This week, two more “best beach” reports are out, and we have to mention they are confusing and fatiguing. Family Destinations Guide picked Awahua Beach, Molokai, among the best secret beaches in the US, which seems meaningless mainly for the reasons below. Then Dr. Beach released his top picks, and let us know if you agree. These lists may even be counterproductive for those planning their first Hawaii vacation, as we’ll tell you more about it in today’s article.
What’s wrong with Awahua Beach, Molokai?
The big problem is that visitors cannot go there. It’s at Kalaupapa, reached by a 3.5-mile trail that is currently closed. Also, the Kalaupapa Peninsula is off-limits to visitors. Since Covid, it has been and will apparently remain closed to the general public. That closure means there is no access to the trail or fly-in access to Kalaupapa Airport for visitors. The trail was closed initially due to a landslide in 2018 and then during Covid. The federal government appears to have restored trail access. The National Park Service is not issuing permits, however. Part of the issue is that visitors had to be on a tour to visit. There is currently no concessionaire. The Hawaii Department of Health, Hansen’s Disease Division, directly confirmed that information to Beat of Hawaii. And the National Park Service said, “Kalawao County is closed to the general public… in alignment with CDC and Hawaii State Department of Health guidance until further notice.”
Yet the author, unknown to us, said, “Awahua Beach is a picturesque and secluded beach located on the island of Molokai in Hawaii. Visitors can enjoy swimming, snorkeling, or simply lounging on the beach, taking in the serene atmosphere and the natural beauty of this hidden gem.”
The reality is that while beautiful, it’s also not a swimming beach because of rip tides. That also means snorkeling isn’t usually possible.
What you should know about Lanikai Beach, Oahu.
The same publication proffers, “With its breathtaking scenery and serene atmosphere, Lanikai Beach is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful beaches in Hawaii and is a must-visit destination for any traveler to the island.”
In a word, good luck. There is significant strife between visitors and the town’s residents. Visitors want to enjoy the world-renowned beach and its hiking and ocean sports. Residents have taken to measures to prevent visitors from parking. They have also been installing plantings, boulders, and no parking signs placed where they aren’t technically legal. This was done to create visitor-no-parking areas. In response, some visitors have moved those obstacles to park there anyway.
Lanikai Beach is in a community that has long suffered from Hawaii’s over-tourism. Narrow streets and visitors parking anywhere they can have led to problems.
Residents are at the breaking point due to a situation that has long been bad and has gotten exponentially worse since revenge travel that followed Covid. It has also impeded residents from being able to enter and exit the community and their properties safely, and the traffic has resulted in emergency vehicles not being able to navigate through bumper-to-bumper traffic.
Beat of Hawaii will head over to Lanikai Beach shortly to again report firsthand the severity of the current over-tourism problems there.
Lanikai is a pristine white sand beach that views the Mokulua Islands.
It is also famous for the Lanikai Pillbox Trail, which has been exploited in social media, especially Instagram. The trail is within a small residential community on Oahu’s windward side. There is no beach park in any sense, and there are no public restrooms or other facilities, including parking lots. Police regularly patrol the area; parking citations and even towing are common. The parking situation is definitely out of control and has been for years.
Dr. Beach Picks 3 Hawaii Beaches as Best in USA.
The more reputable Dr. Beach just released his findings based on a set of 50 criteria to be chosen. There’s nothing wrong with his list, but there are other beaches we might have picked as better. See if you agree or not with his findings below
#2 Duke Kahanamoku Beach, Oahu.
#7 Wailea Beach, Maui.
#9 Poipu Beach, Kauai.
So what’s the truth about the best beaches in Hawaii?
Best is in the eyes of the beholder, and there’s no best beach for everyone. Yet, Hawaii aficionados want to know the quintessential bucket list of Hawaii beaches.
The number of beaches in Hawaii is extraordinarily vast. They include red, black, white, and even green sand beaches. There are small ones, and giant ones, calm ones, and surfing ones, animal and people-watching ones. Some are better for swimming and snorkeling than others. Other beaches might be lined with homes, and others feel more remote. Best beaches also vary highly based on seasons and surf conditions.
So many look to sources such as Dr. Beach and TripAdvisor, and now this new one at Family Destinations Guide, all of which attempt to answer the question you want to have answered for your Hawaii vacation.
TripAdvisor rankings come from crowd-sourcing of Hawaii travelers, and Dr. Beach’s recommendations are from a self-proclaimed expert.
Our best advice is to research multiple sources in advance and check YouTube for beach videos to give you more of an idea of what you’ll find.