Best Tropical Beaches in Hawaii & Florida

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  • Calusa Beach // Florida

    Calusa Beach

    Lying close to the southernmost point of Bahia Honda Key, one of the Florida Keys, Calusa Beach comes complete with palm trees and white sand gently-sloping into warm azure blue waters.

    One of just a handful of great beaches in the keys, and one of very few that are entirely natural, Calusa Beach is part of Bahia Honda State Park. Encroached by grasses, it has a relatively narrow extent, and space for just a handful of picnic tables, providing a beachside spot from which to enjoy the produce of the… read more »

  • Smathers Beach (Key West) // Florida

    Smathers Beach (Key West)

    Although Key West isn't famous for its great beaches, Smathers Beach is worth a visit. This gorgeous beach is walking distance from the airport with warm water that stays shallow for quite a distance out into the sea, so it's a perfect place to splash around with the kids. 

    Keep in mind that although the sand feels nice, it tends to get quite hot underfoot in the scorching heat. The rumour floating around the island is that the sand is brought in from the Bahamas and deposited there for your… read more »

  • Green Sand Beach // Hawaii

    Green Sand Beach
    ©Roy Luck

    Officially called Papakōlea, and also going by the name Mahana Beach, Green Sand Beach takes its most common moniker from its unusually-coloured sands. It is one of just four known beaches worldwide to comprise green sand through the degradation of a volcanic rock known as olivine.

    Located on Big Island's southeast coast at the end of a small inlet, the rocks of an ancient volcanic cone lie on either side. Swimming is possible, however the waves can be rough, so caution is advised.

    The only legal way to reach Green Sand Beach… read more »

  • Hapuna Beach // Hawaii

    Hapuna Beach

    Situated on the Kohala Coast, Hapuna Beach is one of the Big Island's largest white sand beaches. A great choice for families with children, Hapuna is a reliable pick because of its range of attractions. These including sunbathing and sand castle building as well as swimming, snorkelling and bodyboarding thanks to a near-continuous shore break.

    Roughly 800 metres long and relatively broad, especially during the summer when the sand builds further, natural shade can be enjoyed from the surrounding tree cover. There's also a public pavilion built to provide respite from… read more »

  • Kehena Black Sand Beach // Hawaii

    Kehena Black Sand Beach
    ©Tal Atlas

    A thin sliver of black sand on the eastern coast of Big Island in Puna, Kehena Black Sand Beach is best accessed by following the path leading from the left of the car park. Because of its isolation, it is often used by nude sunbathers, although this is illegal on Hawaii and those who strip off may face a fine from local law enforcement officials.

    Sometimes also called Dolphin Beach because of a population of Spinner dolphins that live offshore, the beach is edged by lava rock and trees. It was… read more »

  • Pololu Beach // Hawaii

    Pololu Beach

    Set on a remote stretch of coast near the northern tip of the Big Island is the pristine black sand Pololu beach. Only accessible by driving to the end of Highway 270 and then walking the remaining quarter mile, this spot has something of a primeval feel to it - definitely a bit Jurassic Park.

    Pololu Beach lies at the foot of an ancient wooded valley which is also home to a small lagoon. To either side lush green cliffs rise up to some height, while the beach is backed by… read more »

  • Mahai'ula Beach // Hawaii

    Mahai'ula Beach

    Set within Kekaha Kai State Park, Mahai'ula Beach is the most southerly of three beautiful white sand beaches. It is also usually the quietest, although part of the reason for this is that the road down to the beach is really bad.

    The crescent of sand at Mahai'ula is backed with plenty of shade from the ironwood trees and clumps of coconut palms. Set among the trees at the southern end of the beach are a number of picnic tables - you'll be bringing your own food.

    It goes without saying that the water here… read more »

  • Sandy Beach // Hawaii

    Sandy Beach
    ©JD Lasica

    Situated on the southeastern tip of Oahu island, Sandy Beach is a beautiful and remote spot that is far from the well-trodden tourist path.

    Thirty minutes by car from Waikiki, it is just beyond the Halona Blowhole and makes a dramatic first impression for those driving along the single track road on the lava cliffs from Koko Head Crater. There is plenty of free parking at this sheltered inlet of aquamarine waters, making it easy to unload your body board and beach gear and descend to the beach itself.… read more »

  • Donkey Beach // Hawaii

    Donkey Beach

    Donkey Beach, also known as Paliku Beach, is a relatively secluded beach on the east coast of Kauai. A stretch of unspoilt golden sand backed by fields and a few trees this is a lovely spot to throw down a towel and soak up the tropical sun.

    The beach here isn't the best for swimming and snorkeling though as the waves can be powerful and the currents strong. In fact it is more popular with surfers and bodyboarders when the conditions are good.

    What Donkey beach is perhaps best known for is… read more »

  • Makapuu Beach Park // Hawaii

    Makapuu Beach Park
    ©Daniel Ramirez

    Situated on the southeastern tip of Oahu, Makapu'u Beach is in the shadow of Makapu'u Point and the dramatic Lookout Point. The word Makapu'u means "bulging eye" and is thought to refer to a natural feature in the nearby Keanaokeakuapōloli Cave.

    Located about a mile east of Waimanalo Beach, the gently undulating beach has masses of golden sands in a cove-like setting bordered with palm trees and greenery. The steep green-covered slopes rise to almost 200 metres and make a dramatic backdrop to this beautiful beach park.

    Stand on the… read more »

  • Kailua Beach // Hawaii

    Kailua Beach
    ©Daniel Ramirez

    The turquoise blue waters of this beach are quite a sight to behold. And the soft white sand just melts under your feet as you walk to the water. The beach is surrounded by green mountains and lined with trees. Stretching along Oahu's west coast for two and a half miles you will never feel crowded in and it is the ideal place for walking and taking in the view.

    Kailua Beach Park has great facilities that will cater for most beachgoers; picnic tables, beach volleyball courts, picnic shelters, and… read more »

  • Diamond Head Beach // Hawaii

    Diamond Head Beach
    ©Daniel Ramirez

    Just 2 miles southeast of famous Waikiki Beach, Diamond Head Beach is popular with beach lovers, surfers and windsurfers due to the ever-present white-crested swell that rolls in relentlessly. The surf breaks are about a quarter mile out to sea and there are multiple good spots to choose from.

    Quieter than many beaches on Oahu, Diamond Head Beach is accessed from car parks on the clifftop via a couple of paved footpaths that zig-zag down the steep cliffs. The strip of light-coloured sand is bordered with leaning palm trees,… read more »

  • Three Tables // Hawaii

    Three Tables
    ©Alison and Fil

    Set on Oahu's North Shore, this pretty little beach is surrounded by some of the best known surf spots on the planet. In fact the famously huge waves of Waimea Bay break only around 100 yards away from Three Tables. But that's not why people come here.

    Three Tables beach is perhaps best known as a snorkeling spot and for good reason. The name of the beach comes from three sections of flat coral reef that protrude from the water at low tide. Not only do these "table tops"… read more »

  • Slaughterhouse Beach // Hawaii

    Slaughterhouse Beach

    The charmingly named Slaughterhouse beach is located on the northwestern tip of Maui between DT Fleming Beach and Honolua Bay. Despite that rather unappealing name this is in fact one of the prettiest little beaches on the island.

    The name "Slaughterhouse beach" comes from the fact that there used to be a slaughterhouse above the beach. The Honolua Ranch slaughterhouse along with a tanning/storage shed that were located on the cliffs above. However this shut down decades ago and the buildings are long since gone.

    It would perhaps be better to call the beach by… read more »

  • Red Sand Beach // Hawaii

    Red Sand Beach
    ©Laila Goubran

    As the name suggests Red Sand beach is adorned with sand that is more than just a little red in hue. In fact the little cove is something of a festival of colors; the red sand, deep blue of the ocean, black of the rocks and green of the ironwood trees.

    The redness of the beach is provided by the iron rich lava-cinder cliffs behind which are constantly eroding.

    The Hawaiian name for the beach is a little more exciting - Kaihalulu which means "roaring sea". However, the beach itself is somewhat… read more »