Hawaii has a lot to offer, but one of the state’s main attractions is its beaches. With more than 750 miles of shoreline, Hawaii has the best beaches—one for every kind of beach lover.  

Whether you’re looking for a postcard-perfect setting to match your Hawaiian daydream, a secluded spot on the sand to enjoy a romantic moment with your new spouse, a launching point for an unforgettable underwater adventure, or a calm, quiet shore for your little ones, Hawaii’s got a beach for you. In this article, we’ll take you on a tour of 12 of Hawaii’s best beaches. With this list in hand, you can plan your perfect beach day, no matter what you’ve got on your agenda. 

Use this quick guide for facilities at each location: 

wide view of Hanauma Bay

Which Beach in Hawaii Has the Clearest Water

For this one, we’ll give the nod to Hanauma Bay, a favorite snorkeling spot on Oahu. Hanauma Bay  features gorgeous turquoise waters that are crystal clear when the wind and waves stay calm. Your best bet to enjoy the spot—and take your time with the extraordinary creatures below the surface, including humuhumunukunukuapua’a (the Hawaii state fish), parrot fish, angel fish, blue tang, and more—is to get there early.  

To preserve this pristine marine ecosystem, the City & County of Honolulu has a reservation system to visit Hanauma Bay. If you have your heart set on a specific time or date, reservations are recommended. Hawaii residents with valid identification may access the nature preserve without a reservation from 6:45 a.m. to 9 a.m. Wednesdays –Sundays. Remember to bring reef-safe sunscreen to do your part in ensuring that generations to come can enjoy this incredible resource. 

Location – Oahu
surfers on waikiki beach

What’s the Best Beach for Surfing?

This is a tough one, but we’re going to go with iconic Waikiki Beach on this one. After all, how do you choose one beach for the entire surf capital of the U.S.?! 

Here’s why we went with Waikiki: When there’s a good swell, you’ll find breaks for every type of surfer all along the beach. There are gentle, rolling breaks perfect for new surfers and longboarders closer into shore. If you’re game for a longer paddle, you’ll also find some long rides (and less crowded breaks!) at the outer edges of the bay. Although Waikiki can be one of the more crowded surf zones on Oahu, there’s nothing like catching a wave with Diamond Head over your shoulder. Plus, there’s plenty of beach and plenty of waves for everyone.  

Location – Oahu
Carlsmith Beach Park on the Big Island

What’s the Calmest Beach in Hawaii

If you’re looking for some calm, sheltered water to paddle or float around in, we recommend Carlsmith Beach Park on the Big Island. Carlsmith sits right next to James Kealoha Beach Park in the area often referred to as Four Mile. On the Carlsmith side, you’ll find quiet coves protected by an outer reef. The whole area is surrounded by grassy picnic areas, so you can enjoy a chill day in and around the water. Plus, if there are a few in your party who want a little more action, send them over to the western side of the bay, where you can find waves for boogie boarding or surfing when the swell is right.  

Location – Big Island
Kukio beach Hawaii

What’s the Best Beach for Couples?

Kukio Beach on the Big Island is a great spot for couples looking to enjoy some quiet time together. Accessible through the Four Seasons Resort at Hualalai, Kukio offers a nice stretch of white sand that’s often quieter than other beaches on the Kona Coast. 

Additionally, the other beaches in front of the Hualalai resort are also accessible by a paved path that winds through the area’s dramatic lava rocks. If you’re willing to do a little walking, you’ll have a great chance of finding a solo stretch to enjoy with your significant other. Plus, if you get hungry or crave a celebratory cocktail, you’ll find several restaurants and bars within the resort, all accessible via path.  

Location – Big Island
kihei beach hawaii

What’s the Best Beach in Hawaii for Families

For families, we like Kihei Cove on Maui. On days with some swell, it’s got a gentle rolling wave that’s great for kids and beginners who want to learn to surf. Plus, there’s a grassy park adjacent to the beach with restrooms, showers, picnic tables, and barbecues—perfect for a family to set up for a day at the beach.  

Additionally, if you have older kids who want to do a little exploring, you can give them a little pocket money and let them walk around. They can grab a shave ice or a snack to stay entertained while the rest of your family relaxes at the beach. 

Location – Maui
people playing Baby Beach Poipu on Kauai

What’s the Best Beach in Hawaii for Toddlers

If you’re looking for a calm, quiet beach to introduce your little one to the ocean, head to Baby Beach Poipu on Kauai. There, you’ll find a small cove protected by a reef, which offers a serene setting for water exploration. If your kids have sensitive feet, you may want to put them in water shoes since the beach can be a little rocky. You can usually snag an inexpensive pair at Long’s Drugs. 

Tip: You’ll find Baby Beaches all over the Hawaiian Islands. They usually refer to a beach with calm water, protected by a reef, like the one you’ll find in Poipu. If you’re not a strong swimmer—or you just prefer wading in tranquil water—keep your eyes out for any called “Baby Beach.”  

Location – Kauai
Lanai Sharks Bay

What’s the Best Beach in Hawaii for Honeymooners

Enjoy some one-on-one time with your new spouse in secluded Shark’s Bay on the island of Lanai, right off the coast of Maui. Despite the ominous name, at Shark’s Bay, you’ll find a little stretch of sand tucked against a rock wall, one that you’ll often have all to yourself. The beach offers a spectacular view Puu Pehe, also known as Sweetheart Rock, a massive hunk of deep red rock that juts out from the sea. This iconic landmark comes with a tragic story of star-crossed lovers, yet stands as a testament to the power of love.  

Note that climbing down to the sand at Shark’s Bay can require a little bit of a scramble, so make sure you’re careful on the way up and down. You can also enjoy the view of Sweetheart Rock from the path above the beach. Access this secluded cove from nearby Hulopoe Beach, where you’ll find restrooms and showers, as well as an easy path to the Lanai Ferry, which runs between Manele Harbor and Lahaina Harbor on Maui.  

Location – Lanai
Kaanapali Beach in Maui

What’s the Best Beach in Hawaii for Swimming

Kaanapali Beach in Maui offers three whole miles of white sand beach, so it’s easy to find the right spot to enjoy a swim in the warm waters off the coast of West Maui. Plus, if you want to add a little adventure to your swimming, head on down to Puu Kekaa, also known as Black Rock. You’ll find it at the north end of Kaanapali Beach. This favorite cliff jumping spot offers a thrilling 15-foot plummet before you plunge into the water.  

If you want to shower off when you’re done swimming, you’ll find a few showers scattered up and down the beach. You’ll also find full showers and restroom facilities a little farther north at Kahekili Beach Park. 

Location – Maui
Makua Beach on Kauai

What’s the Best Beach in Hawaii for Snorkling

We could name plenty for this one—including Hanauma Bay, which we mentioned earlier—but we picked Makua Beach on Kauai, also known as Tunnels. Head to this spot in the calmer summer months, which makes for more serene snorkeling conditions and clearer water. You’ll enjoy giant coral heads, plenty of colorful tropical fish, and even honu (Hawaiian green sea turtles).  

Beginning snorkelers should stick close to shore. More experienced snorkelers can explore the farther reaches of the reef—and the variety of aquatic life that lives in and around the coral. Near the drop-off, you might even spot a Hawaiian monk seal, the most endangered seal species in the world. If you do spot one of these rare mammals, keep a respectful distance. Finally, as always, keep an eye on conditions before going out, especially if you plan to explore the outer reef area.  

Location – Kauai
wedding party at Polo Beach

What’s the Best Beach in Hawaii for Getting Married

If you’re planning on getting Maui-ed—wait, we mean, “married”—in Hawaii, may we suggest Polo Beach? There, you’ll discover a nice stretch of beach so you can find a spot that works well for your ceremony and your photos. Plus, if you decide to get married late in the day, you’ll be treated to a gorgeous sunset, Maui-style.  

Finally, Polo Beach has something that’s crucial to any wedding: a fairly substantial parking lot. You’ll find a number of spots just a short stroll away from the beach, so you won’t have to worry too much about the logistics of getting to your own wedding! 

Location – Maui
Kekaha Beach on Kauai

What’s the Best Uncrowded Beach in Hawaii

When you’re looking to get away from it all, head to Kekaha Beach on Kauai. Although this beach has lifeguards and facilities, it’s also at the end of a 15-mile stretch of sandy shoreline. It’s a great excuse to stretch your legs and find a secluded spit of sand that you can call your own. As you stroll, you’ll also enjoy views of Niihau, Hawaii’s “forbidden island,” closed to all but residents and invited guests. 

Since you’ll be on the western side of Kauai, consider staying for the sunset, which can be spectacular, given the right conditions. 

Location – Kauai
View of Lanikai Beach Hawaii

What’s the Nicest Beach in Hawaii? 

The prize for this one goes to Lanikai Beach on Oahu. Pristine white sands. Unbelievably blue water. Swaying palm trees. Gentle breezes—and even a pair offshore islets (The Mokes) to make for the perfect backdrop. If you’ve ever dreamed about spending an idyllic beach day in Hawaii, Lanikai Beach will be more than worthy of your vision. 

While there are no facilities or lifeguards at this beach, that’s all part of the charm. When you spend the day at Lanikai, you’ll feel absolutely transported to paradise. 

Location – Oahu

Find Your Own Best Beach in Hawaii 

If you’re considering a move to Hawaii, let this guide be the start of a whole host of beach adventures. With so many to choose from on each island, you could easily visit a different beach every day of the week! And, as you’ll soon discover, there’s no such thing as a bad day when you’re on the beach in Hawaii. 

By the way, if you’re moving to Hawaii, we’d love to help you make the transition to the Aloha State. Get started with a free quote from one of our experts. We’ll handle all the logistics, so you can get to the beach faster! 

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