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North Shore Beaches's insider take:

Anini Beach: Protected by the longest reef in Hawaii, this sweet spot is generally safe for swimming and snorkeling, and is one of the few places on the island to windsurf and kitesurf. Since water depths range from four feet to 100 feet, it is also a popular place to shore dive. Turn off Highway 56 between mile markers 25 and 26 onto Kahili Wai Road, then veer toward the ocean onto Anini Road, which ends at the beach.

Hanalei Bay and Beach Park: This long crescent of sand is great for a beach walk or run, and is an immensely popular place to socialize with Hanalei's attractive locals. It's swimmable in calm conditions, but when big swells roll in, advanced surfers and boogie boarders from around the state provide quite a show. Between mile markers four and five on Highway 56, turn toward the ocean on Weke Road.

Lumahai Beach: One of the most romantic yet dangerous spots on the island, Lumahai Beach was immortalized in South Pacific as the place where Mitzi Gaynor washed that man right out of her hair. That makes this wide swath of sand a great place for a photo op as well as for sunbathing or a picnic, but it's rarely swimmable. There is no lifeguard on duty, and the cove is not protected by a reef, so currents are fast and furious. You'll find it on Highway 560, near the town of Hanalei, between mile markers five and six.

Kee Beach, Haena State Park: Literally at the end of Highway 560 (just past mile marker 10) is one of the most visited beaches on the island. Swimmers enjoy the protected lagoon; snorkelers and divers come for the wealth of tropical fish just beyond the reef; and hikers catch the beginning of the Kalalau Trail on the western end. For your safety, do not venture past the lagoon if the waves are washing over the reef, and avoid the vicious sucking current at the reef opening on the western end.

Information may have changed since the date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.