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How to Find Hawaii's Secret Beaches

These six remote beaches are worth the effort it takes to get there

Finding peace and quiet in the popular tourist state of Hawaii is surprisingly easier than you might think. (Kicka Witte / Pacific Stock / Aurora Photos)

These six remote beaches are worth the effort it takes to get there

Perfect white-sand beaches exist all over Hawaii, but many are filled with sand castles, surfers, beach towels, and oceanfront resorts. Get ready to wander a little off the beaten path on your way to these six blissfully empty beaches.

Kanaio Beach, Maui

The Hoapili Trail starts at a parking area at La Perouse Bay in south Maui and traverses through a barren, lava-strewn landscape for about 2.5 miles to this desolate black-and-white-sand beach. The trail is also known as the King’s Highway because it was once a walking path reserved for royalty. You’ll find remains from an old fishing village along the way.

Kauapea Beach, Kauai

You’ll walk 15 minutes down a steep path before arriving at this flawless strip of gold sand on the north shore of Kauai, bordered by steep cliffs. It isn’t that hard to get to, but Kauapea is often called Secret Beach and is secluded enough that folks occasionally sunbathe naked without anyone noticing. The trailhead isn’t marked, so ask around for directions. You’ll find it near the town of Kilauea, off a dirt path accessed from Kalihiwai Road.

Kapukahehu Beach, Molokai

Also known as Dixie Maru Beach, after a Japanese ship that wrecked near here in the 1920s, this half-moon-shaped favorite sits in a tiny cove on Molokai’s isolated western shore. It’s a well-protected beach flanked by a reef, making it an ideal spot for swimming and snorkeling. You can drive here via a roughly paved road that looks a little like someone’s driveway, accessed from the endpoint of Pohakuloa Road.

Pololu Valley Beach, Hawaii

Drive to the very end of the Kohala Coast’s Highway 270, and then hike the short but steep Awini Trail down a couple of dirt switchbacks to this striking black-sand beach surrounded by sharp lava. The trail to the beach is less than a mile, but if you want more of a trek, the path continues onward to the Honokane Nui Valley Lookout. Water currents are strong here, so it’s best to avoid swimming, and camping isn’t allowed, but you can linger on the beach as long as you’d like.

Halepalaoa Beach, Lanai

The only way to reach Lanai’s Halepalaoa Beach is with an off-road vehicle on a rugged dirt road. (If you’re staying at the Four Seasons Lanai, you can rent a 4x4 Jeep from the adventure center and staff will direct you to the beach.) Located on the eastern side of this sleepy island, this glittering sand beach is named after the whales that once washed ashore here. Once you get there, you’ll likely have the place to yourself.

Alan Davis Beach, Oahu

To get to Alan Davis Beach, you’ll park at the lot for the Makapu’u Lighthouse and walk the mellow Kaiwi Shoreline Trail for about 15 minutes to reach this secluded spot. You’ll spend your day swimming in a protected cove, cliff jumping, and exploring the towering rock formation above the bluff called Pele’s Chair.

Filed To: Hawaii / Beaches / Travel / Swimming / Kauai / Maui
Nicolas Henderson/Creative Commons )

San Marcos, Texas

Billed as the world’s toughest canoe race, the Texas Water Safari, held each June, is a four-day, 260-mile jaunt from the headwaters of the San Marcos River northeast of San Antonio to the small shrimping town of Seadrift on the Gulf Coast. There’s no prize money—just bragging rights for the winner. Any boat without a motor is allowed, and you’ll have to carry your own equipment and overnight gear. Food and water are provided at aid stations along the way. Entry fees start at $175 and increase as race day approaches.

The Ring

(Courtesy Quatro Hubbard)

Strasburg, Virginia

The Ring is a 71-mile trail running race in early September along the entire length of Virginia’s rough and rocky Massanutten Trail loop. To qualify, you need to have run a 50- or 100-mile race before the event and win a spot through the lottery system. Entry is free. Complete the run and you’ll become part of the tight-knit Fellowship of the Ring and be eligible for the Reverse Ring, which entails running the trail backwards in the middle of winter.


(David Silver)

Santa Fe, New Mexico

Each spring, competitors gather in Santa Fe’s historic plaza with a simple goal: be the first to reach 12,308-foot Deception Peak, 17 miles and 5,000 feet of elevation gain away. Competitors run or bike the first 15 miles to the local ski area before transitioning to their waiting ski-touring setups for the final push to the top. Time stops only when they’ve skied back down to the tailgate in the resort’s parking lot, which is funded by the modest entry fee of around $25. To add to the sufferfest, some participants sign up for the Expedition category, in which they strap their skis, skins, boots, and poles to their bikes for the long ride up. Start dates vary depending on snow conditions, but look for the event page to be posted on Facebook in late March or early April.

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