Hawaii’s Top Three Beaches

Hawaii’s Top Three Beaches

Dr. Beach’s annual results are out and Hawaii beaches ranked high as some of the top beaches in America. This year, the picks were #2 Kahanamoku Beach Waikiki, #5 Hamoa Beach Maui and #7 Waimanalo Bay Beach Park Oahu. I recently visited each of these beaches and here’s our take and a personal favorite.

Kahanamoku Beach Waikiki (pictured above)

This is the wide swath of beach that fronts Fort DeRussy Park to the Hilton Hawaiian Village and sits adjacent to the man-made Kahanamoku lagoon.  It is named in honor of Hawaii surf legend Duke Kahanamoku. You’ll find all ocean activities here and places to rent surfboards, stand up paddle boards and take lessons.

Perfect: A reef protected Waikiki swimming, surfing, SUP, sunning and bathing beach.

Hamoa Beach Maui

Hamoa Beach Maui

One of the most picturesque and remote of Maui beaches can be found beyond Hana. It is a near perfect crescent shape that’s lined with a black lava wall. The beach is not reef protected which means that water conditions vary seasonally. A favorite choice of authors Ernest Hemingway and James Michener.

Perfect: If your travels find you in Hana, don’t miss this for photos and more. Our personal favorite.

waimanolo bay beach park

Waimanolo Bay Beach Park Oahu

Waimanalo is a beautiful Oahu beach popular with locals, and great for family picnics and sports. I’ve always enjoyed being in the water here and looking back towards the spectacular mountains. It can also be a good place to body surf for beginners. There’s protection from the sun under ironwood pines (Casuarina equisetifolia). It’s a wide beach with beautiful sand, turquoise waters and a gentle shore break. Years ago it was featured often in the Magnum, PI television series.

Perfect: A short drive from Honolulu, this feels like the other side of the world. Picnics, water and more.

What’s your pick?

Do you agree with Dr. Beach’s picks for 2011? We look forward to hearing your selections for best Hawaii beaches.

You might also enjoy

Dr. Beach and Beat of Hawaii Say Hanalei Bay is No. 1.
Our Guide to Hanalei Bay Beach.


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13 Comments

  1. DJ Illusive (1 year ago)

    On Oahu, Lanikai is my fave beach to catch some rays and chillax. Nice sand, blue waters. Ahh, I miss it!

  2. Carrie (1 year ago)

    I think it depends on what you are looking for in a beach. Every beach I have been to in Kauai and on the Big Island has been a memorable experience for me. I’ve been to alot of beaches on Kauai, and enjoyed Poipu Beach park the most because of its easy access and shallow areas since I am not a deep water swimmer. The grassy area behind the beach and the park were very nice, and it was fun to watch boogie boarders. I have yet to experience a sunny beach day at Hanalei Bay. I’ve been rained on every time I’ve been there, but I still love the area. Tunnels beach is exotic but the waves were a little too strong for me there and it is rocky. I prefer the sandy bottom beaches, so this year I am going to Maui and staying on Kanaapali. On the Big Island, I liked the A bay for its calm waters and the turtles. I loved Mauna Kea beach; very tranquil. Hapuna beach was too windy but it is a huge beach. The black sand Punalu’u beach is amazing.

  3. gluvsoahu (1 year ago)

    All the beaches I have been to in Hawaii are just plain gorgeous but I will pick my top choices from the islands I have been to. In the Big Island, Hapuna is my favorite. Makena on Maui, and Kailua on Oahu.

  4. Ed (1 year ago)

    Asking “which Hawaiian beach is best” is like asking which pile of one million dollars is best…
    The fact that they are in Hawaii makes them all best…I have not seen a “bad” beach when I am in Hawaii…for the sheer reason that it’s in Hawaii!

  5. Julie (1 year ago)

    Not mentioning my favorite beach on Kauai, already too many people finding it, but on Maui, for a really great, just plain walking beach with firm sand and great vistas… Keawapahu in Kihei, south shore. I have walked it at night under a full moon…. that and a bazillion stars. Breathtaking!

  6. Sudesh (1 year ago)

    Aloha all,
    Choosing ONE favorite beach in the islands is a tough one for me. Anyway, Popohaku beach on Moloka’i is one of my favs.

  7. Judy (1 year ago)

    There is not one good beach on Kauai. I think you all should stick to Maui and Oahu and not ever venture to my quite beaches of Kauai. ;)

  8. Steve (1 year ago)

    Yes, the Magnum/ Masters Estate was just down the road from Waimanolo Beach, however they are both at the base of the Koolau’s and when the sun goes behind the mountains early afternoon it cools off quickly and the wind comes up and its time to go. ps, bring slippers to wear from car to beach, those little pine cones from the shade trees hurt da feet – owie owie.

  9. Steve (1 year ago)

    Great to see the Lagoon looking so clear, now. The pond and surrounding sand used to be so scummy that we called it the “Polio Pond”, and none of the locals would go near it. Clearly, it has changed for the better!

  10. Colleen (1 year ago)

    Since we have not visited the above mentioned beaches – I can only comment on our ‘favorite so far’ and that is Hapuna on the Big Island. This may change if we ever manage visits to other beaches. But, for us, ANY HAWAIIAN beach is a BEST BEACH in our book. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Na Kolohe (1 year ago)

    Great to see the lagoon looking so clear, now. In the past it was real scummy and we referred to as the “Polio Pond”, clearly a welcome improvement!

  12. Lee (1 year ago)

    Waimanolo Bay is extremely beautiful and one of the reasons in my book it is a “top beach” is because of the solitude. These lists will destroy that . The long time Local (not any more) KCC Market has been destroyed because of “Tourist” list, so sad…

  13. Chris (1 year ago)

    I would choose Hanalei Beach on Kauai. It was chosen by an international group, choosing the best beaches world wide. I think you missed the most beautiful beach in Hawaii.