Hanalei Bay, Kauai, Hawaii
For: Two miles of spectacular beauty
Ask 10 Hawaii residents to name the state’s most beautiful beach, and you are sure to get 10 different answers—and all of them will be right. One name that keeps coming up, however, is Hanalei Beach on the north shore of the island of Kauai, just opposite Princeville. Fans of old movies will recognize it as “Nurses Beach,” in the classic musical South Pacific, which showcased the crescent of white sand backed by deep green mountains to perfection. This 2-mile long strand of sand rings the lovely bay, backed by sheer cliffs (walk the beach in the early morning and you will see the cliff wall reflected in the water). Hanalei is popular with local surfers, and it is great fun to watch them zoom into shore, but this beach might be best for strolls and snapping photos, as swimming can be hazardous due to currents and drop-offs.