The Top 6 Beaches on the Island of Hawaii

To help you pick the best Hawaii beaches for your vacation we've found the top 6 for you.

1. Waialea Bay

Head to the southern part of Kawaihae Bay and you'll find one of the Big Island's most popular beaches. Though Waialea Bay is not the easiest beach to get to, it's known for being absolutely pristine-at least in the summer. In the winter months, expect that the beach will be empty and not as populated due to an impossibly strong surf that erodes the beach. Out of all of Kawaihae Bay, Waialea has arguably the most diverse offering of marine life. So, if you're looking for a snorkel or scuba site, this might be a great pick! Waialea in the summer is also a great spot for families with kids as it has a gently sloping beach, the softest of sand, trees for shade, and tide pools full of lots of interesting ocean critters.

2. Hapuna Beach

North of Kona you'll come upon Hapuna Beach - a favorite of vacationers for many reasons. First, the beach itself is plentiful, stretching nearly two hundred feet wide in the summer.  At the end of the long stretch of sand is gorgeous clear ocean water that's typically perfect for swimming (check the local forecast first). The expansive beach is surrounded by lush and beautiful green scenery that makes it feel a bit more enclosed and secluded than it actually is. In addition, if you're skilled in snorkeling you can hike a mile down the coast to Wailea Bay to enjoy the near-perfect snorkeling scene. Just make sure to take a snorkel buddy!

3. Mauna Kea Beach

On Hawaii's northern coast, Mauna Kea (also known as Kauanoa beach) is located just north of Hapuna Beach. Mauna Kea is truly one of the best Hawaii beaches and an exceptional destination. The sand here extends for a quarter of a mile in a perfect crescent shape. Book a room at the Mauna Kea Resort and this view will be at your doorstep. Because of the natural rock reef in this area, the surf is mild making it perfect for families with children and those looking for a gentle ocean swimming experience. While Mauna Kea isn't much of a surf spot, it's perfect for swimmers and those less experienced in snorkeling, bodyboarding, and boogie boarding. If you happen to drive here, make sure to plan on an early arrival since parking is fairly limited and will fill up.

4. Makalawena Beach

If you're up for a hike, this northern beach is the spot to head to. While Maniniowai is known as being the picturesque place to be on the north part of the Big Island, Makalawena is just as gorgeous and far more exclusive. This is due to the 20-minute hike it takes to get there. Makalawena is arguably one of the most spectacular beaches and because it lacks the crowds that normally occupy its sister beach Maniniowali. Because of this, it's the far better choice for pictures or romantic getaways. Makalawena is known for soft sand and immaculately clear water. It's also known for shallow coral reefs which are a great place to explore colorful coral, sea arches and undersea caves. Make sure to bring your sun hat and a book to enjoy the relative emptiness and seclusion this beach has to offer.

5. Maniniowali Beach

Located in Kona on Kua Bay Maniniowali beach is often referred to as "The Caribbean of Hawaii". This is due to the perfect combination of crystal-clear water and soft white sand beaches. This beach is also well-known for its crescent shape which adds charm and elegance to its already gorgeous persona. When the water is calm, Maniniowali hosts one of the best swimming holes on Hawaii. Early morning hours are normally the best for swimming, and afternoon winds and tides can result in rougher surf which can inhibit and endanger inexperienced swimmers. During those calm surf hours, you'll find many opportunities to bodyboard, boogie board, and snorkel. If you're looking for turtles, tropical fish, and bright colorful coral, Maniniowali is a good place to see them.

6. Kaimū Black Sand Beach (in Kalapana)

Unlike the beaches, we've talked about thus far, Kaimu isn't the spot to go if you're looking for swimming, snorkeling, diving, or surfing. But, it's still one of the most interesting beaches on the Big Island-especially if you're keen to learn more about lava.  Kaimu was once thought of as one of the most beautiful beaches on the Big Island, but it's now become a black sand beach - making it one of the youngest black sand beaches in the Hawaii islands. In a series of lava flow incidents between 1983 and 1990, Kalapana and Kaimu were destroyed along with 180 homes, roadways, and various historical sites. This new black beach is a result of those flows. Kaimu is so fascinating because it shows what happens with cycles of destruction and rebirth caused by lava. At some point in the future, Kaimu could even transform back to its old self. If you'd like to check out Kaimu you'll find it in the Puna district just south of Pahoa.

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