It should come as no surprise that this island state in the heart of Oceania has some of the world’s most spectacular coastlines. Musement takes a look at 15 of the most gorgeous beaches in Hawaii.
From savoring smoky Kalua pig to watching a mesmerizing sunrise atop the Haleakala volcano to catchy Jawaiian tunes, there are a myriad of reasons to love Hawaii! However, one of our faves is the beaches.
This volcanic archipelago in Oceania is comprised of eight major islands: Hawaii (The Big Island), Kauai, Oahu-home to Honolulu-, Maui, Molokai, Lanai, Niihau, and the sparsely populated Kahoolawe.
A contender for the title of home to the world’s most colorful beaches, Hawaii’s paradisiacal stretches of sand are a “shore bet” for every type of beachgoer, from knee-deep waders to cove-seeking romantics to the surfer. In no particular order, here’s a look at 15 of the most gorgeous beaches in Hawaii.
1. Waikiki Beach, Oahu
Arguably Hawaii’s most famous beach, Waikiki is located in a district of Honolulu, the state capital, on the island of Oahu. Luxury hotels and resorts line the coast so Waikiki gets a reputation for being a bit touristy–but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s the first beach on which many travelers get to sip mai tais and dip their toes into Hawaii’s fabled turquoise water. Besides the gorgeous white sands, Waikiki offers plenty of entertainment and activities to keep you amused.
2. Pa’iloa Beach, Maui
This enchanting black sand beach juxtaposed against verdant leafage and the blue-green water is part of Wai’anapanapa State Park. Created hundreds of years ago from the eruption of Maui’s largest volcano, Haleakala, the volcanic sand beach attracts plenty of visitors. Stroll along the shore to discover the hidden cove and natural lava arch. Due to rough tides, swimming here is only recommended when the water is calm.
3. Ke‘e Beach, Kauai
Located at the tip of Kauai’s north shore at the end of Highway 560, Ke’e Beach is an aquamarine reef-protected haven and a snorkeler’s dream come true. The beach’s lone parking lot fills up quite fast, so it is highly advised to arrive early in the morning. Admire the Napali cliffs in the distance from the comfort of the sand. With these cliffs in the backdrop, be sure to stick around for a sunset, you won’t want to miss out on beautifully colored red and orange skies!
4. Lanikai Beach, Oahu
“Lani Kai”, which translates to “Heavenly Ocean” is a perfect name for such a gorgeous place. Located on the east of Oahu, Lanikai Beach is a half-mile stretch of powdery white sand and crystal blue water offset by the distinct Nā Mokulua, or “the Mokes” islets. If you’re an early bird, then you’re in for a real treat; the sunrise is said to be one of the best in Hawaii. A visit to Lanikai wouldn’t be complete without taking a hike along the Pillbox Trail. Leading up to two military bunkers, the marvelous panoramic views of Lanikai Beach and the coast from the top are second to none.
5. Makena Beach, Maui
Also known as Big Beach, Makena Beach is a vast half-mile-plus stretch of golden sand that has plenty of space–hence its moniker–on which you can set up shop for the day. As the name states, it is one of the largest beaches in Maui. It is nestled between two volcanoes, so sunbathers can soak up the sun without having to worry about gusts of wind. Warm blue/green waters make for the perfect atmosphere to take a dip. Lifeguards are on duty at Big Beach.
6. Halawa Beach, Molokai
Comprised of two curvy beaches, Kawili and Kama’alaea, Halawa Beach is located on the eastern part of Molokai. A secluded haven replete with gorgeous nature such as waterfalls and coves, the fine white sand beach is a well-known spot for surfing. It is necessary to pack a lunch and bring drinks, as there are no concession areas.
7. Kaanapali Beach, Maui
Hawaii’s first planned resort, this three-mile white sand beach with crystal water is the perfect place to unwind. Needless to say, there are plenty of activities, from a wide variety of shops, to a whaling museum, free Hawaiian entertainment and even two fantastic golf courses. Rows of oceanfront beach bars invite you to sip on some refreshing cocktails. However, don’t miss the divers who jump from Black Rock in the evening.
8. Makua Beach, Oahu
This secluded white-sand beach on Oahu is hidden behind the Waianae Mountains. Also known as Tunnels Beach for its underwater caves and caverns, it is the perfect place for snorkeling. The “tunnels” and coral formations in the reef will make it seem like you’re swimming through a maze! Tranquil during summer, the water is ideal for surfing from November to April. Be on the lookout for spinner dolphins, as they make their way to shallow waters during the daytime.
9. Punalu‘u Beach, Big Island
A spectacular black sand beach on Big Island, Punalu‘u is simply exquisite. Coconut palm trees line the beachfront. Keep an eye out for the endangered Hawksbill and Green Sea turtles that come to shore. If the water feels like it’s two different temperatures, that’s because it is so don’t feel alarmed. The underwater springs will release cold, fresh water which will rise above the ocean’s saltwater. Tip: Black sand can get hot in the sun so make sure you bring water shoes or flip flops.
10. Halona Beach Cove, Oahu
This beyond gorgeous inlet in Oahu is located beside the Halona Blowhole overlook, a natural wonder from which water erupts geyser style. However, that seemingly serene emerald water can get a bit feisty, so be careful! To access the beach, it is necessary to hike down the rocks, make sure to walk with caution as the rocks can be quite slippery. Humpback whale sightings usually occur during winter months.
11. Ko Olina Beach Park, Oahu
Located on Oahu’s west coast, the reef-protected Ko Olina Beach Park features four man-made beaches with calm shallow water. White sand lagoons make up the 640-acre resort. Numerous beach activities, such as sailing, stand-up paddle, and snorkeling are the norm. Golfers have the chance to play a full 18 at the resort’s golf club. Don’t miss the sunset.
12. Hulopoe Beach, Lanai
The shallow water is lovely for snorkeling. Explore the charming marine life conservation in these crystal-clear waters. Be on the lookout for spinner dolphins and turtles, they enjoy passing by. To skirt the crowds, head to Shark’s Bay nestled into red lava cliffs, located at the end of a trail south of the island. Definitely the beach for romantics or anyone who just wants to get away from it all!
13. Makalawena Beach, Big Island
You can’t reach Makalawena Beach by car…it involves a hike which means you won’t find as many crowds here. Pack a backpack with snacks and drinks, you won’t find any concession stands at this hidden paradise. The Kohala coast is quintessential Hawaii with calm aquamarine water, powdery white sand and black lava formations on the shore.
14. Poipu Beach, Kauai
Named America’s Best Beach by the Travel Channel, the exceptionally family-friendly Poipu is complete with plenty of facilities that include an outdoor playground. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the Hawaiian sunshine as the palms sway in the breeze. Keep an eye out for the Hawaiian monk seals who come to shore and bask in the sun.
15. Kauna’oa Beach, Big Island
This exquisite, half-mile-long white sand beach is bedecked with palm trees and is surrounded by plenty of hotels, so it’s a smart option if you have the kids in tow. Rent a boogie board from the beach concession, grab a tropical drink and appreciate this majestic beach on the Big Island.