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Bucketlist Best Beaches in Hawaii 2022 | Experts Disagree

Which are the best beaches in Hawaii that are a must on your Hawaii vacation bucketlist?

Look no further than sources like Dr. Beach and TripAdvisor, who attempt from different viewpoints to answer the question you want to have answered for your 2022 Hawaii vacation. TripAdvisor does its rankings based on crowd-sourcing of Hawaii aficionados, while Dr. Beach is a self-proclaimed and well-regarded expert. When TripAdvisor looked at the top 25 beaches in the United States earlier this year, their readers found six Hawaii beaches that made the cut. Four are on Maui, followed by Oahu and Kauai, with one on each island. Read beyond for Dr. Beach’s picks, which are very different.

1. TripAdvisor Picks Best Beaches in Hawaii

Kaanapali Beach, Lahaina Maui

Best Beaches in Hawaii - Kaanapali Beach Maui
Moving up from #3 last year, you can stretch out on an amazing three miles of beautiful sand and the turquoise ocean on what was and has remained a most popular vacation refuge. A concrete path runs its entire length. There are five free parking lots. The north end is best near Black Rock, and the south end has a reef that can be uncomfortable on your feet.

This is a great spot to see humpback whales in season. Enjoy the iconic cliff divers at Black Rock (Puu Kekaa) every sunset. You can stay nearby at one of the many hotels and condos that now line Kaanapali, which was Hawaii’s very first planned resort community. Also on hand is great shopping and dining and a plethora of activities. In normal times you’ll find yourself in a crowd of frolickers, that’s for sure.

Wailea Beach, Maui


See the featured image above. Moving up from #14 last year and the lead photo at the top. Calm waters and excellent swimming are highlights of this crescent sand beach fronting the Grand Wailea. Great for snorkeling when calm and during morning hours. Excellent boogie boarding at the far south side.

Wailea has grown tremendously over the years to become the most popular destination on Maui, in part due to the natural beauty, as well as great accommodations, shopping, and dining.

Napili Beach, Maui

Best Beaches in Hawaii | Napili Beach

Up from #10 in 2020, this great and generally uncrowded beach on West Maui, perfect for whale watching in season and beautiful views stretching to Molokai. Swimming, snorkeling, and boarding are dependent on conditions, and it is always a perfect sunning beach. Always enjoyable, from sunrise to sunset. It does not get much afternoon wind, and the offshore waters are sandy. Access via Hui Drive and Napili Place.

Waianapanapa State Park, Maui

Beat of Hawaii says, “Nice stop on the Hana Highway near the town, and the state park cabins here are a good albeit rustic deal.” This is along a remote volcanic coastline. Black sand is one of the unforgettable things here, where you’ll also find great picnicking and the ancient Hawaiian coastal trail to Hana. Seabirds abound.

Kailua Beach, Oahu


A favorite of ours features unforgettably blue water and a broad, silky sand beach. Considered by many in your comments as one of the best beaches on Oahu. It’s a favorite for local families and visitors alike, especially on weekends. Typically calm water and tree-shaded. with a large park including pavilions for picnics. A popular kiteboarding and windsurfing location.

Poipu Beach, Kauai

This is one of South Shore Kauai’s most iconic beaches. It offers sunbathing, picnicking, swimming, surfing, fishing, snorkeling, bodyboarding, and more. It is a quintessentially popular crescent-shaped beach with clear blue water. It is frequented by Hawaiian monk seals and green sea turtles.  There’s a rock-protected wading pool popular with kids and surfing beginners, and shade under trees to keep cool. Humpback whale-watching from shore is possible in winter.

2. Dr. Beach Picks Best Beaches in Hawaii

You also won’t go wrong at any of the Dr. Beach-picked beaches either. His currently #1 ranked Hawaii beach is Hapuna Beach, Hawaii (Big Island), which has been in his top 10 for years.

Hapuna Beach #1 Beach in U.S.

This is a well-loved Beat of Hawaii favorite. Simply put, Hapuna Beach rocks. The beach is perched on the remote Kohala Coast of the Big Island. It is epic for wide-ranging beach activities including swimming, surfing, paddleboarding, sunbathing, snorkeling, and more. At the north end find Turtle Cove, where you will find Hawaiian green sea turtles.

Located on the western side of Waikiki, fronting the Hilton Hawaiian Village, Kahanamoku beach is frequently a top pick of Dr. Beach and has been #4, 5, or 6 in the past three years. The nearby Ala Moana Beach Park, which isn’t a top pick of Dr. Beach, is in fact Hawaii’s single most popular beach.

Kahanamoku Beach is beautiful, calm, and wide, making it a favorite of families and kids. Also adjacent is the pictured lagoon by the same name.

Will you share your 2022 Bucketlist best beaches in Hawaii? 

Updated 12/18/21.

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68 thoughts on “Bucketlist Best Beaches in Hawaii 2022 | Experts Disagree”

  1. It’s very hard to beat Maui for the many beatiful beaches that are there, you can walk for miles. But for snorkeling we prefer Kauai.
    Aloha Guys

  2. Sometimes I wonder whether the best beaches lists are designed to distract people away from the “real” best beaches. Mine are not on the list, and I’m not telling. 🙂

  3. I always had a great day on Kapalua Beach in Maui, but alas, I’ve heard that they are doing construction there and there’s no place to park. I’ve been to Napili (Gazebo’s for breakfast) so now, I’ll have to check out the beaches there. Since our timeshare is in Kahana, we almost never drive down to Wailea or Kihei. Yes, Kaanapali Beach is the best! Of course, we spend most of our evenings in Kaanapali and Lahaina.

    1. Waikiki Beach was on the list. However, it shouldnt have been. The beach has always been too narrow and surrounded by skyscrapers. btw…it’s also called Kuhio Beach.

  4. THANK YOU again BOH for all you do to keep us ‘wanna be’ visitors informed. We really appreciate it.

    It is our opinion that Trip Advisor included one beach that is well below about a dozen that they did not include in their top 25. That’s Kaanapali Beach at Lahaina. Very narrow, as the picture above shows it to be. We’ve stayed in Kaanapali twice in the last 30+ years, last time was about 15 years ago, and we wouldn’t book that area again.

    I agree with previous comment about Tunnels. Actually, for tremendous visual scenery and beauty, my wife and I think Ke’e Beach at the end of the road on Kauai’s north shore can’t be beat – fairly wide, beautiful view of the Napali coast mountains, and good snorkeling. And the tree roots that are still supporting trees, even though the trunks are now 10-15 feet above the sand are just amazing. And the drive to and from is beautiful as well. The new parking lot and need for reservations have improved it as well.

    We too are among the ‘greys’ coming to Hawaii. We’ve had to cancel 4 reservations on Kauai over the past 8 months, and after cancelling the last one scheduled for 3 weeks in April, we decided to book the Big Island instead. Haven’t been there in nearly 15 years, as we’ve spent our 3-4 weeks on Kauai. STILL hoping to enjoy the 3 weeks we have reserved on Kauai starting late August. First inoculation received, next one within 2 weeks, so we’ll be very safe by early April.

    1. Hi Gary.

      Thanks for all of your comments. Glad you can get over to the Big Island followed by Kauai this year. Enjoy.


  5. Keamano Beach. If you have been there, you know why. If you have not been there, it probably sounds foreign or you have never heard of it.

    1. I stand by this choice. Might be the best beach in the world. Again, if you have been there you know why. If you have not been there, well, you should learn why.

  6. We all have our own favs. I find Lanakai sad, crowded and depleted. Kailua beach park inherited its sand over the years,and is more relaxing. It still has a great view of the Moks. My military family lived nearby in the 1950’s. The old pics are amazing. Before the sea walls and plantings it was a long, glorious stretch of white sand… dreamy and amazing.

  7. It’s hard to believe that Polihale Stae park and Beach is not one of the top beaches of Hawaii. Located on the western end of Kauai and ending at the Napali Coast, it’s truly amazing!!!!

    1. Polihale is a beautiful beach, but for all the driving over the pot holes in the cane road and the inability to swim there, for many, it is not worth going. I used to like sitting on that beach and watching the sunset. Most western on Kauai.

  8. Oh don’t we love lists? So much subjectivity. How does a beach change significantly from just one year previously? List try to make the creator of them relevant by changing things up but couldn’t be more inaccurate in many cases other than listing some of the usual suspects. For instance I would take Kauai tunnels Beach any day over Wailea beach in Oahu!! Same problem goes for TripAdvisor. I can assure you they are not the be-all end-all for opinions on anything regarding travel


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