Hawaii is renowned for its stunning beaches that draw millions of visitors each year with the promise of sun, surf, and sand. Popular destinations like Waikiki Beach, Hapuna Beach, and Ka’anapali Beach offer a wealth of amenities. They’re undoubtedly beautiful and worthy of the fame they’ve garnered. However, the true essence of Hawaii’s coastal allure often lies hidden among the islands’ less-visited shores.
The best-kept secrets are the hidden gems. These Hawaiian beaches offer seclusion and tranquility, providing a stark contrast to the bustling hotspots. With fewer crowds, visitors can savor serene moments, long walks, and the soothing sounds of the ocean.
For those yearning to escape the tourist throngs and discover Hawaii’s unspoiled charm, these 15 beaches are where the true magic of the Hawaiian islands unfolds.
15. Papohaku Beach (Molokai)
Papohaku Beach on the island of Molokai is a hidden Hawaiian gem. Renowned for its stunning natural beauty and serene atmosphere, Papohaku Beach is one of Hawaii’s largest beaches. It stretches for three miles along the island’s west coast. The beach boasts pristine white sands, crystal-clear waters, and awe-inspiring sunsets.
What makes Papohaku truly special is its solitude. It’s often less crowded than other Hawaiian beaches. Visitors can enjoy long, peaceful walks, picnics, and a sense of tranquility rarely found at more popular destinations. While amenities are limited, the unspoiled beauty and tranquility of Papohaku Beach make it a must-visit for those seeking a peaceful escape in Hawaii.
14. Polihale Beach (Kauai)
Polihale Beach is another hidden Hawaiian treasure. This remote beach boasts expansive golden sands that stretch for miles. It offers visitors a pristine and uncrowded paradise for anyone willing to navigate through a fairly rough road that leads there. The beach is backed by towering sea cliffs, sand dunes, and ripe tropical vegetation. The captivating and wild backdrop is definitely unlike anything you can experience in the mainland United States.
While Polihale lacks many amenities, it compensates with breathtaking sunsets, uninterrupted stargazing, and the feeling of being at the edge of the world. If you are in need of a little isolation, Polihale Beach is the place to be.
13. Kekaha Beach Park (Kauai)
Kekaha Beach Park, situated on Kauai’s western shore, is a serene and lesser-known Hawaiian destination. This expansive beach boasts a long stretch of golden sand and striking panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean. Its remote location and proximity to the westernmost tip of the Hawaiian Islands contribute to its quiet and uncrowded ambiance.
Visitors to Kekaha Beach Park can enjoy various activities, including picnicking, beachcombing, and leisurely strolls along the shore. While swimming is possible, the ocean can have strong currents, so caution is advised. The park provides picnic tables, restrooms, and a tranquil setting for enjoying the island’s natural beauty, especially during sunset.
12. Makalawena Beach (Big Island)
Makalawena Beach, on the Big Island of Hawaii, has a great location tucked away from the crowds. Accessible by a short hike or a four-wheel-drive vehicle, this picturesque beach features a combination of white sands, turquoise waters, and a backdrop of swaying palm trees. Makalawena is a remote oasis where visitors can enjoy sunbathing, swimming, and fantastic snorkeling. The coral reefs just offshore are teeming with marine life. This makes it a haven for underwater exploration!
11. Honokalani Beach (Maui)
This unique black sand beach, nestled along Maui’s Hana coast, is the result of ancient volcanic activity. It features jet-black sands that contrast beautifully with the lush greenery and striking blue waters. The beach is surrounded by lush vegetation and sea caves, adding to its ethereal charm.
Honokalani is a peaceful haven, ideal for leisurely strolls, sunbathing, and exploring the lava tubes that dot the shoreline. While swimming can be challenging due to strong currents, beachgoers can see the result of the island’s volcanic activity in the breathtaking setting. Plus, the location is near to the famed Road to Hana.
10. Ka’ena Point State Park (Oahu)
Ka’ena Point State Park, located at the western tip of Oahu, is a pristine and remote coastal wilderness. This state park acts as a sanctuary for both the natural world and outdoor enthusiasts. Visitors can hike the scenic Ka’ena Point Trail, which offers panoramic ocean views and the chance to witness Hawaii’s unique seabirds and marine life.
The park’s shoreline is a crucial habitat for Hawaiian monk seals, and it’s a great spot for wildlife watching. Snorkeling and tidepool exploration are also popular activities here as well. The sense of seclusion, dramatic landscapes, and the opportunity to connect with Hawaii’s natural heritage make Ka’ena Point State Park one of the best beaches in Hawaii.
9. Shipwreck Beach (Lanai)
Shipwreck Beach harks back to a time when several wrecked ships were found along its rugged shoreline. The Lanai Ghost Ship, also known as the “Maraamu Surfer,” is a mysterious and eerie shipwreck located on the coast of the island of Lanai. Contrary to its name, it is not a traditional ghost ship with paranormal associations but rather a ghostly, abandoned vessel with a puzzling history.
Shipwreck Beach features a distinctive backdrop of ironwood trees and high cliffs, creating an almost mystical atmosphere. While strong currents often make swimming inadvisable, Shipwreck Beach is a great place for contemplative walks, picnics, and sunsets. Adventurous visitors can explore nearby tide pools and enjoy views of the nearby Molokai Island.
8. Red Sand Beach (Maui)
Red Sand Beach, also known as Kaihalulu Beach, is located on the island of Maui. What makes this beach truly unique is its striking red sand, a result of the surrounding iron-rich volcanic cinder cone. Nestled in a small, semi-secluded cove, the beach is shielded from strong ocean currents by lava rock walls, making it a safe spot for swimming and snorkeling.
The vibrant marine life and the turquoise waters further enhance your experience. Though access involves a somewhat challenging hike that is not well-maintained, the beach’s breathtaking beauty, and the opportunity to relax in a secluded paradise make it a must-visit for nature lovers and adventurers.
7. Waipio Valley Beach (Big Island)
Another black sand beach, Waipio Valley Beach, rests upon the steep cliffs of the valley and the lush, tropical vegetation. The beach is known for its seclusion, offering a tranquil escape from the more crowded tourist destinations.
The valley is home to waterfalls, taro fields, and a rich Hawaiian history. Access to the beach itself involves a steep and challenging road, making it best suited for experienced hikers or those with four-wheel-drive vehicles. For those who make the journey, the pristine beauty of Waipio Valley Beach and its serene ambiance make it one of the best beaches in Hawaii.
6. Kawela Bay (Oahu)
Kawela Bay, a hidden gem on Oahu’s North Shore, offers a tranquil retreat for nature lovers and adventure seekers alike. Those with a passion for marine life can snorkel in crystal-clear waters to discover vibrant coral reefs and the diverse underwater world. Stand-up paddleboarding and kayaking are also popular activities, allowing visitors to glide through calm, turquoise waters.
As you explore the bay, you’ll discover a captivating blend of tide pools, swaying palm trees, and a sense of untouched beauty. This is a place where time slows down, and the enchantment of Hawaii’s natural wonders truly comes to life.
5. Secret Beach (Kauai)
Living up to its name, this hidden gem can be a bit tricky to find, but the effort is rewarded with breathtaking natural beauty. Surrounded by lush vegetation, the beach boasts golden sands, rolling waves, and stunning vistas. The isolation and privacy of Secret Beach make it a peaceful haven, ideal for leisurely strolls and sunbathing.
While swimming can be challenging due to strong currents, its serene ambiance, the striking sea caves nearby, and the backdrop of the Kilauea Lighthouse in the distance make Secret Beach a truly magical destination for those seeking tranquility and a connection with nature.
4. Makua Beach (Oahu)
Makua Beach, located on Oahu’s Waianae Coast, awes visitors with its crescent-shaped shoreline and picturesque surroundings. While the waves are sizable in the winter, the waters are generally calm during the summer months. The beach has stunning sunsets, and the towering cliffs and lush hillsides add to the scenic charm. Makua Beach is perfect for those looking to unwind and savor the natural beauty of Oahu in a peaceful and secluded setting.
Please note that since Makua Beach is a secluded retreat, there are no facilities or lifeguards present. Thus, visitors should come well-prepared with essentials like water, food, and sunscreen. This is a place where you can escape the population density of Hawaii and bask in the untouched beauty of Oahu’s western coast.
3. Green Sand Beach (Big Island)
Green Sand Beach, also known as Papakolea Beach, is a remarkable natural wonder on Hawaii’s Big Island. What makes this beach truly unique is its distinctive olive-green sand, created by the high concentration of olivine crystals from the surrounding volcanic rocks. Accessible via a relatively challenging hike or by local shuttle services, the beach’s isolated location adds to its allure.
While swimming can be hazardous due to strong currents, the extraordinary geological features and the sense of adventure make Green Sand Beach a must-visit destination for those seeking a memorable and off-the-beaten-path experience in Hawaii.
2. Punaluu Beach (Big Island)
The black sand shores of Punaluu Beach, located on the Big Island, are an exceedingly popular hotspot for catching a glimpse of the native green sea turtles that can be regularly spotted basking in the sun. Just be sure to keep a respectful distance, as the Hawaiian government has gone to great lengths to ensure their safety.
Punaluu Beach also holds cultural and spiritual importance in native Hawaiian traditions. Numerous ceremonies, gatherings, and cultural events over the years add to its historical significance. On top of that, geological features, such as lava formations, coconut palms, and clear waters, make Punaluu Beach a stunning and photogenic destination.
1. Makena Secret Beach (Maui)
Makena Secret Beach, also known as “Secret Beach” or “Pa’ako Beach,” is a hidden paradise island in Maui, a popular tourist destination. Located near Makena State Park, this fairly secluded area offers a breathtaking stretch of golden sands and calming tranquility.
Offering the perfect balance of lush greenery, striking lava rock formations, and crystal clear turquoise waters, Makena Secret Beach encapsulates the entire Hawaiian beach experience in one site, away from the crowds and tourists. Keep in mind that while it’s a peaceful retreat, there are no facilities or lifeguards, so come prepared with any necessary supplies.