On any crowded beach in Hawaii in the late afternoon (say from 3:30 to 5) beach towels get shaken off and cars head back to the hotel rooms, as visitors prepare to shower before enjoying a tiki-torch dinner. As the daytime scene comes to a close, another gathering coalesces: Hawaiian families and visitors bust out the coolers and settle in for a relaxing dinner while daylight gives way to sunset and the starry night.
Step One: Obtain a Hawaiian plate dinner, or put together pupu picnic with sushi, Maui chips, and poki, plus a chilled beverage.
Step Two: Sit on beach and dine while the sunset turns to starlight.
Here are a few beach parks for each island where visitors can feel the aloha.
Kauai: Hanalei Bay (either Black Pot by the pier or City Pavilion in the middle of the bay). A two-mile curve of sand is framed by classic jagged ridges. On the west side, try Salt Pond Beach Park near Hanapepe, another curve of sand with a grassy backshore dotted with coco palms. Salt Pond is a good choice for visitors to Waimea Canyon who are headed back to Poipu.
Oahu: Tucked into the hubbub of north Waikiki are two treed parks that front white sand: Duke Kahanamoku and Ft. DeRussy. After sunset, fireworks shows blast off weekly from the Kahanamoku Lagoon at the Hilton, which is closeby. For a big-scale ohana picnic scene, head to Ala Moana Beach Park, just north of Waikiki. The renowned Ala Moana Shopping Center is across the street with many takeout food options.
Maui: Familes can head to the Kamaole Beach Parks in Kihei; nice lawns with gardens and trees, and smashing sunset views of sister islands. On windward Maui, Baldwin Beach Park is a good call, less touristy and reflective of the arty surf scene in Paia.
Big Island: It's hard to beat big sandy Hapuna Beach State Park. It's a zoo during sunny weekends, but quiet settles in at sunset and dusk. Wide paths swerve down to the beach, passing small picnic pavilions set in tall trees. On the eastside, pick up your libations in Hilo Town and settle into to watch local canoe teams finish the day at Bayfront Park.
For driving directions to all these places, go straight to the index of your Trailblazer Travel Book.