Hawaii Activities

Ten Breathtaking Beaches on Hawai‘i Island

By J.M. Buck
December 30, 2017, 6:00 AM HST
* Updated September 10, 10:01 AM
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The youngest of the eight major Hawaiian Islands, the Big Island of Hawai‘i is still forming. Ongoing eruptions from Kīlauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, have resulted in breathtaking black and white sand beaches all around the island, and even a rare green sand beach—one of only four in the world.



Generally, the sunniest sides are on the south and west leeward shores, while there is more frequent rain on the north and east windward sides.


The leeward side beaches are the best for snorkeling, swimming, paddle boarding, kayaking and sunset watching.


Almost all of the island’s windward beaches are black sand, or a mixture of black and white sands and possess a picturesque, rugged beauty.

You can drive from wet areas to dry, so even if it’s pouring rain where you are staying on the Big Island, you can usually head to the other side for an idyllic beach day.

As with all Hawaiian beaches, weather and ocean conditions can change without warning. Remember to heed all posted signs regarding ocean swimming and safety and check ocean conditions before getting in the water.


Let’s begin our beach excursion, going counterclockwise from the northern tip of the Big Island—seven on the leeward side and three on the windward side.



Leeward Beaches
Snorkeling, swimming, paddle boarding, kayaking and sunset watching.

Some of the more popular spots on the west shore include Kauna‘oa Beach, Hāpuna BeachMakalawena Beach, Kamakahonu Beach (Keiki Beach) and Hoʻokena Beach.

On the southeast shore, Mahana Green Sand Beach (Papakōlea Beach) and the gorgeous black sands of Punaluʻu Beach and are must-see spots.

View the Top Hawaii Island Beaches on the Next Page

J.M. Buck
J.M. Buck has been a Hawai‘i news writer and columnist since 2003. She has extensive writing experience and has served the media industry in a variety of capacities, including news editor, investigative reporter, online publisher, columnist, web content writer, graphic designer and photographer. She has lived in the Hawaiian Islands for most of her life and is a graduate of University of Hawai‘i.
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