Every year, people and organizations compiles a list of the ten best beaches in the United States. After reading his list of the best beaches, we were curious and wondered what the ten best beaches in Hawaii were. After all, the islands that make up the 50th state are dotted with beaches renowned for their white sand and world-famous surf.
There are several main islands in Hawaii. Kauai is the oldest and has the most sandy beaches due to the erosive effect of the surf on the island’s coast. Oahu is the next Hawaiian island, and is the home of famous Waikiki beach, a popular water park called Hawaiian Waters, as well as Hawaii’s capital. Maui (the county of Maui also includes the island of Lanai) is very popular among tourists, while the Big Island (formerly named the Island of Hawaii) is the largest and, due to its active volcanoes, is still growing! There is another island coming up off of the coast of the Big Island, but it has yet to break the surface and, when it does, will one day probably join the rest of the Big Island. Due to its “newness,” the Big Island’s beaches are made up of grey or black sand.
So what are the best beaches in Hawaii? How do we choose the best when every beach here is excellent? We looked for easy access, quality of the water and sand, and – where applicable – the quality of the amenities (such as the bathrooms).
Here is our list of the ten best beaches in Hawaii! It is not arranged in any order, but is rather a compilation of ten of the best, since every beach is literally “the best.”
The Island of Kauai
Ke’e Beach: This beach is situated at the very end of the road on Kauai’s north shore. The water is shallow and perfect for families with young children. It is also popular with sunbathers. Park under what looks like a rainforest; there is a lot of trees and tropical plants here that give it a very jungle-ish feeling. From this beach, you can also hike to a waterfall (an all-day hike that is not recommended for beginners).
Poipu Beach Park: This was once the most popular beach on the island of Kauai, and has won several awards in the “Best Beaches of the World” lists. Unfortunately, after a heavy storm several years ago, a lot of the sand got washed out. Nevertheless, it is still popular and tourists vacationing in Hawaii at the dozens of nearby resorts and hotels enjoy the snorkeling, sunbathing, and watersports here. There is a sand island that you can swim to. Keep an eye out for Hawaiian Monk Seals, and endangered species that likes to rest here and, occasionally, even give birth to their pups here. At nearby Brennecke’s Beach, you can boogie board and can often see green sea turtles.
Polihale Beach: This beach is located at the end of the road on the island’s Westside. You have to drive off the highway and down an old sugarcane road to reach this beach, making it rather secluded and very quiet. It edges on the famous Na Pali coast, a popular destination for kayakers. The white sand literally stretches for miles, sloping down into aquamarine water. Make sure to bring sandles or slippers (what the locals call for “flip flops”), as the sun can really heat the sand to a scorching temperature. Don’t forget to bring sunscreen and water; the sun is relentless here!
The Island of Oahu
Hanauma Bay: This beach is renowned for its snorkeling due to the fact that it is a wildlife preserve. To protect the fish, there is a limit to the number of tourists allowed to visit the park. The upside to this is that it isn’t too crowded, and there are literally swarms of fish for your snorkeling pleasure. Please be aware that there is a admissions charge and limited parking. Arrive there early, pack your sunscreen (please use biodegradable sunscreen to protect the quality of the water), and enjoy!
The Island of Molokai
Papohaku Beach: This beach has everything, from snorkeling to swimming to surfing to boogieboarding and, of course, sunbathing! Its very secluded and quiet. A perfect romantic getaway! Don’t forget to grab your digital camera and take pictures of the sunset. In fact, bring your digital camera wherever you go on Molokai; it is very picturesque.
The Island of Maui
Kaanapali Beach: This beach is extremely popular. Because of the nearby resorts, you have access to amenities like shopping, restaurants (nothing like getting take-out burgers and sitting in the Hawaiian sun!), and more. It is also very popular for its watersports. Rent a kayak from a nearby hotel and take it out into the ocean! Catching a wave on a kayak is very fun and, often times, results in you flipping yourself into the water. Oh well, you’re here to have fun in the water anyway!
Kapalua Beach: This beach is great for families with young children. A reef keeps the water calm. If you want surf, go somewhere else! It can get a little crowded, but nothing unmanageable. It’s great for romantic walks along the beach!
The Island of Lanai
Hulopoe Beach: Get a blanket and watch the water as the sun sets on this quiet beach. Lanai is very small and doesn’t receive the number of tourists and visitors that the other Hawaiian islands attract, meaning that those who choose to visit often experience a beautifully secluded Hawaii.
The Big Island (Island of Hawaii)
Hapuna Beach State Park: Lots and lots of sand make this a beautiful beach for tourists and visitors to Hawaii. There are beautiful coral reefs that attract snorkellers, and more than enough white sand to please the sunbathers that make this beach the most popular beach on the Big Island. Be aware that there is a heavy surf break in the winter. In the summer, there is a great sandbar that stretches out into the ocean. Perfect!
Glass Beach: This is a popular beach that attracts people who collect “sea glass,” pieces of glass that have been tumbled in the water until their frosted and very smooth. The Japanese use glass orbs as fishing buoys and you can sometimes find one of these prized collector’s items on this beach.
IMPORTANT THINGS to note when at a Hawaiian beach:
Always wear sunscreen. Pay attention to the signs that lifeguards post. Never turn your back to the ocean. Never hike out onto a reef; a rogue wave has claimed many a tourist’s life. And never go out into the water alone!