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6 of Hawaii's Best Beaches

From long, sandy crescents to snorkeling hotbeds, here's where you'll want to kick back

Want to get away from it all? With sandy stretches of calm, family–friendly coves and clear waters for epic snorkeling, Hawaii's best beaches will do the trick.

Every island claims its own unique character. The luxe beaches on Maui are just as special as those off the beaten path on Molokai. On Kauai, the island is home to other less–traveled beaches also worth a visit. Why follow the crowds when you can find your own oasis?

Here are six of the best beaches in Hawaii to see right now and where to eat when you're visiting them. Whichever you choose, know that you’re in store for ocean breezes and bright sunshine.

1 Poipu Beach, Kauai

Photo: Courtesy of Living Food Market

Located on the south shore of the island, this is the ideal beach for just about any beachgoer. The waves are gentle, the snorkeling is good and the crescents create naturally shallow swimming areas for kids. Grab a poke bowl from nearby Makai Sushi or a sandwich from Living Foods Gourmet Market & Cafe, and camp out all day.

2 Kaanapali Beach, Maui

It's no wonder this mile–long stunner has attracted a series of high–end resorts and restaurants: It’s wide enough for everyone to spread out, and the water is crystal clear. When you need a bite after snorkeling, try Roy's, a longtime local favorite from chef Roy Yamaguchi.

3 Lydgate Beach Park, Kauai

For an enclosed lagoon where the waves won't ruffle your bathing suit, head to Lydgate Beach Park on the east side of Kauai. The swimming area is protected by a wall of rocks, which makes it ideal for kids and for peeking at the tropical fish that hover on the edges. It's also just a short ride from Al Pastor Tacos, a food truck in Kapaa that serves up the best fish tacos on the island.

4 Makena Beach, Maui

Also called Big Beach, this expansive escape—both long and wide—is a secluded paradise. For experienced surfers, the ocean can be a fun ride; if you prefer to sit back and watch, the sandy shoreline is about as comfortable as it gets.

5 Punaluu Black Sand Beach, the Island of Hawaii

You'll be hard–pressed to find a more eye–popping beach than Punaluu Black Sand Beach on the Island of Hawaii. That's because the sand is black, thanks to past volcanic activity. Though swimming conditions depend on the day, it's always a picturesque spot for a picnic and a view of one of the spectacular beaches that makes Hawaii so unique. You might also catch a sighting of sea turtles on the beach. They like the black sand, too.

6 Waimea Bay, Oahu

Photo: Courtesy of Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson

Located on the North Shore of Oahu, Waimea Bay has been attracting surfers for more than 60 years, and it's still a rite of passage for any serious wave rider. If you're not there to surf, it's still a great place to catch some rays and watch the epic waves. When you need to cool off, Haleiwa, an artistic haven and nearby historic town where you can grab a shave ice, awaits nearby.

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