Big Island (Hawai’i)
Hapuna Beach, Big Island. Photo by Polihale.
Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area (swimming, snorkelling, body surfing, surfing)
Hapuna Beach is one of the longest, widest (200 feet) sandy beaches and the most popular beach on the island, especially with bodysurfers and bodyboarders. Excellent public facilities and lifeguards on duty every day. The high surf period is winter months. It is along Queen Kaahumanu Highway (No. 19).
Waikoloa Beach on Anaehoomalu Bay. Photo by Kyle Hawton.
Waikoloa beach, Anaeho’omalu Bay (swimming, snorkelling, kayaking, windsurfing, scuba diving)
Waikoloa in Anaeho’omalu Bay is one of the best recreational beaches on Big Island, excellent for swimming, snorkeling, diving and windsurfing. Even during the high surf of winter, unlike many places in Hawaii the beach stays calm because it is protected by a reef, and does not endanger swimmers near the shore. Offshore is quite challenging for expert windsurfers.
There is a more secluded beach, Kapalaoa, on the south of the bay. Take Waikoloa Beach Drive off from Queen Kaahumanu Highway.
Hulopoe Beach, Lanai (swimming, snorkelling, surfing, scuba diving)
Lana’i used to be Hawaii’s sleepy little island for nature lovers and hikers, but in the last decade it has become an exclusive resort for the rich, especially golfers. This crescent-shaped white sandy beach is not just the only beach on the south coast and easily accessible, but also the best swimming beach on the island. It’s popular with local bodysurfers and surfers.
Hulope Beach takes 15 minutes by car from Lana’i City and there’s no public transport on the island. Other Lanai beaches are more than an hour’s drive, and in some case require 4WD.
Papohaku Beach Park, Molokai (with care, in season – swimming, body surfing, surfing)
Papohaku Beach a wonderful, massive, natural beach backed by lush greenery. It is wide, three miles long and sees very few visitors, probably because it’s also remote, offers little shade and no facilities. The beach has no reef so there is high surf most of the time, but it may be OK for swimming and snorkelling in calm summer months.
Getting around Hawaii
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’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.