There are few places in the world as beautiful and exotic as the islands of Hawaii. With clear blue water, soft sandy beaches, and glorious scenery, a family vacation in Hawaii is sure to be an unforgettable experience. There are so many lovely beaches to choose from. Because the surf can get quite high in Hawaii, you will need to pay attention to weather reports if you plan to enter the water. Not all beaches have year-round lifeguards and hours may change depending on the season.
Ala Moana Beach Park, Oahu
Of all the open swimming sites in Hawaii, Ala Moana Beach Park is one of the most beloved. The beach is protected by a coral reef just offshore, making for ideal swimming conditions. Novices should stick to the easterly end of the beach, where the bottom is sandy and free of sharp coral pieces. There are bathrooms, shady picnic spots, a playpark for young children and lots of different activities. These include bike rental, paddle-boarding and kayaking. There is a concession stand and lifeguards on duty during the summer months.
Baldwin Beach, Maui
Situated along Maui’s north shore, Baldwin Beach is popular with families and surfers alike. There are multiple beaches, some with gentle waves and others with challenging surf. You’ll find a protected swimming area at either end of the beach. There are lifeguards during the summer months. The beach has both restrooms and public showers. Picnic spots and barbecues are available. You might want to pack a cooler rather than relying on the availability of snacks.
Hamoa Beach, Maui
Hamoa Beach is noted for its outstanding beauty and excellent conditions for surfing and body-boarding. During the summer the sea is calmer, making this a great place to swim as long as the surf is down. Snorkeling and scuba diving are popular, with guided tours that let you swim with rays and tropical fish. It’s a great spot for kayaking. The facilities around the beach are owned by the Hotel Hana Maui, which makes some available for the general public as well as hotel guests. You’ll find restrooms and showers available in the summer.
Hanalei Bay, Kauai
Hanalei Bay is popular with tourists of all ages, offering windsurfing, kayaking and other sports. The highlight of the beach is the historic Hanalei Pier, which offers access to the calmest waters. There are lifeguards on duty during the summer. Parking can be tricky at the weekends so a weekday visit is recommended.
Hapuna Beach, Big Island
With a half-mile stretch of white sand and turquoise water, Hapuna Beach is scenic but well-developed. There are calm waters and year-round lifeguard patrols. The clear water is ideal for snorkeling and scuba diving, while the shallows are perfect for your littlest family members to paddle and splash in. Enjoy a picnic under the shade trees or stop off at the cafe for light meals and snacks. You can rent beach chairs, umbrellas and boogie boards. Restrooms are available.
Ho’okipa Beach, Maui
As well as being a prime spot for your favorite ocean sports, Ho’okipa Beach is noted as the home of monk seals and other wildlife. The glorious white sand beach is ideal for strolls and sunbathing, while more adventurous family members can try surfing and body-boarding. Professional surfers come here for major competitions, while the Maui Sports Federation sponsors other annual events. The beach has outdoor showers, restrooms (limited, so be prepared for lines) and picnic facilities. There are barbecue grills if for family cookouts.
Hulopoe Beach Park, Maui
Hulopoe Beach is a crescent-shaped stretch of seafront with white-gold sand and clear waters that make it perfect for snorkeling. There are restrooms, permanent picnic tables and plenty of other amenities. The sea is fairly gentle here, with tide pools that children will love to explore. Note that there are no lifeguards present — swim with care.
Kahaluu Beach Park, Big Island
The blue waters of Kahaluu Beach Park teem with tropical fish, making this a favorite spot for snorkeling and diving. Adults and teens can take surfing classes. There are restrooms, beach showers and a covered picnic pavilion. Bring your own food or enjoy fast food from a food truck by the pavilion. Don’t forget to pick up barbecue supplies from the nearby grocery store if you want a cookout.
Kailua Beach Park, Oahu
White sands, crystal blue waters, and beautiful scenery make this well-developed beach one of the most popular places for a family day out. There are plenty of amenities, including restrooms, beach showers, and picnic spots. Rent a kayak or try your hand at boogie-boarding in the gentle waves. Downtown Kailua is a five-minute drive away.
Kalapaki Beach, Kauai
A great spot for all ages, Kalapaki Beach offers plenty to do. Every kind of ocean sport is available, along with picnic facilities, restrooms, and showers. Note that there are no lifeguards on duty. You can rent beach catamarans, surfboards and stand-up paddle-boards, and lessons take place all year.
Kapalua Bay, Maui
Kapalua Bay is spectacularly picturesque and full of things to do. Snorkeling is popular here and you can easily rent equipment for ocean sports. The sea is generally very calm and there are lots of activities. Roving lifeguard patrols make this a very safe place to swim and enjoy the ocean. There are storage facilities, restrooms and showers.
Kauna’oa Beach, Big Island
Noted for its large population of enchanting manta rays, this well-appointed beach is popular with visitors of all ages. Snorkeling and diving here is highly rewarding, especially the Manta Ray Night Dive. There are restrooms and showers, and plenty of picnic spots. Bring your own food or push the boat out with a feast at the local hotel’s restaurant. There are no lifeguards on duty at any time.
Kamakahonu Beach, Big Island
Kamakahonu Beach is a smaller beach that makes a great stop for fans of diving and snorkeling. It’s a very calm and sheltered spot, making it ideal for families with smaller children. Dive instruction and equipment rentals are available. There are no lifeguards.
Lydgate Beach Park, Kauai
Calm waters and vigilant lifeguards make this a great place for families with children. The two lagoons are sheltered and clear, perfect for snorkeling and swimming. There are full facilities, including restrooms and showers. Snacks are available. There are picnic spots, a paved costal path and a children’s playground.
Napili Bay, Maui
Napili Bay is a sheltered crescent-shaped bay. It is well-developed and offers all the amenities you could wish for: basic food stores, fast food and snacks, equipment rental businesses and more. There are lots of lovely spots for picnics, as well as beachfront restaurant dining. Swimming and snorkeling are highly recommended — you might catch a glimpse of the local sea turtles as well as tropical fish. There are no lifeguards.
Poipu Beach, Kauai
First-time snorkelers will love this small, sheltered beach with its clear waters and golden sand. There are plenty of amenities, including restrooms, showers, and picnic spots. Lifeguards are on duty. Between December and May, you might see humpback whales in the area.
Spencer Beach Park, Big Island
A lovely sheltered beach, Spencer Beach Park is the perfect place if you want quieter waters rather than rough surf. The beach is perfect for younger children and there are lots of amenities. Restrooms are available and there are outdoor showers. The pavilion has electrical outlets and there are barbecue grills as well as picnic tables. Lifeguards are on duty some of the time (you’ll need to check schedules).
Sunset Beach Park, Oahu
Sunset Beach Park is popular with surfers. It’s important to be careful if you venture out into the inviting blue waters, as there are strong currents — particularly the notorious Sunset Rip. During the summer, this beach is popular for swimming and snorkeling. Sunset views here are as amazing as the name suggests. Amenities such as restrooms, concessions and showers are located across the road.
Waikiki Beach, Oahu
One of Hawaii’s most famous beaches, Waikiki offers an incredible array of amenities. The beach itself is outstandingly beautiful, with soft sand and clear waters. The area is well-developed, with world-class shopping and dining. Equipment rental businesses are plentiful — this is a great place for ocean sports. Lifeguards are on duty year round.
Wailea Beach, Maui
Wailea Beach is well-developed with plenty of amenities and activities on offer. Don’t miss the guided snorkeling tours in the summertime or the whale-watching cruises in the winter. Other popular ocean sports here include paddle-boarding. There are restaurants nearby as well as fast food and snacks on offer. The beach has restrooms, showers and lifeguard patrols.
Waimea Bay, Oahu
A great spot to watch expert surfers riding the waves, Waimea Bay is incredibly picturesque. It’s perhaps best known as a filming location for the TV series Lost. Because the sea can be rough, families with younger children may prefer to enjoy the soft sand at the water’s edge. Lifeguards are on duty and there are showers, restrooms and shady spots for picnics.