- Big Beach, Maui
Backed by the lush, 165-acre Makena State Park and sheltered by low lava cliffs, Big Beach is one of Maui’s most breathtaking beaches—and also one of its largest. True to its name, Big Beach stretches more than a mile long, and is 100 feet wide from sand to shoreline. There’s nothing around to distract you from its cushiony white sand and cool crystalline waters. TOP BEACHES IN HAWAII
- Kapalua Beach, Maui
Protected by two reefs that extend outward on both ends to form a crescent-shaped cove, Kapalua is one of Maui’s best beaches for snorkeling thanks to its calm, clear waters and its abundance of marine life. Its rocky northern end has particularly good visibility, since it has less sand, and you can expect to see everything from butterfly fish to large green sea turtles. Plus, the beach is superlatively beautiful, and despite its popularity, has somehow managed to remain pristine and peaceful. TOP BEACHES IN HAWAII
- Wailea Beach, Maui
If you’re more interested in glitz and glamour than the rugged and remote, head to the soft golden sands of Wailea, on Maui’s southwestern coast. Though its quarter mile-long shorefront is bookended by swanky five-star resorts—Four Seasons Maui at its south end and Waldorf Astoria’s Grand Wailea to the north—its silvery sands remain immaculate and its emerald waters clear and uncrowded. TOP BEACHES IN HAWAII
- Kaihalulu Beach, Maui
An essential stop on the road to Hana, Kaihalulu Beach is one of Maui’s most striking stretches, thanks to the contrast between its rust-red sand (a product of the lava cinder cone that towers directly behind it) and its electric blue waters. It also happens to be one of the most isolated and difficult to reach: the path down is steep, curvy, and narrow, and can get slippery as a result of crumbling cinder and fallen ironwood pine needles.
- Lanikai Beach, Oahu
Though it’s only a half-mile long, Lanikai is one of the prettiest stretches of sand on Oahu. It’s the archetypal Hawaiian beachscape: powder-white sands melting into shimmering turquoise water, leafy palm trees, and views out to the beautiful Mokulua Islands. As one of the few beaches in Oahu without shore-breaking waves, its calm waters are perfect for swimming, paddle boarding, and kayaking, as well as windsurfing and sailing on windier days.
- Sunset Beach, Oahu
A trip to Oahu isn’t complete without exploring the island’s windswept North Shore—specifically, Haleiwa and this slice of golden sand known as Sunset Beach. In the summer, the water is flat and calm, ideal for swimming, but in the winter, the waves can get really wild—and that’s exactly why you’re here. Sunset Beach is home to one of Oahu’s best surf breaks, with gigantic swells of up to 25 feet high, making it heaven for experienced surfers. TOP BEACHES IN HAWAII
- Waimanalo Beach, Oahu
Waimanalo Beach is the longest uninterrupted white-sand beach on Oahu and a good place to mosey around; scooping up shells and watching the surf roll in. It’s also one of the most breathtaking beaches on the island, sandwiched between the dramatic cliffs of the Ko’olau mountain range and the iridescent blue-green waters of Waimanalo Bay. Thanks to its tucked away location on Oahu’s windward, or eastern, coast, it remains relatively uncrowded compared to most other beaches on Oahu, frequented only by local families and in-the-know visitors.
- Makalawena Beach, Big Island
Hawaii’s Big Island is known best for its dramatic black sand beaches—but due to their popularity, they’re often pretty crowded and not that great for swimming, let alone relaxing. Makalawena, on the other hand, is as blissfully deserted as it gets, thanks to its (literally) off-the-beaten-path location—you’ll need a four-wheel drive vehicle to traverse the rough black lava rocks, and then hike for another half-hour over a lava field just to get there.