Hawai’i Shorelines tops America’s best beaches list

Hāpuna Beach on the Big Island of Hawaii (Photo courtesy of DLNR).

Hāpuna Beach State Park was awarded # 1 America’s Best Beaches in Dr. Beach’s 30th Annual Ranking.

This was the second time Hāpuna has received this designation, placing first in 1993, according to USA Today.

“Hapuna Beach, a beautiful coral sand beach, looks stunningly white, in part because of the stark contrast to the black lava rock that flanks and demarcates this half-mile pocket beach,” according to the coastal expert. Dr Stephen P. Leatherman, professor at Florida International University.

Hāpuna Beach on the Big Island of Hawaii (Photo courtesy of DLNR).

Ratings are based on 50 overarching criteria, the most important of which are safety and cleanliness, calculated using a slider on a scale of one to five.

“It is always an honor for one of our state parks to receive recognition of this caliber,” said Curt Cottrell, administrator of the DLNR division of state parks. “It reflects both the value of Hāpuna’s natural and scenic resources, as well as the quality of recent improvements to this popular park.”


Another pick this year was Duke Kahanamoku Beach on the island of O’ahu, who clinched sixth place.


A Hawaii beach has been named a national winner 18 times since 1991, the most of any state. The consistent success of Hawaii’s beaches, by Dr. Beach’s standards, is attributed to cleanliness and no smoking.

Environmental awareness

The purpose of his list is to educate the public, protect the natural environment and improve beach etiquette.

For more than three decades, beach expert Dr. Stephen Leatherman (aka “Dr. Beach”) has worked to raise awareness of the dangers of reverse currents and to promote smoking bans on beaches.


“In winter, days with big waves, breaking waves and returning currents make swimming impossible. At such times, I like to ride the rapid movement of the broken waves along the beach on a boogie board; the key is to stay in shallow water away from breakers so you don’t get dragged back into the ocean, ”Leatherman said.

When it comes to smoking, all of Hawaii’s beaches are considered smoke-free areas.

This year, crossing the pandemic milestone has given the list extra meaning.

The Ministry of Lands and Natural Resources released a statement Thursday that Leatherman’s designation of Hāpuna highlights a paradox.

“We are approaching the busy summer season with the number of post-pandemic visitors potentially expected to increase sharply,” said Curt Cottrell, administrator of the State Parks Division of the Department of Lands and Natural Resources. “This definitely means more people are spending time in Hāpuna and Waialea, so our conundrum is to balance resource protection, quality of experience, and public safety concerns. “

Hāpuna Beach on the Big Island of Hawaii rated best beach of 2021 by Dr. Beach (Hāpuna Beach on the Big Island of Hawaii rated best beach of 2021 by Dr. Beach (Photo courtesy of DLNR ).
Hāpuna Beach State Park on May 28, 2021 (Photo courtesy of DLNR).

Waialea Bay, the nearby beach adjacent to Hāpuna, is one of Hawaii’s 11 marine life conservation districts that enjoy the highest level of natural resource protection in the state.

The concern is that national attention could result in higher traffic that does more harm than it helps beaches.

Important information for beach lovers

The state agency said visitors should use reef-safe sunscreen and know that lifeguard coverage may be reduced due to lost income and budget cuts during the pandemic.

Due to the bleaching of the sunscreen, some beaches may periodically close to allow coral spawning during certain phases of the moon.

To learn more about the Top 10 list, visit https://www.drbeach.org/.

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