The Big Island's best beaches provide exotic wildlife, snorkeling, surfing, lava rock and black sand

The Big Island may be home to a lot of fresh black lava rock since it's Hawaii's youngest island, but the biggest island in the chain is home to a huge array of gorgeous beaches all along the coast. From black sand to white sand, with rocky reefs or not, the Big Island's beaches vary from coast to coast and offer some of the most spectacular beach sights in the islands.

So if your perfect vacation day includes soaking up the sun, playing in the sand, or swimming in the ocean, then our Big Island guide is just what you need. Our 10Best list highlights the best places to soak up the sun, with Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area being a favorite of our editors and readers. The beach is long, blanketed in fine white sand, and is a popular spot for a full day trip to the beach with lunch, beach gear and toys.

For another type of beach, check out Punalu`u Beach Park, where the agrayish sand is broken up with the occasional lava rock reef jutting out and drawing in green sea turtles. Another island favorite is Kahalu`u Beach Park, which offers some of the most exotic and spectacular snorkeling on the island. Fish love to bombard snorkelers here, and vendors sell fish food to toss around and draw more fish in.

So when making your Big Island Beach choices, remember that 10 Best's top ten beach list is here to guide you to the best sunning and swimming spots on the island. Now all you need is your sunblock.

Kailua Pier

A great launching point for sightseeing and fishing excursions, this pier is always a-bustle. On one day, an excited crowd may gather to see the weigh-in for a lucky angler's enormous marlin. On another, folks may witness the frenzy that takes...  Read More

Hamakua Coast
Waipi'o Valley

The Big Island version of the Valley of the Kings, Waipi'o has long maintained a special place in the hearts of locals. Steeped in legend, the deep, narrow valley stretches some 5-plus miles, flanked on either side by towering rock walls. The...  Read More

Kawaihae Harbor

Historically, Kawaihae Harbor is significant because from here King Kamehameha the Great and his followers set out to conquer other civilizations on the archipelago. Years later, ships dropped anchor with the first horses and cattle to set foot...  Read More

Kahalu'u Beach Park

Easily one of the Big Island's most popular beaches, Kahalu'u offers parking, equipment rental stalls, a covered pavilion, and a snack bar. A reef far offshore prevents the waters from getting too rough, making a terrific snorkeling opportunity....  Read More

Some beaches are beautiful, but you can't park anywhere near them. Old Kona Airport beach is attractive AND has lots of parking. In fact, the original airport runway now functions as a parking lot. It's ideal for a family outing, with picnic...  Read More

One of the Big Island's top beaches, A-Bay is known for metallic, yellow-hued sands that earn it the nickname "Gold Coast." The bay's crystal blue waters are ideal for snorkeling, scuba, kayaking, surfing, and windsailing. Several popular resort...  Read More

Mauna Kea Beach

South of Hapuna Beach, Mauna Kea is regarded by many as one of Hawaii's – if not the world's – top beaches. Smooth, golden sands are flanked on one side by lush coconut groves and on the other by calm, crystalline waters protected from...  Read More

Southeast Shore
Punalu'u Beach

Wedged between Kau Desert and Ka Lae (the South Cape), this exquisite black sand beach is one of the Big Island's most beautiful. Although facilities are scarce, you'll likely find ample privacy since few visitors make it this far south, save an...  Read More

Laupahoehoe Beach Park

Easily offering one of the best vistas on the island, this leaf-like peninsula extends far into the Pacific. In the mid-'40s, tragedy struck the village located here when a tsunami swept across the peninsula and claimed the lives of 24 people. A...  Read More

Hapuna Beach, nestled between Waikui and Puako, is known for being one of the cleanest, most family-friendly beaches on Hawaii. Its smooth, white sands extend far out into the surf, so wading in the shallows is easy on your feet. During summer...  Read More


Meet Jade Eckardt

Raised on the Big Island of Hawaii, Jade has traveled the world and doesn't intend to stop, yet the Hawaiian Islands are still her favorite place. She spent seven years living on Oahu and...  More About Jade