Image: Hulopoe Bay, Lanai
Yuri Arcurs  /  Shutterstock
The generally calm waters of Hulopoe Bay, Lanai mean great swimming, so this is where the bikini-clad come to get wet and wild.
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updated 9/6/2007 4:40:53 PM ET 2007-09-06T20:40:53

Hawaii’s range of dazzling beaches is a big reason why these Pacific islands remain the top romance destination in the U.S. Sand quality, air and water temperatures that hover year round in the low 80’s, healthy tropical reefs teeming with life, and overall pristine conditions catapult Hawaii’s sandy fringes onto most every Top Beaches list. But for this story, the search wasn’t just a matter of looking for the best beaches, the biggest beaches or the most picturesque, but for those secret and not-so-secret spots with bona fide sex appeal. A beach that makes you feel even sexier—beyond the vacation glow. By virtue of population (or lack thereof), hard to find location or gilded history, these are Hawaii’s sexiest beaches.

Perhaps the most obvious are a couple of picks among Hawaii’s many resort area stretches. It's no coincidence that The Four Seasons Maui sits looking out on the swank strip of Wailea Beach, where the perfect bodies of the privileged are on display. On calm days you can float in the crystal water looking up at the swaying coconut trees, snorkel among the submerged black ’a’a lava, or take a yoga class right on the sand.

Though Laurance Rockefeller’s 1964 masterpiece The Mauna Kea Beach Resort were closed after the October 2006 earthquake, the quarter mile sugar sand crescent fronting it remains open and is the most perfect spot on the Big Island—and where everyone who is everyone on the island goes to flaunt their figures.

Then there are the famous action beaches like Sunset Beach that attract world-class athletes. From November to May, Sunset Beach on the infamous North Shore of Oahu is ground zero for the best (and hottest) surfers in the world who are pure poetry in motion. Even busloads of Japanese tourists stop for 15 minutes to gawk and snap photos throughout the day. But even off-season for surf, Sunset Beach is still a wonderland of people-watching and sexy fun.

The beautiful people and the social scene are a huge part of the draw at Hanalei Bay. On an island with so many perfect beaches, you could easily spend a couple of weeks driving from one end of the island to the other end and go to a different beach every day, but Hanalei Bay is Kauai’s brightest star. The two-mile long beach on the north shore can be your launching point for an astounding range of aquatic activities—surfing, snorkeling, windsurfing, canoe paddling, sailing and fishing.

Meanwhile, if you want an actual beach party, you can’t miss the scene at Little Beach inside Maui’s Makena State Park. Although the surrounding area of Wailea is extremely wealthy, Little Beach still maintains its free-spirited roots. Once you arrive, you’ll be stunned into silence by the beautiful wide expanse of Big Beach, perfect for picnics, beach volleyball, a sand run or boogie boarding in the massive shorebreak waves. But for the bold and less inhibited, hippie nirvana awaits over the ridge at the south end at the infamous, clothing-optional Little Beach.

For a different kind of trip, one back in time to the South Pacific of old, there’s the oasis of The Big Island’sKiholo Bay. Perhaps it's the house at the south end that was imported in pieces from Fiji and reconstructed on this idyllic spot (it belongs to hair guru Paul Mitchell), or the fact that the little sandy islet in the center of the bay looks like the one from "The Blue Lagoon", but Kiholo Bay is a secret piece of tropical isle perfection.

Image: Wailea Beach, Maui
Steven Vona  /  Shutterstock
Even if you're not staying at The Four Seasons Maui, you can soak up the sugar sand glamour here. The native plant landscaped fitness trail along the beach ensures that well-toned bodies abound along this shoreline. The upscale Shops at Wailea are also just five minutes away—just in case you actually want to put on clothes.
If the idea of pristine conditions entices you, look no further than Hulopoe Bay on the pineapple island of Lanai. This exquisite pocket of beach has some of the best swimming and snorkeling in all of Hawaii thanks to the bay’s longstanding status as a marine conservation zone—so get ready to dive in. Development has been slow here: The island is a former pineapple plantation island where deer still outnumber people. But the sandy fringed Hulopoe Bay is reason enough to make the trip from Maui via a 45 minute ferry.

For privacy and a libido-charged sense of adventure you can’t beat Popahaku Beach on Molokai, the longest straight stretch of white sand beach in the state, hundreds of feet wide, completely undeveloped except for the sand castles of scampering translucent crabs. Molokai is the most mystical and least visited of all the developed islands. Just a short flight from Maui, it is absolutely the closest you can get to discovering your own private beach.

If you seek more Hollywood-style romance, head straight to Oahu’s Halona Cove, once immortalized in the black and white war classic, "From Here to Eternity". This stark little beauty is located below the Halona Blowhole parking lot, and it's rarely crowded on account of the necessary climb down to the sand, easy enough if you’ve been to the gym in past six months, and so worth the effort.

Or here’s a completely novel idea: How about a visit to the youngest beach in the state, if not the world, Kalapana on the Big Island? If you ask a local how to get there, they’ll look at you like you're crazy and tell you the beach was covered up in one of Kilauea volcano’s lava flows over a decade ago. But what nature takes away, it sometimes gives back. Follow the road signs to Kalapana all the way to the end where it is covered with lava, and hike about ten minutes straight out towards the coast over the now smooth, hard rock, and you will hit a virgin volcanic beach so new, it has never made anyone else’s best beach list. Hot enough for you?

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