The Best Little Beach Towns in Hawaii
Yoga studios, juice bars, and beach-y boutiques line the streets of laid-back Kailua town. The Thursday night farmer’s market offers an array of locally grown treats: coffee, honey, tropical fruits, and novelties like sea asparagus. Kailua Beach and Lanikai Beach, next door, are two of the island’s best.
This old sugar plantation town has irresistible charm: its colorful vintage buildings house creperies, a first-rate health food store, and the best swimsuit shops in Hawai‘i. The Dalai Llama himself blessed the town’s Tibetan stupa.
Kitschy as it is, world-famous Waikīkī is still full of authentic treasures. White fairy terns twirl in the sea breezes above high rises and luxe boutiques. Barefoot surfers cross Kalakaua Avenue fresh from the water.
Alii Drive wraps around cobalt Kailua Bay. The sunny seaside town is home to Hulihe‘e Palace and the thatched hale (houses) marking King Kamehameha’s former residence. Fishing boats regularly haul in giant swordfish here.
This old sugar plantation town is the celebrated surfing capital of the world. It’s home to two local legends: the Triple Crown big wave surf contest and Matsumoto’s Shave Ice. Shops, restaurants, and art galleries line Hale'iwa's main street, and several renowned surf breaks and beaches—Waimea Bay, Banzai Pipeline, and Sunset Beach—are just down the road.
Once a royal capital and a rowdy whaler’s haunt, this historic seafront town on Maui is packed with restaurants, galleries, boutiques, and a few small but fascinating museums. Surfers catch waves beside the busy small boat harbor.
The string of mini-malls and condos on Maui’s south shore lacks vintage charm, but the adjoining beaches are absolute perfection. Come here to watch whales, play volleyball, go for a beach stroll, and dine affordably.
This funky outpost has a wagon train of tempting food trucks, a ‘ukulele shop, a crystal gallery, and dozens of eclectic businesses worth exploring. The 7-mile scenic bike path winds along the coast and is an ideal way to explore Kapa’a’s beaches.
Off the beaten path, this tiny town at the base of the Big Island's Kohala Mountains is a charming mix of old and new. Cafes, ice cream shops, and an A+ sushi bar occupy the former sugar plantation storefronts.