Top 10 Beaches to Visit in Hawaii

 Pakhi Sen   May 22, 2013
North America

When you think about Hawaii, the first things that likely come to mind are its beautiful beaches. You can choose from powdery white sand or stunning black sand – dotting with palm trees and accented by turquoise waters. Hawaiian beaches can be such a paradise that many travelers never want to leave once they experience them. While they’re all quite lovely, each beach in Hawaii has something different to offer, depending on its location.

The beaches along the northern shores are where you’ll find the most pristine beaches and world-class surfing and wind surfing. The beaches along the southern shores are where the people are – families, tourists and those who want to see and be seen. The eastern beaches are beautiful, lush and tropical while the western beaches are great for fishing. In this article, we’re going to show you the top ten beaches to visit in Hawaii and what you can expect to find there.

Lanikai Beach, Oahu

Lanikai Beach, Oahu

Lanikai Beach, Oahu – Source

If you’re looking for a beach straight off a postcard, Lanikai Beach in Oahu is the one you want. It has everything that picturesque beaches are known for – coconut palms, powdered sugar-like sand, turquoise waters and coral reefs off shore. You’ll see the two Mokulua Islands in the distance, rising slightly out of the water to create an amazing profile in the sunset.

Maniniowali Beach, Big Island

Maniniowali Beach, Big Island

Maniniowali Beach, Big Island – Source

Once you see the perfectly clear waters surrounding Maniniowali Beach, you will swear you’re in the Carribean. You can see the ocean floor for miles, which makes Maniniowali Beach an ideal place for swimming and snorkeling.

Hanalei Bay Beach, Kauai

Hanalei Bay Beach, Kauai

Hanalei Bay Beach, Kauai – Source

Hanalei Bay Beach is unique because it’s bordered by a river on either side. The beach itself is shaped like a half moon and is nestle beneath green mountains with waterfalls, which creates a cove-like effect. You can’t miss the 300ft pier that juts into the water where you can fish, lounge or stroll, which is really a nice touch that most Hawaiian beaches do not have. Hanalei Beach served as the backdrop for the film South Pacific.

Kaanapali Beach, Maui

Kaanapali Beach, Maui

Kaanapali Beach, Maui – Source

Kaanapali Beach is to Maui what Waikiki Beach is to Honolulu. It’s the premier tourist beach on the island and is dotted with high end resorts that cater to vacationers. It’s also a very active beach with watersports of all kinds. Despite the similarities, you’ll find Kaanapali Beach to be far less crowded than Waikiki.

Malaekahana Bay, Oahu

Malaekahana Bay has an ancient Hawaii charm that’s hard to find on Hawaiian beaches. It’s located on the famous North Shore so the water is excellent for watersports, but there is also abundant shade, inlets and alcoves along the beach that make it more of a sanctuary than a tourist draw. If you get there and can’t stand to leave, there is a campground as well as cabins and other rustic accomodations for rent.

Spencer Beach, Kawaihae

Spencer Beach, Kawaihae

Spencer Beach, Kawaihae – Source

Spencer Beach is, perhaps, one of the best and most overlooked family beaches in all of Hawaii. Looking down from Puukohola Heiau, a massive temple built by the mighty Hawaiian King Kamehameha – which protects the beach from the trade winds, Spencer Beach’s white sandy shores and calm waters will draw you in. There are lots of amenities on Spencer Beach like bathrooms, picnic tables, showers and even a lifeguard tower. The ample shade makes it a great place to while away an afternoon.

Hanauma Bay, Oahu

Hanauma Bay, Oahu

Hanauma Bay, Oahu – Source

From the air, Hanauma Bay looks like a giant horseshoe shaped inlet, surrounded by lush, green hills. From the ground, it looks like a snorkelers and nature lover’s paradise. In fact, Hanauma Bay was so popular with snorkelers and nature lovers, they began to endanger the local flora and and marine life with their constant presence. Hanauma Bay was designated a marine life conservation district in 1967 in an effort to restore it. That didn’t help matters much so today, access to Hanauma Bay has been severely restricted. To go there today, you need special permission, which takes months to get so plan well in advance.

Papohaku Beach, Molokai

Papohaku Beach, Molokai

Papohaku Beach, Molokai – Source

If you’re thinking every beach in Hawaii is going to be crawling with tourists all around, you would be wrong. Papohaku Beach in Molokai is one of the most deserted beaches in the world – and it’s also one of the most pristine. You’ll find it on the tiny island of Molokai between Oahu and Maui – but you likely won’t find anyone else there so come prepared to enjoy tropical solace at its best.

Manele Bay, Lanai

Manele Bay, Lanai

Manele Bay, Lanai – Source

As a marine preserve, you can see things in the water at Manele Bay that you won’t find in other parts of Hawaii. It’s gorgeous clear blue waters are teeming with tropical fish of every color of the rainbow. The honey-colored sand has a golden hue in the sunset, which can be observed in luxury from one of the many oceanfront suites at the nearby Four Seasons Resort.

Punaluu Black Sand Beach, Hawaii Island

Punaluu Black Sand Beach, Hawaii Island

Punaluu Black Sand Beach, Hawaii Island – Source

Our list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning at least one of Hawaii’s many fabulous black sand beaches. Punaluu isn’t great for swimming,  but you will fall in love with the sea turtles that frequent its shores.

Be advised that swimming in many areas of Hawaii can be dangerous, due to the rocky coastlines, rip currents and high surf. Experienced swimmers should stay close to shore. Swimming there there is a lifeguard on duty is advised and remember to follow all posted warnings and coded flags.

In most parts of Hawaii, it is illegal to remove sand or rocks from the beaches – even as tiny souvenirs and there are a number of endangered species sharing the waters with you that should be left alone. Don’t plan on venturing out into the water once the sun begins to set, unless you’re partial to chilly temperatures. The waters surrounding Hawaii are quite cold in the evening and night, regardless of daytime temperatures.

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