In this second part of a two-part series
on Hawaii's best beaches, Travel Weekly nominates the top picks for
best strands on Molokai, Lanai, Maui and the Big Island.
The low, flat,
western end of Molokai is far older than the island's mountainous
eastern half. Wave erosion has created a wide, miles-long stretch
of golden sand called Papohaku.
Facing west, this
is a wonderful place to come at sunset when Diamond Head on Oahu,
about 25 miles away, can be seen in tiny silhouette.
Offshore waters can be tricky,
with rip tides and strong currents. There are no lifeguards on
duty, so swim close to shore and enter with caution.
The beach is
easily accessible via Kaluakoi Resort roads.
Maui's 120 miles
of coastline includes many miles of beige-sand beaches made up of
wave-battered shells, coral and limestone. The longest stretch of
beaches lies along the island's south and west coasts, where most
of Maui's resort infrastructure is located.
Much of the coast
has been developed, but public beach parks, some with shower and
toilet facilities, are also numerous. Kihei's beaches, while not
great for swimming, are great for walks and, in winter, whale
watching. The Kamaole Beach parks and the crescents at the Waimea
and Makena resorts are all quite nice.
Here's a look at
Makena: It almost seems a miracle that Makena's two
beaches have remained undeveloped. Once at the fringe of resort
development, they now border it. Luckily, there has been grassroots
support for preserving the beach. Big Beach stretches for about a
mile, with wide swaths of sand and great swimming, although caution
is advised because there are no lifeguards. Beach-goers arriving by
car can park under the trees at Makena, following one of a number
of well-worn, dirt-road turnoffs.
Little Makena is
renowned as a clothing-optional beach. Its isolation makes it a
perfect place for nude sunbathing.
Kaanapali: Kaanapali's two beaches are each about a mile
long and lined with hotels and condominiums. There's a pleasant,
landscaped promenade much of the way, and the ocean offers great
deepwater swims with easy access. Black Rock is a place where the
ancient Hawaiians believed the spirits of the dead "jumped off" and
left this world. In the earthly realm, divers jump from the cliffs for the thrill or to entertain
visitors. A sunset dive follows a coastal torch-lighting ceremony
that ends at the Sheraton Maui and Black Rock.
Kapalua, the Makuleia-Honolua Marine Preserve offers great swimming
and snorkeling. Visitors park their cars by the side of the road
and descend to the beach via a short, downhill trail. Waters are
somewhat sheltered by the promontories that create Makuleia Bay.
Snorkel tours head to adjacent Honolua Bay, its luminous waters
surrounded by a rocky coastline.
Hana: Two unique beaches -- one black, one red -- provide
Hana with two best-beach entries. The black sand, actually
pulverized volcanic rock, is found at Lapakahi State Park. Red sand
can be found at Kahailulu, a small crescent at the base of Kauiki,
Hana's landmark volcanic cinder cone. The beach can be reached via
a coastal trail that skirts the Hotel Hana Maui's Sea Ranch
Cottages, providing easy access for hotel guests.
There are rarely
more than a few people on the beach, which can be viewed from the
hillside trail. Although its deep, green waters are shielded from
the open ocean by the cinder cone's eroded walls, waters are often
turbulent, and swimming can be risky.
The beach park at
Hulopoe, adjacent to the Four Seasons Resort Lanai at Manele Bay,
is one of Hawaii's loveliest, with colorful offshore waters that
invite snorkelers and deepwater
The beach leads
to an easy trail that provides panoramic views of the coastline at
Sweetheart Rock. There are shower and toilet facilities.
The island of
Hawaii proper, or the Big Island, is the youngest of the Islands
and still volcanically active. Much of its 330-mile-long coastline
is relatively new but includes beaches that are very
Kaunaoa: The Mauna Kea Resort's Kaunaoa Beach offers wide
sands that fall off gradually into the clear, deep waters of
Kaunaoa Bay. The hotel's green lawn and tall palms provide an
idyllic backdrop, with the wide and deep bay offering wonderful
swimming and snorkeling.
Anaehoomalu: The waters are turquoise and the beach wide
and pleasantly curved. The public beach serves the adjacent
Marriott. Watersport rentals are available at the beach shack,
including kayaks that offer an easy way to explore the
waters right off shore offer great swimming. There is public
parking accessed through the Waikoloa Resort.
Beach State Park: The sand is white and the water inviting
at this state park adjacent to the Mauna Kea/Hapuna Prince resort.
There are even cabins for overnight rentals, but these are booked
well in advance.
Beach Park: Spencer Beach is a long stretch of coral-white
sand, unusual for this coast. There are picnic and shower
facilities at Spencer, which make it a favorite with island
families as well as visitors. Signs mark the turnoff to the park
from Route 19, near Kawaiahae.
" Honaunau: The small
swatch of sand that fronts the temple called Hale o Keawe (House of
Keawe) at the Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historic Monument barely
qualifies as a beach. What it provides is access to the waters of
the bay and a swim in the shadow of this ancient site.
Kalapana: This black-sand beach was created in the 1980s
when lava flowed into the sea, creating grainy pellets of black
sand. Although swimming is not inviting or safe, the starkness of
the setting, at the seaside end of vast fields of hardened lava, is
impressive. Nearly 200 homes and the coastal village of Kalapana
were covered by the lava. Kalapana is about 30 minutes from Hilo
via Keaau and Pahoa.
To contact reporter Allan Seiden, send e-mail to [email protected].
For the first
part in the two-part series on Hawaii's best beaches, see "Beaches, Part I: The best strands on Kauai and