Editor Notes: I’ve lived on Oahu for seven years and Maui for three. During this time I was a business owner of retail stores that sold exclusively flip flops, co-founder of a swimwear company, and a very active waterman. My professional career revolved around the surf industry and resort industry. This involved visiting all the high end resorts across the Hawaiian Islands. While traveling between islands, I always packed a pair of board shorts and beach towel to checkout the best beaches in Hawaii.

In Hawaii, there is no shortage of amazing water sports activities. Amazing local surf breaks like Kaisers in Waikiki are accessible from the heart of the busiest tourist city in Hawaii. Having such accessibility can sometimes lead to very crowded beaches. In this guide, I share with you some of the most famous beaches as well as some secluded secret beaches across the Hawaiian Islands.

Whatever your vibe, there is a beach for you in Hawaii. Whether it is relaxing on white sand or paddling out in the world class surf. This combination or serenity and extreme is what makes Hawaii the #1 wellness travel destination.

Rating the Best Beaches in Hawaii

Our team has selected a blend of the most popular beaches in Hawaii. Each Island offers something different. For this reason, we created a set of criteria for analyzing the beaches in Hawaii. This comprehensive guide to the best beaches in Hawaii based on the following:

  • Seclusion
  • Water Conditions
  • Accessibility
  • Amenities
  • Activities

Editor Notes:

Keep in mind that ocean conditions change very quickly in Hawaii. Before entering the water, check with local lifeguards on conditions. As the saying goes in Hawaii, “If in doubt, don’t go out”.

It is common for wave height to increase dramatically within a few hours. Also, there can be long lulls between big sets of waves. The water may look flat one minute and the next be overwhelmed with large surf. Don’t let the stunning beauty of Hawaiian waters lure you in before checking with local lifeguards on the ocean conditions.

Best beaches in Hawaii for couples

Finding a secluded beach on your Hawaii vacation can be hard. Locals actively use most of the coastline and many of the popular beaches are on travel guides just like this. If you are hoping to find your own piece of paradise, there are a few local secrets that we will share with you.

First, the most romantic and secluded beaches are not as hidden as you may think. Depending on which Island you are on, going a short distance down the road from a popular beach is all it takes to find a private stretch of sand. There are no privately owned beaches in Hawaii which allows for visitors to explore all of the amazing coastline.

Second, if you are adventuring off the beaten road, be respectful of the locals who live in the area. It may look like an uninhabited area, but chances are there are local families who use the water access for their livelihood.

Lastly, some of the best beaches are hiding in plain sight. Finding beach access pathways between buildings or residential is a great way to discover a hidden beach. For a custom Hawaii travel itinerary with secret beaches, email us at Admin [at] TheKlubb [dot] com.

Top Beaches on Oahu, Hawaii

Oahu is best known for the massive surf on the North Shore and touristy streets of Waikiki on the South Shore. Depending on the style vacation you are looking for, there is a beach town on Oahu that will fit the vibe. Divided into four regions – South Shore, North Shore, Windward Side, and Leeward Side – Oahu’s beaches and climate varies between each region.

Waikiki Beach – Best for Accessibility & Amenities

There might not be anywhere else on this planet where you have high-end retail stores that back up to beaches with incredible surfing. Combine this rare pairing with luxury hotels and you have a vacation destination like no where else.

Waikiki Beach

Years of overdevelopment have nestled hotels as close to the high-tide line as possible, causing the sand to get flushed away during big surf. To combat this problem, the Waikiki Beach Special Improvement District Association has dredged and pumped 20,000 cubic yards of sand from off shore Waikiki to bring back the sand to Waikiki Beach.

This dredged sand is filled with chunks of coral and rocks which don’t make for the best beach day experience. Nevertheless, Waikiki beach is the most accessible and offers the most amenities than any other beach on Oahu.

Editor Notes: I owned a retail store that sold exclusively flip flops and backed up to Waikiki Beach. In my store we had a surfboard rack and I would typically get out in the water 5-6x a week. Over the seven years owning this business I have probably surfed Waikiki over 1,000 times. Be careful of the coral as it is scattered between sandy areas and can cause injury.

Tracks Beach Park – Best for Water Conditions

Located on the West Side of Oahu just before Nanakuli and just after Hawaiian Electric Beach, Tracks is a hidden gem that many visitors to Oahu don’t know about. The location of the beach keeps it protected from the wind most of the year. The perfectly textured sand beach is level with the water, making it easy to get in and out of the ocean. There is not usually any surf at Tracks beach, making it a great spot for snorkeling and bringing the family.

tracks beach park Oahu

Many locals use this beach all the time with their families. When visiting, be respectful to others around you. Hawaii is a tropical playground for visitors but most locals work full time. When off from work, they too want to enjoy the water activities and beaches in Hawaii. Tracks beach is very popular for local families to hang out at over the weekends. Keep this in mind when visiting.

Turtle Bay – Best for Seclusion

The Turtle Bay Resort is past the craziness of the core North Shore surf breaks. Situated on a private point, the beaches at Turtle Bay rarely have people on them aside from a handful of other residents at The Resort. With miles of beach in each direction of the resort, it is easy to find a private area.

beaches by turtle bay resort

During the summer months, when there is no surf, the snorkeling around Turtle bay is second to none. Adding to the resort experience, there is a beachside cafe on the beach next to the resort. The beaches around Turtle Bay Resort are a great place to spend an afternoon – or the whole day.

Editor Notes:

In recent years Turtle Bay has turned into the influencer meca for Hawaii. If you are traveling with your family and want a wholesome vacation, I’d check out the Aulani Resort or the Kahala Resort. Turtle Bay is beautiful but the water is much rougher than at Aulani (West Side) or Kahala Resort (South Shore).

Maui Hawaii Must Visit Beaches

The variety of beaches on Maui makes for unforgettable vacations. From secluded beaches in Hana to Kanapali beach, there are endless options for amazing beach day experiences. The number one beach that everyone should visit while on Maui is Ho’okipa Beach. Watching the professional windsurfers at the left end of the beach is amazing. On the far right side, there is a turtle resting sanctuary. The juxtaposition of extreme and calm is why Ho’okipa is the #1 beach on Maui.

Ho’okipa Beach – Best Year-round Surfing beach and Turtle viewing beach

Surfing at Ho’okipa is best during the winter. It’s unique angle, however, also captures some south swell wrap in the summer, making it a fun year-round spot. Definitively not a good location for first time surfers, the beach at Ho’okipa is still a great place to hang out. The lively beach scene at Ho’okipa makes it a popular hang out for teenage locals.

Home to Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles, Ho’okipa Beach Park attracts visitors eager to see turtles up close. The line of people in the photo above are blocked off from getting too close to the turtles. Year-round environmentalists volunteer to inform visitors about the Hawaiian turtles and ensure that the turtles have enough space to relax.

Editor Notes: When I lived in Paia, Maui, this was my go to beach. The consistent surf and ample parking made it perfect for quick surf sessions. On the weekends the sand is covered with coolers and towels as beach lovers soak in the amazing views and adrenaline pumping action in the water.

There are also covered BBQ areas by the parking lot. These get snagged up quickly on the weekends by locals so opt for a weekday if you plan to BBQ. Real restrooms are also close to the BBQ area.

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Ahihi KinauDumps” Beach – Best Snorkeling

While the name may not get you excited, Dumps is the best snorkeling spot on Maui. The writers at Paradise Found in Maui describe Dumps as, “…kind of eerie, but totally awesome…” Maybe it is the feeling of isolation from not buildings being anywhere in sight. Or maybe its the rough volcanic landscape. There is something spooky about Ahihi Kinau beach that excites you to take a risk and plunge into the water.

When there is a big south swell, Dumps is one of the best surf breaks on Maui. This wave is only for expert level surfers once it is bigger than six feet. A very shallow reef and strong currents can trap surfers on the “inside” and cause serious injury.

Editor Notes: I’ve surf this wave on some epic days and absolutely love it. On flat days during the winter time I have scuba dove the reef and saw giant manta rays, eels, sea turtles, and a wide variety of fish. Dumps is on of my favorite places on Maui in general.

MakenaBig Beach” – Best All Around Beach

Located close to the luxury resorts at Wailea, Makena (Big Beach as locals call it) has a huge sandy beach with fun shore break. During the summer, the shore break can get extremely dangerous so check with lifeguards before going out.

So long as there isn’t too much swell, Big Beach is one of the best swimming beaches in Hawaii. Big Beach has something for everyone and serves up spectacular sunset views.

Makena "Big Beach" Maui
Makena “Big Beach” Maui

Editor Notes: Makena is one of my favorite beaches to spend the day at with friends. Filling up the cooler with cold drinks and fresh poke is a must before spending the day here. Note that just north over the small hill, is “Little Beach” which is a predominately nude beach.

Ka’ana’pali Beach – Best Resort Beach

Black Rock at the Sheraton Ka’ana’pali is the landmark beach of Maui. The evening tiki torch lighting- followed by cliff jump from Black Rock- is a staple attraction at the beach. Stunning views of Molokai, luxury resorts lining the beach, and crystal clear water make Ka’ana’pali the most popular vacation destination on Maui.

Ka'ana'pali Beach

The snorkeling around black rock is beginner friendly. However, just like with any water activity in Hawaii, ask a lifeguard before going out. Conditions can change rapidly.

Editor Notes: I’ve spend countless days at Black Rock beach and have never had a bad day. In recent years I have heard that Ka’ana’pali beach has gotten extra crowded. The snorkeling around the point is epic. During past dives I have seen eels, baby sharks, turtles, and dozens of variety of tropical fish.

Best beaches on Kauai

Maha’ulepu – Best All Around Beach

Maha’ulepu Beaches are one of the best places to visit on Kauai’s south side. Not only will you get to enjoy some of the best beaches in the area, but you’ll also get a chance to experience some of Kauai’s best-kept secrets. From sandstone sea cliffs, to calmer spots where milder waves crash onto the shoreline, there’s something for everyone at Maha’ulepu Beaches.

Maha'ulepu Beache Kauai

The water is constantly changing color depending on the time of day or season, and there are plenty of opportunities for fishing, swimming, kayaking or simply taking in the beauty from afar. For those looking for some adventure, further exploration along nearby trails will lead you to even more breathtaking panoramas and unforgettable encounters with nature’s wonders. A trip to Maha’ulepu Beaches should be top-of-list for anyone looking for a truly magical Hawaiian experience.

Poipou Beach Park – Best Resort Beach

Poipu Beach Park is one of the best beaches in Kauai, located along the southern shore. It’s known for its calm, clear waters and white sand shores, making it a popular spot for swimming and snorkeling.

Along the western side of Poipu Beach Park is a limestone rock shelter protector which serves to keep the beach sheltered from wind and rain. This unique feature also provides a subtle barrier which keeps large ocean swell away from the beach, creating an ideal area for surfing, bodyboarding, and various other water sports.

Aside from being an amazing spot for activities in the water, Poipu Beach Park also offers several excellent amenities including restrooms and outdoor showers as well as picnic areas with barbeque grills, perfect for an outdoor lunch or dinner with friends and family.

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If you’re looking for a beach destination with something fun for everyone to do then Poipu Beach Park is definitely worth considering! Packed full of stunning sights and versatile activities, this beautiful beach promises hours of entertainment that will leave you wishing you could stay here forever.

Editor Notes: If you can book a room at the Sheraton Poipu, do it. The combination of having an epic ocean front pool right on a world class beach is hard to beat. I have stayed here a few times and have always had a great experience. While there is a hotel shuttle, I like having a car on Kauai. There are lots of cute small towns that are worth checking out.

Kekaha Beach Park – Best Water Conditions

Kekaha Beach is one of the best beaches in Kauai. Located on the west side of the island and backed by green hills, this picturesque beach is an ideal spot for both sun seekers and adventurers alike.

Whether you’re looking to take a relaxing stroll along the shoreline, or explore dramatic cliffside views, Kekaha has something for everyone. During the summer months, conditions are usually ideal for swimming and snorkeling. The sea life around the area is full of vibrant colors, with plenty of coral reefs to discover just offshore.

When night falls, blankets of stars blanket the sky as far as you can see. This is the perfect way to cap off an unforgettable day of exploration. Stunning views and charming atmosphere, it’s no surprise that Kekaha Beach has been listed among the best beaches in Kauai. In other words, if you’re looking to escape from crowded tourist destinations while still having access to Hawaii’s unique ocean paradise, head to Kekaha Beach.

ʻAnini Beach Park – Best For Watersports

A beloved spot on the north shore of Kauaʻi, ʻAnini Beach Park is located 2 miles east of Kīlauea town. The park boasts breathtaking views of the ocean, white sandy beaches, and lush green foliage.

A perfect beach for windsurfing and kite boarding due to its consistent wind speeds. Visitors can also join in on one of the beach park’s weekly yoga classes. There is also restrooms, showers, and a large pavilion is available.

Big Island Hawaii Best Beaches

Beaches on the Big Island of Hawaii offer something for everyone. From tranquil coves and breathtaking sunsets to plenty of activities like snorkeling, surfing, and paddle boarding.

The Big Island is one of the best places in the world for seeing some of nature’s most beautiful sights. Exotic black sand beaches that line the southern coast of Big Island will take your breath away. If you are ready for elevated adventure, the Big Island is the spot for you.

Hapuna Beach – Best For Spending The Entire Day

​When it comes to the best beaches in Hawaii, Hapuna Beach certainly deserves mention. Hapuna Beach is situated on the Big Island of Hawaii, one of the most breathtakingly beautiful places on earth. With a long white sand beach, azure waves endlessly lapping at the shoreline, and rugged mountains as a stunning backdrop, this beach has something for everyone.

Hapuna Beach, Big Island Hawaii
Hapuna Beach, Big Island Hawaii

Every time you visit, you’re almost guaranteed to have an unforgettable experience and create spectacular memories. Whether looking for a tranquil escape from everyday life or an adventurous holiday with family and friends – Hapuna Beach is simply unmissable.

There’s no better way to soak up all that glorious sunshine than spending an afternoon here beneath a palm tree or exploring all that nature has to offer. Feel the warmth of the sand between your toes as you wander along this paradise-like coastline. Or, take a walk on the Kings Trail that connects Hapuna to Mauna Kea beach. This historic path was walked by the ruling chiefs of Hawaii. Along the trail are sharp coral rocks so be sure to watch your step.

Manini’owali Beach (Kua Bay) – Where the locals go

Manini'owali Beach
Manini’owali Beach, Big Island Hawaii

Kua, as it’s known to the locals, offers the best of both worlds. It’s close enough to the highway for anyone to access and far enough away that visitors can find some peace and quiet. It is one of the best beaches on the island, with glistening white sand stretching out towards a crystal-clear sea.

There are plenty of amenities, including lifeguards on duty, outdoor showers, picnic benches, and toilets. Manini’owali Beach is an idyllic spot that gives visitors that sense of escaping from it all.

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Best Hawaiian Island for first time visitors

In general, most people go to Oahu for the first time. Many think this is “the Big Island” because it is the most populous. Oahu is great for shopping, dining, and accessible beaches. While I am partial to Oahu because of my time there, I typically recommend people to go to Maui for a first Hawaii trip.

Maui is a much slower paced than Oahu but not as rural as Big Island or Kauai. The hiking trails on Maui are incredible and give visitors a true taste of what Hawaii is all about. Pair this with incredible beaches, luxury ocean front resorts, and amazing local restaurants.

If you are looking for help planning an authentic Hawaiian vacation, feel free to email us for a customized itinerary: admin [at] theklubb [dot] com.