Best Autism-Friendly Beaches in Hawaii
Updated: Nov 2, 2022
There are hundreds of gorgeous beaches scattered around the world. Some of them are located in foreign countries. However, many of the best autism-friendly beaches can be found right here in the US. If you have been searching for the best autism-friendly beaches though, I recommend you travel over to Hawaii. This spectacular state is comprised of numerous islands. And each island offers sandy shorelines, sparkling blue water, and plenty of water activities to keep your autistic family happy and busy. I know you will be thrilled with all the possibilities that come with a fabulous Hawaiian beach vacation. Imagine all the relaxing moments you can have in the water and surrounding area. Start to feel your worries fade away during what can be an incredible time away from home. Before you know it, you will be inspired to contact me and start making all those Hawaiian dreams a reality.
I strongly believe that travel is for everyone. I wrote this blog post to show you how autism-friendly Hawaii can truly be. Many people have their doubts about the islands. Mainly because they have never taken the time to visit before. I can tell you the Hawaiian Islands are one of the best places in the world to relax and explore the great outdoors with autistic children. You can spend time in national parks. Or you can choose to focus on the best autism-friendly beaches in Hawaii. The choice is always yours when it comes to how your autistic family wants to experience the beauty of any Hawaiian Island.
So, are you ready to see exactly what is waiting for you on the shorelines of all the Hawaiian Islands?
To get you started imagining the possibilities, think about:
These are just a few of the water activities available in the Aloha State. There are so many others that may pique the interest of your autistic family.
You can spend as much time as you wish, creating lasting memories on the beaches in Hawaii. Some beaches in Hawaii will WOW you more than others. But only you will know which ones are the best for your autistic family. And to discover them, you must check out the different beaches on the Hawaiian Island you are visiting for vacation.
Of course, if you want to get a head start and save a little time, you could always use my handy list of the best autism-friendly beaches in Hawaii. I have spent a lot of time on Hawaiian beaches. So, I know firsthand which ones are better than all the rest. And I am going to share them all with you today.
* This post contains affiliate links, I earn a small commission if you decide to purchase something, this helps me keep blog posts like this one and running the site!*
Waikiki Beach in Honolulu
The island of Oahu is commonly called The Gathering Place. It is the island where most people live in Hawaii. So, you will never find yourself alone when on vacation in Oahu.
Waikiki Beach is a very popular beach. You have probably heard of it already! What you may not know is it was once the location of spouting waters. The spouting water was caused by the rivers and springs that were once in the area.
If your family wants to surf during your Hawaiian vacation, Waikiki Beach is an excellent location. Beginners and expert surfers will love catching waves while capturing views of Mount Leahi in the distance.
Snorkeling is another popular family activity at Waikiki Beach. The water is crystal clear, so it is easy to see the Hawaiian marine life up close.
Pro Travel Advisor Tip: The best months to visit Waikiki Beach are April, May, and October. The weather is beautiful and yet, the crowds are smaller.
Waimea Bay Beach in Haleiwa
Waimea Bay Beach is another favorite beach in Hawaii for surfing. You can’t beat the soft powdery sand, lush greenery, and cerulean water. It’s one of the places I consider paradise. If surfing isn’t on the list of things to do for your family vacation, you have options. I recommend snorkeling, swimming, body surfing, or boogie boarding.
You may even want to consider jumping into the water from the massive rock on the shoreline. Active teens will love the thrill from the jump. But they will also enjoy all the other adventures waiting for them at this beach in Hawaii.
Waimea Bay Beach has restrooms and showers. Both are must-haves for family vacations! Lifeguards patrol the beach to ensure everyone’s safety. And picnic tables are scattered around for picnic lunches and snacks. You know, all those times when the kids are starving from all the action and time in the water!
Pro Travel Advisor Tip: The winter months are the best time to surf if you want to tackle 30-foot waves. However, if your autistic family is just starting to surf, summer may be your best option. The waves are much calmer at this beach during the summer months.
Ko’Olina Beach in Kapolei
Ko’Olina Beach is comprised of 2 miles of sandy shoreline. The palm-lined walkways all lead to the four manmade lagoons on the beach. This is one of the most autistic-friendly beaches on Oahu. The reefs keep the water calm. So, you will never need to worry about strong waves or rip currents.
A few of the best water activities at this beach in Oahu include swimming, snorkeling, and paddleboarding. The marina has lots of boats docked, including tour boats. I can easily schedule your autistic family for a whale, or dolphin, watching cruise, diving excursion, or sunset dinner cruise.
Pro Travel Advisor Tip: Parking at Ko’Olina Beach is very limited. The first-come, first-serve spots fill up quickly, especially during peak season. Arrive early for the prime spots closest to the beach. Prime spots are also available near lagoon number four. Public parking is available as well, but it is further away from the sand.
Hanauma Bay State Park Beach in Honolulu
Hanauma Bay State Park Beach is also known as The Curved Bay. It is within a volcanic cove and has crystal clear blue water. Family snorkeling vacations are best at this Hawaiian beach. When you are swimming and snorkeling, you will find yourselves amongst the green sea turtles and other colorful fish.
I recommend taking the time to walk along the shoreline. This will allow you to spend time with your family, search for shells, and simply enjoy the ambiance of one of the best beaches in Hawaii.
Pro Travel Advisor Tip: Morning is the best time to visit this Hawaiian beach. The water is clearer earlier in the day, making it better for viewing marine life. Calmer water is also present early in the day, creating safe swimming conditions.
Hulopo’e Beach in Lanai
Hulopo’e Beach is located within Manele Bay, which is also known as Shark’s Bay. Don’t worry, there aren’t tons of sharks waiting to swim with you in this bay. Your swimming buddies will end up being dolphins, monk seals, and sea turtles.
This is one of the quieter beaches in Hawaii. It is located further from the city, so there aren’t large crowds, lots of noise, or tons of vendors vying for your money. All you will hear is your family’s laughter and waves coming up onto the shoreline.
When visiting Hulopo’e Beach, you will find yourself watching the kids build sand sculptures, as you read a book and relax.
Pro Travel Advisor Tip: It is best to pack food, snacks, and plenty of drinks when visiting Hulopo’e Beach. There is only one restaurant in the area, and it can become quite busy at mealtimes.
Big Island Beaches
Hapuna Beach in Waimea
One of the best family beaches in Hawaii is Hapuna Beach. During the summer months, you will have your breath taken away by the shimmering white sand, clusters of lava rocks, and sparkling turquoise water.
There are barbecue stations and picnic tables for families of all sizes. Accessible restrooms make routine tasks easier for autistic families. You can even rent a pavilion for more space if you are vacationing with other families.
Kids of all ages will love surfing, snorkeling, and bodysurfing at this autism-friendly beach in Hawaii. You can choose to join them or simply sunbathe on the soft sand.
Pro Travel Advisor Tip: Vacationing at this beach in Hawaii during the beginning of the year will allow you to watch pods of whales migrating to the area.
Ka’anapali Beach in Ka’anapali
Ka’anapali Beach is considered one
of the most beautiful beaches in the US. There are 3 miles of soft powdered sand to walk along as a family. Of course, the sparkling clear water is perfect for all those water sports your family wants to do on vacation. A few of the possibilities your family will love include kayaking, scuba diving, boogie boarding, surfing, and stand-up paddleboarding. I recommend snorkeling if you want to see the green sea turtles up close.
Another exciting water activity is whale watching. I can schedule a tour for you if this is something your family is interested in doing while on vacation in Maui.
Magnificent hotels surround this family-friendly beach in Maui. Most of those hotels offer “keiki” programs. Those are children’s programs that are designed to keep kids busy during their stay.
Pro Travel Advisor Tip: The best spot for snorkeling near Ka’anapali Beach is Black Rock. Older teens will love jumping off the cliffs near this rock into the water below.
Baldwin Beach Park in Paia
Baldwin Beach Park is on the northern shoreline of Maui. It offers a long white sandy beach, perfect for families who enjoy collecting seashells. Baby Beach to the west and Baldwin Cove to the east are the better areas for smaller kids. The protected swimming pools offer shallow water and no waves.
Lifeguards will keep watch over everyone in the water, giving you an extra sense of safety.
The barbecue area and picnic tables are perfect for lunch, snacks, and even dinner. Restrooms and showers can also be found at this Hawaiian beach. That means you can spend as long as you wish at the beach, knowing all your needs are met.
Pro Travel Advisor Tip: The best time to visit Baldwin Beach Park for surfing and boogie boarding is during the winter months. The shore breaks get larger at that time of the year, creating amazing waves.
Poipu Beach in Koloa
Poipu Beach is actually two beaches in Hawaii that are separated by a tombola, Nukumoi Point. This oceanfront area is crescent-shaped. Hawaiian monk seals are known to wander around and swim in the water at this beach. They are wild animals, so make sure your family keeps their distance. Don’t worry, you can watch their antics from a distance!
Lava rocks protect the sandbar on the left side of the beach. Head to that side if you are searching for a kid-friendly beach with gentle waves and shallow water. The right side is better for bodyboarding, snorkeling at a nearby reef, and sailing.
I recommend taking a dolphin sightseeing tour when you visit this beach in Hawaii. Taking a tour means you get the best of both worlds. Time out on the water and time watching dolphins in their natural habitat!
There is plenty of parking at Poipu Beach. Lifeguards will ensure your family is safe in the water. And the beach has you covered with restrooms, showers, and picnic tables.
Pro Travel Advisor Tip: As I mentioned above, the left side is better for those times you want gentle shallow water. All other water activities are best done on the right side where the water is deeper.