The very word “Hawaii” immediately conjures up dreamy images of clear waters speckled with dancing flecks of sunshine, sumptuous sandy beaches dotted with bronzed bodies, and the kind of jaw-dropping scenery that demands to be immediately flaunted on Facebook and Instagram. And yes, Hawaii really does deliver on all these fronts, in spades. In fact, there’s such a wealth of beach locations to choose from across this iconic archipelago of volcanic islands, that deciding between them can actually be a little tricky.

Waikiki, Oahu

One serious bucket list destination for travellers is Honolulu, the glitzy and glittering metropolis on the island of Oahu. This is your gateway to the beaches of Waikiki, famed not just for their sands, but also for the electric atmosphere and proximity to endless bars and restaurants, making it a magnet for party animals, sun-worshippers and families out for the ultimate beach excursion.

Surfing in Hawaii

There are various different stretches to choose from at Waikiki. If you’re here with the family, you’ll want to try Duke Kahanamoku Beach. It may be named after the godfather of surfing, but it actually has pleasingly placid waters which makes it perfect for smaller children to frolic in. Speaking of Duke Kahanamoku himself, you’ll spy a famous statue of the great man at nearby Kuhio Beach, another Honolulu hotspot where you can work on the tan or indulge in water sports. Wherever you happen to choose in the Waikiki area, it’ll tick the boxes for families and romantic couples alike.

North Shore Beach, Oahu
North Shore Beach, Oahu

If you’re an avid surfer, or just love to watch some spectacular surfing action, there’s one place you can’t miss: the North Shore of Oahu. This phrase is enough to make serious surfers shiver in anticipation, because this is where you’ll find some of the most breathtaking and exhilarating waves in the world, with the Banzai Pipeline at Ehukai Beach being particularly notorious. In the winter months, this is the number one surf spot on the planet, while the beaches are worth basking on anytime of the year.

Punalu’u Black Sand Beach, Hawaii The Big Island

Over on the Big Island, meanwhile, there’s Punalu’u Beach. Thanks to its black sands, this is one of the more dramatic destinations in Hawaii. The striking beach is one draw, while the local turtle population is another – if you’re lucky, you might find yourself relaxing alongside hawksbill and green turtles. This is also a fine spot for swimming, snorkelling and hiking.

On the subject of snorkelling, and indeed scuba diving, few places on the Big Island can compare to Honaunau Bay. Nature has thoughtfully provided a rocky shelf from which you can enter the water – it’s known as Two Step, and will lead you into an ethereal realm of rare, vibrantly colourful fish, soaring sea turtles and intricate coral reefs. Beginners and expert divers will all enjoy this dip beneath the waves.

Maui also has its share of scenic, coastal treasures. Head to the west side of the island to discover Kaanapali Beach, overlooked by deluxe resorts and offering a unique attraction in the form of the cliff dubbed Black Rock. Follow local tradition by holding hands with your loved one and take an exhilarating leap off the rock into the waters below. Or, if you’re feeling less active, you can just find a romantic spot on the golden sand and bliss out for a while.

Swimming with turtles, Hawaii

The island of Kauai should also be considered if you’re in Hawaii to make the most of the coastlines. It’s known for its tropical, forested valleys, but the Garden Isle is also garlanded with beautiful beaches. One of them is Poipu Beach, with its rippled, sandy crescents, towering palm trees and waters that beg to be explored – whether you want to go wading, swimming or snorkelling. The family-friendly atmosphere also means you can be sure of a relaxing, happy time with little ones in tow.

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