Top Beaches on the Big Island

Published on June 14, 2024


The Island of Hawaii is over 4,000 square miles and the largest of the Hawaiian Islands. It is not easy to put together a list of the top Big Island beaches since there are many coves, beaches, and coastlines to choose from! Below we have organized a selection of beaches located across the island that are good options for casual beach days, snorkeling, boogie boarding, and playing in sand that is a unique color. We hope you enjoy our picks!

Mauna Lani Beach Club:

Guests staying at Mauna Lani Point or the Islands at Mauna Lani will receive exclusive key cards that allow them to access the private parking lot fronting this fan-favorite white sand beach in Mauna Lani. Known for gentle waters and great snorkeling, this cove is a beautiful spot to plan a day at the beach. Break the day up by walking up to the beachside Napua Restaurant for lunch or tropical cocktails. The kids will enjoy exploring the nearby ancient fishponds.

Hapuna Beach:

This fan-favorite Big Island beach has landed itself on a number of top 10 lists for best beaches in America. In fact, one of the world’s foremost beach experts calling himself “Dr. Beach” voted Hapuna Beach the best beach in 2021. The long white sand beach has crystal clear waters, plenty of picnic areas, pavilions, showers, restrooms, ample parking, and lifeguards. It’s hard to go wrong with a beach day at Hapuna.

Waialea Bay:

This beach sits inside a Marine Life Conservation District, which means the fish and coral gardens here are protected and thriving. Also referred to as Beach 69 because of the nearby telephone pole marker, be sure to pack the snorkel and fins when visiting because this is beach is known as one of the best snorkeling and scuba diving beaches on the island. If you arrive earlier in the day, you can beat the crowds and possibly even witness dolphins jumping offshore.

Papakolea (Green Sand Beach):

Yes, the sand really is a shade of green! There are only a handful of green sand beaches around the world and this natural phenomenon occurs because of a mineral found in lava on the Island of Hawaii called olivine. Keep in mind that this beach is very remote and you must hike about two miles along dirt roads before getting to the metal staircase that will lead you down to the beach. Sometimes there may be locals offering paid rides in their off-road vehicles to the beach, which can provide quicker access to this otherworldly destination.

Punalu’u (Black Sand Beach):

Bury your toes in the jet-black sand of Punalu’u Beach. This has to be one of the most photographed beaches in the state of Hawaii. The soft dark black sand, turquoise blue waters, white foam waves, tall green palm trees, and bright yellow lifeguard surfboard create a rainbow of colors that your eyes will appreciate. Located on the southern coastline, you may want to combine your beach day with a trip to nearby Volcanoes National Park.

White Sands Beach Park:

Plan a day exploring the shops and restaurants of downtown Kona and include some beach fun into the itinerary at White Sands (also known as Magic Sands) located about three miles away. The popular Kona beach takes on many different looks throughout the year as periods of high surf will strip the beach of all its sand and return new sand weeks later. This is a popular beach for catching waves (boogie boarding and surfing). Plan lunch at Magic’s Beach Grill next door and overlook the beachgoers while enjoying a tasty island meal.