Shane Nelson
Shane Nelson

Three sandy stretches of Aloha State shoreline ranked among the top 10 in TripAdvisor’s recently announced 2016 Travelers’ Choice Awards for Beaches in the U.S., a list based on the quantity and quality of traveler reviews and ratings made by the website’s users during the prior year.

Lanikai Beach, located on Oahu’s windward coast near the town of Kailua, took second place on the top-25 U.S. listing, finishing behind only Clearwater Beach in Florida.

“This beach is absolutely gorgeous,” one TripAdvisor user said in a Lanikai review. “The sand is silky and clean, the water was so calm and a beautiful shade of blue. It’s a relaxing piece of heaven just 35 minutes from Waikiki.”

Longtime travel agent and Oahu resident Paula Simpson Takamori, the owner of Travel to Paradise, described Lanikai Beach as “great for very small children,” noting that “a barrier reef protects the beach from big waves.”

She pointed out, however, that Lanikai can be one of the Oahu’s most in-demand beaches, due in part to its recurring high honors on rankings like TripAdvisor’s latest Travelers’ Choice awards.

“Parking is a big issue here, especially on weekends,” Takamori said of Lanikai. “Try to visit early in the morning during the week. It’s a great place to watch sunrise, too, if you’re a real early bird.”

A very nearby Lanikai alternative is Kailua Beach, which Takamori described as “wonderful for all ages.”

“[There are] boogie boarding waves, and it’s still fairly calm at the water’s edge for littler ones,” she added. “Sand is great for sand castles or for lying on, and won’t burn your feet on a hot day. Kailua town offers lots of restaurants and fun boutique shopping, too, or you can pick up sandwiches from Kalapawai Market, near Kailua beach park, and have a picnic on the beach.”

The island of Maui is home for the two other Hawaii top-10 beaches in TripAdvisor’s 2016 Travelers’ Choice Awards: No. 5 finisher Waianapanapa State Park near the small community of Hana and No. 6 Kaanapali Beach on the Valley Isle’s west coast.

Other Hawaii beaches that made the list include No. 12 Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve on Oahu, Poipu Beach Park on Kauai in the 13th spot, Maniniowali Beach at Kua Bay on the Big Island of Hawaii’s west coast, which finished 14th, and No. 24 Hanalei Beach on Kauai’s North Shore.

Neal Miller, president of the Neal Miller Travel Co. in Atlanta, is a big fan of the ranking’s 13th-place honoree.

“My favorite beach on Kauai is Poipu Beach,” he said. “I really enjoy the culture of that area. We stay at hotels and resorts in Poipu, [but] we often go over to that public beach area, because then you have the chance to mix with the local people and get a shave ice and just enjoy some of the old Hawaii traditions there.”

For a look at the complete TripAdvisor 2016 Travelers’ Choice Awards for Beaches in the U.S. ranking, visit here.


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