Big Island Polls

Hāpuna claims top spot as favorite beach in Big Island Now weekly poll; see results

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In a landslide, Hāpuna Beach on the Big Island’s northwest coast is the favorite sandy spot among voters in Big Island Now’s third weekly poll.

It captured 45 percent of the total 862 votes, with the closest contenders tied at just 9 percent: Kaunaʻoa Beach and Maniniʻowali Beach, also known as Kua Bay.

Hāpuna Beach was voted No. 1 in Big Island Now’s most recent poll that asked “What’s the best beach.” Photo from the Hawaiʻi Tourism Authority website.

Hāpuna coming out on top is no surprise.

Not only is Hāpuna a Big island favorite but it ranked No. 1 in Travellers Worldwide’s 24 Best Beaches in the U.S. list for 2023. It also was the top pick for Stephen Leatherman, Dr. Beach himself, in 2021 as best beach in the nation. And, Hāpuna Beach also is consistently rated on international Top Ten lists of Hawai‘i’s best beaches.

The Big Island Now Poll #3 results:

  • Hāpuna Beach: 390 (45%)
  • Kaunaʻoa Beach: 85 (9%)
  • Maniniʻowali Beach (Kua Bay): 83 (9%)
  • Papakōlea (Green Sand Beach): 52 (6%)
  • Waipiʻo Black Sand Beach: 51 (5%)
  • Waialea Bay: 51 (5%)
  • Punaluʻu (Black Sand Beach): 48 (5%)
  • Spencer Beach: 46 (5%)
  • Richardson Beach: 40 (4%)
  • Kamakahonu Beach 16 (1%)

The half-mile white coral sand beach, the largest white sand beach on the Big Island, can be dangerous for swimmers during the winter, with large waves, shore breaks and rip currents at times. But during the summer, “the crystal-clear water is a perfect place to swim, snorkel or scuba dive,” according to the doctor.


The beach also offers bodysurfing and sunbathing opportunities and other beach-related activities such as picnicking.

It’s also an easy beach to visit, and lifeguards are on duty to make sure beachgoers stay safe.

“Travel down the volcanic western coastline of the Kohala Coast and follow the signs to find a spectacular oasis that has earned a reputation as one of the island of Hawaiʻi’s finest beaches,” the Hawai’i Tourism Authority says. “Beat the South Kohala heat by taking a dip in the warm waters at Hāpuna Beach.”

Several commenters on social media also put their hands up for Hāpuna. One stipulated, however, only “when they fix the fresh water for the bathrooms.” The state is in the process of restoring water service to the beach and its surrounding recreation area. The Hawa’i Division of State Parks said last week that three projects are underway to address temporary, short-term fixes and permanent, long-term solutions.

Despite those issues, Hāpuna remains a favorite of island residents and visitors alike.


“Hāpuna Beach is one of the best family beaches on the Big Island,” says “The white-sand beach is half a mile long, almost always sunny and has a continuous shore break that is GREAT fun to play in for all ages. The lack of rain (only 10 inches of rain annually), availability of shade (the beach is lined by trees and has a shaded picnic pavilion) and professional lifeguard on duty year-round further cement our love for this beach.”

The Westin Hāpuna Beach Resort, which is adjacent to the beach, wrote in a March 9 Facebook post: “With nature this beautiful, every moment is one of those ‘take a picture, it’ll last longer’ moments.” The description was definitely applicable.

“With nature this beautiful, every moment is one of those ‘take a picture, it’ll last longer’ moments.” That’s the caption the Westin Hāpuna Beach Resort, which is adjacent to the beach, used to describe Hāpuna Beach in a March 9 Facebook post. Screenshot from Facebook post.

Commenters on Big Island Now and social media mentioned a couple of other beaches as their favorites, too, including Makalawena Beach also along the Kohala Coast, which wasn’t among the poll’s 10 choices.

“The crescent beach at the Mauna Kea resort is definitely the most picture perfect!” said Michelle A. Porter. “It’s my favorite because I feel safe swimming there and the sand is luscious! You won’t stub your toe on any rocks there!”

“Hands down, Waipi‘o,” said a comment from Ralph. “The hardest beaches to get to are the best. The horses are just a bonus.”


A commenter on Facebook said their favorite used to be Kua Bay, but that was before the state “improved” it by putting in a parking area and restrooms: “Now its just as crowded as any other place.”

That might also have been the reason several commenters said they weren’t going to share their favorites. One Facebook user said their favorite was “the one I’m not telling you about because I like keeping things quiet.” Another said their favorite was for them to know and “you to never find out!”

“Nope not saying! Keep it kanaka!” one Facebook user said, adding a shaka emoji at the end of their comment.

No matter which is your favorite, there’s just something about Big Island beaches that keeps people coming back. Another commenter on Facebook said their favorite is “whichever one I happen to be on.”

“Big Island beaches are great for both the clarity and the temperature. I could stay in the water all day long, snorkeling and admiring the beautiful coral, sea life and turtles,” said Mike Harshaw replying to a post in the Big Island Hawai’i – All things Big Island! Facebook group, who added his favorite place to snorkel, or just lie around, is Two-Step, or Hōnaunau Bay.

Nathan Christophel
Nathan Christophel is a full-time reporter with Pacific Media Group. He has more than 25 years of experience in journalism as a reporter, copy editor and page designer. He previously worked at the Hawaii Tribune-Herald in Hilo. Nathan can be reached at [email protected]
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