10 Best Beaches in Hawaii - For a Perfect Tropical Getaway


Aloha! Welcome to the tropical paradise of Hawaii, a place where azure seas kiss stunning coastlines, palm trees sway in the gentle breeze, and the spirit of aloha warmly welcomes every visitor. Known for its diverse landscapes and vibrant culture, Hawaii's beaches are a particular highlight, each offering a unique slice of paradise. This article will take you on a journey through the top 10 must-visit beaches in Hawaii, each promising an unforgettable experience. We will also provide tips to guide you in choosing the perfect beach that suits your preferences. Whether you're seeking a serene retreat, a family-friendly beach, or an adrenaline-filled surfing hotspot, Hawaii's beaches have something for everyone.
Hawaii, renowned for its picturesque landscapes, tropical climate, and aloha spirit, is home to some of the world's most exquisite beaches. From the black sand beaches of the Big Island to the bustling shores of Waikiki, each beach in Hawaii offers a unique perspective of the state's natural beauty. This guide introduces ten of Hawaii's most exceptional beaches, ensuring an unforgettable tropical getaway.

Lanikai Beach, Oahu

On the windward coast of Oahu lies Lanikai Beach, a small strip of paradise that offers a heavenly retreat from the hustle and bustle of city life. Lanikai, translated as 'heavenly sea', offers pristine white sands and sparkling blue waters that are perfect for swimming and kayaking. The beach, framed by lush palm trees and tropical flowers, offers breathtaking views of the Mokulua Islands, a pair of islets that rest just off the coast.
Visitors often spend the day picnicking on the beach, sunbathing, or venturing out to the Mokulua Islands via kayak. Paddling to these islets offers a unique opportunity to view Lanikai's stunning shoreline from the sea. The beach's eastern orientation provides spectacular sunrise views, making early morning the most magical time to visit. Despite its secluded, residential location, the unparalleled beauty of Lanikai Beach makes it a must-visit destination in Hawaii.

Hanauma Bay, Oahu

Hanauma Bay, a marine embayment located on the southeast coast of Oahu, is a protected marine life conservation area and underwater park. The Bay was formed within a volcanic cone and offers an exceptional snorkeling experience. Its name, translated as 'curved bay,' reflects the unique crescent shape of the bay.
Visitors descend into the bay along a winding path, where they are greeted by a panorama of crystal-clear waters teeming with vibrant marine life. The bay is home to over 400 species of fish, including the colorful parrotfish and the elusive moray eel. This wealth of biodiversity is explained in the marine education center, which visitors pass through before entering the park. Visitors can also explore the nearby nature preserve and hiking trails, offering stunning views of the bay and surrounding landscapes.

Napili Bay, Maui

Nestled in the northwest corner of Maui, Napili Bay is a tranquil oasis known for its remarkable beauty and relaxed atmosphere. The crescent-shaped bay features soft golden sand and crystal-clear water, offering an idyllic setting for various water activities.
The calm waters of Napili Bay provide excellent conditions for snorkeling and swimming. The bay is teeming with marine life, and visitors can expect to encounter sea turtles, tropical fish, and colorful coral reefs. During the winter months, the bay becomes a surf hotspot, attracting surfers seeking to ride the bay's energetic waves.
The surrounding area of Napili Bay offers a variety of accommodation options, ranging from luxury resorts to quaint beach cottages. The proximity to Kapalua, known for its golf courses and hiking trails, provides additional activities for visitors to enjoy. Despite its popularity, Napili Bay retains a serene, laid-back vibe, making it an ideal destination for a quiet getaway.

Waikiki Beach, Oahu

Waikiki Beach, nestled on the southern shore of Oahu, is a vibrant hub of activity. This two-mile stretch of coastline is divided into eight sections, each with its unique charm. The beach is lined with world-class resorts, bustling restaurants, and lively bars, making it a vibrant epicenter of entertainment and relaxation.
The gentle waves of Waikiki are perfect for beginner surfers, with several surf schools providing lessons along the beach. Canoeing and catamaran rides are also popular activities, offering unique ways to experience the crystal-clear waters. At the beach's center is the statue of Duke Kahanamoku, a native Hawaiian who popularized surfing worldwide and competed in the Olympics for swimming. The area surrounding the statue hosts regular entertainment, including hula shows and live music, contributing to Waikiki's lively atmosphere.


Ka'anapali Beach, Maui

Ka'anapali Beach, once a retreat for Maui's royalty, is now a bustling beach destination that combines natural beauty with top-notch amenities. The three-mile stretch of white sand is lined with luxury resorts, shopping outlets, and restaurants, providing ample entertainment for beachgoers.
The beach's clear blue waters are ideal for snorkeling and swimming. One of the main attractions is Black Rock, a large lava rock that separates Ka'anapali Beach from its northern neighbor. This area is known for its abundant marine life and is a popular snorkeling spot.
In the evening, a traditional cliff-diving ceremony takes place at Black Rock, honoring the feat of King Kahekili, a renowned diver. As the sun sets, cliff divers leap from the rock into the sea, a spectacle that adds a unique cultural element to the Ka'anapali Beach experience.

Punalu'u Black Sand Beach, Big Island

Punalu'u Black Sand Beach offers an extraordinary beach experience on the southeastern coast of Hawaii's Big Island. The beach's dark sand, formed from the basalt created by cooling lava, provides a stark contrast against the blue ocean and green sea turtles known as Honu that frequently bask on the beach.
The beach is surrounded by towering coconut palms, providing a tropical backdrop and ample shade for picnicking. Visitors can also explore nearby freshwater springs, which bubble up in the sand, providing a unique freshwater bathing experience.
While swimming can be challenging due to the strong currents and rocky seabed, the unique beauty and tranquil atmosphere of Punalu'u Black Sand Beach make it a must-visit. The opportunity to observe Honu in their natural habitat also adds to the appeal of this unique beach.

Poipu Beach, Kauai

Situated on the sunny southern coast of Kauai, Poipu Beach offers a family-friendly beach experience. The beach is divided into two bays by a narrow sand spit, creating separate areas for different water activities. The eastern bay, known as Baby Beach, is protected from large waves, making it an ideal spot for children and less confident swimmers. The western bay offers excellent conditions for snorkeling and swimming, with numerous tropical fish species inhabiting the area.
One of the main attractions at Poipu Beach is the Hawaiian monk seal, an endangered species that can often be seen resting on the shore. Beachgoers are advised to keep their distance, as these creatures are protected by federal law. In addition to its natural beauty, Poipu Beach features a large park with picnic facilities, a playground, and lifeguard stations, making it a popular choice for families.

Hanalei Bay, Kauai

On Kauai's north shore lies Hanalei Bay, a spectacular, crescent-shaped bay framed by lush mountains and cascading waterfalls. The bay boasts a wide, sandy beach, and its calm, clear waters provide an ideal setting for a range of water activities.
Swimming, paddleboarding, and boating are popular during the summer months, while winter brings large waves that attract surfers from around the globe. The bay is also home to Hanalei Pier, a popular gathering spot for locals and tourists alike. The pier offers a fantastic vantage point for watching the sunset and is a popular spot for fishing.
The nearby town of Hanalei adds to the bay's charm, with its local boutiques, art galleries, and eateries serving delicious local cuisine. The stunning beauty and relaxed vibe of Hanalei Bay make it a must-visit destination on Kauai.

Hapuna Beach, Big Island

Located on the Big Island's Kohala Coast, Hapuna Beach is a half-mile stretch of fine white sand, renowned for its beauty and size. During the summer months, the calm and clear waters of Hapuna Beach make it an excellent location for swimming, snorkeling, and diving. It's also a great place for beach games or simply lounging on the beach and soaking up the sun.
In contrast, winter at Hapuna Beach brings high waves, attracting experienced bodyboarders and surfers. The beach's facilities, including picnic areas, restrooms, and lifeguard stations, make it ideal for a full-day beach outing.

Waimea Bay, Oahu

On the North Shore of Oahu, Waimea Bay is a hub for surfing enthusiasts. During the winter months, the bay's waves can reach impressive heights, attracting professional surfers from around the world. The annual Quiksilver Big Wave Invitational, held in honor of the legendary surfer Eddie Aikau, takes place here and sees surfers ride waves that can reach up to 30 feet.
In summer, the bay's calm, clear waters offer a stark contrast, providing perfect conditions for swimming, snorkeling, and diving. An enormous rock located at the southern end of the bay serves as a popular spot for cliff diving, while the nearby Waimea Valley offers a chance to explore lush botanical gardens and a beautiful waterfall.
Regardless of whether you're an adrenaline junkie seeking big waves, a family looking for safe swimming, or a nature lover wanting to experience diverse marine life, Hawaii's beaches have something for everyone. As you plan your tropical getaway, remember to respect the natural environment, helping to preserve the beauty of these remarkable beaches for future generations.


Choosing the Best Beach in Hawaii: A Guide for Every Traveler

Hawaii's diverse range of beaches ensures that there's a slice of paradise to suit every traveler's preferences. Whether you're seeking a romantic retreat, a family-friendly beach, or a surfers' paradise, Hawaii has it all. Here's a guide to help you select the perfect beach for your Hawaiian vacation.

For the Romantics

If you're looking for an idyllic setting for a romantic getaway, Lanikai Beach on Oahu stands out as the perfect choice. Its calm turquoise waters, pristine white sand, and panoramic views of the Mokulua Islands create a picture-perfect backdrop for romance. The secluded, peaceful vibe of the beach allows couples to enjoy quality time together, whether it's a leisurely stroll along the beach at sunrise or a picnic under the swaying palm trees.

for farther read about romantic getaways, read our article: Romantic Getaways In Hawaii.

For Families with Children

Poipu Beach in Kauai is renowned as a family-friendly destination. The beach's sheltered eastern bay, known as Baby Beach, is protected from large waves, making it safe for young children and less confident swimmers. The beach also offers a large park equipped with picnic facilities and a playground, ensuring an enjoyable beach day for the whole family.

For the Adventure Seekers

If you're an adrenaline junkie, Waimea Bay on Oahu's North Shore is a must-visit. During the winter months, the bay's towering waves attract professional surfers from around the world. The thrill of watching these surfers, or even joining them if you're experienced enough, is an adventure in itself. The large rock at the southern end of the bay is a popular spot for cliff diving, adding another layer of thrill to your beach visit.

For the Nature Enthusiasts

Hanauma Bay is a paradise for nature lovers. As a protected marine life conservation area and underwater park, the bay offers an unrivaled snorkeling experience, with hundreds of species of vibrant tropical fish and unique coral formations. This beach is also an excellent choice for bird watchers, as it's home to a variety of native Hawaiian bird species.

For the History Buffs

If you're interested in Hawaiian history and culture, Waikiki Beach is a fascinating destination. The beach's statue of Duke Kahanamoku, a native Hawaiian who popularized surfing worldwide and competed in the Olympics for swimming, symbolizes the historical significance of surfing in Hawaiian culture. The regular hula shows and live music performances also provide a taste of Hawaii's rich cultural heritage.
Every beach in Hawaii offers a unique experience, and part of the fun is exploring different beaches and discovering your personal favorite. Remember that no matter which beach you choose, the spirit of aloha and the mesmerizing beauty of the islands will be a constant feature of your Hawaiian beach vacation.


From the sparkling white sands of Lanikai Beach to the towering waves of Waimea Bay, we've explored the top 10 beaches that make Hawaii a perfect tropical getaway. Each beach offers a unique facet of Hawaii's beauty and charm, promising a multitude of experiences to fulfill every traveler's dreams. As we've seen, whether you're a romantic, a thrill-seeker, a nature enthusiast, or a history buff, there's a Hawaiian beach that's perfect for you.
Visiting these beaches provides more than just a vacation; it offers a chance to immerse yourself in the natural beauty and cultural richness of Hawaii. While it's essential to find a beach that suits your preferences, it's equally important to respect these beautiful places. Always follow the 'Leave No Trace' principles to ensure that these beaches remain unspoiled for generations to come. With this guide, you're well-equipped to plan your dream Hawaiian beach vacation. So pack your bags, don't forget your sunscreen, and get ready to experience the enchanting world of Hawaii's beaches. Aloha and happy travels!

For further reading see our full review about: 10 Best Romantic Resorts in Hawaii for Couples

Or check our article: Hidden Gems of Hawaii: Unusual Attractions Off the Beaten Path