Hawaii’s best beaches are no secret to many tourists. It’s one of the many reasons why Hawaii is among the top destinations to tick off one’s travel bucket list. Aside from its pristine beaches, people long for a taste of its Aloha vibe while having fresh seafood by the beach.
Countless hidden gems are waiting to be explored by enthusiastic travelers. From emerald sands to lush tropical forests and historical sites, Hawaii is known for many things that interest every kind of traveler.
If you’re coming to Hawaii for a good swim, you won’t be disappointed with the many beaches Hawaii has to offer – so scroll down to learn more!
Table of Contents
- 1. Kapalua Beach, Maui
- 2. Hanalei Bay, Kauai
- 3. Waikiki Beach, Oahu
- 4. Waimea Bay Beach Park, Oahu
- 5. Poipu Beach, Kauai
- 6. Makena Beach, Maui
- 7. Hapuna Beach, Big Island
- 8. Kamakahonu Beach, Big Island
- 9. Baldwin Beach, Maui
- 10. Kapukahehu Beach, Molokai
- Before Packing Your Bags
Located in Kapalua, West Maui, Kapalua Beach Park is a small curved white sand beach that stretches about 250m long. This long stretch of sand is perfect for a quiet stroll along the coast while watching the sunset and sunrise. It beckons with superb scenery of Molokai and swaying palm trees, grabbing the title America’s Best Beach in 2018.
The calm gentle waters of Kapalua Beach are great for swimming and several aquatic activities like kayaking, snorkeling, and surfing. Head over to the beach activity desk to rent snorkeling gear and other water sports equipment. Although it’s safe for swimming, be mindful of strong currents in winter; you don’t want to drift too far.
It’s one of the top places for swimming with its available amenities like restrooms, showers, and ample parking spaces. However, it’s worth mentioning there are no lifeguards – so be mindful of where you are swimming.
The water is filled with vast marine life – and if you’re lucky, you might be able to spot Hawaiian monk seals basking in the sun.
Should you decide to stay here, you can choose beachfront hotels to get gorgeous views of the sea. From luxury hotels to family villas, there are several options for solo travelers and families. Some of the most popular hotels are the Ritz-Carlton, Montage Kapalua Bay, and Honua Kai Resort & Spa.
There are several restaurants to satisfy one’s appetite. From fresh farm-to-table dishes to fast food burger shacks and casual American food, it’s a diverse selection of food choices for breakfast or lunch. For a drink or two, check out a street of bars near the beach including Kitchen 5315 Restaurant & Tiki Bar and Grotto Bar.
Hanalei Bay is the largest bay on the north of Kauai with a 3-km stretch of fine sand. This picturesque spot is surrounded by emerald mountains of flora and fauna. It’s a perfect beach for swimming, especially in the summer, where the waters are tranquil.
The bay is actually made up of several beaches, where one area is most suitable for swimming and the other for surfing. Visitors can choose from Black Pot Beach Park, Wai’oli Beach Park, and Hanalei Pavilion Beach Park. It’s also along a pier, making it a sailing spot with a view of the Na Pali Mountain.
It’s especially convenient if you’re going to spend a lot of time in Hanalei Bay since it’s complete with facilities like parking spaces and restrooms. Plus, the bay is full of recreational activities like kayaking in the Hanalei River or camping by the beach.
The bay is home to several famous resorts like Hanalei Bay Resort, Princeville Resort Kauai, and The Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas. These resorts are near the Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge which is located along Kuhio Highway in Princeville.
For more affordable hotels and inns near the beach, there are Hotel Coral Reef, Hanalei Inn, and Hanalei Surfboard House. Affordable lodging is usually situated along the highway, a few miles from the beachfront.
The bay is filled with food trucks that serve different types of dishes. For instance, Pat’s Taqueria is a food truck serving Mexican staples. It’s a great way to support local businesses and try out the local cuisine.
Other restaurants to visit near the beach are Nourish Hanalei for healthy bites, Happy Talk Lounge Restaurant & Bar for a perfect bay view, and Bar Acuda for a casual place for drinks and tapas.
Waikiki Beach started its tourist popularity in the 1900s and was previously used by Hawaiian royals. Today, it is one of the most crowded beaches in the world – and is filled with luxury resorts and hotels, and diverse cuisines.
It is popular for some famous landmarks including Diamond Head Mountain that serves as a backdrop and the Hilton Hawaiian Village for its weekly fireworks display.
People enjoy several water activities like casual swimming by the beach, snorkeling with marine life, parasailing, and paddleboarding. If you’re out for some shopping, head over to Kalakaua Ave, where you can find several shopping centers and look for unique finds. If you’re into some classic Hawaiian dishes, visit Royal Hawaiian Hotel and order a mai tai.
Waikiki Beach is loaded with hotels, inns, and Airbnbs that range from low to high prices. If you’d like to stay with a beach view, you can book several hotels offering this feature such as Hyatt Regency Waikiki Beach Resort and Spa, The Royal Hawaiian, and Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel.
More affordable options are available in the inner streets of the area including Prince Edward St., Kalakaua Ave, and Kūhiō Ave.
In every street and corner, there’s always something to look forward to as there are many restaurants, cafes, and bars available. Grab a bite and experience different flavors every day. Try a burger from Cheeseburger in Paradise or a devouring dessert from The Cheesecake Factory.
Located north of Oahu is a place known for the best spots for surfing. In summer, it’s also one of the best places for swimming with its calmer waves. The beach is blanketed with golden sparkling sands and pristine waters of varying water levels suitable for all ages.
Visitors can utilize all the park amenities, from parking lots to restrooms with showers, picnic tables, and lifeguards. It’s one of the best areas for swimming, bodyboarding, snorkeling, and diving – and when it’s surfing season, don’t miss out on surfing competitions held at the bay.
The beach also houses forest reserves including Kaipapau Forest Reserve and Hauula Forest Reserve, among others. Plus, if you’re into a more adventurous ride, head over to CLIMB Works Keana Farms – Zipline Tour.
To get the best ocean views, book a room at Turtle Bay Resort and Courtyard by Marriott. Other places you might be able to stay in include luxury condos and beach campgrounds like Malaekahana Beach Campgrounds.
For solo travelers or backpackers, there are several hostels available near the park including Plantation Hostel and BackPackers Hawaii.
Near Turtle Bay are some restaurants to fill you up and have a drink or two including Off The Lip, Lei Lei’s Bar & Grill, Beach House by Roy Yamaguchi, and The Point Sunset & Pool Bar.
As you go along the coast of Waimea Bay Beach Park, you’ll find a strip of several restaurants and food trucks ready to satisfy every taste. Stop at North Shore Tacos for fish tacos and burritos and Aji Limo Truck for Hawaiian bites.
Poipu Beach on the southern shore of Kauai is ideal for families with small children since the waters are more suitable for beginner swimmers. The beach is made up of three golden crescents and swaying palm trees.
On some occasions, you may see some Hawaiian monk seals sunbathing and resting and sea turtles swimming in the shallow waters.
The beach has every activity suitable for all ages including snorkeling, surfing, sunbathing, and appreciating nature and marine life. For land activities, visit Kiahuna Golf Club, an 18-hole golf course along Kiahuna Plantation Dr.
Overall, it’s a safe beach with a lifeguard available seven days a week and packed with amenities like restrooms, showers, and picnic tables.
If you want to spend the night near Poipu Beach, you can stay at the nearby hotels including Marriott’s Waiohai Beach Club and Ko’a Kea Hotel & Resort – which are oceanfront hotels with scenic views.
Just along Hoone Rd is Puka Dog Hawaiian Style Hot Dogs, a takeout restaurant for Polish sausages with a touch of Hawaiian.
For a chill night out, Honu Bar is a great beach bar for cocktails and beers and a bite to eat.
If you prefer seafood, head over to Brennecke’s Beach Broiler where they serve ahi tuna burgers and pupu platters.
Also known as “Big Beach”, Makena Beach is an undeveloped area located on Maui’s southwest shore. Visitors can enjoy the impressive landscapes of Molokini and the uncrowded surroundings. Coming here promises a hidden gem – a secret beach called “Little Beach” that is tucked away on the north end of the beach.
All swimmers can enjoy the gentle waves of the beach, especially in the summer. It’s safe and convenient to swim in Makena beach since it’s complete with essential facilities like lifeguards, parking spaces, restrooms, picnic areas, and several food trucks nearby.
Beachgoers can swim and do aquatic activities like snorkeling. However, in times of big shore breaks, it’s best to stay ashore since it can be risky for novice bodysurfers.
The beach is 1.5miles long so there’s plenty of space to park in the sand and welcome the sun.
Nearby hotels are within the Wailea-Makena areas. Most of the high-end resorts and hotels are situated here including Fairmont Kea Lani, Four Seasons Resort, and Ho’olei Grand Wailea.
If you prefer something nearer, try Makena Oceanfront Cottage which is right in front of the beach for easy access. It has family rooms, a viewing deck, and a spa.
For a quick bite, JAWZ Tacos lunch truck offers Mexican snacks like chicken tacos and mahi-mahi. Along Makena Rd are other food options to have a satisfying meal including Jazzy’s Kitchen food truck and Maui Beach Grill.
Going further to Wailea Golf Club Dr. is Gannon’s, an upscale island eatery with superb island views.
Located along the Kohala Coast, the wide shore of Hapuna Beach is a popular spot for a picnic and sunbathing. It’s especially safe for families and swimmers since there’s a lifeguard on duty. It’s no question that it’s among the top beaches in Big Island with its fine white sand and turquoise waters.
This impressive beach has toilets, changing rooms, showers, picnic areas, and several food options nearby. Moreover, you might get the chance to take a glance at the magnificent humpback whales offshore.
It’s great for swimming, snorkeling, and bodysurfing all year round, but winter waters challenge swimmers with higher water levels.
Several hotels are available by the beach but prices are more expensive. Along Hapuna Beach is The Westin Hapuna Beach Resort, and going further is Mauna Kea Resort. These hotels are within the vicinity of Hapuna Golf Course and some residential buildings.
Not far from the coast is Meridia, a Mediterranean restaurant that offers an excellent dining experience overlooking the ocean.
Just beside it is Ikena Landing, serving American breakfast meals. To finish off the night, head over to Naupaka Beach Grill for cocktails and snacks.
Located in the heart of Kaila Kona, Kamakahonu Beach is a perfect place for families – especially children, who can enjoy the tranquil waters. It’s also nicknamed “Kids Beach” and “King Kam Beach”, which is named after King Kamehameha the Great who built the temple Ahu’ena Heiau.
Beachgoers like to go snorkeling on the island, but we also recommend coming early to experience marine life without the crowd.
Aside from snorkeling, it’s a popular spot for other watersports activities like diving, kayaking, and canoeing. You can easily rent out the gear needed at Big Island Water Sports. You’ll also find the Kailua Pier in the area which is a place for boat dockings and events.
There are many stores nearby if you want to do some shopping. Shop at ABC Store for island-themed apparel or Kona Inn Shopping Village for gift shops and clothing stores.
To learn more about the historical side of Hawaii, go to Hulihe’e Palace for historical artifacts or the Ahu’ena Heiau temple that can be seen from the outside.
If you want to stay across the beach, Courtyard by Marriott King Kamehameha’s Kona Beach Hotel offers beachfront lodging. You’ll find excellent options for a great price farther back from the beach, such as Uncle Billy’s Kona Bay Hotel, Holiday Inn Express & Suites, and Royal Kona Resort. For a more affordable price, check out Kona Beach Hostel.
Try Billfish Poolside Bar and Grille for American cuisine. To get a kick out of a morning coffee, head to Menehune Coffee Company for coffee, espresso, and pastries.
If you want to beat the hot weather, Ululani’s Hawaiian Shave Ice is a popular spot for shaved ice that offers a wide selection of flavors including lychee, pickled mango, and passion fruit.
Located on the north shore of Maui, Baldwin Beach Park is blanketed with long white sands with normal and large shore breaks. The beach is a family favorite for its calmer waves at the Baby Beach, which is found on one end of the beach. The beach is fully equipped with useful facilities like restrooms, showers, picnic and BBQ areas, pavilions, and lifeguards.
It’s a good place for experienced boogie-boarders to swim or simply for those who just want to go jogging along the coast. Expect the beach to be packed especially on holidays and weekends but you’ll be able to find a private spot for yourself. If you have time to explore more beaches, visit the nearby Pā’ia Secret Beach and Lower Pā’ia Park.
One of the nearest places for lodging is Aloha Surf Hostel, which offers dorms and private rooms. You can find more options near Kahului Airport ranging from 3-5-star ratings, including Courtyard by Marriott Maui Kahului Airport, Maui Seaside Hotel, and Maui Beach Hotel.
Most of the nearby restaurants and bars are located along Baldwin Ave. You can find international cuisines to try, including Mediterranean, Mexican, and American.
Look for lunch options at Paia Fish Market for seafood and indoor picnic areas. A perfect beverage stop is Milagros Food Co., which has sidewalk seating.
On the west shore of Molokai, Kapukahehu Beach (also known as “Dixie Maru Cove”) is a small remote place without unwanted crowds and busy establishments. It’s great for swimming privately – however there are no facilities here such as lifeguards or restrooms – so it can be a great spot for a short stopover and a quick swim.
The best time to come to the beach is in summer, where the waves are calm and relaxing, perfect for swimming or snorkeling. If you’re wondering where it got its nickname, Dixie Mary came from a wrecked Japanese sailboat in the 1920s. The nameplate of the sailboat was hung near the beach, which eventually became the name of the beach.
Since the beach is rarely visited and monitored, it’s best to wear aqua shoes for protection against foreign objects or marine creatures you might step on. Other than that, you can stay by the golden sands and watch the sunset and calm waters. It can be a long drive coming here but definitely worth it as you’ll be driving along with scenic views.
Since the beach is secluded, there aren’t any hotels nearby. You may find lodging in Kepuhi Beach such as Kaluakoi Villas and Ke Nani Kai. Other places to stay are a bit far, so it’s recommended to travel by car. Check out The Blue Goose in Maunaloa and Hotel Moloka’i.
Before coming to the beach, we recommend bringing packed lunch and snacks as there aren’t any nearby restaurants. Should you decide to grab a bite after swimming, head over to Manae Goods & Grindz for American breakfast and lunch options or Paddlers Restaurant and Bar for a friendly, town atmosphere to get a burger or sandwich.
If you’re eyeing for a heavier meal, go to Kualapu’u Cookhouse for one of the best prime ribs.
Hawaii is a relatively safe tourist destination. However, you might end up in an accident if you aren’t careful. One of the most common accidents in Hawaii is drowning – which is why when they say never turn your back to the ocean, they mean it. Once you look away, there could be a strong wave crashing to you and pulling you in the water.
Accidents happen on beaches with stronger waves and isolated areas without any lifeguards, so before taking a dip in the water, it’s important to do your research on the island if it is a recommended place for swimming. Some beaches have calmer waves but sudden, deep seabeds. If in doubt, it’s best to stay ashore until you know you’re safe to swim.
Another way to know if a beach is safe is by looking at posted safety signs. Most beaches have safety or warning signs that can help you get to know the beach a little, whether there are jellyfish blooms or strong waves.
Lastly, we advise never to swim at night since you’ll never know when a shark might creep up at night.
Before booking a trip to Hawaii, you need to know some basic ways to take care of the island and its marine animals. Did you know it is illegal to touch sea creatures such as sea turtles and monk seals? If you touch them, you’ll be fined.
By Federal law, you need to stay at least 50 yards away from them and about 100 yards away from whales. People are allowed to view and adore them from afar, but staying too close and disturbing them while resting is forbidden. Moreover, it is not allowed to feed them any food.
Snorkeling is the best activity to observe marine life underwater. However, it is always prone to coral reef destruction, which is why snorkelers are deeply urged to avoid stepping on coral reefs and make use of reef-friendly sunblock.