriving underwater environment with calm waters that naturally attract kayakers, stand up paddleboarders, and snorkelers. It’s one of the best beaches in Hawaii for year round calm waters since it’s so well protected.

Sandy: Sugar Beach (Kealia Beach) is the longest beach in Maui that’s perfect for a sandy stroll. At 2.5 miles, it’s one of the best beaches in Hawaii for jogging on the sand or a romantic evening walk.

Secluded: One of the best beaches in Hawaii for a beach day all to yourself in Maui is Paako Cove (Secret Cove). The beach here has enchanting views, great sunsets, and plenty of tide pools to explore.

Swimming: Although located on the northern shores of Maui, Napili Bay is one of the best beaches in Hawaii for swimming. The waves are calm outside of the winter swells and their are public restrooms and showers for you to use so you can get started on the rest of your day.

Turtles: You can see turtles at almost any Maui beach, but Maui’s Turtle Town is probably one of the best beaches in Hawaii that’s famous for snorkeling with turtles.

Best beaches in Hawaii: Paako Cove (Secret Cove). Hawaii travel. Things to do in Maui. Things to do in Hawaii.
Paako Cove (Secret Cove) is one of the best beaches in Hawaii for sunsets and a beach to yourself!

Big Island

Big Island has some of the best beaches in Hawaii because many of the beaches are more difficult to reach. Some require a hike across lava fields and a few even require a 4WD (and lifted) vehicle to reach. This means many of the beaches on the Big Island will have fewer people, which means pristine sand, more fish, and less people!

Best beaches in Hawaii: Kealakekua Bay. Hawaii travel. Things to do in Big Island. Things to do in Hawaii.
The coral and abundant fishes in Kealakekua Bay make this one of the best beaches in Hawaii for snorkeling.

Snorkeling: Kealakekua Bay is more rocks and pebbles than sandy beach, but if you’re looking to snorkel on the Big Island, Kealakekua Bay is hard to beat. It’s also known as Captain Cook as the monument for Captain James Cook is here.

Toddlers: While Kahaluu Beach is often touted as a snorkeling spot, it actually makes for one of the best beaches in Hawaii for toddlers and young children that aren’t quite ready to play with the big kids yet. This beach is particularly great during low tide when all the tide pools are visible and there are fish everywhere.

Family-friendly: One of the best beaches in Hawaii for a family outing is actually an island in Hilo. Coconut Island is a small, grassy island in Hilo that is connected to the Big Island by a small bridge and has pavilions, picnic tables, tide pools, 2 sandy beaches, and even a tower you can jump off of.

Surfing lessons: Although I already mentioned Kahaluu Beach for the best toddler beach on the Big Island, it’s also one of the best beaches in Hawaii for learning how to surf. Located on the Kona side of the Big Island, you’ll feel comfortable learning how to surf with other beginners on smaller waves.

Kayaking and SUP (stand up paddleboarding): Keauhou Bay on the Big Island is a lovely place to kayak and one of the best beaches in Hawaii for stand up paddleboarding. Many Big Island tours begin at Keauhou Bay so check this beach out especially if you want to do some water activities.

Sandy: Punaluu Beach may just be one of the most famous beaches in Hawaii due to its pure black sand and the turtles that frequent it. While not your most conventional sandy white beach, it deserves a spot as one of the best beaches in Hawaii. Another colored sand beach that I really like is Papakolea (Green Sand Beach).

Secluded: Honomalino Beach is more of a peppery color and requires a short hike, but that just means there will be less people there and you’ll have more beach to yourself. The beach is really quite different than other beaches in Hawaii so you’ll have a unique experience.

Swimming: One of the best beaches in Hawaii for swimming on the Big Island that I like is Carlsmith Beach. It’s fun to swim with the turtles here and the whole area seems more like a picturesque oasis than a tropical beach.

Turtles: Kiholo Bay is a local gem on the Big Island that’s one of the best beaches in Hawaii for swimming with turtles. It requires a short coastal hike, but the trip is worth it.

Best beaches in Hawaii: Carlsmith Beach. Hawaii travel. Things to do in Big Island. Things to do in Hawaii.
Carlsmith Beach is one of best places to swim and snorkel close to Hilo. Lava and a reef protect the inner swimming area, making it almost like a swimming pool.

Kauai

Kauai is naturally less crowded than Oahu, Maui, and the Big Island, so it’s often easier to find a beach all to yourself or see a smaller crowd at the more popular beaches. Nevertheless, Kauai has some of the best beaches in Hawaii due to the smaller population and country-like feel Kauai exudes.

Best beaches in Hawaii: Nualolo Kai Beach. Hawaii travel. Things to do in Kauai. Things to do in Hawaii.
Nualolo Kai Beach may be more difficult to reach, but you won’t regret it especially if you love to snorkel.

Snorkeling: One of the best beaches in Hawaii for snorkeling is Nualolo Kai Beach. Accessible only during the warmer months by boat charter or snorkeling tour, the waters here are pristine and teeming with fish.

Toddlers: Baby Beach in Poipu is a great place to bring your toddlers and little children as the area is naturally protected by a smattering of rocks. Even adults will enjoy this Baby Beach in Kauai as there’s enough space for a dip and short swim. Plus, you won’t have to worry about any waves.

Family-friendly: One of the best beaches in Hawaii for a family outing is actually an island in Hilo. Coconut Island is a small, grassy island in Hilo that is connected to the Big Island by a small bridge and has pavilions, picnic tables, tide pools, 2 sandy beaches, and even a tower you can jump off of.

Surfing lessons: If you want to learn to surf on Kauai, you can’t go wrong with Poipu Beach. Located on the southern shore of Kauai, it’s one of the best beaches in Hawaii for learning how to surf all year round.

Kayaking and SUP (stand up paddleboard): You’ll really like Anini Beach if you’re into kayaking or stand up paddleboarding. The waters here are flat and calm outside of the winter swells and the scenery both in and out of the water are fantastic.

Sandy: Hanalei Bay is probably one of the most famous sandy beaches in Kauai and can definitely be considered as one of the best beaches in Hawaii. The beautiful view of the Na Pali cliffs emerge on your left (west) and the long, crescent-shaped beach is iconic of that classic beach in Hawaii.

Secluded: Kauapea Beach (Secret Beach) requires walking down a steep and often slippery trail but you’ll be richly rewarded with a vast shoreline, gorgeous view, and even tide pools. I advise avoiding this beach during the winter though as the waves get rough.

Swimming: Anahola Beach is great for swimmers as its considered to be one of the safest (if not the safest) beach in the windward side of Kauai. The beach itself it quite large and spacious and you should have plenty of space to swim back and forth.

Turtles: Lawai Beach is located very close to Poipu Beach (one of the more popular spots to chance upon turtles and monk seals), but is a great option if you want to see turtles without getting into the water. You can see their heads pop up out of the water as they take a breath while they swim along and graze.

Best beaches in Hawaii: Kauapea Beach (Secret Beach). Hawaii travel. Things to do in Kauai. Things to do in Hawaii.
Kauapea Beach (Secret Beach) has some interesting lava rock formations to explore and is one of the best beaches in Hawaii for seclusion.

Molokai

It’s a bit more difficult to categorize Molokai’s beaches into several categories other than “secluded” as most of the beaches here are generally devoid of people. There isn’t anything wrong about these beaches, rather it’s because there’s such a sparse population here. However, the beaches in Molokai are some of the best beaches in Hawaii you’ll find due to the lack of tourism on this island.

Best beaches in Hawaii: Papohaku Beach. Hawaii travel. Things to do in Molokai. Things to do in Hawaii.
If you’re looking for some one-on-one time with a sandy beach, it can’t get any better than Papohaku Beach on Molokai. This is certainly one of the best beaches in Hawaii for seclusion.

Secluded: Papohaku Beach on Molokai is one of the best beaches in Hawaii for those Instagram-worthy secluded beach shots. You won’t find any facilities here, but the 3-mile long beach is gorgeous.

Wave-watching: What makes Kepuhi Beach special to me are the waves that crash close to shore especially during the winter months. Few people will swim here as it’s on the rockier side, but it’s certainly possible especially during the calm summer months.

Coastal hike: Kawakiu Beach will probably be empty when you get here because it it will take you about 1 hour to hike here from Make Horse Beach. It’s all worth it though since this beach is pristine and you’ll most likely have it all to yourself.

Best beaches in Hawaii: Kepuhi Beach. Hawaii travel. Things to do in Molokai. Things to do in Hawaii.
Kepuhi Beach at a distance through some palm trees.

Lanai

What’s great about Lanai’s beaches is that they don’t really get crowded. There’s plenty of sand and water to share even on the most popular beaches, which is good news for anyone looking to get away from it all.

Best beaches in Hawaii: Shipwreck Beach. Hawaii travel. Things to do in Lanai. Things to do in Hawaii.
The YOGN 42 (Liberty ship) at Shipwreck Beach.

Family-friendly: One of the most popular beaches in Lanai is Hulopoe Beach. With a large grassy area dotted with trees and picnic tables, this is a great place for a picnic, lunch, or a day at the beach. Even though it’s located next to the Four Seasons Resort, you should feel like you have most of the beach to yourself.

Sightseeing: Visit Polihua Beach on Lanai’s north shore and you’ll get to experience one of the best beaches in Hawaii with an amazing view of Molokai.

Unique: One of the coolest beaches in Hawaii is Shipwreck Beach in Lanai. This is not a beach to swim at. Instead, you’ll get to see the YOGN 42 (Liberty ship) from World War II in the distance balancing on the reef.

Best beaches in Hawaii: Hulopoe Beach. Hawaii travel. Things to do in Lanai. Things to do in Hawaii.
Hulopoe Beach next to the Four Seasons Resort Lanai. Keep a lookout for Hawaiian spinner dolphins as they like to rest in Hulopoe Bay. Editorial credit: EQRoy / Shutterstock.com

Hawaii Travel & Things To Do In Hawaii

Weather In Hawaii In March: Travel, Events And The Best Time To Go

March in Hawaii is a transition period where winter morphs into summer. Since we're so close to the equator, Hawaii doesn't really have a true spring or summer. Instead, March is the month where there tends to be a...

Weather In Hawaii In April: Travel, Events And The Best Time To Go

Despite what you may think, Hawaii in April is not the rainiest month to visit Hawaii. By the time April hits, the rainy season is at the end of its run and the warmer days of May are already...

Weather In Hawaii In May: Travel, Events And The Best Time To Visit

Hawaii in May is one of the best times to visit the islands. The weather in Hawaii in May is fantastic, ticket prices and hotel prices are down, and there are typically less tourists this time of year since...

Hawaii In July: Best Time To Visit Hawaii

Hawaii in July is a beautiful time to visit the islands. The days are hot and sunny and spending your Hawaii vacation at the beach snorkeling, swimming, and learning to surf sounds like a really great idea. The July...

Best Hawaiian Island To Visit And The Best Time To Go

Choosing the best Hawaiian Island to visit is so difficult, isn't it? It's tough for me, too...and I live here! I know you want an easy answer so you can start booking your tickets, but the honest answer is...

20+ Things To Do In Oahu’s North Shore: The Best Of North Shore

I've got you covered if you're looking for the best things to do in Oahu's North Shore. As one of Oahu's biggest attractions, the North Shore of Oahu has something for everyone. Gorgeous beaches, Oahu's best snorkeling spots, amazing...

Real. Local. Non-touristy. Hawaii Travel & Things To Do In Hawaii.

My emails will make you smile!

I'm all about living life in Hawaii with passion, honesty, and respect. So if you like Hawaii travel, legal hikes, authentic experiences, and a kind and humble personality, I'm your local girl!

You'll love reading my fun and down-to-earth emails from a local perspective. I'll send you my personal tips, travel suggestions, and DIY project ideas that are perfect for Hawaii living.

Sign up below and you'll be added to my email list!

Aloha with love, Amy

The Very Best Beaches In Hawaii To Visit As A Local