What are the best beaches in Hawaii?
Waikiki Beach, Oahu
Famous the world over, Waikiki Beach is as much a symbol of Hawaii as it is a place to bask in tropical waters and watch the passing parade. Located on Oahu, Waikiki features over 3 kilometres of sand, fringed by high-rise resorts. Each section of this beach offers its own ambience, but one thing's for sure: there's plenty of action wherever you go.
Waikiki Beach in afternoon sun.
Hanauma Bay, Oahu
Known for its superior snorkelling, Hanauma Bay is another popular Oahu destination. Positioned at the bottom of a volcanic crater, it's a designated nature reserve and features easily accessible shallow coral reefs that are home to over 300 species of fish. In a bid to protect the area's environment, visitor numbers are limited to 3,000 people each day, so plan ahead to avoid disappointment.
Dead volcano crater at Hanauma Bay.
Kaanapali Beach, Maui
Almost 5km of pristine white beachfront and clear blue sea make Kaanapali Beach a must-visit destination on Maui. It's fronted by low-rise resorts, Whalers Village shopping precinct, a whaling museum that harks back to the town's primary trade from 1825-1860 (it's now one of the best places to go whale spotting), and restaurants. It's also famous for the cliff-diving ceremonies from Black Rock at sunset.
The Kaanapali Beach and resort hotels on Maui, Hawaii.
Lanikai Beach, Oahu
Meaning ‘heavenly sea', Lanikai is a small but spectacular stretch of seaside that consistently ranks among the best in the world. With calm waves, white sands and crystal-clear waters, this is an ideal destination for kayaking and swimming. Locals recommend visiting early in the day, and because parking can be a challenge, it's best to take a bus or shuttle.
Lanikai Beach, Oahu, Hawaii, is the kind of beach dreams are made of.
North Shore, Oahu
Surfers the world over travel to Hawaii just for the perfect waves that grace North Shore, Oahu. Come winter, this 11 kilometre stretch of beach features a host of premier surfing competitions where the swell can reach up to 9 metres. Summer sees more subdued conditions that are perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and novice surfing enthusiasts.
Surfing Waimea Bay, North Shore, Oahu, Hawaii.
Poipu Beach, Kauai
Poipu Beach on Kauai has something for everyone, with swimming areas, a wading hole and snorkelling regions, along with a reef surf break for experienced surfers. The beach is ranked a premium destination because of its unique, picture-perfect crescent shape strung together by sandy outposts and dotted with swaying palms. It's located on Kauai's South Shore.
Sunset on beautiful Poipu Beach, Kauai, Hawaii.
Punaluu Beach, the Big Island
Punaluu Beach is strikingly different to the powdery white beaches Hawaii is famed for. This renowned beachfront boasts black sand, made of basalt as the lava flow from nearby volcanoes explodes when reaching the cool of the ocean. You'll also find endangered turtles basking on the sand's warmth. Punaluu is stunning, memorable and a great photo opportunity, but not ideal for swimming as the waters can be dangerous.
The black sand beaches of Punaluu of north east Oahu are something different.
Kapalua Beach, Maui
Suitable for snorkelling, swimming, scuba diving and sunbathing, laze on Kapalua Beach's golden sands and enjoy the shade offered by nearby palms. This relaxed beach is also fairly sheltered courtesy of two well-positioned, picturesque lava outcrops. These give the beach its name, which loosely translates to ‘arms embracing the sea'. Kapalua is home to Maui's premier resorts and sits at the foot of the West Maui Mountains.
Kapalua Bay gives you a more sheltered place to swim.