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sunset on a hawaiian beach

6 Best Beaches In Hawaii

All Hawaii’s beaches are breathtaking, but they aren’t all the same. There are the rugged black- and green-sand beaches, bustling seafronts lined with restaurants, and secret havens only accessible by water or backcountry trail. As you plan your Hawaii cruise, put these beaches on your bucket list.

Here is a list of the 6 best beaches in Hawaii, by island. 


The vibe: Oahu is the busiest of the island chain but maintains its laidback feel. Choose between family-friendly beaches that bump up against the glossy high rises in Honolulu or watch surfers hang ten on the North Shore. 

1. Waikiki Beach

One of the world’s best-known beaches, Waikiki was once a retreat for Hawaii royalty. It’s a great place for people watching, shopping, water activities and tours. Luxury boutiques and restaurants line Kalakua and Kuhio Avenues. When the sun goes down, the shore comes alive with nightlife and live music. Our Honolulu overnight stays give you time to soak it all in.

What to do: Take a surf lesson, a catamaran ride or dine at a beach-front restaurant. So many choices! 

Getting there: Waikiki is a 15-minute taxi ride from the cruise port.

2. Lanikai Beach

Lanikai Beach on the windward side is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world and definitely a best beach in Hawaii. Miles of smooth turquoise waters invite a cooling dip. There aren’t public restrooms or other facilities so plan accordingly.

What to do: Take in a view of the Mokulua Islands from the shore. 

Getting there: Lanikai Beach is in Kailua, about a 35-minute drive from the cruise terminal in Honolulu.


The vibe: Maui has a whopping 120 miles of pristine coastline and many of the best beaches in Hawaii. You can find black-, white- and even red-sand beaches, amazing snorkeling spots and both remote beaches and ones surrounded by shops and restaurants. 

3. Kaanapali Beach

Hawaii’s first planned resort, Kaanapali Beach is a three-mile sand stretch with open-air shopping markets and entertainment. A daily cliff-diving ceremony, zipline tours and parasailing offer thrilling adventure, but there’s also plenty of room to relax and let the day unfold. Plus, humpback whale sightings right from the shore. 

What to do: The sapphire-blue water begs for a kayaking tour.

Getting there: Kaanapali Beach is on Maui’s West Shore, about a 15-minute drive from the cruise port in Lahaina. 

The Big Island

The vibe: Pick your color. The Big Island has white-, green- and black-sand beaches. The youngest island in the chain is known for its lava landscapes and geologic wonders. The Big Island’s beaches are primitive but some of the most interesting in the world.  

4. Kaimu Beach Park 

About an hour from Hilo, Kaimu Beach Park is a black-sand beach formed in 1990 after a river of lava flowed from the shoreline. Kaimu isn’t a good beach for swimming or watersports, but it is a good demonstration of the tremendous power of volcanos. Visit Kaimu as part of a volcano shore excursion. 

What to do: View lava caves, waterfalls and lava trees. Learn how the volcano eruptions created the beach.

Getting there: Take a guided Hawaii shore excursion from the cruise port in Hilo.


The vibe: Many of the Garden Isle’s beaches are off the beaten path and only accessible by helicopter or the sea. But these beaches are worth the trip. The landscapes are dramatic with Na Pali coast ridges rising from aqua-marine water. Kauai is one of the best islands to view endangered monk seals, so keep lookout. 

5. Tunnels Beach

The beach is stunning, but what’s under the surface makes it a best beach in Hawaii. Snorkelers and divers will find a massive coral reef and schools of neon fish. There is a current, especially during winter so beginners should stay ashore or pick a beach with calmer waters. 

What to do: Snorkel the reef or explore the sea caves nearby.

Getting there: Tunnels Beach is an hour’s drive from the cruise port.

6. Kalapaki Beach 

If you’re looking for a convenient slice of paradise, Kalapaki is perfect. It is close to the cruise port and there are nearby eateries and gear rentals. A large break wall prevents the big waves from coming in and the water stays calm. Take a swim or rent a paddle board. 

What to do: Cool off in the sea.

Getting there: Kalapaki beach is an easy walk right from the pier. 

Ready for ambrosial valleys, warm breezes and soft sand? Book dream Hawaii cruises today.