Many beach lovers consider Hawaii, commonly referred to as the Aloha State, to be their ideal vacation spot. Hawaii is frequently cited as one of the most beautiful destinations on Earth because of its pure oceans, fine sand beaches, and scenic surroundings.
Throughout Hawaii, there are more than 100 beaches, each with special features and attractions. Everyone may find something to enjoy on these beaches, from surfing and snorkeling to picnics and sunbathing.
In this article, we’ll examine Hawaii’s top ten beaches, ranking them according to their scenic beauty, accessibility, and appeal to both visitors and residents. So grab your swimwear and sunscreen and get set to explore Hawaii’s most beautiful beaches!
1. Hanalei Bay Beach, Kauai
The town of Hanalei on the island of Kauai in Hawaii is a laid-back, bohemian paradise with a thriving food truck scene, mom n’ pop shops, farm-to-table cuisine, and stunning natural surroundings.
The food truck scene offers a range of delicious Hawaiian dishes, such as poke and plate lunches, as well as international cuisines such as Indian and Mexican. The mom n’ pop shops provide unique and eclectic fashion and homeware, with a vintage and bohemian vibe.
The farm-to-table culture is a way of life, with the Hanalei Farmers’ Market offering exotic ingredients such as apples bananas, and rambutan, while restaurants like Bar Acuda provide worldly twists on local ingredients.
The town is surrounded by wild beauty, with Hanalei Bay providing calm waters for swimming in summer and pro-surfing opportunities in winter, and excursions down the Na Pali coast or the Wailua River providing a chance to explore stunning natural landscapes.
2. Waikiki Beach, Oahu
Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Hawaii, is known as a luxury destination and an epicenter of culture, “lined with luxury boutiques”, “award-winning restaurants”, and hotels such as The Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach. It is a bustling hub nowadays; it was a common tourism area about fifty years ago.
The shift in hospitality infrastructure, with the opening of hotels, brought people into Waikiki, making it a “home base”, instead of a place where people would go ”en route to another attraction”. Oahu Island’s popularity, with Waikiki at its center, generates $2 billion in tourism revenue every year, with 71,000 people visiting Waikiki every day, making it the most popular beach in Hawaii.
3. Kapalua Beach, Maui
Kapalua Beach in northwest Maui is a beautiful and popular beach, known for its scenic views, palm trees, and soft sand. It has won the title of “America’s Best Beach” multiple times.
Parking is available in front of the beach path, at the Tennis Club, or at the end of Kapalua Place. Nearby beaches include Napili Bay Beach for snorkeling, D.T. Fleming Beach for boogie boarding and bodysurfing, and Oneloa (Ironwoods) Beach for shade.
Maui, Hawaii is home to the No. 1 spot on the Best Beaches in the US list, which is Kapalua Bay Beach, and No. 8 on the World’s Best Nude Beaches list, which is Little Beach. Little Beach is secluded and guarded by lava formations, part of Makena State Park, and popular for sunset watching, drum circles, and fire dancers on Sundays.
4. Hanauma Bay Beach, Oahu
Hanauma Bay in Oahu, Hawaii is a popular tourist attraction known for its beautiful beach and excellent snorkeling experience. With over 450 Hawaiian fish species present in the shallow coral reefs, the bay is a marine life nature preserve sanctuary that provides a unique experience for visitors.
The bay has reopened to the public with new policies, procedures, and fees after a 9-month closure in 2020. It now limits daily visitors to 1,000 and requires a reservation. “Professor Stephen Leatherman” from “Florida International University”, also known as “Dr. Beach”, has ranked Hanauma Bay as the best beach in America for 2023 based on its safety, environmental management, and other factors.
Leatherman notes that Hanauma Bay was the first beach in Hawaii to ban smoking due to the harm cigarette butts caused to marine life. Visitors are required to watch an informational video on preservation, conservation, and safety rules before they can snorkel in the bay.
5. Kaanapali Beach, Maui
Kaanapali Beach in Hawaii is surrounded by luxurious hotels with a length of one mile. The beach offers a variety of activities like hiking, sailing, swimming, and sunbathing. Black Rock is a popular spot for snorkeling and scuba diving, and boat tours of marine life can be taken from there.
Public beach access is difficult during peak tourist season, and tourists must pay to park in a secure lot. The beach favors those who stay at the resorts along the beach, with limited parking available for non-hotel guests. The resorts have restaurants and restrooms available, but visitors may want to tidy up before entering.
6. Lanikai Beach, Oahu
The name “Lanikai” means “Heavenly Ocean” in the native language and was given to the beach by a developer in 1924. Lanikai Beach is a popular Hawaiian beach that offers soft sand and calm waters for swimming.
The half-mile beach is known for its beautiful white sand and blue waters, making it a romantic destination for couples or a perfect spot for families with children. Visitors can enjoy sunrise and sunset views, as well as various water sports such as kayaking, snorkeling, sailing, and windsurfing. Nearby, there are plenty of other beaches and hiking areas to explore. The beach is also located near several islands, including the Mokes, which are a popular bird sanctuary. Lanikai Beach has consistently been ranked as one of the best beaches in the world and is a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Oahu.
7. Poipu Beach, Kauai
Poipu Beach, located in the resort town of Poipu on the southern shores of Kauai, is one of the top ten beaches in America according to The Travel Channel. The beach boasts soft golden sand and lava rock formations, making it a prime location for swimming and ocean sports due to the barrier reef that protects swimmers from dangerous rip currents and high surf.
The beach is divided into two sections, with the eastern portion being family-friendly with calm waters and colorful fish, while the western end is more rugged with powerful waves suitable for surfing but less ideal for young children. Visitors can also enjoy snorkeling and diving around the barrier reef to see tropical fish and other sea life, as well as monk seals lounging on the sand.
While the beach is the main attraction, the town of Poipu offers essential tourist infrastructure like shopping, nightlife, restaurants, and hotels, making it an ideal destination for a relaxing Hawaiian holiday.
8. Kailua Beach, Oahu
Kailua Beach Park is ranked as the second most beautiful beach on Oahu, located on the eastern shoreline with turquoise blue waters and soft, white powder sand. It is a long stretch of gorgeous white sand and has three separate parking lots, with the second lot being the main beach spot.
Kailua Beach offers a calm and quiet environment, with clear blue water and white sand, and is perfect for families and adults looking for some fun in the sun.
It offers activities such as swimming, paddleboarding, and kayaking. Kailua Beach is less well-known than its famous neighbor, Lanikai Beach, which is less than 1 mile south of it.
Both beaches feature perfect beaches framed by vibrantly green, rugged mountains, and Kailua Beach offers even more advantages than Lanikai Beach, making it the best all-around beach on Oahu.
9. Napili Beach, Maui
Napili Bay Beach is a popular tourist destination in West Maui, Hawaii due to its turquoise water, white sandy beach, and great waves. The beach is conveniently located within walking distance of 5-star resorts and offers activities such as swimming, whale watching, paddle boarding, and snorkeling. Snorkeling is a top activity at the beach due to the warm waters and native wildlife, and the flanking lava flows and tide pools make the water ideal for most people.
However, the rough winter surf and waves and the absence of lifeguards may pose a danger to novice swimmers. The beach is located at 5315 Lower Honoapiilani Road, Lahaina, HI 96761, and amenities include outdoor showers and one restroom.
The beach is kid-friendly for ages 7 and up, but there are no lifeguards on duty. Parking is available on Napili Place or Hui Drive, and there are two beach access paths.
10. Wailea Beach, Maui
The Maui Beach Hotel is a comfortable property located in the center of Kahului, offering 145 well-equipped and air-conditioned guestrooms with amenities such as cable TV, and “complimentary high-speed internet access”.
The hotels have swimming pools, a restaurant, a 24-hour front desk, an ATM/banking facility, and other services like dry cleaning and laundry facilities. The hotel offers free transportation to/from the airport and complimentary parking, including valet parking.
The Wailea Beach Resort, located in the heart of Wailea on South Maui, is a large property with 547 residential-style rooms, including 56 suites. The resort occupies a great spot, located oceanfront between Ulua and Wailea beaches, and is within walking distance to the Shops at Wailea.
The resort features a layout of separate, smaller buildings and offers rooms with lanais (patios), which are categorized by their view. The resort offers activities on-site and is close to some of the best beaches on Maui.