Win a trip to Hawaii
Sign up for FREE and enter for a chance to win!
Find the pineapple and win!
Tip: Look for a demigod known in Hawaiian mythology as the “hog child.”
Save on Hawaii Activities
Luau, whale watching and more
Top 5 Beaches on Big Island
As an island chain, Hawaii is home to hundreds of beaches, each possessing its own set of unique qualities. What makes one beach great for surfers and water-sport enthusiasts does not necessarily make for a great destination for families or vacationers looking to relax on the shore.
To help narrow down the search for the your own personal perfect beach destination, the following list is a compilation of what are widely agreed to be the top five beaches on Big Island.
Vacationers love Hapuna Beach, located just north of Kona, for many reasons. First and foremost, the beach features a long stretch of soft sand that leads to clear ocean water. Swimming conditions are usually excellent here, and skilled snorkelers can go nearly a mile down the coast to reach Wailea Bay. Lush, beautiful greenery surrounds the expansive beach, which becomes nearly 200 feet wide during the summer months, offering a plenty of room to play.
Located on Kua Bay in Kona, Maniniowali Beach is sometimes called “The Caribbean of Hawaii,” thanks in part to its fine white-sand beaches that gently slope toward the crystal-clear water. The crescent-shaped beach is one of the best places for swimming when the water is calm, usually during the morning hours. The surf can get rough, however, during which time inexperienced swimmers should look for a calmer, more protected beach. Maniniowali also is a favorite destination for bodyboarders and snorkelers, the latter of whom look forward to seeing sea turtles and tropical fish in the underwater boulders and coral.
This northern beach is just as picturesque and tranquil as the nearby Maniniowali Beach, but because the only way to access Makalawena is via a 20-minute hike across an unpaved lava path, the beach often is uncrowded. In this case, it pays to travel “off the beaten path,” as Makalawena is one of the Big Island’s most spectacular beaches, with sand soft as powder and water so clear it shimmers in the sun. Makalawena is perfect for swimming and sunbathing, while shallow coral reefs just offshore provide a perfect destination for exploring colorful underwater caves, coral and sea arches.
Mauna Kea Beach
Located just north of Hapuna Beach on the island’s northern coast, Mauna Kea Beach is truly one of the Big Island’s most exceptional destinations. The sand at Mauna Kea Beach, also known as Kaunaoa Beach, extends for almost a quarter of a mile, forming a perfect crescent shape in front of the Mauna Kea Resort. A natural rock reef provides some protection from the surf, making Mauna Kea Beach ideal for swimming, snorkeling and boogie boarding. Parking is limited, so your best bet is to arrive early before space fills up.
Located on the southern portion of Kawaihae Bay, Waialea Bay is one of the island’s most popular beaches, though it is not particularly easy to access. The beach itself actually erodes due to strong surf in the winter months, so the best time to visit is during the summer when it is pristine. The bay’s diversity of marine life is among the best in all of Kawaihae Bay, making it a favorite site for snorkel and scuba activities. The sand gently slopes into the water, making conditions near-perfect for swimmers and families with young children. Soft sand, tide pools and shady trees make Waialea Bay feel even more like a private retreat.
Ocean Safety Message Brought to You by Kona Community Hospital
Let’s keep it fun — and safe — by following a few ocean safety tips. Remember to swim in a designated swimming area protected by lifeguards. For a list of lifeguarded beaches, go to hawaiibeachsafety.com. When at the beach, always check for warning flags. Obey lifeguard instructions or ask them about water conditions, which can be unpredictable. Young children or inexperienced swimmers should wear life jackets in and the around water. Larger waves and ocean currents can surprise even the strongest swimmers. So, keep an eye on children as well as elderly persons. They can easily stumble, even in shallow water, when large waves come ashore. Snorkeling? Get a buddy to go with you and learn basic skills before getting in the water.
Let’s keep it fun — and safe — while enjoying Hawaii’s beautiful beaches. This ocean safety message is brought to you by the Kona Community Hospital Trauma Injury Prevention Program. Visit kch.hhsc.org for details.
What did you think? Share your reaction and earn 100 points!
Recent most reacted articles
Honolulu Museum of Art opts to sell Spalding House
The Honolulu Museum of Art decided in July of 2019…
The Legends of Sugarcane Live on in Kō Hana Hawaiian Agricole Rum
For nearly two centuries, Hawaii has been synonymous with sugarcane.…
Activity Discounts & Specials
Get discounts and specials on Hawaii activities and attractions from Hawaii.com, right in your email inbox — it's FREE!
- Rental Cars
- Moisturize dry skin & soothe muscle pain with Oils of Aloha. Get a FREE GIFT with all orders (while supplies last)
- Enjoy discounted rates: Use the easy check-in kiosk at Alamo when you arrive at your destination. Drive Happy®
- Grand Naniloa Resort: Kamaaina Exclusive Savings - Show your Hawaii ID and save up to 12%!
- Best of Hawaii 4 Island Tour - SAVE $450 per couple on all 2020 departures! 13-day guided tour starting at $2,099! Inter-island flights included.
- SAVE 10% OFF when purchasing 10 days in advance! U.S. Military upgrade for just $21 more and get unlimited visits now to Dec. 31, 2020.
- Ready for some mud and flying dirt? Experience ATV and zipline adventures on the North Shore of Kauai!
- Island Helicopters is Kauai’s premiere helicopter tour!
- Don’t forget to book your Airport Lei Greeting! Book Now
- $1,059 & up - 6-Nt. Maui & Kauai Island-Hopping Trip w/Air
- Hawaii's most beautiful courses-See the difference @ Bay View
- Mike's Huli Chicken: Treat yourself to Hawaii's best Huli chicken!
- National Car Rental: Take control of your Hawaii vacation
- Send Flowers Hawaiian-Style! Nationwide delivery.
- The largest studios & villas on Kauai starting at $389/night
- Get Hawaii's Premium High Performance Natural Zinc Sunscreen