imagesHawaii has some of the most beautiful beaches in the world.  Everyone that comes to Hawaii wants to get some “beach time” to read a favorite book, walk along the shore, or work on a tan…  Below are some things to consider to find that perfect beach while on your Hawaii vacation.

Waves influence how much fun a beach is. The most fun and accessible ocean sport is boogie boarding, and as such we judge a beach that normally has active surf by its ability to produce the ideal boogie boarding wave.  In contrast, the most fun and accessible ocean activity is snorkeling. A location that aims to please as a snorkeling spot must have little surf, clear water, and plenty of fish.  The ideal wave is about 3 ft high, breaking perhaps 20-30 yards from the beach in waist high water. This size is challenging and exciting for those who are comfortable in the water, but not overwhelming. After the wave breaks, less experienced swimmers can still catch the white water without fear of being tumbled.

With Hawaii’s reputation as a surfing destination, some may be disappointed by what the ocean offers for non surfers, with waves often being too big or too small for boogie boarding. At many locations, the beach slopes into the ocean rather quickly, resulting in a wave that breaks on top of the beach instead of in the water. Reefs or neighboring islands also deflate wave energy, with trade winds further deforming the waves.

The typical Hawaiian beach has semi-coarse golden brown sand and is flanked by large lava rock formations where colorful tropical fish congregate. The water transitions from a dark blue to a ‘greenish blue’ near the shore. The water is rarely crystal clear as kicked up sand, ocean debris (plankton, coral bits etc.) and sediments from streams reduce visibility. The beach and sand are clean and well maintained, and free of sand flees (no-see-ums) and other annoying critters. A light fragrant breeze blows over calm ocean waters in the morning. In the afternoon the trade winds pick up, turning the ocean choppy with small waves. If it’s a weekday the beach comfortably accommodates all its patrons with ample amounts of play room.

Fine, soft sand is nicer to walk and play on than coarse sand, and also better for construction projects like sand castles. Rocks or other debris greatly reduce the quality as running and playing are not possible. Light colored sand is visually more appealing in our opinion, although it produces more blinding glare than dark sand.  White, black, and even green sand beaches abound along the Big Island’s 266-mile coastline.

Check out some of the most popular spots below:

 

Kauna‘oa Beach at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel

Hapuna Beach (popular for walking and body boarding)

Anaeho‘omalu Beach (known as “A-Bay,” great for windsurfing and kitesurfing)

Ka‘upulehu Beach at the Four Seasons Resort

White Sands Beach Park, near the Keauhou Resort (also known as “Magic Sands” because the beach can quickly disappear during high-surf months only to return in the spring)

Kahalu‘u Beach Park (Kona’s most popular snorkeling beach)

Punalu‘u Beach Park (a well-known black sand beach)

Mackenzie State Park in Pahoa (nearby, there’s a lava-lined pool heated to 95 degrees by a volcanic stream)

Coconut Island Park, near the Hilo Hawaiian Hotel (a local favorite for fishing and swimming)

Laupahoehoe Point Park (created by a lava flow from Mauna Kea,its large grassy area is a good place to camp)

Waipi‘o Valley’s Black Sand Beach (accessible only with four-wheel drive or on foot from the overlook

Waialea Beach (Beach 69) located about 1/2 way around the loop of the Ala KahaKai Trail

 

Some people enjoy visiting the beach to people watch, sun tan, and check out the latest beach fashions. Indeed, you’ll see people sporting everything from Brazillian bikinis to snazzy one piece swimsuits.   However, a major consideration is how much room there is to walk and play. Can you fly a kite, play Frisbee, build forts, put up a volleyball net, or go for a long walk or jog? Bigger beaches offer more possibilities and as such are more desirable.  Most of Hawaii’s beaches are not crowded during week days and offer plenty of room to play, both on the sand and in the water. Only a handful of beaches and snorkel locations are consistently crowded and we tend to avoid those beaches.