Hawaii Itinerary Suggestions: 5 of the Quietest Beaches

The romance of a tranquil Hawaiian beach has everything to do with priceless sea views and plenty of privacy. The key is to find an idyllic spot away from the noisy crowds. If you think finding that combination is nearly impossible, consider these five beaches for your Hawaii itinerary.

1. Napili Beach

Napili Bay Maui by: Hawaii Savvy (CC)
Napili Bay Maui by: Hawaii Savvy (CC)

Maui’s hidden gem, Napili Beach offers some of the best swimming and snorkeling conditions on the island. Nestled in a picturesque bay with sparkling water and fine sand, the beach often attracts more monk seals and sea turtles than tourists. While most people head straight for Maui’s popular resorts, you can have this secluded beach on the island’s northwestern coastline almost entirely to yourself. The ocean bottom is very sandy and soft, though relatively steep. This, along with strong breaks along the shoreline, makes this stretch of Maui’s coast ideal for surfing vacations. There’s very little shade here, so pack an umbrella along with your surfing gear.

2. Hanalei Beach

From the Air - Hanalei Bay, Kauai by: Jeremy Hall (CC)
From the Air – Hanalei Bay, Kauai by: Jeremy Hall (CC)

One of the larger beaches on Kauai, Hanalei stretches for about 3 km (2 mi) along the island’s northern shoreline. The beach sits on an idyllic bay known for its coral reefs and backed by a string of majestic mountains. Though popular with experienced surfers taking advantage of big breaks on the right side of the bay, the beach remains largely free of big tourist crowds. If surfing’s not your cup of tea, you can snorkel, swim, kayak, or simply spend the day basking on the warm sand.

3. Ulua Beach

Ulua Beach by: Peter Liu Photography (CC)
Ulua Beach by: Peter Liu Photography (CC)

Usually attracting only a handful of divers trying to spot manta rays, sea turtles, seahorses, and moray eels, Ulua Beach occupies a cozy spot between two rocky points in the heart of Wailea on Maui. Despite its relatively small size, the beach offers plenty of space for building sand castles, playing volleyball, or just sitting back with a cold drink in hand. Ulua means “crevalle fish,” and you’ll find lots of colorful sea creatures and corals to admire in the calm water lapping the sandy shoreline. Add this beach to the top of your travel itinerary if you want to take a few snorkeling lessons in a safe and relaxed environment.

4. Ke’e Beach

Sunset at Ke'e Beach, on the north shore of Kauai, looking south along the Napali Coast by: Brodie Guy (CC)
Sunset at Ke’e Beach, on the north shore of Kauai, looking south along the Napali Coast by: Brodie Guy (CC)

To discover a tropical paradise offering privacy and seclusion without skimping on modern facilities, be sure to visit Ke’e Beach on your next trip to Hawaii. Locals believe hula dancing was born on this beach, which boasts clear water, lots of marine life, and ample greenery providing natural shade. Invent your own hula dance here, or put on your snorkeling gear and explore the colorful fish inhabiting the reefs just off the shoreline. If you arrive during high surf and don’t wish to tempt the strong currents, you can explore the nearby coastal trails, leading through the lush Hawaiian landscape still largely unspoiled by mass tourism.

5. Manini’owali Beach

Manini'owali Beach by: jenkinson2455 (CC)
Manini’owali Beach by: jenkinson2455 (CC)

Manini’owali, often called simply Kua Bay, remains one of the Big Island’s secret treasures. Head here to escape Hawaii’s huge crowds and enjoy an isolated location tailor-made for long afternoons with a good book or a picnic at sunset. Small and quiet, the beach features soft sand and shallow water, suitable for inexperienced swimmers and families with small children. You’ll find few facilities in this secluded bay, so bring an umbrella, beach towels, lots of sunscreen, and plenty of drinking water.

The quiet side of Hawaii

Hawaii itinerary suggestions generally cover only the most popular beaches, and it may seem hard to find the sand beneath the spread of beach towels at these places. Yet finding a spot resisting the crush of sunbathers doesn’t have to remain just a tropical fantasy. To enjoy the mild climate and that laid-back island lifestyle far from the big crowds, get a good map and head for the places where Hawaii’s natural charm remains free of commercialism and modern distractions.

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