Millions of people travel to Hawaii each year to spend time on its beautiful beaches. From the posh stretches of sand in Maui to the remote bays in Kauai, there's no shortage of beach options throughout the islands. While we'd argue any Hawaiian beach is likely to delight visitors, some beaches are better suited to certain types of travelers. So whether you're dreaming about celebrating a romantic honeymoon, an unforgettable family reunion, or a surfer wanting to catch some epic waves, we've outlined the best Hawaii beach for you to visit when it's safe to go.
Check out our favorite Hawaiian hotels on the beach.
If you’re looking for a swish Hawaiian getaway, it’s hard to beat the Wailea Beach area in Maui. Located on the southwestern coast of the island, the wide beach has soft tan sand, and often calm water that makes it suitable for snorkeling and swimming. Particularly during January through March, visitors can often spot humpback whales swimming in the distance. While the beach is public and locals do come here, the majority of beach-goers are guests at the surrounding luxury properties — the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea and Grand Wailea Maui, A Waldorf Astoria Resort. Numerous fine-dining eateries and upscale shops add to the high-end atmosphere.
The Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea is a family-friendly property with a stellar beachfront location and impeccable features. The 383 rooms are sumptuously outfitted with soaking tubs, separate showers, and outdoor spaces. Top-notch amenities consist of three restaurants, two kid-friendly pools, a free kids’ club, secluded adults-only pool, and world class spa.
Undoubtedly the most famous and popular beach in all of Hawaii, Oahu‘s Waikiki Beach is renowned for its family-friendly offerings and central Honolulu location. Waikiki Beach has shallow areas suitable for children, plus there are an array of water-sports options such as surfing, parasailing, and banana boat rides. Tons of family-oriented hotels fill the Waikiki area, and tourists are within easy reach of sights such as Diamond Head, Pearl Harbor, and the Waikiki Aquarium. It’s close setting to the international airport also adds to its appeal.
There are several hotels on Waikiki Beach in Hawaii, but we particularly love the Hilton Hawaiian Village Waikiki Beach Resort. The largest resort in Hawaii, the 3,386-room property is practically its own upscale village, with five towers, 18 bars and restaurants, dozens of shops, five swimming pools, direct beach access, and a separate lagoon. A fun luau and kids’ club are available, and the grounds have animals such as parrots and turtles.
Kauai is far less developed than Oahu and Maui, providing a lush, rugged landscape ideal for visitors looking to spend time in the mountains. Serious hikers that choose to do the famed 11-mile Kalalau Trail within Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park are rewarded with waterfalls, magical cliff and ocean views, and access to the remote Kalalau Beach. The difficult trek means few (if any) other travelers will be on the beach. Those that want to hike the trail need a permit, so be sure to plan ahead!
Formerly a St. Regis property, the 251-room Princeville Resort is one of the closest hotels to the Na Pali Coast State Wilderness Park, and undoubtedly the most luxurious. It has a gorgeous beachfront location overlooking Hanalei Bay, in addition to a large ocean-view pool, world-class golf course, and quality dining options.
Couples looking for a romantic getaway or honeymoon celebration outside of the tourist centers should head to the isolated red-sand Kaihalulu Beach that’s hidden away in Maui. To get there, travelers will need to make the Road to Hana drive, which starts near the island’s airport and ends in the small eastern town of Hana. The coastal route requires over 600 hairpin turns and 59 one-lane bridges through stunning lush greenery. Tourists often pull over to take in the breathtaking vistas and waterfalls. To reach Kaihalulu Beach, visitors must do a short and precarious hike, but the few beach-goers, striking red sand, and alluring water make it a highlight for many.
The all-inclusive-optional Travaasa Hana, Maui is a spectacular rustic-luxe resort along the secluded coast. Its 71 stand-alone bungalows add to the intimate feel, and each features a tub and separate shower, couch, and big furnished terrace with garden or ocean views. Two outdoor pools, well-regarded restaurants, and wellness center (providing free daily yoga and meditation classes) are available.
On the Island of Hawaii, Punalu’u Beach is the most famous black-sand beach in Hawaii. It sits on the Big Island’s southeastern coast, southwest of the popular Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. The beach gets its hue from tiny fragments of lava, which is visually stunning, but beware, the sand gets hot! Additionally, this is one of the island’s best spots for spotting and swimming with green sea turtles and the more rare hawksbill sea turtles. Pay attention to the strength of the currents and bring water shoes.
There’s not a lot in the way of hotel choices by this black-sand beach in Hawaii, so we recommend staying in the more central area of Hilo, which is where Hilo International Airport is located. The mid-range Grand Naniloa Hotel Hilo – a DoubleTree by Hilton provides a lovely waterfront setting, attractive outdoor pool area, and popular on-site restaurant and bar. Contemporary rooms are well-equipped and the property is within easy reach of great shops and eateries.
The North Shore of Oahu is renowned for its phenomenal surfing opportunities during certain parts of the year. There are several beaches near each other that have amateur and professional surfers riding the waves, but we’re particularly fond of Waimea Bay Beach for its family-friendly atmosphere, closed-off location, and lovely wide stretch of sand. During the winter, visitors can expect large waves best for skilled surfers and spectators. Summer months mean calm water that’s great for swimming and snorkeling.
There’s not a lot in terms of amenities at the mid-range Ki Iki beach Bungalows, but its setting near the North Shore beaches, 11 bungalows with kitchens and free Wi-Fi, and free parking make it a good value. The laid-back hotel doesn’t have a restaurant, but guests can cook in their rooms or head to eateries in the area.
Golfers wanting to hit the links in Hawaii will be hard-pressed to find a better spot to stay than by Kapalua Bay Beach on Maui’s northwestern coast. Kapalua Golf has two world-renowned golf courses, The Plantation Course and The Bay Course. The Plantation Course hosts the PGA Tour’s Sentry Tournament of Champions, while The Bay Course features the only hole to play over the ocean on Maui. The golden sand Kapalua Bay Beach is home to magnificent sea life and pretty sunset views.
Occupying 54 beautiful acres and a secluded beach, the 466-room Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua offers a luxe getaway in the famous Kapalua resort area. All the requisite features are found here, including well-regarded restaurants, a three-level outdoor pool with adjacent kids’ pool, elegant spa, and Club Lounge with golf course views.
There are reportedly only four green-sand beaches in the world and you can find one of them on the Island of Hawaii. Travelers seeking a unique adventure will certainly find this in the Papakolea Green Sand Beach, which has the presence of the green, semi-precious stone olivine, which comes from the erosion of the Pu’u o Mahana cinder cone. Note that this beach can only be reached on foot via a roughly two-and-a-half-mile hike (wear a hat and sunscreen, and bring lots of water).
The four-room Big Island Bed & Breakfast is a charming, quiet property that puts guests within easy reach of the Hawaii green-sand beach. Its expansive grounds house fruit trees that guests are welcome to pick, macadamia nut trees, a small saltwater pool, and outdoor terrace. Free continental breakfasts with macadamia nut coffee are provided.
One of the most popular beaches in Kauai, Poipu Beach sits on the island’s southern coast and thus has extraordinary sunset views. The well-sized beach is near many hotels and restaurants, plus it has tons of tourist-friendly amenities such as picnic tables, a natural wading pool area for kids, restrooms, and a lifeguard. Visitors often spot sea turtles and monk seals sunbathing in the sand. Boogie-boarding and surfing are both popular pastimes here, as is simply watching the sun go down.
Luxurious and romantic, the 121-room Ko’a Kea Hotel and Resort provides a posh getaway along Poipu Beach. Features are limited to just one pool and restaurant, and a full-service spa, making it a pleasant alternative to the area’s larger chain resorts. Swish rooms have bathtubs and showers, outdoor spaces, and espresso machines.
On the Island of Hawaii, commonly referred to as the Big Island, Waikoloa Beach sits about a 25-minute drive north of the international airport. The crescent shaped public beach is popular with locals and guests at the adjacent Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa. There’s ample space to stretch out on the sand, though many visitors opt to head to the water-sports kiosk to grab snorkeling equipment. The calm water makes it well-suited to floating in the ocean while viewing passing marine life such as sea turtles, sea urchins, and colorful fish.
There’s really only one option for tourists seeking direct access to Waikoloa Beach and that’s the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa. The expansive property is suitable for both couples and families, and it has everything needed for a Hawaiian beach getaway: loungers on the sand, multiple pools, a full-service spa, two all-day restaurants, and sunset luaus.
You’ll Also Like:
- The Best 10-Day Hawaii Itinerary
- Where to Go in Hawaii: A Cheat Sheet to the Top Destinations
- 11 Important Things Every Traveler Should Know Before Visiting Hawaii
All products are independently selected by our writers and editors. If you buy something through our links, Oyster may earn an affiliate commission.