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What Are The Best Beaches In Hawaii? Local's Guide

Big Island beaches are completely unique, unlike the white sand beaches found on many of the other Hawaiian Islands.


The Big Island is home to some of the most diverse and interesting beaches, perfect for swimming, surfing, snorkeling, lounging, boogie boarding and more. The Big Island is home to some incredible white sand beaches, in addition to black sand beaches from volcanic activity and lava rock, as well as one of the world’s only green sand beaches.


Before heading to the beach, it is important to note that many of the most beautiful Hawaiian beaches on the Big Island are much coarser than the sand most people are used to. Wearing proper shoes is imperative. In addition, many of these beaches are more for sightseeing, rather than swimming.


Many of the most popular beaches on the Big Island can be found on the north shore of the island on the Kohala Coast.


How many beaches are in Hawaii?

Across all of the Hawaiian Islands, there are over 100 beaches. There are well over 20 beaches on the Big Island.


Are all beaches in Hawaii public?

All beaches across the state of Hawaii are free and open to the public. According to Hawaiian laws, any land below the highest wave line is open to the public. In practice however, it is hard to determine where the line falls.


In short, all beaches across the Hawaiian Islands are open to the public.


best beaches in hawaii
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We’ve rounded up some of our favorite and nicest beaches in Hawaii.

Punalu’u Beach

Punalu’u is one of the most famous black sand beaches on the Big Island. In addition, it is one of the easiest-to-find and most accessible of the Big Island’s black sand beaches.


Punalu’u Beach is best for laying in the sun, beach walks and looking for green sea turtles. Swimming and snorkeling is available here as well, but the ocean can be quite rough, making other areas much better suited for going into the water.


Papakōlea Beach

Seeing this beach is not for the faint of heart, as Papakōlea Beach can be hard to access. Famous for its beautiful green sand, it is one of two green sand beaches in the United States. The green hue of the sand is caused from the olivine crystals that make up the sand on the beach.


In order to really enjoy this beach, plan to spend at least half a day hiking to the beach and spending time there. Located in a remote area, reaching the beach requires a 2.5 mile hike down, making the round trip to view the beach 5 miles long.


The bay the beach surrounds is calm and a great snorkeling spot.


Hāpuna Beach

Hāpuna Beach is consistently ranked as one of the best beaches in Hawaii. Hāpuna Beach is a beautiful white sand beach in Hawaii that is about half a mile long and always sunny.


A family-friendly beach with plenty of lifeguards on duty year round. However, due to the beach’s popularity, it can be quite crowded. This beach is a great snorkeling and swim spot.


Waialea Bay (Beach 69)

Nicknamed for the telephone pole labeled “69,” Waialea Beach is another extremely popular white sand beach park in Hawaii. Beach 69 is another great snorkeling and swim spot on the Island.


Beach 69 on the Big Island is best experienced in the summer months. During the winter, strong tides erode the sand away from the beach. During the summer months however, Waialea Beach is the perfect mix of sun, shade and ocean views.


Because the bay is a marine life conservation district, the snorkeling and marine life are incredible. However, there are no lifeguards on duty at this beach.


La’aloa (Magic Sands) Beach

The Big Island’s Magic Sands Beach gets its name from the disappearing sands. The beach disappears every night due to the high winter tides that sweep the sand away. Another popular beach in Hawaii, this beach is close to condos, restaurants and more.


Kauna’oa (Mauna Kea) Beach

Kauna’oa Beach, also known as Mauna Kea Beach is the picture-esque beach many people think of when they imagine Hawaii.


Mauna Kea Beach is a family-friendly beach with soft white sand perfect for snorkeling and swimming during the summer months. During the off-season, the water can be quite rough. In addition, the beach is located next to the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, giving you access to the restaurant for a quick bite to eat.


Makalawena Beach

Makalawena Beach is another must-see beach for adventurers. Located in Mahai’ula Beach State Park, Makalawena Beach is one of the most beautiful white sand beaches the Big Island has to offer.


In order to access the beach, you must take about a 20-minute walk along the lava fields. Unlike many of the other beaches on our list, Makalawena Beach is usually pretty quiet. It is a great place to snorkel or for a beach picnic.


Kehena Beach

Kehena Beach is a long and narrow black sand beach. It is one of the unofficial “clothing-optional” beaches in Hawaii.


During low tide, Kehena is a great swim spot, but swimming should be avoided during high tide due to rip currents.


Anaeho’omalu Beach

Located near the Waikoloa Beach Resort, Anaeho’omalu Beach is a salt and pepper sand beach lined with palm trees. You may also hear it referred to as A Bay. There is a ton to do at A Bay, from swimming, to lounging on the beach, to paddle boarding.


A Bay is one of the best beaches to see an incredible Hawaiian sunset.


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