Father helping daughter with a boogie board at a Maui beach.

Make memories with your little ones in Hawaii. (Photo: Getty Images)


Planning a Hawaii Family Vacation? Visit the Islands’ Best Kid-Friendly Beaches

Hawaii’s a family-friendly paradise, it’s true, with no shortage of beach perfection. The soft sands beg to be whipped into sandcastles and the warm water beckons. But bringing your kids, or keiki, as they are called in Hawaii, to the beach does require a bit of care.

Some beaches have rip currents or dangerous shore breaks, and water conditions can vary both by season and by what part of an island the beach is located on. A beach that has glass-flat water in summer months may have pro-level surfing waves in the winter, or vice versa.

As you plan your Hawaii family vacation, here’s a guide to some of the best island beaches for kids.


Waikiki is king among Hawaii beaches, and deservedly so. Those in the know head to the southeast end, where you’ll find cozy Sans Souci Beach (also called Kaimana Beach). It’s popular with local families, as a protective reef buffers the wave action. This super soft, clean beach is ideal for catching a sunset.

Explore the tide pools on the North Shore in Pupukea Beach Park. Kids will love being in Shark’s Cove (just a name, don’t worry) at low tide. They can wade through the shallow waters, testing out their snorkel masks while feeling like they are inside a real-life aquarium. The beach park has a convenient changing area and outdoor showers where you can rinse off.

Note: Do bring water shoes, as the bottom of Shark’s Cove is rocky.


South Maui has consistently splendid weather, and a good bet there for kids is Maluaka Beach. Introduce little kids to a boogie board in the mellow surf here, and for more confident swimmers, take them snorkeling to see the coral, fish and, quite possibly, a green sea turtle, who will be enjoying the ocean alongside you.

Over in West Maui, Kaanapali Beach is a crowd-pleaser that shouldn’t be missed if you’re visiting Hawaii with kids. The community there offers three miles of plush beach and clear waters, a central location and tons of amenities. For stronger swimmers, Black Rock, at the north end of the beach, is a great place to snorkel.


View of Poipu Beach Park, Kauai.
Wet your toes in Poipu Beach, Kauai. (Photo: Getty Images)

If you have little bitty kids, you will love Poipu Beach Park on Kauai’s southern shore. Protected from big waves by a shore break, the beach has a natural wading pool perfect for toddler-size explorers. Bigger kids can boogie board, and the whole family benefits from lifeguards and restrooms.

Insider’s tip: This beach is very popular, so arrive early in the day.

Kalapaki Beach, near Lihue, is also protected by a break wall and offers excellent conditions for swimming and stand-up paddleboarding. The beach is so lovely, it’s named as a top-10 thing to do on Kauai by U.S. News and World Report.

There is no coral reef here, so it’s not a snorkel spot, but there are volleyball nets and a nice paved strolling path in addition to the swimming and beach play.

Hawaii Island (aka “The Big Island”)

Overhead view of Hapuna Beach.
Discover Hapuna Beach. (Photo: Getty Images)

About a 40-minute drive from Kailua-Kona, Kaunaoa Bay is a crescent beach with clean white sand and calm turquoise waters. The bay is largely sand-bottomed and not very deep, so this is a great spot to get kids out snorkeling.

Hapuna Beach is a huge white-sand beach on the Big Island’s Kohala Coast and is a haven for families. It is very wide, especially in summer months, and boasts easy access, plenty of parking and showers for a rinse-off (how do kids get so much sand in their suits?!)

According to the Hawaiian Lifeguard Association, the best spot for small children to play in the water is at the northern end of the beach, where there is a “shallow, protected, sand-bottomed cove.”