Best Beaches on the Big Island of Hawaii

With over 265 miles of coastline, the Big Island—the largest and youngest island—offers the widest variety of beaches in Hawaii. Take your pick from black sand, soft white sand, crystalline green sand, award-winning beaches, and beaches off the beaten track.

Best Classic Beach

Mauna Kea Beach (Kaunaoa) and nearby Hapuna Beach, Kohala Coast. Long, white stretches of pure soft sand and glistening, azure water are perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and sunbathing. These two beaches are consistently rated among the best in the state. Simply perfect.

Kekaha Kai State Park, Kona Coast. This beautiful beach in a postcard-like setting has outstandingly soft sand and great spots for swimming.

Best for Families

Spencer Park, Kohala Coast. This protected sandy beach has consistently gentle surf so it’s usually safe for swimming.

Anaehoomalu Bay, Kohala Coast. In the heart of Waikoloa Beach Resort, this white-sand beach is a spectacular spot for swimming, snorkeling, stand-up paddleboarding, and spotting turtles. The glass-bottom boat ride is cool, too.

Onekahakaha Beach Park, Hilo. Parents can relax on the white-sand beach while kids explore the shallow, enclosed tide pools for exotic sea life.

Best for Interesting Sand

Punaluu Black Sand Beach Park, Kau. It’s busy for a reason. Between the turtles and the black sand, it’s tough not to camp out all day at this easily accessed beach.

Pololu Valley Beach, Kohala Coast. Jaw-droppingly scenic, this perfect crescent of black sand is backed by sheer green cliffs. The hike down to the beach is definitely worth the trip, but the surf can be treacherous.

Papakolea Beach, Kau. Sure it’s a 2-mile hike, but where else are you going to see a beach with green sand? The dry, barren landscape is surreal, and the beach sparkles with olivine crystals formed during volcanic eruptions.

Best Snorkeling

Kahaluu Beach Park, Kailua-Kona. Protective reefs keep the waters calm, and the abundant fish are not shy, as they're used to swimming amid snorkelers.

Punaluu Black Sand Beach Park, Kau. You’re almost guaranteed to see sea turtles who nest in the black sand and swim in the waters just offshore.

Best Surfing

Kahaluu Beach Park, Kailua-Kona. When the surf's up, this beach is irresistible for anyone who wants to take a beginner surf lesson.

Kua Bay (Kekaha Kai State Park), Kona Coast. Local surfers and body boarders love the challenge of the rough waves in winter.

Honolii Beach Park, Hilo. Even if you don’t surf, Hilo’s main drag for surfers is a great place to hang out and watch.

Best Sunsets

We’re going to say it one last time: westward-facing Hapuna Beach is not to be missed.

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