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Hawaii Beaches


When to go:
Hawaii Beaches get busiest in winter [Dec - Feb], mainly because of the weather elsewhere. June to October is the hottest beach weather, December to March the wettest.The average temperatures are more or less the same winter and summer. Hotel prices are highest mid-December to the end of March. If you're into surfing, winter months are the best, especially the Christmas season at Oahu's North Shore, otherwise the summer [July-August] has the best water condition for swimming, snorkeling, windsurfing and scuba diving.Beware that some beaches have seasonal high surf in summer.

Getting around
Flights: domestic flights operate frequently between Honolulu [Oahu] and Lihue [Kauai], Kahului [Maui], Kona and Hilo [Big Island].
Ferries: there are also inter-island ferries between Lahaina [Maui] and Manele [Lanai], and Lahaina and Kaunakakai [Molokai].

Hawaii's Oahu and Maui islands

Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve, Oahu [swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving]
Hanauma Bay, situated in the crater of a volcano, is one of the Hawaii's most beautiful bays, with world-class snorkeling and scuba diving. It is a conservation area, so has strict rules such as no smoking [the first no-smoking beach in USA], no consumption, and only 2000 visitor per day , so go early in the busy season.

Lanikai Beach, Oahu [swimming, windsurfing, kayaking]
Lanikai Beach, along Mokulua Drive, is regarded as Hawaii's best swimming beach by Oahu's residents, and once voted as the America's best beach by famous Dr. Beach. This mile long golden beach is clean, usually surf-free, and pretty with palm trees and offshore islands across the water, just like a postcard. The offshore Mokulua islands have small beaches where you can land and swim.

Sunset Beach, Pipeline, Waimea Bay, North Shore Oahu [surfing, surfing! swimming in summer]
Oahu's North Shore is the mecca of big wave surfing, and Sunset, Banzai Pipeline, Waimea Bay, and Haleiwa Beach Park are among the world's most famous surfing spots.

Sunset Beach is one of the best sites and is also the home of major professional events such as the World Surfing Cup.
In winter-spring time [Oct-May], waves at all these beaches can reach up to 15-20 feet [4-6m] high, generating dangerous water conditions, so the beach is for expert surfers only, but during the calmer summer months the beaches become excellent swimming places.

Kaanapali Beach, Maui [swimming, snorkelling, body surfing, surfing, kayaking, scuba diving]
Kaanapali beach is located in front of the Kaanapali Resort, extending nearly 3 miles from Kahekili Beach in the north to Hanakaoo Beach [Canoe Beach] in the south. The beach is lined by hotels, restaurants and activity centres and is one of the best place for watersports and activities in Hawaii. During no or low surf seasons, snorkeling and scuba diving are fantastic around Black Rock [a volcanic cinder cone on the north end of the Kaanapali Beach, known as Airport Beach]. Surfing is good to the south near the Marriot Hotel. Kaanapali has outstanding views across the Auau Channel and was voted 'Beach with the Best Sunset' by the Hawaii Magazine 1999. The beach can be overcrowded and thefts occur.

Wailea Beach, Maui [swimming, snorkeling, body surfing, windsurfing, scuba diving]
One of the better family beaches, Wailea beach is wide, with shade, good snorkeling and swimming. However, parking nearby is difficult to find and offshore currents can be strong in the afternoon because of the Trade Winds. There are occasional jellyfish on the beach or in the water - don't touch the blue bubbles! The Four Seasons Hotel, one of the best beach resorts in Hawaii, is located at this beach, and there is a Shopping Village nearby. Whales sometimes appear in winter months. The beach is safe except during periods of high surf or Kona storms [severe winds from west].

Palauea Beach, Maui [swimming, snorkeling, body surfing, scuba diving]
If you like more secluded Hawaii beaches, go to Palauea [means 'lazy'] Beach south of Polo Beach in Wailea. This excellent swimming beach is one of the last undeveloped area on the Wailea-Makena coastline. Ideal for families with young children because it is sheltered from the winds and the water is shallow.

It is also a great place for scuba diving and snorkelling. At the south end of the beach there are underwater rock formations that make interesting diving.  There are no facilities, nor lifeguards [the nearest food is at the Kea Lani Beach Hotel]. Do not leave anything in your car, break-ins are problem here! High winter surf and winds may occasionally cause dangerous water conditions.

Kapalua Beach Park, Maui [swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving]
Kapalua Beach is a beautiful golden stretch along the west coast of the Keanae Peninsula, with a spectacular view of Molokai, and one of the prettiest and safest beaches on Maui - once voted the best beach in the world by Condé Nast Magazine. It has an exclusive beach resort called Kapalua Bay [construction until mid 2001]. Inside the bay is well-protected from big waves by offshore reefs and by lava peninsulas on the both sides, making this a superb swimming beach for families with small children. It is also a good place to watch whales, during the whale season. If you drive, beware that public parking and beach access is not easy to find, and it's a bit of a walk to the beach.


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