The Best Beaches in Hawaii
Check out our top picks for vacation destinations on the sunny beaches of Hawaii.
Sure, you honeymoon in Hawaii for the mai tais and the epic swells, but beaches are actually the major selling point of this sun-and-sand paradise in the South Pacific. And we're not just talking the golden-toned variety—some Hawaiian Islands are home to black and even green sandy shores. (The Instagram potential is off-the-charts.) As is the case with any honeymoon in Hawaii, the beach-going experiences you have will depend on which island (or islands) you choose.
Oahu, for example, is home to famed Waikiki Beach—fronted by towering resorts and packed to the brim with tourists and locals. Travel to the island's north or western shores, however, and you'll find less-traveled swaths that are the perfect jumping-off point for activities like snorkeling, SUP, and surfing. Honeymooners on Maui will find a gorgeous, wide stretch of beach right outside their front door if they post up in one of the main resort areas, like Wailea or Kapalua. Those looking for an epic cliffside escape should head to Kauai, where garden-green landscapes are matched only by powdery crescents. Prepare to be wowed by Hawaii Island (a.k.a. the Big Island): Here, you'll find black-sand beaches, which technically aren't even sand at all, but rather, in grains of black volcanic glass, since the island is home to a still-active volcano.
No matter where you're headed, make sure to pack your favorite bikini, a towel, and a great book. You'll be glad you carved out time to visit one (or more) of these epic beaches. If an authentic Hawaiian honeymoon experience is what you and your new spouse are after, these locales will definitely deliver.
Waikiki Beach, Oahu
Hawaii's most famous beach is still one of its most-traveled, more than a century after the first tourists started arriving in the state by steamboat. That's because it has calm, swimmable waters and a golden, crescent-shaped stretch of sand. It may be crowded during high season, but it's definitely a once-in-a-lifetime scene to be a part of. Sip mai tais at the iconic Royal Hawaiian resort, hike up nearby Diamond Head peak, or kick back and watch surfers whizz across the water.
Wailea Beach, Maui
The sand is fine and the water is warm. Need we say more? Maui's most popular beach is home to some of the island's top resorts—the Four Seasons Resort Maui at Wailea, the Andaz Wailea, and the Grand Wailea—who's owners, you could argue, likely chose this area because the beach is wide (no need to worry about overcrowding), the sand is soft (no shells or rocks to stub your toes), and the water is calm enough for swimming, snorkeling, and paddle-boarding (no strong current or steep drop off).
Punaluu Black Sand Beach, Hawaii
Hawaii (a.k.a. the Big Island) is home to a still-active volcano, and this volcanic activity is what gives the sand on this beach its epic black hue. The unique color will stop you in your tracks—as will the rocks (keep your shoes on until you find a soft landing spot). Swimming may not be ideal, you can explore the coconut palm forest that fringes the upper edge of sand and go for a walk in search of large honu (Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles), which can often be spotted basking on the beach.
Hanalei Bay, Kauai
This two-mile stretch along Kauai's north shore is all emerald-hued mountains and 4,000-foot-high cliffs. In other words, Instagram gold. The entire area is composed of several different beach parks, which attract crowds of surfers during winter, when the waves are at peak velocity. During summer, however, the ocean is quiet and perfect for leisurely dips before a cocktail or shaved ice (Hawaii's version of the snowcone).
Waimea Bay Beach Park, Oahu
If there's one Hawaiian activity every honeymooning couple must do, it's learning to surf. This area along Oahu's less-developed north shore is where big-time surfers go to hang ten. While you might not be able to get out there yourselves (safety first, kids), it'll be plenty entertaining to sit and watch pro riders catch awe-inspiring swells.
Hamoa Beach, Maui
Perhaps the most memorable day trip you can take on a honeymoon in Hawaii is the drive to Hana, a stuck-in-time town on Maui's far eastern shore (a few hours from the west-coast resort areas where most couples stay). The curving, twisting cliffside road may be nerve-wracking at times, but trust us, it leads to some picture-perfect waterfalls and worthy detours like this beautiful, secluded beach. Pack your swimsuits and towels so you can take a dip before hopping back in the car.
Hapuna Beach, Hawaii
The Big Island has some of the most diverse landscapes and environments in Hawaii (eight different climate zones, to be exact). But if it's a classic white-sand beach you're after, this half-mile stretch is a winner—just ask the locals who frequent it for a swim with friends or weekend picnic (there are grills and a snack bar).
Poipu Beach Park, Kauai
Snorkeling, surfing, SUP—you can do it all at this south shore stunner. All three of the powder-soft, crescent beaches are watched over daily by a lifeguard—and by Hawaiian Monk Seals (though they're almost always sleeping on duty). If one of you gets a little too sunburnt, go for shady sundowners at a nearby resort, like the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa or Ko'a Kea Hotel & Resort at Poipu Beach.
Ko Olina Beach, Oahu
This swath on Oahu's western shore was once frequented by Hawaiian royalty. It's easy to see why once you lay eyes on its crystal-blue waters or snorkel out to the shallow reefs, teeming with aquatic life.
Kapalua Bay, Maui
Snorkelers will want to make a trip to this popular spot (if you're not already staying at one of the top two resorts in the area, Montage Kapalua Bay or Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua Bay). The reefs are right out front, so you can expect to spot tons of colorful fish and maybe even a sea turtle or two. Afterward, go paddle-boarding, kayaking, or take it to land and hike the Coastal Trail, which runs all the way to D.T. Fleming Beach Park.
Tunnels (Makua) Beach, Kauai
This north shore spot isn't for the faint of heart. Not only is it a long drive from most resorts on the island's southern rim, but you'll have to park about a half-mile down since there are only a few spots on-site. That said, when the currents aren't strong, the snorkeling is unmatched; it's like swimming in an aquarium. You can also explore lava tubes that caused underwater caverns to form (hence the nickname "Tunnels Beach") and catch an epic sunset.