From legendary Waikiki on Oahu to the golden sands of Kaanapali on Maui, all Hawaii beaches offer sun, fun, seclusion, water sports and more. But choosing from the abundance of Hawaii hotels requires that you pinpoint your priorities: Are you most interested in spectacular views, active watersports, total relaxation or space to unwind? If you're looking to book a Hawaii vacation, here are 10 of the best beach resorts in Hawaii to consider.
Best for Board Sports: Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Hawaii's Big Island
The Big Island is known for its black-lava landscape and volcanoes — including Kilauea, which has been active since 1983, and caused damage to a small part of the island in May 2018 — but the island isn’t really known its beaches.
But the 252-room Mauna Kea Beach Hotel on the Kohala Coast is lucky to have one of the best beaches on Hawaii's Big Island: a wide crescent of white sand lapped by the aquamarine waters of Kaun'oa Bay that are ideal for stand-up paddle boarding, boogie boarding and beginner to intermediate surfing. The resort also has a championship golf course and 11 tennis courts.
Best for Beachfront Pools: Grand Wailea, A Waldorf Astoria Resort, Maui
If you're looking for over-the-top poolside fun, this 776-room resort on Maui's Wailea Beach delivers. Grand Wailea has nine pools featuring seven waterslides as well as numerous waterfalls, grottos, caves and whitewater rapids. And while your kids are splashing, you can enjoy the soothing water features of the 50,000-square-foot Spa Grande and is Healing Waters of Maui hydrotherapy circuit.
Best for Sunsets: Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa, Maui
Kaanapali, a three-mile stretch of sand on Maui's southwest coast famed for its sunsets, is home to more than a dozen resorts. Each offers great views, but the 508-room Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa has a prime location adjacent to the photogenic lava formation known as Black Rock.
Every night at dusk, the resort ups the drama with a Cliff Dive Ceremony to honor Kahekili, the last chief of Maui. As tiki torches are lit, a diver plunges from the cliff into the waves below, so have your phone in your hand and ready to record.
Best for Quiet Relaxation: Four Seasons Resort Lanai
Lanai sparsely populated — it has just 3,000 full-time residents and was once dominated by acres of pineapple fields. And Hulopoe Beach, where the recently renovated 213-room Four Seasons Resort Lanai is located, is a peaceful arc of sand perfect for soaking up sun, catching up on your reading, taking a relaxing swim and even spying on acrobatic spinner dolphins in the bay. They like it here so much, they're year-round residents.
The 410-room Turtle Bay Resort, which sprawls over 858 beachfront acres on Oahu's scenic north shore, allows its guests to get away from the hustle and bustle of Honolulu — but keep active with dozens of activities the entire family will love: golf, tennis, biking, hiking, horseback riding, Segway tours, outrigger canoes, kayaking, surfing and more. Bonus: it's also one of the best places for snorkeling in Oahu.
Best for People Watching: Moana Surfrider, A Westin Resort & Spa, Oahu
Sometimes, it's just fun to watch: the surfers, the stand-up paddle boarders, the tourists taking their first ride on the gentle waves of Waikiki Beach in a traditional outrigger canoe.
The 791-Moana Surfrider, which opened in 1901 and is located in the middle of Honolulu's most famous beach, is an ideal spot to tap into Waikiki's energy, enjoy a Mai Tai on the rocking-chair-lined porch and check out the views of Oahu's top landmark, Diamond Head.
With its two oceanfront courses and its Kapalua Golf Academy, 463-room The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua on Maui is a dream destination for anyone who love the sport (the Plantation Course is the site of the PGA's annual Tournament of Champions). Set on 54 lush, green acres and adjacent to a Hawaiian sacred site, the property effortlessly mixes luxury, activity and traditional Aloha spirit.
Best for Panoramic Views: Princeville Resort, Kauai
Location, location, location. The 251-room Princeville Resort (formerly The St. Regis) on Kauai has it. Overlooking its own blissful beach, the property offers postcard-worthy views of Hanalei Bay and the lush green peaks and valleys of the island's north shore.
By day, the panoramas from the beach, the pool and the restaurant terraces are sublime — and at sunset the scene takes on saturated hues of orange and gold framed by the dusky coastline.
Best for Travelers Seeking Space: Honua Kai Resort & Spa, Maui
If you feel cramped in a traditional hotel room, check out the spacious accommodations at Honua Kai Resort & Spa, a 600-unit condo-resort located along Maui's Kaanapali North Beach. The contemporary one-to-three-bedroom suites all feature spacious lanais and deluxe kitchens and are located in two modern buildings with an inviting lazy river pool between them.
Best for Beachfront Spa Treatments: Fairmont Orchid, Hawaii's Big Island
Sometimes all you need to feel renewed is a spa treatment — and in Hawaii, it can take place just a few feet from the gentle lullaby of the ocean’s waves or the soothing rush of waterfalls.
The 540-room Fairmont Orchid on the Big Island of Hawaii's Kohala Coast is home to the Spa Without Walls, which features six oceanfront spa cabanas and eight private outdoor waterfall hale (huts). How do you say, "Yes, please!" in Hawaiian?