1. Travel
You can opt-out at any time. Please refer to our privacy policy for contact information.

Kaanapali Named Best Beach in America

Four of America's Top Beaches are in Hawaii


For the ninth time since 1991, a Hawaii Beach has been named America's Best Beach. Maui's Kaanapali Beach has been named America's Best Beach for 2003 in the annual list compiled by Dr. Stephen P. Leatherman.

Widely known as "Dr. Beach," Leatherman is the nation’s foremost beach expert and a professor at Florida International University in Miami.

In an Associated Press interview, Leatherman stated, "What I like about Kaanapali is you've got a nice strand of beach there, and you've got good hotels but they're not crowding the beach there."

As we detailed in our article Maui's Ka'anapali Beach Resort - Where the World Comes to Play, "In ancient times, Ka'anapali was a royal retreat for the rulers of Maui. They enjoyed the area's three-mile stretch of white sand beach, gentle waves, warm sunny days and the broad green swatch of green land that swept up to the rainbow-haunted West Maui Mountains. Maui's 'royals' surfed, raced their outrigger canoes, and feasted at luau's that lasted for days and weeks."

Once a beach wins the top spot in the annual ranking it is "retired" and not eligible to win again. Previous Hawaii beaches which have been named America's Best Beach and which are excluded from this year's survey are:

1991 Kapalua Bay Beach, Maui, Hawaii
1993 Hapuna, Big Island, Hawaii
1996 Lanikai Beach, O`ahu, Hawaii
1997 Hulopoe, Lana`i, Hawaii
1998 Kailua Beach Park, O`ahu, Hawaii
1999 Wailea Beach, Maui, Hawaii
2000 Mauna Kea Beach, Big Island, Hawaii
2002 Poipu Beach, Kaua`i, Hawaii

Using a Beach Rating Scale consisting of 50 criteria, Leatherman's annual picks have become recognized as the definitive word on America's best beaches.

All in all this year four Hawaii beaches made the top ten list. In reverse order those beaches are:

8. Haunama Bay
Located on O`ahu about 30 minutes from Waikiki by either bus or car, Haunama Bay was declared a protected marine life conservation area and underwater park in 1967. The park recently underwent over $10 million in improvements, including the addition of a Marine Education Center. It is a favorite for those who wish to SCUBA dive or snorkel because of it's wide variety of fish and beautiful coral reef. It offers excellent swimming, especially for children. 

7. Makalawena Beach
Located on the Big Island of Hawaii about four miles north of the Kona Airport on a piece of land between two portions of Kekaha State Park, Makalawena is a long crescent beach interspersed with rocky areas. There are areas perfect for swimming and other areas with great snorkeling. There are no facilities available and no lifeguards.

4. Hanalei Beach
Located at Kaua`i’s North Shore, the bay is not safe for swimming, due to the rough waters and severe rip currents, but it is definitely one of the most beautiful beaches on a beautiful bay. This does not keep the surfers away who come to Hanalei to experience the long-lasting waves. The beach is ideal for walking and watching the sunset.

1. Ka`anapali Beach
Located in West Maui about 2 miles north of the historic whaling town of Lahaina, Ka`anapali is one of Hawaii's most famous and populated beaches surrounded by numerous elegant resort hotels and condominiums. The beach itself is almost three miles long. The beach is lifeguard protected, but it is important to watch your belongings and don't leave them unattended while you swim. Ka`anapali is the beach for activities. You can snorkel in the crystal clear water, windsurf, jet-ski, parasail, or kayak.

Congratulations to all of these great beaches in Hawaii and to the folks who keep them as wonderful as they are, including the eco-conscious tourist who honors and protects the natural beauty of Hawaii.

America's Best Beaches
by Stephen P. Leatherman
"Dr. Beach's" 112 page companion book details all of his choices for the best beaches in America indexed by region of the country.

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.