Kauai Beaches

Kauai Beach MapThe island of Kauai has a coastline of about 90 miles (145 km). Kauai beaches are known for their powdery white sand and uncrowded atmosphere – some are hardly visited at all, which means that you can easily find your tropical paradise beach on this island. Many beaches on Kauai offer great swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, surfing and kayaking conditions. Most Kauai beaches have white sand. A few others are rocky. Read more about beach sand composition.

Kauai's north shore has many popular surfing beaches, such as Tunnels Beach and Lumahai Beach. Hanalei Bay with its crystal clear waters and views to the mountains is another popular north shore beach. And if you have seen the movie South Pacific, you may recognize the nearby mountain Bali Hai, also known as Makana Peak. Poipu Beach on Kauai's south shore is a popular beach among locals and visitors alike, while Polihale Beach on the west shore doesn't know crowds and is known for its amazing sunset views and "barking sands."

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Aliomanu Beach
Composed of two sections of beach, Aliomanu is a beautiful stretch of sand. The north beach is picturesque and a nice place to enjoy the serene surroundings. However, the nearshore waters are rocky, so swimming is limited.
Anahola Beach Park
This long white-sand beach is perfect for a beach stroll. Swimming is most protected at the right (east) end of the bay. The beach is backed by ironwood trees, so there's plenty of shade.
Anini Beach
Sheltered by one of the longest reefs in Hawaii, Anini Beach is a snorkeler's delight. Keep an eye out for Hawaii's state fish, the humuhumunukunukuapua'a (triggerfish), as well as uhu (parrotfish) and kala (unicornfish).

Brennecke Beach
Brennecke Beach is popular among bodyboarders. The waves are consistent here and provide good conditions for both beginning and advanced bodyboarders or bodysurfers.
Donkey Beach
Even though it's called Donkey Beach, no donkeys can be seen here anymore. The beach got this nickname after the donkeys and mules that were herded in a pasture next to the beach years ago.
Glass Beach
What's unique about this beach is the millions of pieces of colorful sea glass that sparkles in the sun. The entire beach is covered with these small brown, aqua-colored, clear and blue pebbles, making for an interesting sight.
Haena Beach
This spacious beach park is located a mile before the road ends on Kauai's north shore. It takes a while to get to it, but it's worth it. However, swimming is only possible when the ocean is very calm.
Hanakapiai Beach
Hanakapi'ai Beach is the first main destination on the Kalalau Trail on Kauai's Na Pali Coast. The beach is about 2 miles (3.2 km) into the hike and looks beautiful, offering great photo opportunities.
Hanalei Bay
Hanalei Bay is the largest bay on Kauai. It is a long half moon of golden sand backed by 4,000-foot-high (1,219 m) green mountains. Look closely and you may be able to spot several waterfalls.
Hanamaulu Bay
The nearshore waters of this bay are usually murky thanks to silt that enters the bay from the Hanama'ulu Stream. The beach park is therefore mainly visited by picnickers and campers.
Hideaways Beach
Kauai has a number of secret gems and the appropriately named Hideaways Beach is one of them. It can be accessed only after a difficult climb down a steep path. Shady trees ring the beach and provide an intimate and secret feel.
Honopu Beach
It doesn't get anymore secluded and remote than Honopu Beach on Kauai’s Na Pali Coast. No road or even a hiking trail leads to it. In fact, the only legal way to access it is to swim to it.
Kahili Quarry Beach
This small beach is bordered by a densely vegetated hill and a rock quarry, which is why it is also referred to as Rock Quarry Beach. It has a large pool where the Kilauea River flows into the ocean.
Kalalau Beach
Kalalau Beach lies at the end of the 11-mile (17.7 km) Kalalau Trail on Kauai's north shore. The trail is one of the most difficult in the Hawaiian Islands, which limits visitors to the beach.
Kalapaki Beach
Kalapaki is one of Kauai's most popular beaches, offering great swimming conditions as the ocean bottom is sandy and gently sloping. The beach is also a good spot for beginning bodyboarders and surfers.
Kalihiwai Beach
Swimming at this scenic bay is only possible in summer if the ocean is calm. Otherwise it is too dangerous due to strong currents and powerful waves. The beach is a good spot for a picnic. Ironwood tress provide plenty of shade.
Kapa'a Beach Park
This beach park is located in Kapa'a on Kauai's east shore. The scenery here is not as picturesque as on many other Kauai beaches. The beach park is mainly used by local residents as well as guests who stay at the nearby condo hotels.
Kealia Beach
Kealia means “salt bed” or “salt-encrusted area,” a name referring to the traditional Hawaiian method of collecting and drying salt. This beach has been a site of salt mining for centuries and is located on Kauai's Coconut Coast (east shore).
Ke'e Beach Park
Ke'e (pronounced Keh-eh) means “avoidance” in Hawaiian. However, the beach is far from being avoided by people. In fact, Ke'e Beach Park is one of the most popular and scenic beaches on Kauai. Read More
Kekaha Beach Park
Kekaha Beach Park is a good place for a long beach stroll. Starting from here and going north, it's 15 miles of uninterrupted sandy beach. However, it's not a good swimming beach due to strong currents and powerful waves.
Kepuhi Beach
Kepuhi Beach is a lesser-known beach on Kauai's north shore. On most days you will hardly find any people here. The reason is that the beach doesn't offer good swimming conditions, and snorkeling is only possible when the ocean is calm.
Kiahuna Beach Park
This beach is one of the most popular beaches in the Poipu hotel and resort area, fronting the Kiahuna Plantation Resort and the Sheraton Kauai Resort. The swimming and snorkeling conditions are usually good.
Larsen's Beach
Larsen's Beach is secluded and only accessible via a dirt road. It has a nice long stretch of sand and is backed by brush and trees. Near the middle of the beach is a lava rock that protrudes into the ocean, known as Pakala Point. Read More
Lawai Beach Park
Lawai Beach is a tiny strip of land that sometimes disappears during high surf conditions. The beach is a top snorkeling destination on Kauai's south shore, sheltered by a fringing reef barrier.
Lucy Wright Beach Park
It was here where Captain James Cook first set foot in the Hawaiian Islands in 1778. Curiously enough, the beach isn't called Captain Cook beach, but named after Lucy Wright, who was an active member in the Waimea community.
Lumahai Beach Park
Lumaha'i Beach was made famous in the 1957 movie South Pacific. It is a beautiful long and wide white-sand beach, but due to strong currents and powerful waves, swimming is not recommended here.
Lydgate Beach Park
This beach park's main attraction is the double-sectioned pool that is protected from ocean swells by a man-made rock barrier. The inner pool is shallow and ideal for children, while the outer pool is deeper and ideal for snorkeling.
Mahaulepu Beach
Even though it is just about 10 minutes from popular Poipu, the Maha'ulepu area on Kauai's south shore is pristine, beautiful and undeveloped. Few visitors come here because its remoteness.
Moloa'a Bay
Moloa'a Bay is one of the lesser-known beaches on Kauai. It is a pretty beach, framed by hilly dunes and green vegetation. When the ocean is calm, swimming is best on the southeastern side of the bay.
Nukolii Beach Park
Two mile (3.2 km) long Nukoli'i Beach Park is the longest beach on Kauai's east shore. However, it offers only fair swimming conditions because the ocean bottom is rocky and shallow. It's a better spot to fish and scuba dive.
Papa'a Bay
If you have seen the action movie Six Days, Seven Nights starring Harrison Ford and Anne Heche, this picturesque beach may look familiar as it was the setting for the plane crash scene.
Pilaa Beach
Pila'a Beach is a very sparsely visited place on Kauai's north shore. It is difficult to access and since the nearshore ocean bottom is rocky, it is not a good beach for swimming.
Poipu Beach Park
In 2001, the renowned beachologist Dr. Stephen “Dr. Beach” Leatherman named Poipu Beach Park one of America's and the world's best beaches. It is a family beach accommodating nearly every type of beach activity.
Polihale Beach
Polihale Beach is one of the longest continuous sand beaches in all of Hawaii, stretching 15 miles (24 km) along Kauai's western shoreline. It is backed by sand dunes, some of them are 100 feet (30 m) above sea level.
Puu Poa Beach
Pu'u Poa Beach has reddish-golden sand. An offshore reef protects the beach, making it generally safe for swimming. The beach is mainly used by guests of the St. Regis Princeville Resort and the Hanalei Bay Resort.
Queen's Bath
This is not your typical sandy beach. In fact, there is no sand here at all - just rocks. Queen's Bath is a natural pool surrounded by a lava shelf. When the surf is up, the pool and surrounding area is dangerous.
Salt Pond Beach Park
Salt Pond Beach Park is a reddish-golden sand pocket beach on Kauai's south shore that is safe for swimming year-round, except during times of high surf, when rip currents form in the channels between the rock barriers.
SeaLodge Beach
This small pocket of sand, surrounded by lush vegetation, is a hidden gem. Most of the time, the beach is empty because not many people know it's there. The best activity here is snorkeling, especially when the ocean is calm.
Secret Beach
Also known as Kauapea Beach, Secret Beach is backed by red and black sea cliffs and lush vegetation, stretches for 3,000 feet (915 m) and to the east offers nice views of Kilauea Lighthouse and Moku'ae'ae Island, a bird sanctuary.
Shipwreck Beach
This beach got its name from the small wooden boat that used to lie at the water's edge for many years. It deteriorated badly over the years, was hit by storms and people stripped it for firewood.
Tunnels Beach
Tunnels Beach is a postcard-perfect stretch of golden sand backed by ironwood trees, tropical palms and lush mountains. It is unique for having an inner and an outer reef, providing excellent snorkeling and diving conditions.
Waiakalua Beach
Waiakalua Beach doesn't see all too many visitors, mainly because it is accessible only via a very steep dirt trail. However, those who make it here can enjoy a peaceful day on a remote beach.
Waikoko Beach
Located within Hanalei Bay, Waikoko Beach is easily accessible from the highway, but never crowded. The beach has plenty of shade and is a nice spot for a picnic. The swimming conditions are usually poor.
Wailua Beach
This wind-swept, white-sand beach at the mouth of the Wailua River has no reef to protect it from high surf, so the swells are always large – all the reason why surfers and bodyboarders love it, even though the water here tends to be murky.
Wainiha Beach Park
This is one of the very few Kauai beaches that is off limits to swimming at all times of the year. It has no reef to block big waves coming from the center. Also, the beach tends to be murky most of the time from the silt deposited by the Wainiha River.
Waipouli Beach
Waipouli Beach is located near the Coconut Marketplace in Kapa'a on Kauai's east shore. Further north is Waipouli Beach Park, which has a boat ramp and a natural breakwater offshore.