Best Beaches in Hawaii

Last updated 16th October 2017

Whether you’re looking for the perfect surf, snorkel, or just plot of sand to relax on, Hawaiian beaches offer something for everyone in the family. We’ve listed the best beaches, island by island, all over Hawaii. From green sand beaches to sea turtle oases, you’re sure to find the perfect beach!



Lagoons at Ko Olina

If you’ve got little keiki (children) who aren’t fans of big waves, this is the perfect place for them. Made up of four calm man-made lagoons with over a mile and a half of shoreline, all connected by pristine grass, coconut trees and paved walkways. Free public parking is available throughout the resort community. Not only will you find incredible, family-friendly beaches, but also award winning resorts and restaurants such as Disney’s Aulani, Monkeypods and Roy’s.

Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve

Ever wanted to go snorkeling in a volcano? Visit this volcanic crater and swim with more than 400 species of Hawaiian marine life, including turtles and the state fish the humuhumunukunukuapua’a. Try saying that five times fast! This has been named “best snorkeling in the islands” many times!

Lanikai Beach
Actually ranked, one of the best beaches in the world, Lanikai will convince any non-believer with its pristine white sand and crystal clear, calm turquoise waters.

Waimanalo Beach

Named one of the best beaches in the U.S., Waimanalo offers five whole miles of soft, powdery sand. The best thing about this beach? It’s pretty much a local favorite with few tourists.

Mālaekahana State Recreation Area

Another hidden gem, Mālaekahana State Recreation Area, lies on the north shore, hidden by lush vegetation with a small entrance. Here you will find sky colored water, trees and a tree rope swing that is sure to bring out the kid in anyone!

Waimea Bay

Famous for its big wave surf competitions every winter, that will bring hundreds of cars parked on the side of the road to watch surfers risk their lives to catch the biggest waves on the island, Waimea Bay is also home to some of the calmest waters on the island during the summer months. The bay and beach area are large enough to accommodate tourists without it feeling too crowded and there is even a jump rock if you’re feeling brave! Be sure to bring your boombox along so you can listen to the beach boys! Kids will love watching surfers in the winter (bring binoculars) and the calm waters in the summer.


Makena Beach

The most photographed beach in all of Hawaii, Makena beach is composed of “little beach” and “big beach.” Both are beautiful, but beware that “little beach” is also a nude beach! Kids will love the ample sand to build sand castles!

Baldwin Beach

On Maui’s north shore, Baldwin beach is a popular spot, not only for its gorgeous sand and water, but because there is ample parking! If you head over to the “baby beach” section, there is a protective seawall creating a safe saltwater pool that is great for children.

Ka’anapali Beach

If you’re looking for ample choices in water activities and restaurants, Ka’anapali is just steps away from shops and has plenty of water craft rentals and tours such as kayaks, SUPs, parasailing and more. The sand is soft and the water warm! What more could anyone need?


This popular local beach is one of the most famous water sports beaches in the world, where you will be able to see some of Maui’s best water sports athletes in action. Surfing, kite boarding, windsurfing, snorkeling, and stand up paddle boarding are all popular sports at Ho’okipa. It is also home to many Green Hawaiian Sea Turtles. Kids will love watching the pros and spotting turtles, just be sure not to touch or go near them.


Poipu Beach

Voted America’s best beach by The Travel Channel, Poipu Beach lives up to this title and it’s an incredible family beach. Divided up into two smaller bays by a sand bar, the west sand bar is known as baby beach with shallow, calm waters. The east bay will have tons of fun for parents, older kids and teens with snorkeling, boogie boarding and surfing.

Hanalei Bay

This heavenly beach on the north shore feels like stepping into a Hawaiian dream. Almost never crowded, it offers miles and miles of soft sand, seashells, warm water and trees for shade. The bay is calm in the summer and gives surfers some fun in the winter. Kids will love collecting seashells and driftwood here.

Tunnels (Makua) Beach

Known as one of the best snorkeling beaches in Kauai, Tunnels beach offers miles of sand and a huge half moon shaped reef just off shore, with shallow waters for the keiki.


Papakolea Beach 

Known to most as Green Sand Beach, this isn’t really a great beach to swim in, but it is worth a visit. Set into an old cinder cone of the Mauna Loa Volcano containing green crystals that give the beach its name.

Punalu’u Beach

Known as Black Sand Beach, this famous attraction is also home to endangered Hawksbill turtles and green turtles. Kids will love to roll around in the black sand and rinse off in the warm ocean!

Hapuna Beach

A beautiful white and beach and a favorite for locals, this impressive beach on the Kona side has a year round life guard. The shallow, clear waters are perfect for kids.


Hulopoe Beach

This beach located in the Four Seasons Manele Bay’s front doorstep is great for swimming and snorkeling. Kids will love exploring the large tide pools. Keep an eye out for humpback whales in the wintertime and turtles and dolphins.


Papaohaku Beach

One of Hawaii’s least visited islands, you will have your pick of sand real estate on Molokai. Papaohaku, or 3 Mile Beach, is one of the largest stretches of white sand in all of Hawaii.

Whatever beaches you choose to visit in Hawaii, you won’t be disappointed You might even find your very own favorite Hawaiian beach, and maybe you won’t ever be able leave!


Vanessa Hunt is a full-time traveling mama who is passionate about world-schooling and food. You can find her sharing all about her travels with her family of six (her four children are 4, 7, 9 and 11), as well as her favorite recipes at Wanderlust Crew.