Hapuna Beach State Park boasts Hawaii Island's largest white-sand beach. // © 2013 Big Island Visitors Bureau
Several gorgeous Hawaii beaches are flanked by excellent park areas for holding potlucks, tossing Frisbees, celebrating birthdays or simply spending time with family and friends. Locals love to while away the hours at these outdoor oases.
The water is equally alluring at Hawaii’s beach parks. Conditions are often conducive to snorkeling, swimming, kayaking and stand-up paddling. Better yet, these parks are free, as are all public beaches in Hawaii.
The following five Hawaii beach parks are packed with visitor appeal. When you visit one, don’t be surprised if you want to make a day of it.
Ala Moana Beach Park, Oahu
With 76 acres in Honolulu, Ala Moana has it all: lifeguards, showers, restrooms, food concessions, picnic tables, tennis courts, jogging routes, grassy areas and a music pavilion. Its normally calm waters — protected by an outer reef — make it conducive to swimming and paddleboarding. Located across from Ala Moana Shopping Center, it’s a popular local hangout for barbecues and sunset-watching.
D.T. Fleming Beach Park, Maui
The winter surf can kick up at this northwest Maui beach, but lifeguards let clients know if the water isn’t safe for swimming. Year-round, visitors can relish its rim of shady ironwood trees and facilities such as showers, restrooms, picnic tables, barbecue grills and a snack bar. Named for the man who brought pineapple to west Maui, D.T. Fleming Beach Park draws locals as well as guests of the nearby Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua.
Hapuna Beach State Park, Hawaii Island
This 61-acre park lays claim to the largest white-sand beach on Hawaii Island. It offers good conditions for swimming, snorkeling and bodyboarding except during winter’s high surf. Check with the lifeguards before taking a dip. Hapuna aims to please with showers, restrooms, pavilions and picnic areas. Its local-style snack bar is a perfect source of refreshing shave ice (tropical snow cone).
Kailua Beach Park, Oahu
On Oahu’s windward side awaits this mecca for kayakers and windsurfers. With a half mile of soft sand and generally calm conditions, Kailua is blessed with brilliant turquoise water. The park features lifeguards, picnic areas, restrooms, showers and a food stand. Nearby outfitters can take you on a kayak tour to explore the small, picturesque islands just off shore.
Poipu Beach Park, Kauai
South Kauai’s waters attract not only humans but green sea turtles, endangered Hawaiian monk seals, colorful tropical fish and, farther offshore, the humpback whales of winter. It’s easy to snorkel, swim and surf here, in between relaxing on the palm-studded lawn. Add to that such facilities as restrooms, showers and picnic tables and the result is a perfect example of the joys of Hawaii’s beach parks.