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Hawaii Beaches
Oahu, Maui



Oahu, North Shore surf in summertime. Wipe Out! Hawaii, USA

Oahu, small North Shore surf in summertime, Hawaii.


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Hawaii's best beaches



Oahu encompasses Hawaii's biggest city, Honolulu and its famously touristy Waikiki beach. It is the most densely populated of all Hawaiian islands, but it also has the best surf beaches in the world, an historic harbour, a lovely driving circuit around the coast and plenty of inland greenery and good walks. Oahu beaches

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Hanauma Bay, Oahu, Hawaii, USA

Hanauma Bay


Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve (swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving)

Hanauma Bay, situated in the crater of a volcano, is one of the Hawaii's most beautiful bays, with terrific, safe snorkelling and scuba diving for both amateurs and experienced divers onto a flourishing coral reef.
The beach is large, sandy, palm-shaded, with calm waters due to the protective arms of the bay's rocky outcrops and a couple of spectacular hiking trails on the ridge behind.
Hanauma is a marine life conservation area, so has strict rules such as no smoking, no pets, no booze, no fishing and only 2,000 visitor per day, so go there early in the busy season.
Facilities: restrooms, showers, picnic areas, concession stands, locker rental, snorkelling gear rentals.
Hanauma is at 7455 Kalaniana'ole Highway, Southeast O'ahu, about 10 miles (16 kms) east of Waikiki. Photo.


Lanikai Beach (swimming, windsurfing, kayaking)

Lanikai Beach, along Mokulua Drive about halfway up Oahu's east side, is regarded as Hawaii's best swimming beach by Oahu's residents. This mile long strip of golden sand is clean, usually surf-free, and pretty with palm trees and offshore islands across the water, just like a postcard. The offshore Mokulua islands have small beaches where you can land and swim. Lanikai is at Kailua Road, Kailua - East O'ahu. Note that Oahu's east shore is wetter than its west. Lanikai Pictures.


North Shore: Sunset Beach, Banzai Pipeline (aka Ehukai), Haleiwa Beach and Waimea Bay (surfing in winter, swimming or bodyboarding in summer)

Winter: Oahu's North Shore is the mecca of big wave surfing during the winter. Sunset, Banzai Pipeline, Waimea Bay, and Haleiwa Beach Park are among the world's most famous surfing spots. From October-May powerful, glassy waves at all these beaches can reach up to 15-30 feet (4-10 m) high, generating very dangerous water conditions, so at that time the area is for expert surfers only.
The North Shore is home of major professional events such as the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing that comprises 3 men's and 3 women's pro surfing events from November 12 to December 20 each winter.
Summer: During the calmer summer months the beaches become excellent swimming places with light brown sand, calm seas, lifeguards, restrooms, showers and picnic areas. Get there from Honolulu via the Kamehameha Highway, north Oahu.


Kailua Beach

3 miles of soft light golden coloured sands scattered with useful shade trees and sporting superb 360 degree views of islands and the dramatic Kooloau mountain range; Kailua is often mentioned as having the 'world's best view'.
This is a premium wind surfing site for pros and amateurs alike, with gear rentals and lessons available. Other popular activities are kayaking, body boarding and of course swimming. Kailua has all the usual facilities - lifeguard, restrooms, showers and picnic areas.
June - September does see visits from the occasional Australian bluebottle, the Portuguese Man-of-War jellyfish (not very venomous) and a stinging seaweed called limu. Kailua is at 450 Kawailoa Road, East O'ahu.

Oahu has many more little secret beaches that adventurous tourists need to hunt out for themselves.





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The Royal Lahaina Hotel at Kaanapali Beach, Lanai, Hawaii, USA

Kaanapali Beach

Maui is the second biggest Hawaiian island but many think it's the best, offering numerous waterfalls, freshwater pools, spectacular viewpoints, a couple of museums and archeological artefacts, endless activities from the obvious marine stuff to hiking, horse riding, zipline action, golf, dolphin encounters, whale watching, kayak rentals and tours, glass-bottom boats, submarine trips.


Kaanapali Beach (swimming, snorkelling, body surfing, surfing, kayaking, scuba diving)

Ka'anapali beach and its soft brown sand is located in front of the Kaanapali Resort, extending nearly 3 miles from Kahekili Beach in the north to Hanakaoo Beach (Canoe Beach) in the south. The beach is lined by a concrete walkway, hotels, restaurants and activity centres and is one of the best place for watersports and activities in Hawaii. During no or low surf seasons, snorkeling and scuba diving are fantastic around Black Rock (a volcanic cinder cone on the north end of the Kaanapali Beach, known as Airport Beach). Surfing is good to the south near the Marriot Hotel.
Kaanapali has outstanding views across the Auau Channel and has been voted 'Beach with the Best Sunset' by the Hawaii Magazine.
The beach has lifeguards, restrooms and showers but can get overcrowded and thefts occur.
Kaanapali is off Highway 30, West Maui. Photo.


Wailea Beach (swimming, snorkeling, body surfing, windsurfing, scuba diving)

One of the better family beaches, Wailea beach is wide, with shade, soft, light brown sand, good snorkeling, swimming, kayaking and sailing. However, parking nearby is difficult to find and offshore currents can be strong in the afternoon because of the Trade Winds. There are occasional jellyfish on the beach or in the water - don't touch the blue bubbles! The Four Seasons Hotel, one of the best beach resorts in Hawaii, is located at this beach and there is a shopping village nearby.
Whales sometimes appear in winter months. The beach is safe except during periods of high surf or Kona storms (severe winds from west).


Palauea Beach (swimming, snorkeling, body surfing, scuba diving)

If you like more secluded Hawaii beaches, go to Palauea ('lazy') Beach south of Polo Beach in Wailea. This excellent swimming beach is one of the last undeveloped area on the Wailea-Makena coastline. Ideal for families with young children because it is sheltered from the winds and the water is shallow.
At the south end of the beach there are underwater rock formations that make interesting diving and snorkelling.  
There are no facilities, nor lifeguards (the nearest food is at the Kea Lani Beach Hotel). Do not leave anything in your car, break-ins are problem here! High winter surf and winds may occasionally cause dangerous water conditions.


Kapalua Beach Park (swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving)

Kapalua Beach is a beautiful golden stretch along the west coast of the Keanae Peninsula, with a spectacular view of Molokai, and one of the prettiest and safest beaches on Maui - once voted the best beach in the world by Condé Nast Magazine and offers some of the best snorkeling in Maui. It also has an exclusive beach resort called Kapalua Bay.
Inside the bay is well-protected from big waves by offshore reefs and by lava outcrops on the both sides, making this a superb swimming beach for families with small children. It is also a good place to watch whales, during the whale season. If you drive, beware that public parking and beach access is not easy to find, and it's a bit of a walk to the beach.


Hamoa Beach

Near tiny Hana town in eastern Maui, Hamoa is a picturesque, beige sand, public beach in a tranquil, tree-lined bay overlooking the little palm-topped island of Alaui; one of Hawaii's favourite beaches though there is no lifeguard and sea conditions vary from no surf to occasional big surf as there is no barrier reef. There are restrooms and picnic facilities. Get there via the Hana Highway, a serpentine 52 mile road along Maui's north shore.


Getting around

Flights: domestic flights operate frequently between Honolulu (Oahu) and Lihue (Kauai), Kahului (Maui), Kona and Hilo (Big Island).
Ferries: there are also inter-island ferries between Lahaina (Maui) and Manele (Lanai), and Lahaina and Kaunakakai (Molokai).


Hawaii Weather

Hawaii's beaches get busiest in winter (December - February), mainly because of the weather elsewhere. June to October is the hottest time and December to March the wettest.
The average temperatures are more or less the same winter and summer, 75F-85F (24C-30C). Hotel prices are highest mid-December to the end of March.
If you're into surfing, winter months are the best, especially the Christmas season on Oahu's North Shore.
Otherwise for swimming, snorkeling, windsurfing and scuba diving at a less crowded, less pricey, good weather time try March-May, September-November. Beware that some beaches have seasonal high surf in summer.



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Hawaii Beaches 2 - Kauai, Big Island, Lanai, Molokai


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